Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Power of Words

This morning I read THIS news piece about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi supposedly boasting of his sexual prowess. Evidently the man verbally boasted about spending one night with eight women (some of whom may have likely been underage thus making the man a pedophile and a law-breaker among other things).

However, it really got me thinking about the concept of boasting. The Oxford-American Dictionary defines boasting as "talking with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one's achievements, possessions, or abilities." So first of all, boasting requires talking. Hence, the power of words.

Secondly, boasting (talking-with-pride) is a way of interpreting action. Interpretation gives meaning. Hence, the power of words gives behavior different kinds of meaning.

Thirdly, boasting is done for social purposes: to convey meaning to others. Hence, the power of words to persuade others about the meaning of various behavior.

What really upsets me about this news piece is that by boasting about his behavior, PM Berlusconi has spun his behavior with a 'color' - a 'color' that paints his behavior as something to boast about, something to strive for, something to achieve. By boasting about his night with 8 women, this man has interpreted his own behavior in a way that gives himself power and portrays his behavior as somehow preferable.

His boasting also serves as a purpose to defend his behavior (and disguise it). But, the defense through boasting is only valid if its hearers accept the behavior as something to boast about!

Here I beg the question: Would Berluscnoi's behavior speak for itself in the same way? Without words, would his behavior by itself be seen in the same light? The answer is NO. Immoral behavior can only be seen as acceptable through the deceptive power of interpretation - usually by words.

On the opposite side of the same coin, immoral behavior can only be condemned through the power of words. Too bad nobody around Berlusconi loves him enough to tell him that his behavior isn't worth boasting about.

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