As if further proof were needed that hateful speech can result in hateful, deadly acts, a lead story in the New York Times this week says it all.
At least 20 people are dead in El Paso, Texas, killed by a man who had posted a 2300 word screed filled with anti-immigrant hate.
The hateful speech that fuelled this killer's rage came from the mouth of United States President Donald Trump who has called immigrants murderers, rapists, a threat to the US, and compared them and other people of color to vermin, referring to their presence as an "infestation" or an invasion.
Trump's cult-like supporters can say what they will, pretending that he is personally not racist.
Worse, they may claim the killer was "mentally ill" and that Trump was exercising his freedom of speech and the killer was acting on his own.
Twist and turn it how the Trump cult may, the President has blood on his hands and any fair judicial process would indict him as a co-conspirator.
We can be justly proud of our Government's actions after the mosque murders, banning automatic weapons the Texas killer used to such effect.
More importantly were the words of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who would not allow the Christchurch terrorist to divide us, saying of the migrants killed and wounded that "they are us," and emphasising that we are one, together as New Zealanders, migrants and native born.
We are one and what damages one of us, hurts all of us.
We cannot easily remove hatred from people's hearts, but that is exactly why this columnist has expended energy to call out especially those leaders who would divide us.
And, even more, those whose language of class, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or religious hatred would possibly give encouragement to incivility and ultimately violence.
Make no mistake. Words have consequence.
Almost always the violent act, whether in the home or on the streets, begins with words.
Words of devaluing, of denigration and vilification, or worse, demonisation.
I was fortunate enough to engage for nearly a decade as co-director of pastoral training at the Boston State Hospital, with Pastor Joe Woodson, a Baptist minister.
The intense seminars we conducted for an ecumenical group of clergy, of several faiths - Catholics, Protestants, Jews - provided the opportunity for insight and empathic understanding of the men (they were all men, then) behind the collar.
Several of the many students are among my friends still.
That experience, and the importance of words, underlies the obligation I exercised to call for Chester Borrows to explain himself (Chronicle, May 4) for appearing to excuse Israel Folau's hate speech, speech which might incite a sexually struggling adolescent to suicide, on the basis of Folau's sincerely held belief.
In the same column, (Chronicle, April 22) Borrows referred to Jesus as "breaking down the mantra of strident hate-filled Jewish teaching as it was in the first century".
Borrows hasn't responded to my published open letter charging his comments as more consistent with the blatant Jew hatred of Charlottesville, than either the PM's words at Christchurch or, indeed, the message of Jesus.
Another more recent abuse of the trust we'd like extend to religious leaders was the sermon of Rev. Kevin Tarry, who seems to prefer the hip-sounding handle Rev Kev.
He writes (Chronicle, July 31), "The wisdom of God is based on grace, powerlessness, and servitude. The way of the Jew, or Greek ... is that power is based on might, wealth".
The trope of money as principal motivator of Jews has been the cornerstone of Jew hatred for nearly two millennia.
Does Rev Kev intend his demonisation of Jews in general?
Or was this a slam at our former Prime Minister?
John Key's Jewish origin is well known, as is his history as a "money changer" at Merrill Lynch in London.
In either case, if that divisiveness and hatred-inciting speech is Rev Kev's thought for the day, I respectfully suggest he examine his heart and seek better thoughts.