Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Only Words

It's official: we don't mean what we say.

Do you take this woman...? I do.

I've never felt like this with anyone else...

I'm the president of the company -- I would never lie to our shareholders...

I'm very concerned about our part in global warming.

And, in Ohio: I'm a Democrat.

I find it fascinating that over 16 thousand self-described conservatives -- die-hard Republicans who champion Life (without choice), Liberty (with wiretaps but without immigration), and the Pursuit of Happiness (heterosexuals only, please), and who publicly stand firm on their beliefs in God and Country -- would commit a felony in order to champion those beliefs.

According to the article in the Plains Dealer, Ohio voters in last week's primary listened to the on-air exhortations of conservative talk show hosts ("It's like the voice of God," I can imagine them saying...) and participated in a "plot" to undermine the election process.

Mucking with elections. In Ohio. I, for one, am shocked.

So -- this time -- here's what happened. A Republican presented him- or herself at the polling center and declared that allegiances had changed. A card was signed to that effect, and the person could then cast a vote for the other party's candidate (read: the enemy) that he or she felt had the least chance of defeating the party's Official Choice.

One woman who "crossed over" is quoted as saying, "I don't mind being deceptive to politicians. They are deceptive to us."

Another said she "crossed over" to mess with the results because she "doesn't trust" the opposition's strongest candidate.

So she was willing to sign a statement pledging allegiance to a new ideology that she doesn't believe in, to commit a felony punishable by up to a year in jail, and incur a $2,500 fine.

So -- who's not trustworthy here?

It kinds of makes you go "hmmmm....."

It's only words, we're quick to point out. Actions speak louder, you know.

Is that so? I'm not so sure. The advice to "Let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no' be 'no'" has an alluring simplicity to it. Say what you mean. Do what you say.

Besides -- forming words is an action. So is signing a voter's pledge card.

Screenwriting guru Syd Field made the famous pronouncement that "Drama Is Conflict." When creating characters in a work of fiction, it is often useful to have them do something that flies in the face of their own dearly-held beliefs. However, in film, those actions generally have consequences that result.

Imagine the drama that would result if the "Ohio 16,000" were forced to live up to their pledge and only vote along their new party lines for the next election cycle. Now THAT would be worthy of more than a few choice words.

Language is the thing that separates us from the animals. It's what makes us human. It's also what makes us capable of prevarication, lies, and abuse of the truth.

What we say influences what we do. Saying one thing and doing another only cheapens what we originally claimed to stand for. It becomes "Conviction of Convenience," able to be dropped, edited, or manipulated at a moment's notice.

While it's true that saying something doesn't make it so, there is no escaping the fact that saying something untrue does make a person a liar.

Harsh language? Perhaps. But don't get offended. After all -- it's only words. Right?