what I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."
I know I have quoted that in my witterings before now - and I may well quote it again one day. I may even, as today, have to change the wording slightly and say, "I know you think you understood what I wrote but I am not sure you realise that what you read is not what I meant."
Perhaps I wasn't clear. Maybe you really didn't understand. Did I use the wrong words? Was there a better way of putting them?
I know writers worry about these things. So do people in professions like the law - where even a misplaced comma can be a disaster.
I had to explain something to someone this week. It related to a long and complex piece of legislation that I understand only in a general sense and that, in all likelihood, they had not heard of until I had to mention it. I hope she did understand. She is apparently doing as I suggested needed to be done so perhaps she has. I have done the best I could.
But another piece of legislation also came under discussion this week and I, foolish cat that I am, joined in the discussion. I should know better but I don't seem to be able to help myself. It would be wiser of me not to read that particular paper on-line - or perhaps at all. There is always the temptation to comment on an article that can be commented on, especially when others are making ridiculous comments - and often getting away with things the moderators most definitely should be pulling down. Yes, I know that particular paper is known for its left-wing, anti-government readership. Perhaps I should try just reading the articles? Some of those are heavily biased too of course. It's the nature of the site. All the same it is useful to know what is being said there.
The real problem however is the often wilful misunderstanding of what has been written there. It won't matter how carefully crafted a comment is if someone else disagrees with what you have said or - and this is the more important thing - what they think you have said or - and this is the even more important thing - what they want you to have said, then you are in trouble.
And, for the record. I am not opposed to the existence of something like sec 18C of our Racial Discrimination Act. I am opposed to the way it exists as present but I do believe there has to be some workable legislation that allows people to be prosecuted for deliberate incitement to hatred.
"Free speech" does have limits but deliberately misunderstanding other people in an attempt to shut down debate is censorship and not to be condoned.