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Pen is mightier than the sword - Michael Davis

We'd all like to be remembered long after we're gone for something we wrote or said publicly. Something witty or profound. But lately, there hasn't been much of that.

Great thinkers, men (and women) of letters, politicians, military leaders – they all from time to time get remembered for something they once said that had was pithy or wise.

Lincoln and his proclamation about who you can fool and when; Washington and his testimony of personal honesty; Churchill's personal disdain of an opponent's attributes and lack of support for his flaws i.e.: "He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

But those are all from bygone eras, applicable for their time and appropriate for their place. What about now? What famous quotations will survive from our time?

Once again, I'm not going to get into a political discussion in this column, but I have to wonder if our vice-president's expletive, as reported widely in the media, will survive the test of time?

Web sites have popped up peddling mouse pads, T-shirts and coffee mugs that prominently display our second in command's famous faux pas, appropriately attributed to our V.P.

What about the comment California's top education official bestowed upon the young student there? And though it is "dirty" it doesn't contain expletives so I can repeat it here.

A young girl at a school he was visiting asked him if he knew what her name, Isis, meant. His response? Stupid, dirty girl.

People are always getting bent out of shape over the things people say, but did it used to be like this?

Did the press ever jump all over Honest Abe for something he said that might have been off color? I don't know. And if someone out there knows, please tell me but I'm going to guess probably not.

Maybe we make too much of big deal about the profanity of others. If the press didn't put it out there, would anybody have thought twice? Did everybody curse and nobody cared?

Thing is – people used to watch their mouth like their mama told ?em to. We didn't use bad words all over movies and magazines. Sure, people probably said it, but maybe it had more weight and people didn't just throw it around willy nilly. And people who may have heard it didn't repeat it.

And not only did they watch their mouths, they thought carefully about what they were saying – words meant more, they were revered.

Sure, people have always said the pen is mightier than the sword and there might be some truth to that. Those who control the cultural dialogue, to some extent control the culture.

But I just have to wonder if sometimes we're throwing around s-words like we throw around swords. And if a hyphen can have as much effect as in the above statement, imagine the effect of a single word.

Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at mdavis@henryherald.com.