Top of the British news yesterday morning, was another person with a slight claim to fame, saying that their words had been ‘taken out of context.’ The particular words she’d used were a series of racist remarks that she had messaged to a friend.
Setting aside the questions I have about this woman’s judgement on several levels, what struck me is how often that phrase, ‘taken out of context’ is turning up lately. Isn’t it about time we went back to the idea of challenging users of this defence to put their words into a context?
I know some would counter this by saying that to do so provides the user with a wider platform: it is. Call me naïve, but I can’t help thinking that making offensive behaviours a mainstream media topic is a positive action.
Sidestepping arguments in the legitimate media pages is no longer a solution to offensive behaviour. Most of us can access a whole range of public platforms with ease, and, as the majority of these ‘taken out of context’ stories prove, there seem to be few boundaries to that access. Maybe it’s time we re-thought the strategies for dealing with offence.
What seems to be happening in this case is somewhat typical of other situations I’ve noticed: everyone connected to the woman in question has condemned her, but practically in the same breath they’re now arguing over her higher profile partner’s political future. In this way, the focus has shifted from what she said, to will he or won’t he go?
Are you okay with that?