DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it rude to begin a conversation with "I don't want to start a fight, but ..." and then say something rude, challenging or confrontational? Another version I've heard is "Don't get mad, but ..." just before a person says something rude.
While this declaration is fine on certain occasions (such as when a trusted friend is telling me a hard truth from a place of love), I do find it hard to deal with on others. It seems to me that it is a way to shift blame from the person saying something rude to the person who hears an insult and then feels the need to respond by dispelling or challenging whatever was said.
P.S. The person who says this most often is my ex-husband. "Don't get mad, but I no longer care about your feelings." I suppose a candid "Me too" might've been a better reaction than trying to justify why we should get along for the sake of our shared child.
GENTLE READER: Oh. Miss Manners was about to handle this as the nasty habit some people have of trying to head off the consequences of insulting others by classifying them as helpful. But that was before she read your postscript.
Of course it is rude. Not caring about the feelings of others is practically the definition of rudeness, and saying so takes it up another notch. Your ex-husband was trying to be rude. You don't need Miss Manners to tell you that. She only hopes that for the sake of your child, you do not descend to his level.