Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Words mean things

A truism made famous by Rush Limbaugh states simply: "Words mean things."

Unfortunately, conservative bloggers and commentators seem to be as guilty as liberals in taking words out of context. Or even "in context" but attempting to read too much into them.

Recently I have encountered two conservative sources that "took to task" Dr. James Dobson who was quoted by a news source selectively. Even in the simple quote, though, Dr. Dobson was stating an obvious opinion:

Gilgoff quoted Dobson saying of Thompson, "Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for, [but] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression."

Of course, he goes on to explain why this matters, and what it would mean to a potential presidential bid to former lawyer-actor-senator Fred Thompson. Dobson didn't know much about Thompson's religion and was left with the impression that he was a Christian. He assumed, perhaps unwisely, that other Conservative Christians might have the same impression. If this was the case, the candiacy had little chance.

Fellow blogger "Hondo" of felt betrayed as a rising star seemed to be derailed by such inflamatory speech. But the words are simply a opinion and NOT a declaration concerning Mr. Thompson's spiritual state. I tried to find information linking Thompson to ANY religious activity, and found only a video of him in a church immediately after the 9/11 attacks. He said all the "right things" but came across only as a cultural Christian at most. Most Americans came across that way in those early days of September 2001. The wikipedia article doesn't mention his religion in the sidebar. The religion of other potential candidates IS listed in the same source. This leads me to wonder if he even WANTS us to know his religious connections.

But words mean things. What Dr. Dobson said stands on its own. He had doubts that a one-time senator (who "replaced" Al Gore!) could stand a chance against political guru Newt Gingrich (who worked hard to impeach Bill Clinton). Of course, of the non-candidates, Thompson is now polling ahead of Gingrich. Dobson's statements may have been unwise, but they certainly weren't malicious.

"I don't think he's a Christian; at least that is my impression." Subsequent "evidence" of is status as a "baptized member" of the Church of Christ not withstanding, I have to ask, "Is he or isn't he?"

Another Fellow Blogger puts it well:

WorldNetDaily gives the "rest of the story":

Of course "the rest of the story" is a trademark of Paul Harvey, for whom Thompson subs occasionally. I think I wrote "rest of the story" before I researched Fred Thompson, but the irony of the use is fitting. I am astounded that some conservatives were so easily offended by this statement. Again, what do these words MEAN?

"I don't think he's a Christian; at least that is my impression.

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