Patterico's Pontifications

12/3/2009

Why the Kerfuffle Over SEK Matters

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:01 pm



So here’s the larger issue relating to my recent discussion with SEK. First, let’s recap: SEK writes a title that clearly declares that Ed Morrissey is a knowing race-baiter. Conservatives reasonably interpret that as an accusation that Ed Morrissey is a race-baiter — that is, after all, what he wrote — and criticize SEK accordingly. So far, so good.

Then SEK defends himself by saying that he really didn’t intend to say that Ed Morrissey was intentionally baiting racist comments. The plain language of his title be damned; our reasonable interpretation of it be damned; his intent wasn’t to call Ed Morrissey a deliberate race-baiter.

Here’s the question: if you assume for the sake of argument that he’s telling the truth, is there anything wrong with what he said?

9 out of 10 comments will say: “but I don’t want to make that assumption, because SEK is a liar.”* You’re free to write that, but I will ignore you because you are not responding to my question. Again, I ask you to assume even if only for the sake of argument that SEK is telling the truth about his declaration of intent.

Does that mean that SEK gets to avoid criticism for writing that Ed Morrissey is a race-baiter — even if he doesn’t mean it? Even if there is no reasonable way for him to explain why he wrote it that way? Even if his plain language contradicts his intent?

This is where I say: Words Mean Things. If your plain meaning is obvious to any reasonable observer, it doesn’t matter how stridently you claim to have meant something different. You Have Failed. It is time to try again.

Because your pure intent can’t always serve as a defense when your actual words plainly suggest something very different. Isn’t that clear?

*Incidentally, this is how the “intentionalism nose on/intentionalism nose off” crowd deals with this very easily: SEK is a leftist, therefore a liar, therefore he is lying about his intent. We give charitable readings to our friends and almost always accept their declarations of intent; meanwhile, we read the words of our enemies the way we want to read them — and simply declare their contrary interpretations of their own words to be lies. This approach gives you license to twist the words of your enemies; I find it intellectually dishonest and reject it. If you think you can’t be the victim of this sort of dishonest “interpretation” then think again.

54 Responses to “Why the Kerfuffle Over SEK Matters”

  1. ” It is time to try again.”

    You mean like publish an update clarifying your intent ?

    imdw (00bfab)

  2. This thing is just performance art tonight.

    JD (4a5c67)

  3. I guess if he didn’t mean it, he could say so and then give a full unhedged apology and then going the extra mile to set the record at every turn… because if I call someone a racist unfairly, it is my lifelong responsiblity to set the record straight at every turn.
    Some of us like to argue we were being oblique when called obtuse and oh we were obtuse when called oblique. At this point I hope my friends would pull me aside and tell me to just stop f****** lying and apologize already. If I balk they should kick me in the nuts.

    I wear a cup most days…

    SteveG (97b6b9)

  4. It matters for the same reason SEK would want people to come to his defense if he were the victim instead of the victimizer.

    DRJ (dee47d)

  5. Honest mistakes are always possible. There’s even that old saying that no matter how clear one tries to be, that some will still mis-interpret.

    I would offer that the test comes as soon as the author admits that the plain language supports the interpretation, even if it had not been intended. Thus, it is less important what came before, as what happens after. In other words, if the author revises the language and clearly identifies what got changed and why, and that the intent had been otherwise, then I would say innocent. If the language is left as-is, then guilty.

    Too many times I have seen folk skirt the edge to appeal to their innermost crony circle and draw back only when challenged by others, and then to cunningly draw back as little as possible, and then to wait to see if that was enough to deflect or end the heat. It is when the corrective actions or revisions are substantive from the start and clearly noted that I consider the initial deed to be inadvertent.

    In this case, I have judged the author to be in the former group, and not the latter (innocent) one.

    jim2 (9c351e)

  6. I read SEK’s “defenses” several times, and outside of his sense of superiority, backpedaling, and pretzel logic, it seems that he gives great weight to the distinction between intentional and knowing.

    This would all be much easier if people didn’t run around calling people racists because they disagree with you politically.

    JD (4a5c67)

  7. I would offer that the test comes as soon as the author admits that the plain language supports the interpretation, even if it had not been intended. Thus, it is less important what came before, as what happens after. In other words, if the author revises the language and clearly identifies what got changed and why, and that the intent had been otherwise, then I would say innocent. If the language is left as-is, then guilty.

