Fandango’s Provocative Question (27 January 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

In the context of blogging and writing, what do you think is more important: what you say or how you say it?

How we say it.

Because, even if we come out with the most brilliant piece of wisdom, if it gets misunderstood by readers, then that wisdom is lost.

I had to add a filter, especially when I started blogging, and especially in the area of humour (which different users will interpret differently), because I was aware that something I wrote, which I might think incredibly witty, might get misinterpreted as an insult. Most times I succeeded in applying that filter, a few times I didn’t. As I’ve gotten to know people a bit, I’ve dropped my guard a little bit, but it is still something I need to be aware of.

For example, not long ago I made a comment on somebody’s COVID-related post (so straight away, a serious subject). I thought my comment – about which sites I use to gather data – was innocuous, totally uncontentious. And yet the blogger responded, really coming down my throat. So something I had written had obviously pushed their buttons. It just goes to show how easily we can be misinterpreted.

Man Flu

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 27 January 2021, issue.

I was battling with flu uncontrolled,
When my missus came down with a cold,
With no thought for my issue,
She said “pass me a tissue”
So I passed one of mine, two weeks old!

Eeuw!

Speaking Your Mind

I saw a post fly past last night by Fandango, the subject was a post he had read on freedom of speech / hate speech. He’d commented on a post and been asked some more questions in return.

I’m not sure how best to describe what I thought, but it all felt a bit skewed, as though questions were not even on the same playing field. That description, in itself, probably sounds daft, so it is probably best that I jump in and provide my own answers to those same questions. Maybe in that way I can at least illustrate what I mean.

What do you consider “hate speech?” When can something be described as inciting violence?

What do I consider…? Hang on. Straight away I’m being asked for my opinion. In the UK, at least, it isn’t an opinion. Our parliament has helpfully described several types of hate crime – discriminating against a person on the basis of their race etc. So, all of our police forces work to that common definition, and happily publish it. Those are the consistent standards.

It is also a sufficiently-accepted definition that it appears in dictionaries, even, for example the Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Cambridge English Dictionary.

Even the USA has a standard definition, which will be used in a court, provided courtesy of the FBI. So, another reasonable answer to the question of what do you consider to be hate speech? would be the same as the FBI.

There’s very little wriggle-room, here – these are pretty standard definitions – Feel free to disagree with it if you like, but it’ll land you in court.

So, the reason I thought that question was skewed is because it is soliciting an opinion, on something which is already defined. It is like saying “what is your opinion of the sky?” It doesn’t make sense.

Do you see the Terms and Conditions as black and white rules, or with a lot of gray area?

They are a contract. Like any other contract, the amount of grey area depends how well-written it is.

That there will be a large variation, because contracts are written to different standards… well, isn’t that par for the course?

Do you yourself block others? Why/why not?

Of course. Because I have Terms of Service, too, although I don’t tend to label them as such. But why would my site be any different to another site which invites user-participation?

Why is it that you limit your social media use to only WP?

I’ll miss this one because I don’t really understand the relevance. Maybe Fandango provoked it by something he said in his comment. But either way, the platform we use is not relevant to our general freedom of speech.


Do you see now why I thought it was skewed? It’s really that “hate speech is an opinion” thing. It isn’t. As a result, possibly a lot of things which appear obvious to me are not so obvious to others?