Editorial: Offensive language from history

  • Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Throughout human history, words have sometimes been stronger than weapons -- hence the phrase, "The pen is mightier than the sword." Quite often, powerful words can lead people to take a stand on an issue, to begin a course of action, get angry, laugh, fall in love or turn misty-eyed with tenderness.

As we have presented episodes in Tom Rubillo's column "A Government of Men," such as "Episode 19: White Supremacy?" on the facing page today, we share a cautionary note.

Rubillo quotes from historical materials that sometimes contain offensive language.

Neither he nor the Georgetown Times endorses the use of that language. Rather, he is using that language to provide the context of life in the South and in Georgetown County in particular.

In this episode, it's important to know about Ben Tillman, who was the 84th governor of South Carolina. After serving four years, he went on to the United States Senate, where he held office from 1895 to 1918. Rubillo explains some of Tillman's history in his column.

It would be instructive to read more about Tillman and South Carolina in those years.

"Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." That expression is variously attributed to Edmund Burke, Benjamin Franklin and George Santayana.

Whoever first said it, the lesson is clear: we all need to learn from history. Sometimes those lessons are tough to learn, offensive or harsh, but still necessary.

So, we encourage you to read Rubillo's column but be aware that some of the historical language used is offensive.

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