Assaulted by Words

Published 8:48 am Saturday, April 16, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

A different kind of avalanche sure to qualify as “breaking news” may soon come crashing down. And lesser ones will follow.

Crumbling fast are some universal, rock-solid beliefs the masses have believed to be unchanging truths. To illustrate, I cite findings I didn’t even know I was looking for during a recent visit to Globe Life Park, where the Texas Rangers play baseball.

At the outset, I point to an adage dating back to 1862: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Columnist Robyn Short thinks whoever originated this statement was “on the receiving end of a very kind-speaking stick thrower.” She–along with millions of us in lines snaking around the world–believes words do hurt. And they crash into our senses increasingly from all directions.

Many times they hurt. They also may offend, confuse, overwhelm, distract, alarm and threaten. With their excessive range, they also can both minimize and maximize. What else can so effectively bludgeon us into submission on one hand, or bore us to sleep on the other?

If words were hail, many of us would be declared total losses.

Yep, broken bones can be fixed. Psyches? Not so fast. How much more, pray tell, can we mortals process, depending presently on mere eyes and ears?

Much competes for our attention. We’ve grown accustomed to ever more sophisticated traditional media. Add heaping helpings from social media devices, and our receptors grow numb.

At Globe Life Park, three new “pitches” were noted. (Reference is to advertising “pitches”–not the ones thrown from the mound.)

Most notable is the new left field message board. With this additional square footage, much more “information” now is available, perhaps soon including players’ DNA and blood types.

The new foul poles, with three huge words painted vertically, urge us to “Eat More Fowl.” I like Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and freely admit that most of its ads are clever.

The ones on foul poles are not. (It is a “lousy chicken joke.”) Fans are eager to know if balls smacked out of the ballpark are fair or foul. And what about the folks in the outfield seats, having to look around the “Eat More Fowl” message from the back side? Indeed, the misplaced message could lead to our eating less fowl.

I had foolishly assumed some parts of the ballpark would be spared secondary assignment as cogs in the giant advertising machine. The decision to run ads on the foul poles is as ill-advised–falling into the same tacky category as ads swinging from cross bars on goal posts, pop-ups from backboards when baskets are made, or psychedelic colors flashing from nets upon scored hockey goals.

Finally, how about ads worded to make provisions for expansion? Here again, Globe Life Park is cited.

Portal ads push Dr Pepper, “AN official soft drink of the Texas Rangers.” (Bold face is mine.) Does this mean there will be more soft drinks–like players–to be named later?

My guess is Dr Pepper got more “bang” from the opening pitch “thrown” recently by a 105-year-old woman. She credited “drinking three Dr Peppers a day” for her longevity. She said doctors had advised her against it, adding, “They died first, so I guess they made a mistake.“

Maybe there’s no end to this vexing assault on our senses by words. A haunting thought mentioned years ago by somebody famous sums it up: “We can see around the world in seconds, hear around the world in seconds and be around the world in hours. But we have to use the same nervous system Moses had when he led the children of Israel from the land of bondage.”

Man’s inhumanity to man seems to be on a downhill slope, gaining speed.

It doesn’t appear the masses will rise up, even if the next thing we know, Chick-fil-A–or another well-known corporate giant–may claim sponsorship of the National Anthem when we’re taken out to the old ballgame. ‘Course, this whole piece is from a guy who, at age 14, painted an outdoor sign reading: “Handguns and Snow Cones.” In our small shop, another guy sold the guns; I was the concessionaire.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.