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The Golden Calf of Offense


It's time to treat offense like what it is - just another opinion.

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Everyone seems to get offended by a lot of things these days. It’s the new emotional fashion trend in over-the-top reactions to everyday things, you know.

Whether it is people getting offended at the Redskins nickname, Nancy Pelosi getting her knickers in a bunch over the use of the word “alien” (enjoy that mental image), or the Muslim world getting offended by, well, damn near everything at this point, we are inundated with people taking offense and are told it is of vital importance to correct. One guest on MSNBC (of course) even said this in reference to the Redskins – “If it’s offensive to one person, you’ve got to change the name.”

That kind of thinking offends me, he should change his argument.

A Washington Redskins football team staff member wheels a bucket of helmets off the field after a practice at NFL football training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. (Image source: AP/Alex Brandon, File) A Washington Redskins football team staff member wheels a bucket of helmets off the field after a practice at NFL football training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. (Image source: AP/Alex Brandon, File) 

Joking aside, we seem to have forgotten that offense is just an opinion or reaction to something. That’s it. It happens all the time in all kinds of situations, but in the end, it’s just an opinion, something that every single one of us has.

Being offended by something is no different than something making you happy, sad, angry, excited, nervous, introspective or even giddy (insert Al Sharpton joke here). Yes, the feeling is different, but the importance is not. They are all opinions on something; they are all just an emotional reaction.

Someone taking offense to something is no more important or valid than any of the other reactions you could have.

Yet in modern American society, we have elevated the opinion of offense. It has become the golden calf of reactions, the supreme emotion, the trump card of opinion that supersedes everything else.

Something makes you happy? Great. Sad? Ok. Nervous? Whatever. Offended? Stop everything! This must be fixed and taken care of immediately! Apologies must be issued!

Why on earth does this happen?

Simply put, it’s an easy way to control language and expression. We are a people who care about others’ feelings. We don’t generally want to offend people and prefer to get along with others. Unfortunately, our kindness and compassion is turned against us and used to control expression and speech.

We are told and conditioned to feel shame and regret for offending anyone, oddly one of the few things that causes shame anymore. In the supreme act of control, we are told to never say it again, to avoid it, to ban it lest it cause someone offense. We cannot talk about it, we cannot reason it out, we cannot come to an understanding, we must rid society of it!

That, to me, is offensive.

As the Redskins issue gains traction and the political correctness brigade gains ground, the common reaction is either explain how the Redskins name is not offensive, or to point out many other things that are offensive and somehow untouched. Both are the wrong approach.

For those who have decided to be offended by the Redskins name, they are not going to be swayed by explanations or historical information. To try to reason with those who are actively campaigning to force its removal is akin to convincing a pack of rabid wolves to enjoy a salad bar.

To point out other names that are equally as offensive, yet are somehow alright, is even worse. It does nothing to convince the political correctness brigade to spare your hide, it simply gives them more targets to destroy after they have finished wiping you off the map.

The proper approach is to treat offense like what it is – simply an opinion. We need to stop putting offense up on a pedestal. It is time to bring offense back down to earth and treat it as an equal, rather than superior opinion.

If someone takes offense to something, so what? People have myriad reactions to nearly everything. Taking offense is just one of them and shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other.

I learned a very valuable lesson in my teenage years that has served me well as I have offended many progressives and liberals throughout my adult life: You cannot control someone’s reaction to what you say or do.

(Photo: Shutterstock.com) Tape your mouth shut, lest you offend someone with your opinion. (Photo: Shutterstock.com) 

If they choose to be offended by something, that’s their choice. I cannot change or control that reaction, I can merely understand it and accept it. Their being offended by me is a them-problem, not a me-problem.

But as I have aged and grown to better understand the principles of freedom, there is an addendum to this lesson that needs to be added: I cannot control someone’s reaction to what I say, and they cannot control my ability to express it.

This is the essence of freedom. People can say what they want to say, and if it offends me or anyone else, so what? They have the freedom to express themselves as they choose and I have the freedom to ignore them.

Just because I or anyone else is offended does not mean that we must stop everything and correct it by silencing those offensive words. This is the antithesis of freedom!

What we must remember and begin to fight for once again is that no one has a right to not be offended, but I sure as hell have a right to speak and express myself freely.

And if that offends someone: so what?

For other articles and writings by Darrell, please visit the Milk Crate.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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