It is not a difficult concept to grasp. The only manner by which we may judge people in our lives, be they family/partner or casual passing acquaintances (and all in between) is through their actions. In many cases it has to be with regard to their actions towards us, unless there is a means of witnessing their actions towards other people, such as actually being there to observe their actions or via evidence.
We cannot know someone's intent. There may be cues that can alert us, but then again there may be no cues or we may be misinterpreting those cues. This is especially important when dealing with cultural differences and something I have been caught out on numerous times in the US, where relatively simple words in the same parent language (English) have distinct and different cultural meanings. Language can be difficult and much harder to interpret, I think, than physical actions. Part of this is the perception of meaning by the observer rather than meaning intended by the speaker, and as such intent is a difficult thing to determine. These differences, from my observations, are especially apparent online, where people can read different meanings and tone into the same text (given no cues such as tone and speed of the "voice") and on numerous occasions provide prime ground for misunderstandings to occur and even when no misunderstanding is in place, a clash of different opinions can rapidly escalate.
Current technology permits not only greater access to travel opportunities but also rapid communication across the globe and between diverse groups of people. I think that this is certainly part of an exciting time to live in as many opportunities are open to a greater number of people. But it can also lead to clashes. A prime example of culture clashes fueled by online events are the draw Muhammad day http://www.facebook.com/pages/2nd-Annual-Draw-Muhammad-Day-May-20th-2011/119371148108513 campaigns, and is also a good example for my point. You cannot dictate what another's person's actions should be based on your feelings alone. Some people feel very strongly that drawing their deity is blasphemous, while others do not hold the same beliefs and think it wrong to hold people accountable to the same rules.
Recent clashes (see previous blog entry for some links http://www.skepticrainbows.com/1/post/2011/07/oh-the-drama.html) in the online skeptic community are suffering from the same thing, I think. People are taking offense as a result of misunderstanding the original statements and then later escalating these by misunderstanding qualifying statements and jumping on anyone who disagrees with their position. It seems we all hold strong opinions on the subject. But it is just that, an opinion and our own unique perspective, not something that we can then dictate to others as to how they should behave and act.
One thing that may come of it all is a greater understanding all round. When people get angry about something there is evidence that they will look into opposing arguments and thus expand their knowledge about a subject. http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-anger-can-make-us-more-rational.html So perhaps the online clashing is a positive thing after all and certainly more productive than literally getting up in arms. :)
My linky things do not seem to be working again, but you should be able to copy paste.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!