We should be more careful with our words

Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 07:56 PM.

The mass murder of 26 women and elementary school children last week in Newtown, Conn., is so unspeakably horrific and painfully fresh — especially for parents and those who loved the women — that thinking about the event, let alone writing about it, is difficult. For most that is.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has been quoted by the Huffington Post and other media outlets as saying this past weekend that the shootings were "no surprise" given America’s "systematic removal of God from schools."

As cold hearted as his comments could be taken at the complete, incomprehensible and horrendous surprise this tragedy was to all of us, he would have been better served had he kept his mouth shut — or his pen capped — even though he may have a point.

There are lots of things happening in America today that result — at least partially — from being loosened from the anchor of religion in our lives, and therefore a common understanding as a people of what is right and wrong. Whether Newtown’s perpetrator is a symptom of this problem is yet to be seen.

But even nationally recognized opinion mongers like Huckabee who are bright, experienced, educated leaders, and probably are actually decent human beings utter things with no sense of timing. They can be loud-mouthed, apparently clueless knuckleheads (as an opinion columnist I’m not immune from this failing myself). They say or write things in the emotion of the moment that are out of place, later regretting what they’ve written or said.

But once the words are freed, there is no taking them back, especially today. We should heed the old warning many of us heard from our mothers: "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all." But that courtesy is just so passé.

Nonetheless, Huckabee would have been better served — as well as those families suffering over the unimaginable loss of their women and children would also have been better served — to keep his opinions to himself. At least until the dead are buried.

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