CLICHÉ: Brutal Honesty is bad.

CLICHÉ: Brutal honesty is bad.

WHAT WE FORGET: Brutality is the thing that's bad.

You might not consider this one a cliché. I would probably agree but this seems to be a very common belief among internet commentors that I’ve come across recently and I thought it might be fun to look at.

I’d like to look at it from a linguistic standpoint.

⁠Adjectives are unnecessary and convolute a simple statement..

Let’s test a few sentences:

  • Gold is more valuable than mud. Okay.
  • Water is more valuable than food. Huh?
    Because you die quicker without water. Oh okay.
  • Honesty is more valuable than lies. Okay.

All straightforward and easy to agree to. But now let’s add some adjectives.

We agreed honesty is preferable to lies. Is brutal honesty preferable to gentle lies? Does the adjective change the noun? Is brutal honesty still honest? If yes, then the original statement about honesty must still be true, right?

Let’s switch. How about honest brutality?

Honest brutality vs Dishonest kindness.

In this case, you most likely prefer the kindness (even if it’s dishonest) which proves that you ignore some adjectives when it suits you but not when it doesn’t.

What you really want to say is that kindness is better than brutality. And who would argue? No one!

So, clear your head. Ditch the adjectives.