Sunday, December 1, 2019

Is Everything Offensive?


I will digress from this blog’s medical quality theme to let off the gaseous form of H20, also known as steam.  I wouldn’t consider this to be a rant, a genre that I have offered previously.  But, it’s more than just venting to my readers.  So, it’s somewhere between a rant a and a vent.  

In my world, I try hard to challenge myself and others.  It’s the way I’ve always been.  I love the debate, the argument and the rhetorical fencing.  I feel satisfied if I can change someone’s mind and I particularly relish when someone can change mine.  Let the better argument prevail.  Of course, contestants in this arena must be willing change their views and give an opposing argument a fair hearing. 

There have been instances during these colloquies, and at other times, that I have inadvertently offended someone.  At times, this occurred because my words were clumsily selected.  On other occasions, the recipient may have been overly sensitive and had a low offense threshold.  I have also had the experience where my seemingly innocent words hurt someone as I was not aware of some personal experience that rendered the individual understandably sensitive.   For example, if someone recently lost a loved one, they may not find a cemetery joke to be amusing.

But, do you agree that it seems easier than ever to offend folks these days? 

I am growing tired of Offensomania, an epidemic of offenses being perceived in nearly every corner of our society.  Folks are now ‘deeply offended’ after reading a newspaper article, attending a lecture, seeing a TV advertisement, witnessing a claim of intolerance, watching cable news, reading about educational curricula, viewing artwork and hearing normative political discourse.


'You have offended me.  En garde!'

Reasonable disagreement on the issues of the day should be expected and welcome, but why does every little think provoke claims of offense?

Does a day go by without some person or organization threatening a protest or a boycott?  A corporate executive can lose his or her job over an utterance or a tweet from years back in order to mollify the offended 'victims'.  Think about that, losing your job because of some silly stuff you said or did years back, particularly when standards may have been different?  I wonder if Al Franken agrees with me on this point?

I’ve read thousands of newspaper columns and I never recall feeling offended by any of them, though  I’ve certainly disagreed with many of them.  I’ve read hateful and ignorant words, especially in the past 2 years.  Sadly, I expect to read more of them in the next year.  But, they won’t offend me.  That’s not to suggest that contemptible views don’t merit a vigorous response – they do and I hope to be part of that voice.  But, I won’t claim to have been personally offended. 

I truly believe there are folks out there who are contriving offense to serve some other interest.  Think this over the next time - which will probably be today or tomorrow - that someone is professing some great offense over some item or event.  Do you really believe the offense is real?

There was a joke back in my college days.  A young student sees a protest on campus.  “Hey, I’m joining with you guys.  Whatever you’re protesting, I’m against it too!”

I know that true offenses occur because I’ve been a perpetrator and a recipient. But there’s a false epidemic that is fueling many agendas, careers, campaigns and organizations.  And, yes, this deeply offends me. 





4 comments:

Unknown said...

How have we all come to self-identify as "victims" of some sort? Colleges now have to provide "safe" or "panic" rooms! What is going on? And when did we decide that anything that goes wrong in life is due someone's negligence, and requires a lawsuit?. As the famous 1970's butter/margarine commercial noted, "it's not NICE to fool Mother Nature!" Too bad the corollary couldn't be voiced, i.e., Mother Nature is a bitch! S*** happens, folks! Say, if we're not responsible for the things that go wrong, perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to claim success?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand I understand that throughout Western history, if you were not one of the powerful class (rich, white, and male), then any complaints could be met by punishment or death. Perhaps we're only just reaching the natural state of everyone complaining (like you!).

Unknown said...

while your comments are true, I don't see the relevance to my post. I'm not complaining, I'm making an observation.
there's a difference. Hope I didn't offend you.

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

If we sanitize society to the state where none of us are 'offended', then what will remain?

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