A Devilish Way with Words

Do not go about spreading slander.
              —Leviticus 19:16

Alfred Hitchcock was a mischievous prankster. One of his favorite monkeyshines was to step out of a crowded elevator shaking his head and saying, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded.”

The door would slide closed behind him, leaving an elevator full of people imagining a crime that never happened.

Devilish sense of humor, you say? Yes, literally—for Satan pulls the same shenanigan. Through the words of others he feeds us tidbits that send our imagination on a rampage of suspicion, presumption, and misjudgment.

“Did you hear about … ?”
“Don’t tell anyone, but …”
“Did you know that … ?”
“They say that …”

And we mentally fill in the blanks with … with what?

The only exercise some people get is
jumping to conclusions and running down people.

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