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America the Offended

If I’m going to succeed in this new America, I need to learn how to be offended. It’s not that I haven’t tried, but I sadly have neither pearls to clutch nor a fainting couch to collapse upon.

The past few days have provided a crash course in the new Politics of Offense:

  1. Ford

    Darn! EJ beat me to the punch line!

  2. John Davey

    I am outraged.

  3. MarciN

    Funny how no one is offended by the Muslims’ chanting “Death to Jews” and “Death to Israel” five times a day.  

  4. EJHill
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. What do you think, Ricochetti — am I missing something?

    I’m offended you had to ask.

  5. Red Feline

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: “If someone insults me for who I am or what I believe, I don’t get hurt feelings, I just think that person is lame. Obviously he’s in the wrong, because I’m awesome. (Of my many admirable traits, humility is the greatest.)”

    Love you attitude! Especially the humility bit. I’m like that too, so I understand. :))

    Now, please don’t be hurt because I said this! Och, perhaps I ought to have thought before saying this, as I definitely ought to be totally, completely, absolutely, concerned about your feelings. Sorry if I hurt you! Really! Hope you don’t take this the wrong way!

    Please don’t think I am insulting you. I wouldn’t like you to think I am lame.

  6. Douglas

    Are you suggesting that we should never be offended, to always turn the other cheek? Kind of a Hakuna Matata thing?

  7. Crow

    [redacted for offense]

  8. Goldgeller

    Being offended gets attention. Being offended makes an issue “personal” and subjects it to the considerations of emotions rather than the intellect, and cost/benefit analysis. It’s the new weapon of choice to manipulate and move people around. It’s cheap, and it’s easier than making an argument. 

  9. Jon Vin

    Why does your picket fence have to be “white”?

  10. Rick Wilson
    C

    I’m increasingly convinced that the outrage culture is just a content-provision mechanism for an increasingly hungry media creature that we just don’t know is sentient yet.

  11. PsychLynne

    The only time I can think of when I take offense is when teenagers or young adults are swearing (really bad swearing) around me or my kids.  I don’t get angry, I just kindly ask them to stop.  Most of the time they do.  So, maybe I’m not offended…

  12. Ford

    The ‘obvious answer’ is that by being offended I don’t really have to address the issue at hand, change the subject and go for offended… which means that the ‘offender’ is supposed to shut up!

  13. Ford

    It’s a lot like sticking your fingers in your ears and humming; “I’m offended so I don’t have to listen to anything you say!”

  14. tabula rasa

    The offense industry has created some new rituals:

    A public person makes a crude, rude, even offensive remark. Out come the knives.  He or she is publicly reprimanded and, further, demands are made for the person to resign from whatever position he or she holds. The person makes an abject apology, which, nonetheless, must be parsed carefully as it may be a non-apology apology.  [Note: conservatives play the game as well, though liberals have turned it into an art form].

    A variation of the theme is that a person makes a perfectly inoffensive remark, such as referring to people who act like thugs as thugs. Why?Because the word was uttered in racist code (little do they know that the word “thug” is of Hindi origin).  The person may or may not apologize, but is thereafter branded a racist.

    Finally, we have the non-apology apology.  It looks and sounds at first blush as an apology, but when you analyze it with the same intensity as a contract lawyer, the person has really said that anyone who was offended is a nitwit.

    Solution:  can’t we just “man” or “woman” up? We’ve become a nation of helpless ninnies.

  15. Jennifer

    I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ observation about the gluttony of delicacy. His examples in the Screwtape Letters revolve around food. The idea is that it’s OK to be offended as long as the offense is the right type. If the tea is not properly brewed or the bread not properly toasted, one practicing the gluttony of delicacy is demonstrating maturity and refinement to notice this and express offense, even if it’s expressed in a subtle and off-handed way.

    It seems to me the idea is applicable to our day and age. Expressing offense seems to be a mark of maturity and refinement, as if one is saying, “Look how delicate and pure minded I am about my particular cause.” It’s a kind of gluttony of delicacy, a picture frame to encourage others to view us in a certain way regarding our ideas of ourselves.

  16. J.Maestro

    It’s an interesting moment in history. Proud peoples throughout the ages sang of strength, overcoming, and hard-won glory.

    Our people compete over who can be the more pathetic victim.

    Forward!

  17. wilber forge

    The whole thing plays out in various ways. Not the least of which is to give in to selfish thin skinned folks that cannot generate attention any other way.  Another would be a “Smoke screen” for deflection and permission for otherwise distastefull acts.

    The had been a cartoon strip featuring “The Insulting Rock” where exchanges could take place and go no further. Anyone recall that ?

    Otherwise, just stop engaging grief mongers or at best mock them.

  18. EJHill
    Robb Penney: Darn! EJ beat me to the punch line! · 46 minutes ago

    But I am impressed that you knew I was going to that in the very first post.

  19. Goldgeller
    Rick Wilson: I’m increasingly convinced that the outrage culture is just a content-provision mechanism for an increasingly hungry media creature that we just don’t know is sentient yet. · 22 minutes ago

    This is a very good point. The rise of the internet and YouTube means that more “voices” are heard now than ever. Perhaps the “net” amount of outrage hasn’t really changed, just an increase in our observation? That’s one argument. But I tend to agree with you. Making a “viral” video or blowing up Twitter can be very profitable now, so I think we end up getting more of.  

    But I also wonder if the increase in “offense” is a consequence of moral relativism– there isn’t really “right and wrong” anymore. The only measure is “the man himself.” “I’m offended” is about as deep as some of these people’s moral calculations go. They just don’t know to express themselves in other ways. 

  20. DrewInWisconsin

    Declaring something “offensive” is used as a method of silencing one’s ideological enemies. I think the best response is to just point and laugh. Which, of course, is offensive, but so what?

    Ah, I long for the simple days when we used to just hit each other with clubs.

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