THE 1839 Edward Bulwer-Lytton quote about the pen being “mightier than the sword” has been resurrected from a graveyard of cliches.
Years ago, technology, along with users’ cynicism, buried the worn-out adage.
Typewriters, then laptops made the pen obsolete.
Reporters rarely use the ball-pen (goose-quails in Shakespeare’s time). Editors have long discarded the red pencil, made irrelevant by the computer’s copy editing tools.
Journalists, with nary a non-cynical bone in the body, don’t believe, as Napoleon Bonaparte said, that “hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets” or that, as in last Dec. 7’s terror attack on the weekly magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” no equipment of journalism can survive an assault by a Kalashnikov, which fires 775 rounds per minute, or a rocket launcher that can blow up a newsroom and everyone in it.
But media practice couldn’t resist an apt symbol in condemning the Paris massacre.
Four of the 12 victims were “Charlie” cartoonists who literally used the pen to produce acerbic cartoons which set off the assault.
The quote isn’t beyond ridicule: the pen is mightier, some say, “if the sword is very short and the pen is very sharp” or the “pen is easier to write with in the first place.”
Ever disturbing is how the pen, laptop or whatever its equivalent in the future, could withstand the AK-47, which Yuri Orlov (played by Nicolas Cage) in the film “Lord of War” said is “the world’s most popular assault rifle, a weapon all fighters love... Doesn’t break, jam or overheat... So easy even a child can use it.”