There’s a great op ed piece in THE NEW YORK TIMES about “harsh words leading to violent acts.” It states that when people publicly criticize a group of people with inflammatory words that group ends up being acted upon violently. The author goes on to give several examples of this happening throughout history including events in current news.

I’ve seen this occur in a microcosm. When I was in high school, my older sister was bullied by three girls. In less than a year, these three girls convinced the entire 11th grade that my sister was a lesbian and “not normal”. My sister was/is bossy and into “geek” stuff, but they never teased her about that. Instead, they made up stories and spread them around the school. Even our own neighbor believed them, although, she saw my sister going out with her boyfriend all the time. These three girls picked words that had a powerful, negative impact and the rest of the school reacted to my sister because of it. She was shoved, called names, and teased horrendously until the day she graduated. To this day, she is scarred because of it.

The poem stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me is a lie. Words are powerful and they not only hurt, but they incite other people to react verbally and physically.

Do you agree or disagree?