Monday, March 25, 2013

"Second hand news usually is mistaken."

Obviously, I write quite a lot.

It is a compulsion of sorts, and it always comes in the sincere hope that my words will be read. As David Brinkley once put it, “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.”

Words I write are published alongside my name, because to me, anonymity is tantamount to cowardice. For those like me with strong views, there is an inescapable element of living and dying by the rhetorical sword, and I accept this condition of the engagement.

Give and take is common, but every now and then, a complaint will be registered to the effect that someone, somewhere, has taken offense at words I’ve written. Actually I’m delighted with such feedback, and quite willing to discuss particulars, so long as we’re reasonably clear about parameters.

First, let’s get down to basics.

“Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend” is an annoyingly Junior High School attribution, and second hand news usually is mistaken. Seeing as I never erase or alter what I’ve written, the offending passage surely remains out there, so don’t put the wrong words in my mouth – I’m capable on occasion of doing precisely that without anyone else’s help. Find the actual words I used, please.

Then, once the offending passage has been located at the source, kindly let me know what it says. Believe it or not, it’s not always easy to remember the content of several hundred thousand words written, numerous Facebook status updates posted and 17,000 tweets tweeted when one drinks beer for a living over a period of 30 or more years.

The final step is this: I will consider and review anything I’ve written. If it is true, then I’ll stand by it, come what may. If it is false, I’ll also stand by it –
They’re my words, after all – but I’ll admit my error, make my corrections, and take my lumps.

Fair enough? Thank you for reading.

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