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'You have the right to be taken seriously...'

'Here's how you can be taken more seriously...'

Sunday, March 17, 2024
3.5 mins.

The Right to be Taken Seriously

by Frances Watt

Is there such a thing?

We asked AI:

‘There isn't a universally recognized legal right to be taken seriously. However, there are concepts that touch on similar ideas:

  • Right to dignity and respect: Most countries have laws or principles that guarantee basic human dignity and respect. This can include the right to be treated fairly and not to be ridiculed or belittled.
  • Right to a fair hearing: In legal or professional settings, there's often a right to a fair hearing where your arguments or concerns are considered seriously.
  • Right to equal opportunity: This prohibits discrimination based on factors like age, race, or gender. It implies that everyone deserves a chance to be heard and considered, regardless of background.

While there's no single "right to be taken seriously," these principles create a framework where people should be treated with fairness and respect.

Here's how you can be taken more seriously:

  • Be clear and articulate: Communicate your ideas in a well-organized and confident way.
  • Present evidence and reasoning: Back up your claims with facts and logic.
  • Be respectful of others: Even if you disagree, treat others with courtesy.
  • Choose the right setting: Don't expect serious consideration for outlandish ideas in inappropriate contexts.

By following these tips, you can increase the chances of being heard and taken seriously.’

So there we have it. 

Even as the latest bizarre legislation emerging from the Scottish government is generating hitherto untouched levels of hilarity and ridicule, we can see the outlines of a ‘defence’: ‘we may have got this a wee bit wrong but we’re doing our best and acting in good faith’

The reason we asked AI that question is because it can’t (so far as we can tell) yet detect sarcasm. It takes the question at face value and has a stab at providing an answer based on what it ‘knows’. And what it ‘knows’ is subjected to editorial control by people, human beings with moral positions on all sorts of things. For example, when we were working on our e-book of Aesop’s Fables in Scots, we would copy & paste a fable into ‘Bard’ (now ‘Gemini’) and instruct it to translate the passage into modern Scots. It did so approximately 95% of the time. On the few occasions when it declined to do so it apologised with a message saying ‘I’m just a language model, I can’t help with that’. But if we then C&Ped the same fable and asked it to tell us what the moral of the story was, we were not dismissed with an excuse. Rather, we were given a finger-wagging about being kind and not perpetuating harmful or offensive stereotypes. This happened more than once and it was always in connection with stories where this or that character turned out to be a c**t and there was no way of denying it.

The Emperor’s New Clothes has, for decades, been the go-to parable for those highlighting the danger of groupthink. It must be applicable to the situation now being dealt with by Angus Robertson regarding a live sex show masquerading as ‘art’ but we don’t want to think about it too much. We’re sure the producers of the publicly-funded ‘show’ would mount a hardy defence of their work. But we suspect that any attempt to claw back the funding they received or in any way prosecute the producers/participants for ‘offending public decency’ or similar charges will elicit furious protests about ‘freedom of expression’. What AI would make of the case we don’t know and are not minded to enquire. But Hans Christian Andersen’s story hinged on the simple fact that an innocent lad was capable of seeing what his elders had willingly blinded themselves to. As soon as he broke the ‘spell’ the monarch had over everyone, that was it - laughter did the rest. 

Feels like we’ve reached that point now. The authorities have gone along with ‘the joke’ too long and it’s backfired. Institutions, developed over centuries, which were entrusted to make civilised society worth living in, have forfeited any ‘right’ to be taken seriously. They have failed utterly and deserve the opprobrium now being heaped upon them.

And we aren’t the only ones enjoying every minute of it.

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