Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
Who'd have thought that that a little thing like the internet could transform the greatest country in the history of the world into an army of 24-7 perpetual rage monkeys? Well, it has. Everyone's offended. All the time.
The level of discourse in this country has devolved into a combox discussion.
Maybe the reason people like being offended is because they think it gives them carte blanche to say ridiculous things like "carte blanche" or just to act like complete morons and blame you for it. It doesn't matter if you give offense, they're taking it. No givebacks.
Maybe "I'm offended" is the 21st century equivalent of holding your hand to your chest and gasping, "Well, I never." Except now there's usually lawyers involved or at least two representatives of your Human Resources department because they never come alone (because lawyers told them not to.) And then the person who did the offending needs to hire a very expensive publicist to write up a non-apology apology which nobody will actually believe.
Or maybe "I'm offended" simply means "shut up or I'll sue" or "stop talking now or I'll get you fired."
And being offended is like Gandalf yelling "You shall not pass." There's no way to logic your way through someone taking offense. No. Being offended is impervious to all logic and reason.
Just this week, Justin Bieber issued a non-apology apology to those he offended by visiting Japan's Yasukuni war shrine which honors 2.5 million war dead, including 14 convicted war criminals. Beliebers in China and South Korea were offended. Now it's one thing to point out that Justin Bieber may very well have done a foolish thing. But could anyone actually believe that Justin Bieber knew what the heck he was doing? I don't think Justin Bieber knows what he did last night, never mind Japan's military history. The dude is a prepubescent Keith Richards without the cool, the talent, or pretty much anything that would make him remotely like Keith Richards which would essentially make him nothing like Keith Richards other than that they both have pretty cagey short-term memory.
The offense that's truly puzzling to me is the third party offense. The time where you actually say something and someone declares that is not particularly offensive to them but that they know someone who would be offended and therefore it's offensive. Insert lawyers, Human Resources, and publicists here.
I was at a pretty expensive wedding recently. You knew it was expensive because there were no pigs-in-a-blanket and none of the appetizers were edible. It takes money to make food tasteless. Anyway, there were these two twenty-something inmates from a liberal arts college sitting at my table talking the entire time about how offensive the reception was because it was so expensive. Not offensive to them particularly but to the wait staff. That's right, they were offended for the people who were actually making money by being there. Mind you, those two were putting the open bar to use but hey, they were offended by it at the same time so that made it all better. It was a righteous buzz. Those two enjoyed being offended. They thought whining was the high ground. (Note: They did not leave a tip.)
But nothing (and I mean nothing) is more offensive nowadays than Christianity. It seems that being a believing Christian is offensive from the get-go nowadays, especially if one watches NBC News. It seems that Jesus, besides being the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is also quite offensive. Talking about your religion is like blowing smoke in people's faces without all the cancery ramifications.
Just this week, a family in New Jersey was so offended by the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance they're suing to ban the pledge from public schools.
Last month, an executive at Mozilla lost his job because of his beliefs on marriage.
This age of totalitolerance has clearly taught us that sometimes tolerance means someone's gonna' shut up. Now.
Here's the thing, I can think somebody's a jerk without being offended. Someone can be wrong without my needing an apology. I don't ever intend to offend anyone but I'm sure I have. I probably just did with this piece. Just my being Catholic, pro-life, and in favor of traditional marriage probably makes me the most offensive person on the planet. But hey, at least I didn't go to a Japanese war crime shrine.