Re: Offending People's Minds

Sarah Marr (
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 21:44:05 +0100

At 17:42 22/08/96 UT, David Musick wrote:


>And because it is more of an intellectual offense than an emotional one (not
>that there's a clear-cut difference between the two)...


But there's the rub, David. The difference between intellectual and
emotional offense is often slight, and that difference is subjective.

(1) The sort of people who recognize the difference, and treat your comments
as an intellectual challenge are exactly the sort of people who don't need
to be offended: they would recognize a sound intellectual argument anyway,
consider its content and reinterpret their own position accordingly.

(2) The remaining people will misinterpret your comments and react
emotionally, defeating your purpose, and making further argument difficult,
if not impossible.

So what's the point of creating offense? In (1) it's unnecessary and in (2)
it's counterproductive.

Now, it may be that there's a (3): a small group who are intellectually
offended by what you say. But I believe that to be a small group, all of
whom could eventually be persuaded by clear, inoffensive argument.

Even if (3) is true I still hold that the collateral damage produced would
outway the worth of the few positively influenced.

Perhaps 'intellectual enigma' might be a better approach: drive people's
thought processes and interest by providing just enough information to get
them interested, then reel them in with the answers to the questions they
have already begun to ask themselves. Certainly it's worked for me in the past.


Sarah Kathryn Marr