How important are slips of the tongue?

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Yes, I know I bring up the Huffington Post a lot.  I also realize that HuffPo has a liberal slant and provides just one side of story when it comes to this election. That would be the mostly anti-McCain, pro-Obama, sick-of-Clinton side.

If you’ve read this blog before you have probably gotten the idea of where I stand on most issues.  I am an out and proud liberal who happens to believe that government can be a force for good and a source of help for less fortunate people.  The U.S. government, by its sheer size and influence can, if it so chooses, make a difference on issues ranging from war to global warming to health care.

What often happens, however, is that those doing the governing use the powers at their disposal to help those who are least in need of help.  And we the people, who don’t necessarily need help but would prefer simply not to be harmed, are distracted by little things that get entirely blown out of proportion.  Often these little things are slips of the tongue.  Sometimes they are intentional phrases uttered with the expressed purpose of getting us to pay no attention to the man (or woman) behind the curtain.

Whichever one characterizes Hillary Clinton’s recent RFK assassination reference is irrelevant, according to HuffPo blogger Lionel Beehner (see, I was getting somewhere with that HuffPo reference).  I point this out because as a out and proud liberal, I also happen to agree with people who say that “political correctness” and the ease with which we allow ourselves to be offended have gotten in the way of our attempts to solve real problems.  Beehner says:

This is not an endorsement of the jokes or comments made by these people. But I’m not going to storm the barricades over them. Nor do I think Ferraro is a racist or Huckabee is pro-assassination or that McCain wants to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years. I think their statements were blown out of proportion. Plus, this kind of shock and awe from the media only dumbs down the political debate (if that is possible at this point in the campaign) when there are so many more pressing issues. What angers me, as a white male in his 30s living in New York City in 2008, is that fact I have no health insurance; that I live in a country whose public transportation system is a joke; that oil execs, all of them white males, made record profits last year; that our department of Homeland Security actually thinks Iraqi-style IED explosives may wrack the streets of Boston (!!) — the list goes on.

My anger at folks who make insensitive comments, comments that I would never make, is not so much about being personally offended.  After all, how could I, the typical white, anglo-saxon, protestant (former Catholic) know even what it means to be offended by such remarks?  Nor do I blame people who do get offended by such remarks.  I’m not in the business of telling people how to feel.

But can we please, just one time, condemn such remarks for what they are, set them aside and keep our eyes on the ball of the real issues?

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