Reflections: Speaking one's words

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By Thomas W. Ivines

One of the great things about writing this column, is I am not held to any one subject or theme. I can write about anything I want as long as it is tasteful and generally entertaining. And, I try to be entertaining but the words don't always come out that way. I do get some negative mail once in a while.

You know the "ole cliché, "You can please most of the people most of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time." This is usually the case with writing publicly.

With all the best intentions I have, invariably someone will complain about what I have written. I have been writing newspaper columns for well over thirty years and in that time I have learned a few things. For one you do not use certain words or groups of words, or subjects without chancing insulting someone.

I will give you a few of those words and subjects that provoke people for demonstration purposes. But, keep in mind the following examples will not be incorporated into the writing of this column. I should include among them profanity but will not for obvious reasons. Profanity and their associated expressions should never to be used in journalism. Anyway, here we go; here are some of those samples:

Jesus Christ

God, not to be misconstrued as "god"

Republican Party verses Democratic Party

Evolution and Creationism

Christianity and Atheism

Sexual orientation

Individual politicians

Political ideals

Personal finances

Negative family history of popular, public figures


Friends and acquaintances of the author

Him versus her/he versus she



There are many more samples, of course, but generally these are things a journalist should not use. Inevitably we all do, though. You see, it's hard not to touch on some sensitive issues once in a while, no matter how hard we try to avoid them. To not touch on them once in a while would be to holster our pens. It is when we use them that we get the negative mail.

Seldom does a journalist get positive mail. The only compliment we get is that the editors keep publishing our columns. That means someone must be enjoying our work.