Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Have I mentioned before my aversion to people using phrases about their own speech using the word "honest?"

Can I be honest with you?
I'm being honest, here.
Let's be honest:

I don't mean to make this a hard rule.  A hired consultant might legitimately say "Can I be honest?  No one in the company has any idea what your shipping costs are." Some people just grew up saying this a lot and it's their comfortable speech.  Some people would agree that they are actually trying to say candid, or frank, but just don't typically use those words and so settle for the more general "honest." If we are being honest can sometimes mean what it says.  However, it seems to more frequently mean "If you guys I am sermonising were more honest..." Of course, that is also using the dishonest "we," when the writer actually means YOU, you evil bastards; as in CS Lewis's The Dangers Of National Repentance, which I keep coming back to in highly politicised times.

Yet every time I back off from making it a rule, one of my more sociopathic patients will use it the very next morning, or Truth will show up in the name of some new group I am reading about that is peddling a particular view of reality that they can't endure being questioned too closely. Websites with the word "truth" in their title seldom have comment sections.  Just something I've noticed, I've done no study.

Over the weekend it was a Covenant pastor on his site, a youngish man who has a growing reputation in the denomination. Perhaps I was too ready to be accusing, as I have been uneasy with things that he has written before. But there it was, the declaration of honesty, and a few sentences later a statement that caused me to rear up and think "Wait a minute.  What he is saying is commonly believed by his group of friends but it's not established.  And it certainly is an enjoinder that those Other People in the discussion (who may include you, Charlie) should look at themselves and change their ways."

It's not fighting fair. Beware Christians, especially, using the word "we," as they just might mean "you."


Christopher B said...

'Let me be frank' serves the same purpose as 'I was only joking', just applied prospectively instead of retrospectively.

Texan99 said...

I think I would mean something like "I hope I won't completely lose your friendly attention if I speak a little less tactfully and evasively than etiquette usually requires, in order to save time and avoid confusion."