Context: n. momentary political expedience. Used to refer to the difference between a point in time when something was both true and politically useful to say, versus the present point in time when it's still true but no longer politically advantageous to acknowledge.
For example: Bristol Palin, whose credentials on the subject need not be rehearsed here, appearing on "Good Morning America" this week to announce her new self-assumed role as abstinence spokesperson:
Of course, Palin made headlines in February when she declared that abstinence is "not realistic at all." Now she says the quote was "taken out of context. ... I do think it's realistic. It's the harder choice, but it's the safest choice."
This gambit always amuses and irritates me. She sounded pretty definite, after all: What possible context could cause "not realistic at all" to mean anything other than "not realistic at all"? Specifically, in what context does "not realistic at all" actually mean "I do think it's realistic"?
Perhaps "taken out of context" means "unfairly required to mean the same thing twice in a row."
Or does young Bristol (and her political elders) live in a world where the meaning of words flip-flops--going from true to false and back--simply depending on exactly when she uttered them?
It sounds like a lost Python sketch:
Host: "Good evening. I'm talking with Leonard Pilch-Stripling. Mr Pilch-Stripling, is it true that every other group of four words you say will mean the exact opposite of what they ordinarily mean?"
Leonard: "Yes, Roger, that's true."
Host: "But unless people have been counting your words, how will they know when you're not saying what you really mean?"
Leonard: "I never said that."
Host: "But you did! Just a moment ago!"
Leonard: "Yes, it's a problem."
Host: Ah. I think I see. Mr Pilch-Stripling, you've just spoken twelve words. Does that mean your next four words will be true, or false?"
Leonard: "Depends upon the context."
(H/t to Doctor TV.)