Photo By Erik Drost [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Boston Celtics player Kyrie Irving has apologized for a rather mind-boggling statement that he made early last year. At the time, Irving stated: “This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. … It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.” These comments caused quite a stir at the time, and in his apology, he explained how big an impact what he said has had. Science teachers have been telling him that they “have to reteach [their] whole curriculum” because of what he said. He claims that he “didn’t realize the effect” he would have on so many people by making such a definitive statement. He explained that because of all the uproar over his comments, he has come to “realize the ‘power of voice,’” and now understands that such skepticism should be reserved “for intimate conversations,” not announced on public channels.
I’m glad that Irving has had an awakening as to the power of words, especially words spoken by people with a large platform. It is a lesson that many have yet to learn, much to the detriment of their fans and followers. Here are a few examples of times when it was a very poor decision to speak/write some words on a very public stage.
Alyssa Milano has been garnering all sorts of headlines in the last week, most recently for her tweet following Kanye West’s pro-Trump speech after live broadcast ended of Saturday Night Live. In it, she said: “Make Kanye Kanye Again.”
Some may find this amusing, but words matter. Milano is sending a message to her followers that, if you aren’t toeing whatever line she has established, you aren’t acceptable as you are, and must change. I thought the Left were all about letting everyone be themselves, whatever that might be. The hypocrisy is that they only mean it if what you are or what you say or believe isn’t something that they disagree with. So everyone who listens to her will face the possibility of forming a complex, worrying if they are ok as they are, or if they must also change to conform to her idea of what is acceptable. Words matter.
Barack Obama infamously produced Politifact’s 2013 Lie of the Year: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” Because of this recurring lie, the American people supported Obamacare enough for it to pass. Unfortunately, as a result, many have found not only that they lost the health care plan that they liked, but that the new plans are too expensive to keep either. This lie impacted millions of people. Words matter.
I’m digging deep for this next one, but this is a quote that has bothered me since I first read it back in June. Seattle City Council enacted a head tax, presumably aimed at getting more money out of Amazon. Within a month, they were repealing it. City Council President Bruce Harrell was asked about the turnaround, and whether he thought that it was a mistake. Harrell, a “former University of Washington football player, said ‘I spend very little time looking at whether I missed a tackle or not. I just go to the next action, the next play.’” I don’t know a lot about football, although I did grow up in Texas, so I learned the basics of the game watching it with my dad every Sunday, and of course spent every Thanksgiving Day rooting for the Cowboys, but I think I’m onto something here. If players never thought about whether they missed a tackle, they’d never improve. I mean, isn’t that what game film is for? To review your play, and look for ways to improve? Of course you shouldn’t think too much about it in the heat of the game, but in all things, we certainly must reflect on our performance and find ways that we can improve, or we are missing opportunities to be the best that we can be. Anyone who listened to Harrell about this could become a really bad football player, athlete, businessperson, spouse, parent, or even person. Words matter.
So thank you, Kyrie Irving, for pointing out to everyone that words matter. The Left, especially, seems to forget, except when it happens to be someone simply disagreeing with them on name-your-issue, whereupon they insist that it is a microaggression if not outright assault that must be penalized, and safe spaces must be made available for everyone in order to avoid hearing those views that don’t align with their own. That, of course, is the only time that they remember that words matter.