Shoot Your Mouth Off

Linda Sharp - Author - Columnist - Media Guest - Event Speaker

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Think Before Shooting Your Mouth Off

The vocal ignorance of people amazes me. Whether it is just someone singing obviously incorrect lyrics to a song: Midnight after youíre wasted... Hey Pavarotti, itís Midnight At The Oasis, or a celebrity attempting to put three coherent words together (Jessica Simpson: Is this tuna? The can says Chicken of the Sea...), the entertainment value is always high.

Celebrity verbal missteps are almost forgivable. These people make a living speaking or singing the words others have written, so making up their own is not exactly their strongsuit. Take Mariah Carey on world hunger, "Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean, I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." And Brook Shields waxing rhapsodic about the dangers of smoking, "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." Whoa.

Another highly entertaining set of orators are sports figures. Give them the ball and they can work magic, no doubt. But give them a microphone and they are guilty of verbal manslaughter everytime. "We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."- Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks. Shaquille O'Neal on whether he had visited the Parthenon during his visit to Greece: "I can't really remember the names of all the clubs that we went to."

Coaches arenít much better, but still amusing. Take these two gems from Bill Peterson, a former Florida State football coach, "You guys line up alphabetically by height." and "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle." I can just picture those poor, hapless players now. Oh the humanity!

Then there are the politicians. The people we are supposed to trust with running our cities, states, our nations. "China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese."- Charles De Gaulle, former French President. "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."- Marion Barry, former Washington, D.C. Mayor. And of course, Dan Qualye, former Vice President and endless font of wisdom, "It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

But verbal sewage is not limited to the male political contingent. There are spouses like Hilary Clinton, "I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president." Some might call that a bit Freudian. But fear not Hil, you have new company in the Linguistic Landslide Company, Kendall Ehrlich, the first lady of Maryland.

In speaking at a conference on domestic violence, her talk turned to the influence of pop culture figures on the youngest members of our society. Choosing an example of bad influence was easy. Who better than Britney Spears, who has appeared semi-nude on countless magazine covers recently and who still has people talking about "that kiss" with Madonna?

Understandable target and ample potential to illustrate how images like this are not exactly healthy ones for our kids, but then she opens her mouth and actually says to the crowd (again, gathered on domestic violence), "You know, really, if I had the opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would."

Of course, apologies came from her representatives quickly, but the obvious damage had been done.

My advice to these highly visible personalities? Do what the we mortals attempt to do, think before you speak. Then again, maybe not. I for one appreciate the cheap entertainment and really look forward to being able to write another piece on Kendall Ehrlich titled, "Oops, She Did It Again".

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