One day, in the darkness of the past, a primitive human realized that his gift of language gave him almost limitless power to communicate. But as is too often the case, what man can learn to use, he can learn to misuse.
History does not record the result of this first misuse. Possibly nothing more than a simple argument between a man and his wife. Maybe it produced more serious consequences. Not too long ago, a frequent writer to The Olympian, who should have known better, used his words to mislead blatantly. He referred to “the catastrophe in Benghazi.”
Of course, I know that four Americans had been killed in an attack there. But was this Benghazi attack a catastrophe? Perhaps more important, what is a catastrophe?
In 1914, angry words were exchanged between Vienna and Belgrade, and soon over 25 nations were caught up in a Great War that cost 7 million lives. In 1556, 830,000 Chinese were victims of a giant earthquake.
I think we’d all agree these were catastrophes. But four people in Libya? I don’t think so.
A word like “catastrophe” really has no clear meaning by itself. It needs some adjective to clarify. Using the Benghazi example was clearly an attempt to vilify my president through the use of a verbal lie.
By the way, where was your president and secretary of state on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001?