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One Guy’s Opinion by Guy Thompson

Words are powerful. Trust me. I use a lot of them. Okay, sometimes too many. That’s beside the point.

The point is, it is important to use the right words to convey what you mean. Words like “hyperbole,” “exaggerate,” “inflate,” and others in that column of synonyms for example. These might be important words for some people to look up.

Over the past couple of years, starting shortly after the last presidential election actually, some words have become very “in vogue” (trendy, fashionable, etc.) to use, particularly when one does not agree with others. This has been true from the highest office in the land to the most local official.

My point, then, is that if you use a word, perhaps it’s best to make sure you know what you mean.

For example, a “dictator” isn’t merely someone you disagree with, particularly if they have anything to do with government. I’ve lost count (and not being a math major, that may not be surprising) on how many meetings I’ve been to the past few years when someone who doesn’t get his or her way, or has to do something they disagree with, refers to the little bit of government they are dealing with as “dictators.” This is usually followed by a sentence that involves the term “this is America,” or similar quote.

First of all, if there was a dictatorship involved here, we the people would be forced not to go around calling other people dictators. At least in public. Those who did defy that would likely not be seen again.

And as for writing something to us at the paper on that topic? Forget about it.

Dictators have a history of stifling more than just free speech. One entry on dictators discusses how they form a “cult of personality” which elevates them to a godlike status. At least in their minds.

Then there’s the whole mass murder, genocidal tendencies that your common dictator exhibits, too. And to be honest, I haven’t seen anyone in the U.S., at any level of government, get that far.

There are other words that are tossed about pretty casually when someone is in an argumentative state. And by using certain words over the others, they prove what Mark Twain said. To paraphrase, it’s better to let people think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. (Thanks to Rick Miller for pointing out that comes from a verse in Proverbs.) Of course, as noted above, if we had anything resembling a dictatorship, they wouldn’t really have that opportunity to remove all doubt, either

So, please feel free to use your right of free speech – heck, I do that every week. It’s what allows me to do my job. But remember, the phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword” really does apply.

That’s one reason why real dictators – not the people you disagree with – squash the right of freedom of speech first thing and usually violently. It’s the thing that scares them the most.