Think of how many times you’ve said something stupid in a conversation. Now imagine every one of those being recorded and available on the internet for anyone to watch and judge – including people who don’t like you very much.
60% - Statements spoken to an unfriendly interviewer
This is the lion’s den. When a person is being interviewed by someone who’s trying to catch them in a “gotcha” moment, I think the interviewee needs to be given a lot of slack.
Jesus faced some “gotcha” questions from people trying to trip him up (“Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” comes immediately to mind), and he amazed the crowds at how wisely he dealt with them. But only Jesus was Jesus. Everyone else is going to make mistakes – especially in a situation like this.
50% – Statements excerpted in another magazine or blog
Here’s a not-so-secret secret of the publishing world. Magazines and blogs have agendas. Including the one you’re reading now. We all have a point-of-view we want to promote. The more reputable ones try for balance and accuracy, but our agenda colors how we perceive truth and edit an interview – sometimes more than we realize. The unreputable ones just make stuff up, which hurts everyone.
If the statement seems out of character for the person being interviewed or quoted, it’s likely been skewed by an editor. They don’t even need to change the words, just mess up the context, and the interviewee seems like they’re saying something they would never have said – and never did say.
The phrase “you can’t believe everything you read” was created for situations like this.
0.1% – Statements quoted by someone who disagrees with them
You know those memes everyone loves? It’s usually an unflattering photo of someone, maybe a politician or other public figure, with a supposed quote from them in big, white block letters. If an unflattering meme doesn’t include a link to where the quote originated, it’s a lie. Always.
I only put this at 0.1% because if I put 0.0%, someone would spend all day on Google to find the one meme in the world that includes an accurate quote, just to prove me wrong.
None of these percentages are meant to give us a free pass to say or write stupid or hurtful things. But the next time you hear a quote from someone that seems off-the-wall or out of character, don’t judge too quickly.This ought to apply especially to Christians and what we read about fellow believers, but it’s a good rule for everyone.