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Our morning paper’s lead story covers the Arizona shooting spree during which Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was critically injured. It was Sheriff Dupnik’s comment that caught my eye – “the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.” He was referring to an increasingly vitriolic political debate that has emerged as America searches for remedies to the bleakest economic times since the Great Depression. Commentaries elsewhere have lamented the kind of extreme rhetoric from all sides of politics that incite the unhinged to violence. Our own country is not immune. Even within my own circles I have heard utterances that have caused me to blanche, both from those of my own political persuasion and those of others.

Words are powerful – we need to measure them well. They can lull us into mindless stupor, provoke us to unthinking action, inspire us to great deeds or transform our perspectives on life and living. In our most intimate conversations and on the public platform, we need to use our freedom of speech well.

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