“Offensive” is one of the most overused words of the modern era. It’s supposed to pack a potent punch, but upon examination comes up decidedly lacking.
For starters, there are some who are easily offended. Often these people seem eager for a fight; they’re just looking for something to be angry about. I am thinking about people who are so insulted by a satirical cartoon that they instigate deadly riots. Or who get miffed when others give them a generalized holiday greeting instead of a faith-specific one. Or who try to prevent women from feeding their babies. Or who try to stifle a message of peace at Christmas.
How should the offensive be dealt with? Hard to say, because it’s so damned subjective. There lies the honey-flavored barbecue rub.
In my experience, the way such things are typically handled is, if even one person complains, the offensive person/behavior/thing has got to stop and/or be punished. I know this is a bit muddled, but stay with me here.
As I stated on a previous occasion, the existing practice is that when anyone claims to be offended, their rights automatically supersede those of the offenders. Why? Could not an offending party counter by saying that they’re offended that their rights are being curbed because someone else objected to their holiday display?
Far too many concessions are unquestioningly given to offendees. Offenders have rights, too, damn it. (You have probably already noted, I am not using “offender” here in the traditional sense of a criminal, but anyone who does anything deemed offensive by others.)
I’ve long felt that the prohibition of something should be directly tied to its capacity for demonstrable harm. So, while I generally feel people should be allowed to govern their own behavior, I agree with the ban on cigarette smoking in public places, for example, because of the discomfort and disease issues it presents.
Whereas, public breastfeeding may freak out some uptight people, it really doesn’t harm anyone. Sure, there are plenty of people around who “don’t want their kids (or selves) seeing that,” but they always seem to have a hard time explaining exactly what harm is being done to the viewers. They become indignant at the challenge, but rarely present a coherent, compelling argument.
Interaction with other humans will always require some give and take. And that means sometimes taking some shit you don’t like, because you’re also probably giving some of it to someone else. As long as no harm is done, we all have a self-interest in allowing it to remain that way.
Let me put it in other words: Lighten up, you lightweight, namby-pamby, pantywaist, c*cksucking, motherf*cking, grab-ass-tic pieces of amphibian sh*t. “You people” make me sick.
Man, I hope that didn't come across in an offensive way.