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:

Let me give everyone of all races, creeds, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, income levels, academic backgrounds, and nationalities a brief piece of advice: You are only offended if you choose to be.

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.)

Whenever I provide this sage advice, the perpetually offended reply, “Oh yeah?! Easy for you to say! You’re not [female/latino/gay/poor/gluten intolerant/etc.]!”

I agree that it’s easy for me to say. I’m a healthy, middle-aged, middle-class hetero white male with an amazing wife and 2.5 kids. I’m one picket fence away from being a Norman Rockwell painting. Perhaps I’d have a different perspective if I belonged to an oppressed subgroup. But I don’t understand how that makes the principle any less true.

Being offended all the time is exhausting and unhealthy. Life is too short and happiness too dear. A content person doesn’t surrender control of their emotional state and self-worth to others, especially not to far-off celebrities or anonymous strangers on the Internet.

What do you think, Ricochetti — am I missing something? Is there ever a reason to be offended and, if there is, is taking offense helpful in any way?

No Signs image via Shutterstock.

Members have made 71 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. Profile photo of Ford Penney Member

    Darn! EJ beat me to the punch line!

    • #1
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:11 am
    • Like0 likes
  2. Profile photo of John Davey Member

    I am outraged.

    • #2
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:12 am
    • Like0 likes
  3. Profile photo of MarciN Member

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

    • #3
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:13 am
    • Like0 likes
  4. Profile photo of EJHill Contributor
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. What do you think, Ricochetti — am I missing something?

    I’m offended you had to ask.

    • #4
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:14 am
    • Like0 likes
  5. Profile photo of Red Feline Inactive

    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.

    • #5
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:15 am
    • Like0 likes
  6. Profile photo of Douglas Member

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

    • #6
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:18 am
    • Like0 likes
  7. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member

    [redacted for offense]

    • #7
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:18 am
    • Like0 likes
  8. Profile photo of Goldgeller Member

    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. 

    • #8
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:22 am
    • Like0 likes
  9. Profile photo of Jon Vin Inactive

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

    • #9
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:25 am
    • Like0 likes
  10. Profile photo of Rick Wilson Contributor

    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.

    • #10
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:31 am
    • Like0 likes
  11. Profile photo of PsychLynne Inactive

    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…

    • #11
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:39 am
    • Like0 likes
  12. Profile photo of Ford Penney Member

    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!

    • #12
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:41 am
    • Like0 likes
  13. Profile photo of Ford Penney Member

    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!”

    • #13
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:44 am
    • Like0 likes
  14. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    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.

    • #14
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:44 am
    • Like0 likes
  15. Profile photo of Jennifer Johnson Inactive

    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.

    • #15
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:52 am
    • Like0 likes
  16. Profile photo of J.Maestro Inactive

    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!

    • #16
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:55 am
    • Like0 likes
  17. Profile photo of wilber forge Member

    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.

    • #17
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:58 am
    • Like0 likes
  18. Profile photo of EJHill Contributor
    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.

    • #18
    • February 6, 2014 at 2:59 am
    • Like0 likes
  19. Profile photo of Goldgeller Member
    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. 

    • #19
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:00 am
    • Like0 likes
  20. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member

    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.

    • #20
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:06 am
    • Like0 likes
  21. Profile photo of Crusade A Day Keeps Jihad Away Member

    Of my many admirable traits, humility is the greatest

    Based on your avatar, you could even say that your cup runneth over.

    • #21
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:08 am
    • Like0 likes
  22. Profile photo of J.Maestro Inactive
    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. · 0 minutes ago

    The club system was more civilized. No seriously: people lose their livelihoods over that sort of calumny. With clubs at least a person had a fighting chance — an attacker had to come within bad-breath range of his prey.

    • #22
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:12 am
    • Like0 likes
  23. Profile photo of David Williamson Member

    At our (compulsory) sexual harassment course at work, the key point was made that it is the duty of the employee not to offend anyone – if someone is offended it is the offender’s fault, not the offendee’s.

    This taught me everything I needed to know about modern life – It’s best to keep quiet.

    Not that I have learned the lesson…

    • #23
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:19 am
    • Like0 likes
  24. Profile photo of SteveSc Member

    Being offended is like the Matrix. It’s about control. If conversation can be curtailed, they (the mysterious they) win.

    When it all gets down to Newspeak, I will be guilty of Crimethink and shortly thereafter become an Unperson….

    • #24
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:21 am
    • Like0 likes
  25. Profile photo of James Gawron Thatcher

    Jon,

    I am offended by the offended. This leads to an infinite vicious circle of offensiveness. Exciting no?

    By the way, how is the .5 child. It must be tough only being only 5 tenths of a child. There’s a story of overcoming adversity.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #25
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:23 am
    • Like0 likes
  26. Profile photo of Johnny Dubya Member

    My 14-year-old daughter is gluten-intolerant. I look forward to the day when, in the college cafeteria, she can take offense at those who are intolerant of the gluten-intolerant. Down with the gluten-intolerant intolerant!

    Seriously, though, “taking offense” has become simply a method of shutting other people up, plain and simple. It is a consummately passive-aggressive activity that demonstrates the simultaneous weakness and strength of the “offendee”.

    • #26
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:37 am
    • Like0 likes
  27. Profile photo of billy Inactive
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.

    Let me give everyone of all races, creeds, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, income levels, academic backgrounds and nationalities a brief piece of advice:You are only offended if you choose to be.

    Have you no shame? How dare you say such a thing! Is this brand of hate endorsed by all the editors of Ricochet?

    • #27
    • February 6, 2014 at 3:56 am
    • Like0 likes
  28. Profile photo of Vance Richards Member
    EJHill
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. What do you think, Ricochetti — am I missing something?

    I’m offended you had to ask. · 1 hour ago

    John Davey: I am outraged. · 1 hour ago

    All the low hanging fruit has already been taken. I’m out.

    • #28
    • February 6, 2014 at 4:05 am
    • Like0 likes
  29. Profile photo of Terry Mott Member

    The offense industry is just another example of the emasculation and infantilization of the culture. It’s the grammar school whine of, “Teacher!! Johnny said my hair looks funny!!!!” writ large.

    Of course, since the oh-so-compassionate left looks at the various protected groups as children needing protecting and nurturing, they consider Johnny to be an insensitive bully.

    This, naturally, rewards the whining, producing more of it.

    • #29
    • February 6, 2014 at 4:09 am
    • Like0 likes
  30. Profile photo of wilber forge Member
    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. · 36 minutes ago

    Hailing from the simpler days myself, clubs were for mayhem.

    Real men (Gentlemen and often True thugs)) settled via fisticuffs and honored the outcome. It was usually very painfull and not very pretty. Speaks to a time when peer review and social constructs were more defined.

    • #30
    • February 6, 2014 at 4:10 am
    • Like0 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3