    See, I agree — which is why I didn’t buy SEK’s defense. The plain language was never changed or retracted, and the plain language matters.

    What I’m trying to do is get people to address and admit that contention: that plain language matters. That the most reasonable interpretation of that plain language matters. That it can matter even if at odds with the author’s stated intent — because if you fail to communicate to a reasonable audience, you bear some responsibility for that.

    Can I get an amen?

    Patterico (64318f)

  8. I am particularly annoyed by this because I deal with academics with this set of attitudes daily. They know perfectly well what they are saying, and are hiding behind a facade of faux-superior intellectualism. “What? Lil’ old me? I would never call someone a racist!” Wink. Then they get to act all offended when someone calls them on it.

    Puh-leeze.

    The way to test this “intentionality” fluffery is in the time honored way: putting the shoe on the other foot.

    Have a title that says something particularly vile about SEK, then insist that the post has more nuance and of course only a bumpkin would think that the title meant something so gauche.

    If you were to do this, you would be told how different it is when you do it, and how okay it is when he does it.

    This goes back to earlier comment I made: SEK thinks he is a swell fellow. Thus, people who disagree with him are not-so-good. And because they are not-so-good, it is perfectly okay to hang a “racist” sign around their necks.

    Despicable and self-serving hypocrisy.

    Sorry for the rant.

    Eric Blair (bc43a4)

  9. You mean like publish an update clarifying your intent ?

    That’s a start — but retracting the offending language is also a necessary step.

    Patterico (64318f)

  10. SteveG and jim2 said it for me. i did not follow evry step of this topic because it seemed right away that SEK was trying way too hard to justify himself instead of just saying, “Oh, you’re right, I guess it does sound that way, though that’s not what I meant, let me clarify and fix it right away…”

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  11. And here is the other relevant point. Do we have a history of SEK admitting he was wrong about, well, anything that involves harsh words or judgements about people.

    Bueller?

    I have seen Patterico do so.

    I think the issue here is much, much simpler than this discussion. SEK got himself off on a conservative bashing rant, and ran the language off the cliff of good taste.

    But. He. Cannot. Admit. Error.

    So we get Clintonian hair-splitting.

    All he has to write is that he got overheated, and his mouth wrote a check he didn’t mean to cash. And apologize to Morrissey.

    But don’t hold your breath. Our academic friend, you see, is in the right.

    Eric Blair (bc43a4)

  12. I’m talking about bigger-picture issues in the post. I admit that I expressed pessimism that anyone would want to discuss them — but that is why I brought it up.

    Patterico (64318f)

  13. Amen! Preach it, Brother P.!!

    Yes, words are a tool to convey meaning, to communicate. They can not communicate accurately if the meaning is undefined. If the words used convey a message other then the intended one, then the person should alter the words to convey the meaning intended. Otherwise, the person really doesn’t care what they communicated, or are just being deceitful.

    Did I communicate that adequately??

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  14. MD in Philly,

    Smashing.

    Does anyone else agree?

    Patterico (64318f)

  15. One’s stated intent and the words chose to express same should match. If they don’t, fix it. Claiming sarcasm after the fact really isn’t a fox, and is just kind of douchebaggy.

    JD (4a5c67)

  16. it seemed right away that SEK was trying way too hard to justify himself instead of just saying, “Oh, you’re right, I guess it does sound that way, though that’s not what I meant, let me clarify and fix it right away…”

    I agree with this and frankly it indicated to me that preserving his intellectual persona & image took priority over clearly and concisely making a retraction and complete correction – so complete a correction that there would be no chance of any subsequent question or discussion as to whether it had been made. Like there is now…

    Dana (e9ba20)

  17. I’ve given up on SEK but if the question is “Do words matter?” Yes, they do.

    DRJ (dee47d)

  18. One’s stated intent and the words chose to express same should match. If they don’t, fix it.

    But SEK thought his words and intent did match. Who gets to decide? Do reasonable listeners have a say?

    What if you as the speaker believe that your words and your intent match — but reasonable listeners do not? Who is at fault?

    Patterico (64318f)

  19. That’s why we have a prudent man standard.

    DRJ (dee47d)

  20. You have my apologies, Patterico. I get heated by academics smearing other people with terms like “racist” and “fascist” and such.

    Here is something that speaks more to your goal in this post, which I have quoted elsewhere on this blog.

    Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.”

    -William Zinnser, author of “On Writing Well.”

