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Originally posted by silent thunder
My own view is that language is inherently tricky because words are "multivalient" -- they contain multiple possible interpretations. Language is not math; it is often illogical.
However, we do possess some sort of sub-verbal, intuituve capacity for understanding the general thrust of communication, in most cases. We probably take our cues from body language, emotion, or even subtler mechanisms that are not understood well.
Thus, in communication, we can usually suss out people's basic underlying intentions. It is THIS we should judge people on, rather than whether or not they happen to use a certain word or phase that happens to be in vogue or taboo at the moment. Jumping all over people based on buzzwords is not a good way to fly. Trying to understand the underlying intentions is much more constructive.
Offense is always a question of intent. You know your boundaries, but you do not know everyone elses. I would say most people can tell the difference from deliberate offense and a simple mistake.
but that is on the receiving end.
should there be times when you disagree with someone elses beliefs that they should be offended even to themselves? and by simply showing your cruel interpretation of what they believe, does it have a more altering affect than simply being nice?
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.--'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.'--Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
I suppose no man can violate his nature. All the sallies of his will are rounded in by the law of his being, as the inequalities of Andes and Himmaleh are insignificant in the curve of the sphere. Nor does it matter how you gauge and try him. A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza;--read it forward, backward, or across, it still spells the same thing. In this pleasing contrite wood-life which God allows me, let me record day by day my honest thought without prospect or retrospect, and, I cannot doubt, it will be found symmetrical, though I mean it not and see it not. My book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects. The swallow over my window should interweave that thread or straw he carries in his bill into my web also. We pass for what we are. Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment.
If he is aware that he can't be offended, because he is aware of either the ignorance or motive of the sender, does the sender leave knowing that they were offensive?
If not, should they?
But again, what if your belief is what offends them? Should it be your concern, or theirs?