Wait for a smoking gun?

A very astute linguistics professor encouraged me to take a close look at the English language and I listened to what I said and what I heard.

What I heard made me shudder.

We reduce the most beautiful things in our lives to violence. A beautiful woman is smashing! Or she dresses fit to kill. Or we "conquer" love. Or give our dollars to "fight" cancer. Or tell a chess opponent we're "gonna kill" him. We brag when our children "beat" the other team and raise our fists in exhilaration at their victory. We "battle" our boredom and "attack" our problems. We rush to "beat" the traffic.

All in innocent use of the language we've been taught since birth.

Those expressions mean nothing. After all, we really aren't violent. We're human and therefore peaceful creatures. We delude ourselves but who listens to our language and acts on its implications?

It is precisely this reinforcement of violence in everyday language that lets people accept the violence in movies and TV. Then why not expect children to solve their problems with violence? Yet after the high school killing in Columbine, Colorado, the method for other outbreaks most accepted in local communities was that of putting police in the schools to prevent students bringing in guns. HOWEVER ... consider the following --

Letter to the editor:


White boys are on shooting rampages in high schools across the nation, but the cause, although obvious, is rarely discussed.

In our culture white males are led to expect special privileges from the day they are born. Unrealistic expectations are constantly reinforced by our language in the very institution that sanctions their inferred rights.

When these boys enter a world that doesn't meet inferred expectations, some boys act out in the violence and rage of people cheated of their birthright.

Is it surprising that boys who have been erroneously taught about their status and importance act out in rage when they discover they are not considered better than sports heroes, girls, or minorities?

In media and literature white males have all the power and status while academics, women, and minorities are either secondary or not present. In family life, church, and government the highest status is supposed to be awarded to males.

In reality, males have common problems to face in our present ranking system but some have not been taught how to solve them.

Marshall law doesn't begin to address the school violence problem.


In my next article I will address how the English language is
structured to be sexist, racist, and therefore cause violence.

Naomi Sherer