With Osama Bin Laden’s death, the battle for minds shifts. Do we join the cheering crowds at Ground Zero or shake our heads in lament at the sure perpetuation of a never ending cycle of violence? Social networking sites are full of debate with new alignments amongst hawks, doves and the in-betweens.
Indeed, some are asserting that truth is once again a casualty of this war of words, pointing to a viral misquote from Martin Luther King. See Out of Osama’s Death, A Fake Quotation is Born – Megan McArdle – National – The Atlantic.
Others retort, “So what – some extra words have been added – but it’s in the spirit of what MLK would say.”
In the end, more heat than light is generated. Bin Laden’s demise is a historic marker, even if symbolic. Words being expressed across the global cybersphere invariably express anguish, relief, rage, anxiety and confusion in response to arguments, statements and new releases of information. One hardly expects accuracy to be a consistent feature in such a milieu.
Those of us who craft words vocationally need to be careful however. Check sources; attribute quotes correctly; avoid non-sequiturs; pay attention to syntax – all those basic techniques that are so crucial to credible communication – even (especially) in a post-modern context.
Then some light might get in through the cracks!