People should be more careful about their words

It seems that hyperbole has become more than just a rhetorical tool lately.

In the last week alone, no fewer than three instances of exaggeration from high-profile speakers have wavered near the line that divides creative expression from doltish blathering.

On April 2, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, told an audience at Stanford University that saving his paper during the struggling industry’s most perilous times “now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause.”

Turning to the sports world, Texas Rangers relief pitcher Eddie Guardado was quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Saturday as saying that he “wouldn’t be afraid to go to war with” his fellow bullpen compatriots, explaining that the camaraderie and experience among the group had improved from the previous season.

Just a day later, University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams tried to focus on his team’s efforts in the national championship game instead of suggestions that a Michigan State University win could help revitalize spirits in the afflicted Detroit-area economy. To emphasize his point he said, “If you would tell me that if Michigan State wins, it’s going to satisfy the nation’s economy, then I’d say, ‘Hell, let’s stay poor for a little while longer.'”

Surely none of these men believes that saving a company or winning games is more important than saving whole economies or lives, but language such as theirs reflects a worldly aloofness among people stuck in the bubbles their jobs create, a special irony for Keller, whose role should require him to keep a watchful eye on the most important events of the day.

Offhanded remarks don’t mean much at the end of the day, but one would like to believe that if people were more aware of the implications of their words, the world’s problems wouldn’t be as big in the first place.

Editor-in-chief Max Landman for the editorial board.