The Power and Use of Words, Can vs Should

by on Oct.03, 2010, under Articles, Opinions, The Power of Words, Writing

This may become an ongoing study! Where I fine awesome uses of words and display them to you.

This one comes from a friend of mine who twittered a blog post from the blog The Curt Jester. It appears to be a blog by a former atheist now catholic on the topics of politics, religion, and other items of interest. I’ve only ever read the entry I’m about to quote but from that one entry, I might suppose that this blog is a nice peaceful place for discourse on the above topics, rather than the usual extreme you might find.

But that aside, the is a Power and Use of Words post. The following quote does touch upon a political and moral debate that can quickly aggravate. (Link) I stress I did not pick this quote due to its political content.

“Fighting against abortion is not a conservative thing, it is a protection of the truth that we are created in the image of God and that the innocent can not be murdered.”

The last statement made really caught me eye as I was reading this. Remember the source, this quote comes from a Catholic. So what we are seeing here is a statement regarding a believe held by a member of the Catholic Church.

Here was my analysis/thought processes. Is can the correct word there? Perhaps the writer was mistaken. Perhaps he meant to use the word should. The innocent should not be murdered. I mean, the innocent can be murdered. That is true. It is a statement of fact, in as so much that one believes in the concept of innocence. We agree that a baby is innocent and through some action, I cause it’s life to end, then I’ve murdered it. I’ve heard of no proof that states that babies are immortal until no longer innocent.

But what if it isn’t a mistake? What if it is, instead, a statement of emphasis? The innocent CAN NOT be murdered. Even if one can actually murder, the use of the word can becomes imperative, even more so than the word should, as should implies a choice, where as can implies inevitability.

Now there might be something more to it. An deep understanding of Catholic faith, law, dogma, tradition, or fact that I am not privy to, that sheds better or more light upon this word choice but the above interpretation I found interesting. It is, I think, a great example of how the rules of grammar can be bent or broken in small ways to provide even further levels of communication.

The Power and Use of Words

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