Thinking before speaking even more important for public figures

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

“Really, if I had the opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would,” said Kendel Ehrlich.

Ehrlich was the first lady of Maryland when she made this statement in October 2003. It rocked the world, as the statement was not only inappropriate but threatening in nature.

Ironically, the statement was made at an anti-violence conference at Hood College in Maryland.

The comment was made in reference to Spears’ influence on young girls, and how they are sexualized in the media. Needless to say, Ehrlich apologized for her statement and faded into the woodwork until her husband’s term was over.

This was certainly not the first time a public figure opened his/her mouth only to insert a foot. It was one of the most memorable because of the nature of the comment and the amount of publicity it received.

However, it’s obvious from recent events in the media politicians have not learned from Ehrlich’s mistake.

Hillary Clinton came under heavy fire recently, but it wasn’t from snipers. Clinton was assaulted in the media for telling the Philadelphia Daily News’ editorial board she dodged sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia 12 years ago.

As the claim was proved to be untrue, Clinton said she “misspoke.” Many political analysts have accused her of trying to exaggerate her ainvolvement in foreign policy.

Clinton responded to the incident in a radio interview saying she was not worried about the incident hurting her credibility.

On May 23, however, she once again forgot to engage her brain before speaking. She defended her decision to remain in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination by alluding to Robert Kennedy’s assassination in June of 1968.

This grossly inappropriate reference was meant to justify her presence on the campaign trail. But for me, it just solidified the reason she needs to concede.

Clinton’s comment did not only refer to a low-point in America’s history, she alluded to the possible assassination of her opposition to justify staying in the race.

This desperate act makes me question her motives, as well as how she truly feels about the success of her party.

Does she want a Democrat in the White House or is she so concerned with sitting in the Oval Office she has forgotten what she stands for?

Clinton cannot be singled out because she “misspoke,” when fellow presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Sen. John McCain have a made a few gaffes as well.

At a speech at the National Rifle Association in Louisville, Ky., Huckabee’s speech was interrupted by a noise off-stage. He joked it was Barack Obama tripping over a chair as he “dove for the floor” when someone aimed a gun at him.

Huckabee excused the comment saying it was a “lame joke.” It disturbs me he would even have these thoughts, let alone voice them at a public function.

Nothing was remotely funny about this comment, and hopefully, Huckabee will learn to control the impulse to exercise the muscle in the middle of his face.

McCain is also no stranger to controversy. During a forum he was asked about foreign policy and McCain responded with a little ditty to the tune of a Beach Boys hit.

“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” will not make it to the top of the charts. In fact I don’t think it was very popular at all, except with Huckabee, who admitted he thought the song was “funny” on “Meet the Press.”

Maybe Huckabee would be great choice as McCain’s vice presidential candidate, as they seem to be two peas in an inappropriate pod.

While we all occasionally commit social faux pas, we must remember to think before we speak. The brain controls the movements of the mouth, so it is possible for one to use restraint before blurting out the first thing that crosses his or her mind. It is also possible to consider how others may interpret your comment.

Also, if you hold a public office or are in the public eye, please remember what you say will have an impact on the people you represent.

A piece of advice: Engage your brain before you open your mouth.

RENEE SLOAN is a staff writer and page designer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or rsloan@brunswickbeacon.com.