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LJWorld.com weblogs In Simple Words

The Power of One Word

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One WordI don't know Kelly Tilghman except that she is a sports broadcaster and she is friends with Tiger Woods.During coverage last week, she inadvertently used the word "lynch" when jokingly suggesting that the only way other players could beat him was by removing him from the competition. It was unfortunate, and she apologized to the audience and to Tiger. Tiger released a statement that he understood that there was no ill intent.But that was not enough. Al Sharpton has called for her dismissal. The Golf Channel, who initially supported her, has suspended her for two weeks and her future is unclear.People make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are careless and intolerable. Sometimes the consequences are serious and we should do something about it. That is the case here.The mistake, however, is being made by those who are looking for publicity at the expense of others. Racism still exists in this country, but this episode is not really about that problem.The problem is that there are some who spread fear to increase their own power and influence. The fear that they spread makes me concerned that I might say something that people construe differently than I'd intended. It happened to her. It could happen to me and, no matter what your color or religion, it might even happen to you. That is the fear that I am left with. And to be honest, the thought that speaking out against this will cause me to be labeled a racist leaves me just a touch nervous.There are a lot of words that bring back memories of troubled times. One single word can have tremendous consequences.Sometimes, when people make mistakes, we should consider one word as our response:Tolerance.

Comments

David Klamet 6 years, 3 months ago

Linda, I respectfully disagree.

Ms. Tilghman's comment was an honest mistake. Al Sharpton's many inflammatory, divisive, and racist comments were not unintentional, yet he is the one pointing the finger here.

Someone who bumps into me accidentally, even if they knock me to the ground, is easy to excuse. However the same thing, even if it is a minor, when done deliberately is much more serious a matter . I see Ms. Tilghman's behavior as the former, Mr. Sharpton's as the latter.

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Ronda Miller 6 years, 3 months ago

If Tiger is okay with it, I am okay with it. We have become a nation who is overly sensitive to words and the meaning behind them, as opposed to the thought behind the word.

We collect words all of our lives, store them, save them, replay them. Sometimes the human mind choses to regurgitate a specify word perhaps at an inappropriate time. I didn't take Kelly's use of the word as intent to be offensive, but it was an unfortunate word choice.

The direction we are headed, people will not be free to use any word for fear it will offend someone, somewhere. Words mean very different things to people of different backgrounds, experiences, religions, cultures, races, etc.

I always taught my children that there are no bad or good words - only thinking makes them so. Kelly wasn't acting racist at the time her brain put forth an unfortunate word choice. We aren't always able to think on our feet and sometimes the harder a person tries not to say something inappropriate may make it somehow happen.

We do need to accept that language mistakes happen - I have known people from other cultures that may use a word without knowledge of its offensive nature to our culture, and vice versa. Forgiveness, tolerance, understanding, listening, communicating. are all ongoing human traits.

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Linda Hanney 6 years, 3 months ago

Dave, I would agree with "tolerance." We certainly need more of it in this world. I also agree with the linked article insinuating the comment was "ridiculously insensitive" which I interpreted as "joking." However, I feel anyone making such an off hand insensitive comment covering a sporting event should justifiably lose their job.

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