Re: author / audience responsibility
Assuming that Mourdock was speaking from a text, his faux pas exemplifies how important it is to hire good writers. A clear and simple statement--such as "Every baby is a gift from God"--would have been a hard to mistake, twist, or misunderstand.
Maybe a qualifier could have helped. Sometimes, a qualifier can be implied, like "button," and other times a qualifier should be stated. But there was little to mistake in, "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen." Two interpretations of the "intention" are rape or the conception from rape.
No one should rationally think that Mourdock said that his god intended women to be raped, so the conception from rape must be the "intention." Media, naturally, took the more sensational interpretation, however irrational it was. Mourdock should have chosen a less inflammatory statement if he wanted to avoid the reaction he got, since both available interpretations of "intention" would lead to sensationalism.
I do not think that this is a comment where a qualifier would have helped. Either Mourdock should have said something completely different or he should stand by what he said. Since Mourdock has demonstrated that he knows little about conception, fertility, infertility, and other ways conception does not occur, he should probably not discuss *any* issues of reproduction. But that does raise issues of a writer's dilemma, where a writer needs to document the functionality of something that does not function or the rationality of ignorance.
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See the “Getting Started with Doc-To-Help” blog post. http://bit.ly/doc-to-help-3-steps
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