Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.
There are lots of instances out there of people's quotes being taken out of context for the sake of argument. One common victim of this is Charles Darwin. It's a dishonest technique when it happens deliberately. Sometimes, however, the accusation of taking something out of context is dishonest.
I've had a number of debates where I point out unnecessarily cruel passages in the Bible, or one that contradicts a fundy's position, and one of the standard replies is that I'm taking the passage 'out of context.' This is the part where I request the larger context where the nasty passage becomes acceptable, or where the contradiction vanishes. I have yet to see the fundies follow through.
That's where the biggest problem occurs with making an accusation: For you to accuse someone of taking a quote out of context, you have to provide an example of it in context. Some people bizarrely don't require that, and will let a celebrity, political figure, woo 'authority', or religious leader effectively take back their nasty or silly quotes by claiming that they've been taken out of context. So, just what context makes their statements okay?