So I've been mulling over this ever since the shooting in Tucson. You have people on the left saying that Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and others of their political radicalism (and being too conservative is just as radical as being too liberal) are responsible for the shooter having pulled the trigger because of their rhetoric. The people on the right are saying that they couldn't possibly be responsible for the actions of others because they're speaking figuratively. And while there is truth to both stances, it really boils down to that words can and do hurt. Add those with "innocuous" symbols or actions, and you can really do damage. Look at a child. They are just learning language, and so they take literal meanings. If you tell them that you stole their nose, they'll believe you. Add that to the thumb between the fingers and instinctively they'll bring their hands to their face with gasps. With Lil' Mr. V, I will act like he "has a tickle" that we have to get out. And I'll tickle him from hip to rib "chasing" the tickle. Once I "catch" it, I'll tickle like we're wrestling it, then I'll pull my hand away and flick my hand as though I threw it away. He immediately pulls up his shirt looking for where the tickle was. And he asks where it went bye bye to. Also, if you don't think that words aren't powerful, go into a church. Watch the congregation. As the pastor/priest moves you through the sermon of the day, as he gets worked up the crowd gets worked up. Words have the ability to create relationships and destroy them. Simply by the power that they contain. Tell a man that he's worthless enough times, he will begin to believe it. So though there are many who claim that words have no power and while they are correct in some sterile sense. Words describe our thoughts, our wishes, our feelings. Every one of these things are powerful. Especially to someone who's weak or given to suggestion. Some people can't hear nuance, and only understand literal translation. So speaking violent rhetoric with cross hairs as markers can have a frightening impact on someone. I'm not placing blame on Palin or any of those others for that man's actions. They are his own. However, there is blame to be had on their parts for their use and abuse of language. Because Sticks and Stones DO break bones, but words definitely wound too.