We see and hear people using that excuse all the time: “I was taken out of context”; “You misunderstood me because you took my statement out of context”, etc. Thus, a statement may be only partially quoted, or the physical misdeed may only be narrated without a “before or after”, making the “context” an important clue as to the truth of either the statement or the physical imagery.
For example, a person might say, “I love X, but he/she can sometimes be annoying because of his/her insistence upon doing things right.” Now, if a person instead merely conveys that Y thinks that X is “annoying,” such a statement — while true — takes it “out of context” by leaving out the prefatory and “additional” statements made. Certainly, the defense of “you took it out of context” is quite applicable, here.
Similarly, if a picture of X is taken — of a person clad only in his underwear, carrying a bat and looking like a madman — and is posted on the Internet with the subtitle: “Beware! Neighbor Stalks the Neighborhood Like a Madman!” — without explaining that he had been suddenly awakened by a noise downstairs, got up, saw two burglars breaking into his home, picked up a baseball bat and began chasing them outside of his home and — just as he stepped onto his front lawn in hot pursuit, the neighbor from across the street with whom he had had some unpleasantries over the years took a picture of him in this compromising appearance; well, you get the picture (yes, pun intended). It would, of course, constitute a “taken out of context” moment, would it not?
Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows you to perform all of the essential elements of your job duties, your situation is somewhat like being “taken out of context”. For, you were hired to do a job when you were healthy. Once your health began to deteriorate, the “context” (i.e., your once healthy self) has been “taken out” to the extent that your medical conditions are no longer compatible with continuation in your job. That is “The Law” of OPM Disability Retirement.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer