The most powerful word in the country today is… “Offensive”.
The words of a Facebook acquaintance hung there on the group page, taunting my mind away from a more basic Sunday morning meditation. It worked, and my mind started milling the words, prompting my immediate rejoinder “If that were true, it would work for everyone, non?”
But the more I thought about it, the more I came to consider the “wrongness” that lead to the statement being made in the first place. I realized that it isn’t about the rank hypocrisy that sees nothing wrong with an entitlement for some people to invoke “offense” as a means to stop discussion, debate, questions, behavior or beliefs they do not like, but is incapable of even considering that other parties might be offended by the discussion, debate, questions, behavior or beliefs of the those invoking “offense”, let alone capable of invoking “offense” themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I think being able to end all discussion, debate, questions, behavior, or beliefs by claiming to be “offended” is unhealthy for a free society, offensive to liberty, and childish in the extreme. As long as it is impossible to have an honest conversation, because it will almost certainly “offend” someone, it will be impossible to address any issue of import. It doesn’t take long before this will lead to financial impairment, social impairment, and impairment of national security. (See President Obama, Second Term)
But the really, really odious part if this is that I often hear “Offense” uttered like an incantation from many of the same people who speak of “reason” being superior to faith, and a basis for them to assume an intellectual superiority that they clearly haven’t earned, while they often put faith in “facts” that have expiration dates due to constantly changing nature of scientific paradigms. The illogic of presuming that rights which are guaranteed by law are subject to override if only they can apply their completely subjective responses to the exercise of those rights would be laughable if it wasn’t pursued with such zeal and dedication. Orwell himself couldn’t have conceived of the sheer scope of the vanity and delusion that have combined to impose a bizzaro-world rhetoric to such a degree that sincerity and directness are relegated to criminal status.
The saddest aspect to this current state of affairs is that too many of us allowed ourselves to be cowed by this practice, as if offending someone, or at least those granted a de facto privileged status by the arbiters of acceptability, is a combination of the worst sin and the worst crime that a person can commit. The fact is that this extraordinary power and cancer on society wouldn’t be powerful at all if we didn’t let it. But this requires a boldness to push back, that too few have the backbone to exhibit. Start responding by saying “SO???” Ask them to explain why they are suffering from the alleged “offense”. Put the onus on them to prove why it should matter to you, and to everyone else, rather than giving what has morphed into a generic and reflexive complaint the presumption of legitimacy without the burden of proving it. It is your duty as a citizen and a member of society to engage people who don’t want you to engage in an honest discourse. It is your birthright to be able to do so without the threat of sanction by government, or those who want to destroy the very way you live, and censor your very thoughts.
STAND. BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.