At first glance, the commentators are bit perplexed by what happened. When reading the text closely, Miriam does not necessarily appear to have done or said anything wrong. She stated a fact, about Moses's wife ethnicity. But the Rabbis suggest that the reason that was punished was because while she was stating a fact, and what she believed to be true, she did so in a manner that was meant to be degrading, and offensive. Her comments were even more inappropriate given her position of influence and power within the Jewish community.
We live in a society where we pride ourselves on freedom of speech. With some safety and security limitations, people can say what they want, and how they feel, freely. Nevertheless, we also live in a society where despite legal protections; we can and should be held accountable for not only what we say but how we say it. Whether what is being said is true or not, those of us with an audience or in a position of influence, whether a clergy person, a Politician, or a Television Personality, we have an additional responsibility to be cautious with the way in which we use our speech and communicate. Which is why it is my hope and prayer for all of us that we can learn from Miriam's mistake. That in a world where words and communication can incite violence and cause so much harm, we use our speech to bring blessings to our family, our friends, our community and the world around us.