Thursday, July 21, 2016

When words count

I'm guessing we all know by now that a speech writer on the Trump campaign staff issued an apology for plagiarizing Michelle Obama's speech. What's interesting is the wording she chose.

"I apologize for the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused."

Confusion is just funny, because it doesn't seem to me that anyone was confused. It was glaringly obvious. But hysteria - that's an interesting word choice. There's a history behind that word - a history that even now makes it a convenient tool for dismissing the legitimate concerns and feelings that other people might have. It suggests that the problem is with the person on the receiving end of the wrongdoing rather than with the wrongdoer. It almost goes as far as suggesting that you're only responding the way you are because ... there's blood coming out of you.

Hysteria vs. Concern
I would suggest that there are two underlying reasons many people feel uncomfortable with Melania Trump's speech. The first is that plagiarism is something we should take seriously, always and everywhere. Respect for the intellectual property of others is a basic democratic value. The second concern is that maybe the plagiarized speech is indicative of a deeper issue - an approach to the world and to other people in it that's shared by the Trump camp. Blatant disregard for others in small things is usually an indicator of blatant disregard for others in big ways.

The Trump camp hopes to paint this as an oops. Many people are interpreting it as an expression of character. That's harder to fix.


  1. Anonymous7/22/2016

    Trump's core group of supporters won't be phased by this at all, of course. The only people who will possibly be influenced by it are the undecided independent voters that he needs to win over.

  2. paige_girl7/22/2016

    After all, this guy built a quasi-educational business and labelled it as a university. It doesn't seem that words count at all with him.

  3. Meggers7/25/2016

    If the Bernie or Bust crowd keeps this up we're going to end up with president Trump. I'm not sure what I'll tell my kids about that. It's a sobering day.

  4. Anonymous7/28/2016

    *pats head* Oh you silly kiddos. So worried about that lil ol speech. How cute.