From: "Arlen P. Walker" <arlen -dot- walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 13:19:42 -0500

>we also have to be concerned with using passive words to commit an
>action? When we accept "some mistakes were made." we're really accepting
>a corruption of the language i think. old john s. made the mistakes!
>and that sentence has more vitality and life than the "some mistakes..."

I'd like to move this away from John Sununu. A spokesman (corporate,
government, whatever) says,"Mistakes were made." It is quite possible he
doesn't know who made the mistakes. It's also quite possible that the true
cause of the mistakes aren't the poeple involved in the process, but rather
the process itself. While following a bad policy causes a mistake to be
made, I'm not comfortable with blaming the person who followed it, unless
the policy itself is so egregiously wrong that anyone with a gram of sense
can see it.

As far as I can tell, E-Prime would force us into a black/white world where
those who followed the bad policy would be blamed for the mistake, even
though it would be possible for a perfectly rational person to do so
without knowing it was wrong. In that situation I would consider "people
made mistakes" to be blaming the victims of a bad policy.

Ambiguity is generally to be avoided. I agree wholeheartedly with that. But
there are times when it is useful. Yes, rational and reasonable people tell
the truth, accept facts for their face value, and don't jump to hasty
(wrong) conclusions. There must be dozens of people in the world who fall
into that category. Perhaps even thousands. But the majority of people do
not. And as long as they don't, there will be times when people of
integrity need the protection ambiguity affords.

(Political note: As I said earlier, I'm not focusing on the John Sununu
example. Anyone who thinks I am and could still type the last sentence in
the above paragraph isn't worth arguing with.)

Have Fun,

arlen -dot- walker -at- jci -dot- com
This mail message contains 100% recycled electrons

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