This I Believe

Nicholas - Rumson, New Jersey
Entered on April 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of words and the responsibility that comes with laying them down. This I believe.

There are fewer things more important to Americans as a whole than their freedom of speech. We take pride in our freedom to say what we want, about who we want, when we want it. With this right to say what we want often comes abuse. Words are used to attack and hate, but as often as this happens there are also words intended to help and love, or simply mean nothing, that is the power of words. This is where my philosophy comes in, I believe in the responsibility that comes with the words that people choose, and if these words are called into question that they are expected to defend these choices. The power of words can unite people together, through an online message board, or an e-mail linking friends and family together in an instant, and at the same time a student writing “every student in this class is dead meat” on a black board is enough to ruin a student’s scholastic career. In these contexts, words mean very different things, and yet the message they convey is strong.

Frank Zappa, renowned for his amazing and often scandalous music, was once taken into question by Tipper Gore among others who were major players in the movement to reform the music that people listen to. They brought him to court, brought him on Crossfire, and aimed their questions towards him at ruining his career and everything that he was, everything he stood for. They attacked his vulgar lyrics for literally hurting the people that heard them. They claimed that his sexually explicit words were hurting our youth, and he looked them in the eye and said “words, words, words.” Because that was all they were, sure they had meaning, and might not be appropriate to share with my classmates in school, but these words cannot hurt someone by themselves. They distorted his words as being anything other then entertainment, but they could not change them, which is where their true power lies. You cannot change my words, as I can not change yours. There is no need to fear “dirty” or “curse” words, there is no real harm in dropping an f-bomb, sure it’s not intelligent, but who is it hurting? The words of Zappa, however vulgar they might have been, were stripped of power, and the meaning was taken into question, but Zappa, though lyrically lewd was a very smart man: his power lay within those words, not in corrupting the youth of America, but rather fighting for that freedom of speech that we all are born with as Americans. These words are welcome to be used by all, not restricted by some vice-president’s wife, free to be used as their author intends, and restricted only by the user’s intent.

I am not asking you to excuse my language, but allow me to make this point. Tell me to fuck off, say it with passion, and really mean it. Do you feel better? Possibly. Do I feel worse? No, I do not. This stems back to preschool, simply sticks and stones. I feel as though these words, as well as every other in the dictionary should be embraced for everything that they are, everything they bring meaning to, and every message that these words can convey

I believe that everyone has this right, to make as bold of a claim as they would like, as long as they are willing to stand behind their words, and I believe that people are smart enough to make their own decisions regarding the words they hear, they are free to interpretation, being torn apart, and reconstructed. They define who we are and what we believe in, and without them this paper would not be possible. So this paper is brought to you by the letters A through Z, in an infinite amount of combinations used to offend, share, love, and maintain our characters long after we have left this earth. I believe in the power of words, and the responsibility that comes with laying them down, this I believe.