    The last two seem most important to me. Especially the final one.

    Eric Blair (bc43a4)

  21. I’ve given up on SEK but if the question is “Do words matter?” Yes, they do.

    That’s one simple and straightforward way of putting it.

    There are those who argue that words mean only what the speaker intends them to mean — and use this argument to put the onus on the listener entirely to hear what the speaker intended, removing any onus on the speaker to be clear.

    Patterico (64318f)

  22. That’s why we have a prudent man standard.

    Or I would call it a reasonable man standard.

    I’m told by some that such a standard is a cop-out and the ultimate cave to fascism and such.

    But it seems to me that communication is a two-way street. Speakers have a responsibility to be clear.

    Patterico (64318f)

  23. It is hard to account for delusional people, Patterico. If I write SEK is a douchenozzle, and then claim that my intent was not to call him a douchenozzle, then I would expect anyone to call me on it.

    JD (4a5c67)

  24. Who gets to decide? Do reasonable listeners have a say?

    Listeners will ultimately be the deciders but that doesn’t mean that the speaker will retract, correct, or even acknowledge their response. It all depends what their original motive of the speaker was. And that motive may not have been honest, or with the intent to communicate what they indicated. It’s quite possible that the motive was to manipulate the listener through nuance and subtle inference.

    Dana (e9ba20)

  25. I think you are ceding to others the ability to control your meaning, JD.

    If you want to express your belief that SEK is not a douchenozzle by writing the words “SEK is a douchenozzle,” then how dare someone usurp your meaning by reading what you actually said?

    Patterico (64318f)

  26. In regard to #20, I would say you need to have a “reasonable cross-section of trusted reasonable people”, and a dictionary or two.

    If a “significant percentage” of the observers (could be less than 50%) think an “unintended meaning” is conveyed, I think an honest good faith gesture would be to humbly apologize and clarify the message and change/add to the wording as necessary. If the person wishes to state that many did understand, so the speaker still thinks they did not do anything “wrong”, I think that would be fine.

    But as others have said, humility and honesty are not as valued and evident as would be desired.

    I must say though, in our litiginous society, it sometimes seems that “I’m sorry” invites trouble.

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  27. Especially, Patterico, when you are only looking for strategies to avoid taking direct responsibility for incivil language, unnecessary insult, and bumper-sticker argumentation.

    Eric Blair (bc43a4)

  28. So, which do you privilege, my stated intent or my written word, when they are in conflict?

    JD (4a5c67)

  29. So, which do you privilege, my stated intent or my written word, when they are in conflict?

    That’s what the discussion is about.

    For some, the answer depends on whether I like you.

    If I like you, I privilege your stated intent.

    If I don’t, I privilege your written word.

    I’m looking for a more honest and generally applicable rule.

    I think the answer has to do with things like the reasonableness of any interpretation, and whether either party (the listener or the speaker) knows of possible alternate interpretations.

    I’m thinking of doing a whole post on it.

    What’s your answer, JD?

    Patterico (64318f)

  30. Especially, Patterico, when you are only looking for strategies to avoid taking direct responsibility for incivil language, unnecessary insult, and bumper-sticker argumentation.

    There are theories out there that I think comfort many because they offer just that.

    Patterico (64318f)

  31. SEK seems to be following Tweedledum & Tweedledee is claiming that his words mean only what he says they mean.

    In all of my writings, I have tried to remember what I was taught in basic training about message writing. it helped me a lot over the years. “What can be misunderstood – will be misunderstood” is just as valid today as in 1956.

    It is the writer’s responsibility to write clearly and to immediately correct any “failures to communicate” whether accidental or deliberate when brought to the writer’s attention.

    If one fails to promptly correct what one claims to be a misunderstanding, a reasonable person may justly conclude that there was no misunderstanding.

    Merely a cheap shot artist at work.

    Longwalker (996c34)

  32. As has been touched upon before.

    If a person is interested in communicating, they will have an interest in making sure the listener understands them.

    If the person’s goal is to CYA, “win” an argument, humiliate someone, cover a responsibility they don’t care about, then being understood or not may not be as important.

    If a teacher doesn’t care if the students understand what was said, the person needs to stop teaching. If a doctor or lawyer don’t care if their patient/client understands, they need a new job. If a parent doesn’t care if the child understands, or the spouse care if their partner understands, you’ve got a big problem.

