Taken out of context


I have noticed something that is becoming increasingly common. After a politician says something pandering to appeal to some constituency, and is then quoted those words back and asked to explain it to a different constituency that may not share the same sympathies, the politician simply says that the quoted words had been “taken out of context”.

Sarah Palin provides the latest example. In an interview, she said in her usual confused fashion that president Obama’s “philosophy of radicalism” had the intent of taking us back to the “days before the Civil War”, whatever the hell that means. When those words were throwing back at her later, she trotted out the usual defense that her words had been “taken out of context”.

But if someone makes that claim, at the very least they should provide a clarification of what they actually meant to say and provide the context that provides evidence that supports that that was what they meant. But that is not what happens. Palin, like others, simply say the phrase “taken out of context” and move on, and interviewers seem to passively accept it. It has become a ‘get out of jail free’ card for dealing with past statements that have become inconvenient.

Comments

  1. Randomfactor says

    The “context” is “the group of people I intended to lie to.”

    The same lies don’t work for different audiences, you know.

  2. Steve says

    It’s how they rationalize the inhuman barbarism of the Bible. So it’s no surprise that they pull the same crap in other areas

  3. jamessweet says

    But if someone makes that claim, at the very least they should provide a clarification of what they actually meant to say and provide the context that provides evidence that supports that that was what they meant.

    YES! This seems so obvious, but nobody seems to care anymore.

    That also ought not to necessarily be a get-out-of-jail free card — the claimant may provided a distorted or misleading “clarification” of the context, or we may simply decide that the remark is still wrong even in context — but if you simply mutter “out of context” without actually specifying what the context was, then you have said nothing at all!

  4. leftwingfox says

    I don;t think this phrase is intended to be an argument. I think it’s meant to protect their followers from arguments. It allows authoritarian followers to ignore the content of what was said, and pretend tey “didn’t really mean it” or pretend the content of the opposing argument has been rebutted, and allows them to continue believing what they already believe. It’s a fig-leaf, not an actual rebuttal.

    It would be nice if the press actually called them out on that particular argument, but they seem to have decided that the act of sorting facts from bullshit illustrates a bias against liars.

  5. ash says

    I think our next target needs to be the MSM. There is alot of great criticism on how much they suck, but I’m talking full on attack mode. Ride ’em ’til their legs give out under ’em. Stewart and Maddow would be perfect ralliers

  6. Didaktylos says

    Oh, come on – if Palin were 10 times as smart as she is, she’d still fall way short of idiot.

  7. left0ver1under says

    “Quoted out of context”? No doubt the interview went something like this:

    Reporter: “I’m quoting you verbatim.”

    Palin: “You’re not going to prevent me from speaking!”

    Reporter: “No, verbatim means your exact words. Don’t you feel responsible for them?”

    Palin: “Responsible? I don’t have to leftist questions.”

    From what I’ve heard and seen, her grasp of the language is on par with George Bush, i.e. poor and inept.

  8. left0ver1under says

    I meant to say,

    “I don’t have to *answer* leftist questions.”

    Somehow I managed to delete a whole word while editing and didn’t notice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *