99% – Statements written in a published book
It takes a lot of time and energy, plus a team of editors and proofreaders to put out a published book. If it’s bound between covers with their name on it, the author needs to be held responsible for it. It’s what they really believe. Or it’s what they believed at the time they wrote it, anyway.
90% – Statements written in a blog
Blogs aren’t held to as high a standard as a book, because they’re much more off-the-cuff and usually not edited by a third party. In the few years I’ve been blogging, I’ve had to amend or retract several things I’ve written. The nice thing about a blog, unlike a published book, is that it can be edited immediately when the error is caught.
I feel comfortable speaking for all my fellow bloggers out there by saying if a blogger makes a stupid statement, then apologizes or withdraws it after having the error is pointed out, let it go.
85% – Statements spoken to an audience
I make more mistakes in my preaching than in my blogging for a simple reason. I can write something stupid, notice it, then change it before anyone else ever reads it. But once a stupid statement is made in front of an audience, it’s out there.
Most speakers will catch their error, apologize and move on. And most hearers will be okay with that. But not everyone is so understanding. Some people are looking for any excuse to be offended, especially if the speaker is on the other side of an issue.
People have left my church because I misspoke in a sermon. I blew it. I apologized. It wasn’t in keeping with the rest of my reputation, or even the rest of the sermon. But it didn’t matter. If I said it, I must have meant it and that was all they could hear. They’re out the door.
As much as we try to explain it away and wave it off, I know how much it hurts to be judged by something we didn’t mean to say. So I try very hard not to do that to others. Especially if they apologize.
75% – Statements spoken off the cuff
If a public figure says something stupid into a mic that was shoved in their face as they were heading out of a restaurant, come on people! Give them a break!
70% – Statements spoken to a friendly or neutral interviewer
Interviews are delicate animals. Even if the interviewer is not trying to trap you, it’s like trying to have a casual conversation while thousands – even millions – of people are watching.