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  33. My test would rest on the amount of logical support for the meaning the author wants to give. If there’s a non-spurious argument to be made that the author intended the words to mean one thing, then that interpretation should be given added weight over another party’s interpretation.

    I guess I believe than an author should own their words, both in having the privilege of giving them meaning and in the responsibility of carrying the weight of that meaning.

    And it’s in the responsibility portion that you get to the decency part of the argument. A decent person who has just called a person a race-baiter based on party affiliation says “Whoops, my bad. I can see how that would be taken the wrong way, and perpetuates that whole rancorous political atmosphere we’re supposed to not want around anymore. Here’s a better title for you.”

    The indecent fellow says, “That was Ironic. You’re too stupid to get it. Righties are racists.”

    Hadlowe (061332)

  34. If I have a foundational trust or respect for someone, I am more likley to give deference to what I thought they meant, but I would still expect them to behave in a gracious and humble manner to correct the misunderstanding when it is brought up. If, upon that opportunity, the person refuses, then one needs to rethink the measure of respect previously given.

    If it happens with someone who I don’t respect/like, I am inclined to be offended and skeptical, but i still owe the opportunity for the person to revisit what they said. if they respond with gracious candor and concern over miscommunicating, then they should be afforded the measure of respect due them (at least in this episode).

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  35. If it requires 50,000 words to explain that when I wrote SEK is a douchenozzle, that I really meant SEK is not a douchenozzle, then any reasonable person can assume that I am prolly the douchenozzle. If your stated intentions require a suspension of all known defintions and common meanings of words, or the stated intent stands in direct contradiction to the written word, then the words were poorly written, and are in need of correction.

    That is why I am concise, and err on the side of brevity. There is rarely any question as to what I intend to say.

    JD (4a5c67)

  36. Patterico – I think we’ve been down this road before.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  37. daleyrocks,

    Yes — and yet, the tables are turned. People are now emotionally invested in giving effect to the reasonable listener’s interpretation — and more impatiently dismissive of the speaker’s claimed intent. This is because it’s the dirty leftist calling everyone racist who is the speaker.

    Which makes it the perfect opportunity for me to test my hypothesis that Words Matter and that a reasonable listener’s interpretation also matters.

    Don’t you agree?

    Patterico (64318f)

  38. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of having something that sounded one way in their head sound just aweful when spoken. Even though you try to explain how you intended it, your explanations sound rather lame even to yourself. What is the prudent course of action at that point? Stick to your guns and insist that what you said wasn’t so bad if what you meant was taken into consideration? Or, is it better to admit that what you said was not what you meant, retract the error, and apologize for saying something that was so different from what you wanted to convey?

    The question really answers itself, doesn’t it?

    Anon Y. Mous (1f3f10)

  39. If your stated intentions require a suspension of all known defintions and common meanings of words, or the stated intent stands in direct contradiction to the written word, then the words were poorly written, and are in need of correction.

    This appears to be at least a token nod to the concept that Words Mean Things. That’s something.

    Patterico (64318f)

  40. This discussion reminds me of the controversy over George Allens comment at the campaign rally which led to the end of his political career. I saw the incident before the controversy started and it was clear to me that Allen was trying to insult his target, but was trying to get over a “whiny, douchbag” message rather than a racial one. He ended up coining a term that sounded like “ka ka”. He would have been better off had he just said douchebag.

    The tie in to this discussion is, who was responsible for the debate? Allen, for calling his stalker out in public with a passive-aggresive made up insult or his detractors who seized on the fake controversy about “maybe he meant a derogatory french term that sounds different anyway”?

    In this case SEK clearly implied that Ed believes his audience is racist and that Ed knowingly feeds that racist impulse.
    The most that he has back tracked to, in my opinion, is that Ed knows his audience is racist and any writings directed to that audience will result in a manifestation of that racism – a la the commenter who brought up the hypothetical of Ed posting an open thread sans an commentary would be seen as providing an opportunity for racist venting.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  41. You know, Patterico, when my nephew was about twenty, he believed in “speaking truth to power” and felt that people were “fake.” Also, he told me, civility didn’t matter, since “words were just words; what’s the big deal?”

    All with a smirk.

    So I told him what I thought of him, and he looked shocked.

    “Wait,” I said. “I thought you said words didn’t matter?”

    I paused and then got nose to nose with him.

    “You just want to say whatever you want. You don’t want other people to have the same freedom.”

