On avoiding the overly broad brush

Within the past few months I was reading a blog post by someone I have known for several years and noticed something that caused me to write this entry. The general topic of the blog post was about sexual harassment at certain events in general and very specifically about an event which had recently occurred and the author of the blog had made some very good points as well as referencing the contributions of other bloggers. Then later in the comments section this blogger suddenly wrote as sort of a witty throw away line that one should remember that this type of event is frequented by XYZs who feel that they should be free to behave or act however they see fit. This is not the exact wording; I have altered it enough so that it will not come up at the top of a Google search and I am using the term XYZ instead of the term this blogger originally used; it might have been a racial or religious group such as Jew or Hindu or it might have been a political group such as Democrat or Tory or it might have been something like Hockey Fans. The point is not the exact group that XYZ designates; the point is that an overly broad brush was used.

Obviously this is a logical fallacy since not every or even most XYZ members behave as the blog post states and in point of fact it is actually contrary to their beliefs. But of greater consequence is that it reflects poorly on the blogger in question which is unfortunate since the blogger writes quite well on some important social topics. And in the past I have in conversations with members of the XYZ group recommended reading the blogger. Hopefully the blogger will not repeat this off handed comment about group XYZ in the future.

It is all too easy to make this sort of mistake in writing or speaking; likely we all have at one or more points in our lives. Now with blogging the words have more permanency than when they were just spoken. So I urge we all try to avoid using an overly broad brush no matter how humorous or witty the line might sound.

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