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The utterance of words has consequences. The words spoken between a marrying couple consequentially establish the expectation of trust, care, support, fidelity. The consequence of words can be resulting actions, as well.

It is often said that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” But we know that is not true. Thus, we have laws regarding the damage, both physical and psychological, that can result from the utterance of words. Take for instance, the utterance that that if the current occupant of the White House is not re-elected in 2020 “there will be no peaceful transition.” We have seen where such prognostications have led in the past. These words are an incitement to riot. They create the expectation that those who support the current incumbent should take to the streets and demonstrate, possibly violently, against the newly elected administration.

Of course, there are those who will insist that no such expectation is created and that any demonstrations would be solely the responsibility of the participants. But we all know that people are influenced by the speech of others, that rioters are provoked and encouraged by individuals and organizations that would benefit from mass demonstrations. Furthermore, there has been a steady drumbeat for civil war against “the left,” the press, and others who criticize the incumbent. Remember, he said an election is legitimate only if he wins.

It’s now incumbent upon Republicans to tamp down such rhetoric and support the Constitution.

Robert B. Harris, Ph. D

Albany (March 1)

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