At first I was offended … and then I was offended you’re offended … but now I’m offended you’re offended I’m offended.
I don’t buy into this whole tuna noodle casserole that there was a time when people—Americans in the particular, because I’ve never lived in Lithuania or Abu Dhabi or Swaziland and cannot comment with any degree of accuracy on their respective populaces—were unconcerned with tastes and opinions contrary to their own.
Maybe there really was a time when folks didn’t take offense to certain types of music, humor, politics, etc. But I don’t believe that, and neither do you.
What I’m guessing happens, since I’ve watched it happen over my 44 years, is the types of people most vocal about being offended—along with what exactly it is offends them—has changed.
When I was a kid, the people most likely to be caterwauling about their precious sensibilities were typically conservative Christians of pretty much all economic backgrounds.
The big bugaboos in the ’80s and ’90s were explicit lyrics in rock and rap, the marihuana, and—for some reason—kids on skateboards. Oh, and gays. They really had a bug up their ass over the gays. Still do, I guess.
Our elders were most concerned with us rocking-and-rolling all night and partying every day. The powers that had been were equally concerned with violence in cartoons and sex on TV.
I still remember in the mid-1980s when they censored Bugs Bunny because they thought seeing Wile E. Coyote accidentally blow himself up with some ACME dynamite was going to turn us into mass murderers.
I don’t remember one mass shooting from my childhood. The first one I ever heard about was Columbine and that was a couple years after I graduated high school.
The “I’m offended” crowd looks a lot different than it used to.
Nowadays, it’s OK to be hyper-sexual and violent just as long as you don’t address someone by the wrong label. When I was a kid, it was all about not having labels. It was a slightly less hippie-ish form of live and let live because we’re all different and that’s cool and beautiful.
But it seems like people today really need their labels.
They want you to know right up front when you meet them their Myers-Briggs Type, gender(s), looong list of ailments, favorite ice-cream flavor, political affiliation, shoe size, country of origin, religion, IQ, credit score, and military service record—or that your great-uncle was in a war, which by today’s standards makes you practically a veteran.
I suppose I understand. Though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be known for their ailments or attacks on their person. Surely people are much more than their diseases and misfortunes. And if not, then I guess I’m not the saddest person I know.
I started this cranky old-man rant because it hit me the other day while I was being offended that someone was offended that I was violating my own asshole clause.
After all, if being offended by something is bad, then being offended that someone is offended is like offended cubed or even to the third power.
I used to believe people had the right to express themselves—so long as they don’t harm anyone else—and that people didn’t have a right to be offended.
But that’s shit logic. There are lots of things most people could probably agree are universally offensive: sexual harassment, child pornography, animal abuse, etc.
Even people who scream “I’m offended that you’re offended” would probably admit they have a long list of things which offend them.
I consider myself a fairly open-minded twat and I’m offended by plenty of stuff.
- I’m offended when people call themselves heroes for having ailments.
- I’m offended when people participate in competitive suffering.
- I’m offended by bigotry of all kinds regardless of who’s doing it or their justification for doing so.
- I’m offended people call Jimmy Fallon a comedian.
- I’m offended by tuna noodle casserole.
- I’m offended by people who talk about their kids. No one cares about your shitty kids.
- I’m offended by people who have their dogs put to sleep—let them die naturally all doped up on painkillers like humans do.
- I’m offended by folks who go on about how much they love bacon. Fuck your bacon!
- I’m offended by smokers who think they have a right to blow their poison into my lungs. You wanna smoke next to me? I get to kidney punch you every time you exhale.
- I’m offended by … oh shit, where was I?
The key, I guess, is that I don’t run out and vote to stop people from doing things I think are offensive. And, I wouldn’t try to scream over top of them if they were voicing an opinion I didn’t like. Unless what they’re doing is dangerous or completely immoral, I don’t join any goddamned boycotts.
You do know tweeting “boycott” doesn’t make you a fucking freedom fighter, right?
Where was I? Oh yeah, that totally not offensive topic of abortion. I don’t particularly care for abortion but I’ve never voted for someone who was against it.
Except for W.
OK, I did vote for him the first time but, in my defense, I was temporarily under the spell of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. And my vote wasn’t about abortion.
Other than that, I’ve had zero impact on the matter.
And, frankly, the longer I live, the more I’m thinking it’s not such a bad thing considering what a shit-pile we humans have turned this planet into.
On second thought, if you think there’s even a 1% chance you’ll be a bad parent who turns out another shitty little polluting sociopath upon the Earth, go ahead and Hoover that little sucker out right now! I’ll even hold the flashlight.
Viva la ‘bortion!!!
All that rambling is to say that, as much as I support a person’s right to paint a likeness of Mother Theresa in cow poo, or sing “Fuck da police” at a concert, or read excerpts of Naked Lunch aloud on the bus … people have a right to express themselves in opposition to your expression.
They also have the right to say “I’m offended!”
To tell someone that what you’ve done makes them feel bad or creeped out or nauseated is no less a freedom than to do the things that made them feel that way in the first place.
In the end, I think we could all get along much better if we just breathe and remember that there is no God and when the sun explodes none of this will ever have mattered.