Over at Rhoblogy, Alan reproduced an email, as well as his reply, regarding the “notorious” comment he left at the blog of the late Ken Pulliam.
Since a number of commenters have chosen to drag Triablogue into that particular controversy, I might as well take the occasion to make a few observations of my own:
1. I’m not Alan, so I don’t know his motives. Only he knows what he intended to accomplish.
2. One objection is that his comment would be offensive to grieving family members. For all I know, that could be true. But that conjecture raises a question:
If the (allegedly) offended family members are Christian, then why would they even be reading Pulliam’s blog? His blog was militantly anti-Christian.
Put another way, it’s odd to suggest that they would be offended by one brief comment by a Christian, but not be offended by the blog itself. Why is Alan’s comment (allegedly) offensive to his Christian family members, but Pulliam’s full-frontal assault on their Christian faith is not offensive to his Christian family members?
It’s kind of like a customer at an adult bookstore using a mild expletive, only to have the cashier and all the other customers reprimand him for inappropriate language. Somehow the surroundings belie the selective umbrage.
If we presume to speak on behalf of his Christian friends and relatives, what could be more offensive than his blasphemous attack on their precious faith? The setting itself is bound to give offense. So shouldn’t all that indignation be redirected?
3. Phrases like “I pity you!” or “I feel sorry for you!” are often used as put-downs in vernacular usage. As such, they’ve acquired a derogatory connotation.
Yet there’s nothing inherently derogatory about the notion or sentiment of pity. Traditionally, that was deemed to be a Christian virtue. Consider some examples from historic English usage:
To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
4. I also think the language of “pity” is apt to offend us because it offends our overdeveloped sense of pride. We don’t like to find ourselves in a pitiful condition.
Again, I can’t speak for Alan. Only he knows what he had in mind. But I am struck by the instantaneous reaction to the language of “pity,” which may reveal more about the attitude of the commenter than it does about Alan.