There seems to be an H1N1-like outbreak of namecalling and general, well, outspokenness in the past few days. From the now-famous Congressman-slash-pariah (or slash-folk-hero, depending on your political views) Joe Wilson ("You lie!") to an apoplectic Serena Williams mouthing off to the line judge at the US Open ("I feel like shoving this #$% ball down your #$% throat!") and now even to President Barack Obama, who in an off-the-record, supposedly closed-mike moment called the musician Kanye West a "jackass." ("Did he think that no journalists were around when he said that?" asked one journalist friend of mine today.) Obama was responding to West's dissing of Taylor Swift during the MTV music awards.
When Cathy Grossman from USA Today called to ask if Jesus had said anything specifically against name calling, one verse immediately sprang to mind. It's not frequently commented upon, but in Matthew 5:22 Jesus says, "Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' [Aramaic for "fool"] is answerable to the Council [the Sanhedrin, or Jewish court]. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Here's her zippy piece, along with priceless art.
Remember that the next time you're playing at the US Open and the line judge calls you out, the next time you're seated at a joint session of Congress or the next time you're tempted to call Kanye West a you-know-what.
Do the right thing.
Especially if the mike's on.
Don't be a raca.