    Words do matter. And people who say they don’t usually feel differently about words directed at them.

    Eric Blair (bc43a4)

  42. I have that post here.

    It’s sort of filled with legalese and yet I feel that it makes an important point — namely: this is why it matters that I knew you might reasonably interpret my words the way you did.

    As stuffed with legal language as it might be, I think I will refer to it again and again. I’d consider it a personal favor if people read it, tried to understand it, and left responsive comments on that thread.

    Patterico (64318f)

  43. I wrote two “gotcha” titles on my site that don’t quite fit here, but do fit here, sorta:

    Liberals Are Racists
    Why Do Liberals Loathe The Military?

    Those titles have very specific meanings, which is why I chose to use them. I wanted to attract attention. But, in both articles I quickly stated the titles were examples of hasty generalization and backed off the absolute nature of the titles — before anyone ever had the chance to read them.

    And, still, I got comments like “I don’t believe you when you backed off; I believe your title.” For those people, my e-machismo lets me say “stuff it.” I already clarified and backed off of my overarching statement before they even saw it. And if they don’t want to accept what I wrote following, that’s their problem and not mine.

    But that’s not what happened here. SEK very clearly and specifically said a certain person is a race-baiter. And his article did not say “but he isn’t, really.” No matter how he spins like a kite caught hanging from a power line, until he fesses up, his words will be used against him.

    What I did (and do) is different from SEK in that I used hasty generalization on a group of people and then immediately backed off while SEK directly attacked a single person and continued the attack, later playing some sort of sophist limbo.

    A couple points of clarity (sue me if there’s more than two):

    I am what EB charitably calls an aggressive commentator. I wear that mantle willingly. I use attack terms very often, frequently without any sense of decorum and I really don’t care who calls me on it; I’ll stick by my guns. But I will make every effort to soften any “gotcha” title I write in order to allow the reader to more adequately understand my thoughts.

    SEK is a leftist. SEK is a liar. SEK lied about his intent. (I had to scroll up to get that last one.) But those sentences are not logical successions. There is no “therefore” there. Each statement is factual but none of the statements necessarily follow the previous statements or lead the following statements.

    I once (more than once really) made a statement that “those who can’t, teach” and SEK had to get on his high horse and proclaim he wrote a book! Like that means anything. I read the first 80 pages of Mein Kampf and put it down. That book is a torturous read in its multiple degrees of nested-sentence-structure and its dilly-dallying around without getting to a point. Writing a book means jack diddly squat. And having three letters after your name (or two, like my case, II) means jack diddly squat. But SEK is more than willing to point to the three letters after his name to prove he’s more equal than everyone else.

    Oh, and I intentionally alluded to some sort of “law” or something just because I could. 😉

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  44. Patterico @ 9:20

    I think you know where I was in the earlier discussion. Words matter. I already made that point a couple of times on the SEK threads.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  45. I thought this was already settled by the Washington Post……if you sat “macaca” then you can’t be a Senator.

    Roscoe (3683dd)

  46. How about I write to the Huffington Post that our president’s remarks about the niggardly small businesses who refuse to hire good people were enlightened?

    Intent? Yeah. The average reader there would so get that.

    Great, great, post, Pat. “Words have meaning” has been a mantra for me for decades. Almost always, I am dismissed as rigid and dull when I use this phrase.

    Ed from SFV (1333b1)

  47. I think you know where I was in the earlier discussion. Words matter. I already made that point a couple of times on the SEK threads.

    Oh, I know that. I also know that you understand what I’m saying better than anyone.

    I wish more people around here could see the disconnect between their position on SEK and their past positions — but again, I think it’s less about principle and theory, and more about “I like this guy” and “I don’t like that guy.”

    Very true especially of those who are the most haughty and claim the higher ground on all such issues.

    Patterico (64318f)

  48. those who are the most haughty and claim the higher ground

    I’m sure most people would include me in that list. I’m not at all grasping “all such issues” clause, but the subjective-principle theory is a “fail” with me. I will not stand behind someone I like while he drops the “F bomb” like it’s nothing, for instance. There’s no call for that, ever. And when someone I like defends his “F bomb” I’ll defend his free-speech right to be dead wrong if and only if (iff) the setting is not inappropriate but I will not defend the “F bomb” itself, ever.

