Literally

May 11, 2008

So, I am angry. Why? I’m angry because someone else is angry with me. Sound stupid? Yeah, it probably is, like the reason people got mad in the first place. Let’s look at how it started.

Long, long ago in a land far, far away…

I like debate. No, that’s not right. I love debate. I love locking horns and arguing certain things. Politics – I don’t debate. Harry Potter vs. LOTR – I don’t debate (and if you do – you really need a date.) I like arguing philosophy & religion.

Most of the time, these debates can spin on forever. Post, repost, attack, riposte – a bloody mess! Occasionally, you get to debate these issues with someone that shares your general worldview. These are the best – like getting to eat chocolate cake for breakfast – that kind of best. The reason is that you both agree on the authorities, both in writers and writings. This can be especially messy.

So, my current anger is the result of one of these chocolate cake debates. The debate was on an online forum and managed to rack up about 14 posts before “Foul” was cried out. I am the supposed perpetrator of said foul. What is this foul? I used a word as defined by the dictionary!

*GASP*

[this post has been updated via the comments section: to see how this was resolved, continue to the comments section – special thanks to the administrator of the mentioned forum for his grace]

Yes, that’s right. I used a properly defined word. The main opponent made a statement with no facts behind it other than Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia was the supposed final arbiter of our debate. Unfortunately, even though Wikipedia is the pinnacle of academia, in this case, it was wrong. So, I referred to the statement as being “ignorant”.

I made the mistake of calling a statement made without reviewing legitimate facts while also being totally baseless, “ignorant”. I even included a small disclaimer that I did not intend to degrade my opponent, but was using the term in the pure, defined sense.

Tempers crashed. Keyboards rattled with rage. I received a scathing email from my opponent and a demand for apology from the administrator of the site. They disregarded the definition and insisted that since the connotation of the word was negative and offensive, the denotation was irrelevant.

For the laymen: the literal meaning of the word was trumped by how my opponent “felt” about the word. Feelings are evidently more important than facts. This now in turn offends me.

Why do people disregard facts for feelings? Conversely, I do not endorse rejection of feelings. I merely think that the two are important, but not always equally so. For example, if I feel scared of the dark and the boogey man, at some point I must face the facts – the boogey man does not exist.

Unfortunately, facts and truth are often disregarded in favor of feelings. I believe this legacy comes to us from the post modern philosophy that has infiltrated society. These philosophers say that two people can claim contradictory truths and both still be right. Their feelings are more important than objective reality.

All of this is brought to the front of my mind as I nurse my anger – my hurt feelings – as I try to reach the truth of this situation. I do not wish to be guilty of what I consider to be a crime. I do not wish my feelings about this encounter to supersede reality.

So, I will now go and pout.

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2 Responses to “Literally”


  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today on Literally Here’s a quick excerptI am the supposed perpetrator of said foul. What is this foul? I used a word as defined by the dictionary! […]

  2. Radar Says:

    Update:

    I should have posted this sooner, but time got away from me. The situation reflected in this post was handled with marvelous grace by the administrator. After taking some extra time to ask for my side of the tale, he acknowledged that I had spoken literally, but tempered that with good advice. The advice suggested that I consider the connotations and not merely the denotations of a word.

    I feel that he responded well. I have not altered the content of the original post as it reflects my mental state at the time.

    But let me stress this, I am satisfied with the handling of this situation and I am grateful to the administrator of that forum.


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