This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - Intent does not equal impact. After all is said and done, that phrase holds true - in the courts of law and in personal relationships.
If you hit someone with your car unintentionally, it does not make the impact (i.e. bodily harm and legal charges) any less real. If you make an honest statement about a friend or colleague and he or she is offended, you can talk at length about the person being overly sensitive or your motive not being malicious, but the impact will most likely remain.