Constance Alexander: When in the wrong hands, words become deadly weapons

In 1948, when New Yorker magazine published Shirley Jackson’s now-classic story, “The Lottery,” scores of readers canceled their subscriptions. Irate letters to the editors and phone calls raised a tumult. Even Jackson’s parents added their own note of discord. “Dad and I did not care at all for your story,” her mother wrote. “It does seem, dear, that this gloomy kind of story is what...