Posted by: Patrick Barbanes | September 10, 2008

Words Matter

Consider the words Sarah Palin spoke. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Let’s use different jobs and see how that sounds. Imagine that you are an airline baggage handler, who lifts the heavy and not-so-heavy bags that fliers check in at the airport. And you feel that some truck driver has insulted you as being a wimp because you’ve never driven a big-rig cross country.

You could say, “I guess an airline baggage handler is sort of like a ‘truck driver,’ except that you do actual work.” What would that mean, if you were speaking those words? It would mean that you believe that truck drivers do not do actual work.

Later, you could try to explain your words as only referring to one particular truck driver, but you’d already have offended one very vital part of the workforce – or at least, tried to. They probably don’t offend easily. But the insult would have been made.

That’s why community organizers were so offended by Sarah Palin’s words. (And never mind the sarcastic, sneering attitude that went with them.) Words matter.


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