Yesterday I violated the Fourth Precept, a little. I called Rush silly and a clown for referring to a young woman as a slut and a prostitute.
Today I read Thich Nhat Hanh's commentary on the Fourth Precept, looking for ammunition to use against Rush. Then I realized I was doing what Rush was doing: unkind speech.
I confess I was troubled reading a poll that showed that many Americans trust Rush much more than they trust the president. I wanted to warn people that Rush is not a wise teacher. He does not promote peace, compassion, or loving kindness. Even so, we can learn from him, as from everyone. Christians believe that we are known by our fruits: Does what we do and say result in increased peace, justice, and charity? Here is Thich's translation of the Fourth Precept and a link to his commentary on it. Please test your teachers against this standard:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.