Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Being Offended Is Offensive

Excuse the rant...

In the 1980’s there was a comic strip that was my favorite. It was Bloom County by Berkley Breathead. I love his humor with a political edge.
The star of the comic is Opus, a penguin. He is sitting at a bus stop with several people. One of them says to him, “Ya know…you penguin types offend me.” Then another guy reading a newspaper says, “Hey…I’ll tell ya what offends me…dirty words, that’s what.” The next panels have others telling each other what offends them. Then they all say at once, “My gosh…LIFE is offensive!!” and all run off screaming. The last panel has Opus looking at you and saying, “Offensensitivity.” This is a humorous way of saying all of us can be overly sensitive and offended. One of my favorite quotes applies to offensensitivity. It’s from Eleanor Roosevelt and she said, “No one can offend you without your permission.”
In a time where free speech is being silenced I think we need to follow the counsel of former President George H.W. Bush, in his 1989 inaugural address, said:
“We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the world.”
What is that you say Burn? Are you turning into a sissy? No. I’m still pretty “Close and engage” minded. But I do feel there is a time and a place for everything. We should be kinder and gentler toward our fellowman. Most Americans will pitch in and help and are pretty good people. It’s the reprobates that make it seem that there is no good out there.
But by the same token, we should all have much thicker skins. No one “makes” you mad. You choose to get mad. We choose how we feel. Others can do a lot to trigger some of these emotions, but it’s in our control. I don’t understand what happened to the old rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? Since when did names or insinuations or out and out lies told to us or about us really change us into what we are not? I don’t want my reputation or trust lost, but these days you can’t just live your life. When you get right down to it, we all judge wrong. We all misunderstand other cultures and races. We all get frustrated with the way others think. I’ve never met another human being who didn’t at least have one of these shortcomings. In my belief, only Christ was the perfect being on this earth. The rest of us should be trying. But in the process, patience and tolerance should be our watch word.
I have a real hard time with liberals. I can’t understand how they think and usually feel their actions are asinine. But, I still feel they have a voice and should have a voice. We either have free speech or we don’t. We don’t have freedom of speech only if we agree with what is being said. There are some cases where speech may incite a riot and maybe that is still free to do, but you may have to live with consequences of that speech. Hate speech is similar if that speech tells others to do something wrong and they do it. That doesn’t stop you from using the speech, it just means that consequences may follow. I don’t like pornography. I think it causes a lot of problems for people in many ways. I think it is evil and it should be limited in where it can be displayed and sold, but we have that freedom in this country. I’m not advocating porn but I am advocating freedom of speech.
In this country these days we have a nation of whiny babies. Every one of us has a complaint about something. I’m not saying we should not participate in the debate process but in a civilized, adult manner. What the heck do we need “safe” places for? Should we shield our children from every little mean or bad thing? Bullying is not a new thing. I have red hair and I grew up being taunted because of it. I have great parents who told me that by not reacting to name calling, or laughing along with it, I could disarm the attacker. Most of the time it worked. For the times that I need to defend myself, they taught me to do that also. But they taught me to be very sure before I did anything.
I’m not sure how being “left” or even “liberal” made adults bring up kids that can’t seem to handle anything. I don’t know if it was the “free love” generation or the “activist, anarchist” mentality, but there seems to be an overabundance of wimps out there. I agree that racist words are not “kinder and gentler”. But they are just words. I’m tired of people getting their knickers in a bunch about words. Yes sometimes words hurt, but the alternative is some crazy newspeak stuff that tries to control people’s minds, and I don’t think it can be done. Nazi Germany couldn’t do it, Socialism doesn’t do it. There is an old German song that no one is really sure who the author is called: "Die Gedanken sind frei" which is basically “My thoughts are free.” I think that is a basic right thought of throughout the world as God-given.
Some people and groups have being offended down to an art. They are offended by words, actions, signs, music, books, newspapers and magazines, the internet, and just about everything you can think of. No group, person, or organization hasn’t been hurt by one of the above. We’ve all experienced it. Will it ever stop? No! Not as long as there are human beings on this earth. I’m not saying we should not try, but I’m tired. Black people have an issue. Women have an issue. Native Americans have an issue. Jews have an issue. I believe this is true of all these groups and more. I’m a Mormon. Were Mormons run out of Missouri with an “extermination order” given by Missouri’s governor? Yes! It is a fact. So now should I be offended with every disparaging remark about my religion and cry “Anti-Mormon” when someone disagrees with our doctrine? I guess I could, but I prefer to look upon haters with pity and to get on with my life. I’m not saying there is nothing to bring out as a problem, like those who claim the Holocaust never happened. But I know that the past was horrible for many. Some of my ancestors were driven from Illinois. No one has ever given me money for that injustice. Nor should they. This kind of discontent breeds division in this country. And then, some get offended that you tell them they shouldn’t be offended!
Everyone of us has offended and been offended. Mostly it can be avoided. Strive to teach your children that life can be offensive, but they don’t have to be offended. Do not accept injustice, but be picky about what you choose to fight for. Make sure it is worthy of your time and energy and not someone’s whiny pet peeve.
Do you remember the Seinfeld episode called “The Outing”? In this episode George and Jerry are mistakenly viewed as being gay. As they discuss this they deny it by saying, “We’re not Gay! …not that there’s anything wrong with that…”
Well this is a typical person trying not to be offensive. They are being politically correct.
I think that it’s not a horrible thing to not want to be offensive. We all should be more kind. But sometimes that can be to the extreme …not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Semper Paratus
Check 6

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