    There are some things those of us on the “far-right” will never find worthy, regardless of who fronts it. And I, for one, am all too ready to smack people I like around for being idiots.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  49. Like my mother says, anyone who uses swear words is too dumb to think of a different word.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  50. The problem I see here is the intellectual dishonesty SEK employs, which is similar to the dodge that Jon Stewart uses on the Daily Show. He will say something inflammatory, and when called on it, puts on his clown nose, and say, “I’m just a comedian. Joke!”, as Patterico notes here http://patterico.com/2009/03/14/i-always-see-the-clown-nose-on-jon-stewart/

    SEK is doing the same thing. He titles a post in a way that makes an accusation of racism, and when called on it, he says it’s sarcasm. Clown nose on, clown nose off. It’s just a tactic to use so he can try to get away with vile behavior.

    Bugz (9187ae)

  51. Absolutely, words mean things, and there is a great deal of onus on the speaker to make his meaning clear.

    The more difficult question, in my opinion, is what to do when multiple groups of reasonable listeners have different interpretations of the carefully chosen words of a speaker. Does the onus revert to the respective groups of listeners, at that point? Or does it remain on the speaker? Put another way, should a speaker be expected to be so clear that everyone understands his intended meaning, that his words couldn’t be interpreted in any way but one?

    So, if one group of reasonable listeners thinks what SEK said was innocuous (assuming for the sake of argument that is such a group), and another group of reasonable listeners thinks what SEk said was race-baiting, which group is right? What is the responsibility of the speaker, at that point?

    (It seems that the best thing for the speaker to do would be to clarify his intended meaning to one group or another, but is that the speaker’s responsibility?

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  52. Before responding to the body of the post, I want to clear the air:

    But SEK is more than willing to point to the three letters after his name to prove he’s more equal than everyone else.

    I don’t do that. Not in the classroom, not online. I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a Doctor of Philosophy of Literature, but that’s only because of the ironic clumsiness of the title. That said:

    If your plain meaning is obvious to any reasonable observer, it doesn’t matter how stridently you claim to have meant something different. You Have Failed. It is time to try again.

    I agree, absolutely, which is why the original post now contains a link to the clarification.

    The plain language was never changed or retracted, and the plain language matters.

    If I do that, all these conversations stop making sense. That’s just a policy a mine: barring extraordinary circumstances, once something’s been linked to and discussed, I’m not going to change it because I don’t want to make the other person look like they’re shadow-boxing. The clarification’s there, linked in the post, alongside a brief explanation of what I see as the root cause of the miscommunication.

    And because they are not-so-good, it is perfectly okay to hang a “racist” sign around their necks.

    I don’t think you’ve read the posts in question, if this is what you think. Morrissey called a good chunk of his own commenters out on their racism; Morrissey said he’d rather not have every post of his responded to with racist comments; his racist commenters chafed at the restriction and bemoaned the new comment policy. Where, exactly, do you see me calling someone a racist there?

    In this case SEK clearly implied that Ed believes his audience is racist and that Ed knowingly feeds that racist impulse.

    As above, I’m not implying: Morrissey came out with a strongly worded statement about remarks by his commenters. He clearly believes some of them to be racist. I think, as stated in the earlier threads, that the word “knowingly” is the crux of the issue here. I meant it in the “possessing knowledge” sense, others in the “deliberate; conscious” sense.

    But. He. Cannot. Admit. Error.

    That you make this claim on a post about a post in which I. Admitted. Error. is odd. (Failure to communicate intent is an error, after all.)

    But SEK thought his words and intent did match.

    And he still does. But he also admits that others aren’t seeing what he sees, which sometimes happens. Since a reasonable person emailed him about it, he clarified his intent. This is, to my mind, an appropriate and responsible response.

    I once (more than once really) made a statement that “those who can’t, teach” and SEK had to get on his high horse and proclaim he wrote a book!

    John, first of all, I’m not sure why you’re so proud of having repeated a cliché so obscure it’s said twice in Annie Hall. Second, you’ve trotted out this “SEK said he wrote a book!” bit a couple of times now and I haven’t called you on it because, why bother? But if you’re going to persist on saying I said something I never did, I’m going to get teacherly and demand to see your work. Why? Because I haven’t written a book. If I said I had, “I” wasn’t me.

    He titles a post in a way that makes an accusation of racism, and when called on it, he says it’s sarcasm.

    I didn’t accuse anyone of racism. You need to read the post in question before commenting on it or my motivations in writing it.

    SEK (9e7eee)


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