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:
- Piers Morgan offended transgendered activists by saying that a woman who used to be a man used to be a man.
- Jerry Seinfeld offended a Gawker writer by saying he’s less concerned about a comedian’s race than how funny he is.
- Coca-Cola offended English-only activists by a multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
- Joe Namath offended animal rights activists by wearing a fur coat to the Super Bowl.
- MSNBC offended conservatives by assuming they would be offended by a Cheerios ad.
- Non-white feminists offended white feminists by alleging that white feminists were offending non-white feminists.
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.