Observations of an Expat: Sticks, Stones and Words

August 12, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

AP photo



Tom Arms

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I can remember so clearly the playground chant across the years.

It was total rubbish. It was total rubbish when I was seven and it is still total rubbish years later.

Words hurt. They leave victims with mental scars and can spark physical violence which can result in much more than just bruised skin and broken bones. It is cross words and careless words that lead to domestic violence and gang wars.

It is venomous and hate filled words punctuated with tasteless jokes that lead to broken alliances, lost trade agreements and—sometimes—war.

When the President of the United States speaks the entire world hangs on every utterance they make. Every sentence, every dangling participle or accentuated phrase is dissected in media offices, boardrooms and government offices around the world for their impact on the audience they are addressing and on the world at large.

Even more scrutiny is paid to anyone brave enough to run for the White House, especially if they have never held elected office. The only way the electorate—the only way the rest of the world—can judge a presidential candidate’s future actions is by the words they speak on the campaign trail.

It is dangerous to support a candidate because you think they will do something other than what they said because what they said is so off the wall and out of the ball park outrageous that they could not possibly mean it.

There is also the unpalatable fact that there are people who are much more extreme than the most extremist candidate. People who hang on their leader’s every word and look towards presidential candidates for guidance.


I am not for one moment suggesting that Donald Trump actually called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton at his rally this week in Wilmington, North Carolina. No, I accept his qualifying statement that he meant for gun owners to use their political power rather than their firepower.

However, in every society there are unstable people and they watch television just like everyone else.

Sizeable chunks of states such as Utah, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Idaho have been sold to what have been termed Western redoubters. They love guns and hate government and set up homesteads to keep out the rest of the world—especially big government Democrats.

This is Trumpland with bells and whistles. They were utterly convinced of Hillary Clinton’s Faustian qualities long before Donald called her the Devil. It is not a massive leap for a few unhinged individuals in the Western Redoubt to link phrases such as Devil, lock her up, or hang her with a perceived hint of assassination from a person whose views they admire.

Do these people exist? Of course they do. On March 30,1981 John Hinckley Jr tried to impress the actress Jodie Foster by attempting to assassinate President Reagan outside the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue. He nearly succeeded. Hinckley was clearly nuts. That’s why he spent 35 years in a psychiatric prison until his release two weeks ago.

Because of her personal experience we should think carefully about what Patti Davis, Reagan’s daughter wrote to Mr Trump via her Facebook page. She said of his Second Amendment speech that people “shudder at your fondness for verbal violence. It was heard by your supporters, many of whom gleefully and angrily yell ‘Lock her Up’ at your rallies. It was heard by the person sitting alone in a room, locked in his own dark fantasies, who sees unbridled violence as a way to make his mark in the world, and is just looking for ideas. Yes, Mr. Trump words matter,” wrote Ms Davis. “But then you know that, which makes them all even more horrifying.”

I would like to add something that may be more convincing. Mr Trump, Words have consequences. They can lose elections.







Tom Arms broadcasts on world affairs for a number of US radio stations including WTKF at http://www.wtkf107.com/. His Weekly Viewpoints discussion programme can be heard at 1830 EST on Wednesdays and his LookAhead at the next week’s main events on Fridays at 1800.


LookAhead Radio World Report for week commencing 15 August:






Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email: [email protected]

1 Comment

  1. Bob Arms August 12, at 17:36

    Hi Tom, I’ve never thought of Oregon and Washington as “Western redoubters . . . that love guns.” Here’s another source to consider. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/22/what-are-the-best-and-worst-states-for-second-amendment-fans/ Bob Arms


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