Monday, April 02, 2007

I'm sorry to have offended you...

Michael Matthews shares some insight into the futility of being "offended" and the tactic of apology often employed by politicians to use another's emotionally-based and reactionary criticism advantageously. Michael provides us with the example of Warren Chisum's distribution of an anti-evolution essay espousing anti-Semitic claims of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Christian teachings about the universe. Michael says -
"The lesson is, if someone does something ridiculous, it's not sufficient to express offense. In fact it's counterproductive. Instead, one should make explicit the silliness or inconsistencies in the person's argument, how it is racially bigoted, how it is constitutionally illegal, or simply why it's logically fallacious."
Counterproductive indeed. Expressing offense, as Michael notes, gives the offender a way out by "apologizing for the offense instead of the actual act". How so? Because the offense is committed in the mind of the offended.

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