Many of us who frequent social media will have the dreadful “I’m offended” thrown at us at one point or another. But the question remains of how effective this tactic really is? To understand this we must first understand the various meanings and usages behind this tactic whether they are intentional or not.
What we find so often with the use of the offense taken sentence is that it normally comes when someone wants to go on the attack, someone wants to muster up a defense or when someone wants to do both at the same time. Rarely are these words utilized because someone is just offended and they leave it at that. After all being offended doesn’t mean someone is going to go on the defensive or offensive. At least not inherently anyways. Then that leaves the question of why do it at all if it is rarely used just to be offended?
To answer our above question we need to understand a few things about the people who use this line often. One, we should never misunderstand that being offended doesn’t generate an argument. Two, being offended doesn’t justify being more offensive than the very level of offense that a person is offended by. Three, these types tend to only be offended when it is convenient with a debate being a perfect example. Four, these types of people tend to be offended and use that to justify their world view as if their offended status is a true reflection of everyone else’s experience. And lastly the offended tend to flock in high numbers.
Let us go through each one of those points and see if we can spot the usual suspects:
- Christopher Hitchens said it best when he proclaimed that certain people shout, “I’m offended” as if that is an argument. In fact the sentence before this one is almost word for word what the man said. It is true. There are some people who believe that because they are offended that makes them right. Nothing could be further from the truth. One can be offended that the sun can cause blindness if one stares at it for too long. Does that change reality? One can be offended that black people are allowed to exist. Does that make that belief correct? No, it doesn’t and neither does being offended create a rational argument.
- Ever notice how a lot of the people who are perpetually offended by something turn around and justify or even engage in material that is far worse by objective comparison? For example there are those who would get offended if someone were to ask a woman to, “smile more.” But as witnessed by the author of this blog in that very same social media posting a person turned around the said that they would make a person lose teeth if they were asked to smile more. Do you see the lunacy in this? How can one be offended by something they deem offensive but then turn around and justify violence for a non-violent gesture? Another good example is how someone will complain about how someone sits on public transit due to rudeness but then turn around and advocate for laws for those people to be ticketed and even arrested for such a trivial offense. These are classic cases, but certainly not all of the cases, where being offended can become a weapon and even a justification for nonsense.
- This ties into point number one. Being offended can sometimes be an effective tool and a weapon in a debate. Someone taking offense to words and even statements can essentially erase rational arguments as if they didn’t even exist. Of course this doesn’t work most times because many of us can see right through this particular set of mental gymnastics. The idea is simple. One must be offended, declare it so, cast a label on the person making the statement and with that label comes outright refusal to hear the evidence. It is an effective tactic that is used in politics, social media and from person to person. For example if someone were to criticize a certain religious belief even if that belief has multiple racial identities participating it can be effective to call that person a racist even if it isn’t true or proof cannot be obtained. The reason why this can be effective is that it is a shaming and silencing tool. And believe this tool is standard issue for the perpetually offended.
- Finally, we have the, “I’m offended and you should be too” angle. This one is simple. It is not that hard to understand. This is essentially a person proclaiming that because they experienced something or don’t like something that everyone else should care. The problem with that word, “should” is that it is really an anger word. Yes everyone should be a nice person but there are no requirements to be that. Everyone should try not to litter but many of us do it. Should and reality do not mix. So while someone believes everyone should be offended at something that just won’t be the case most times and that is for any issue outside of rape, murder and other very serious crimes. For example if someone is offended at a certain word and don’t care to hear that word uttered by anyone that is that person’s opinion. In reality nobody has to listen or pay any attention to that person for being offended.
So we see where someone shouting that they are offended isn’t just something that is harmless. This is meant to either shut down discussion, shut down discourse, silence people or try to coerce others into being offended or joining a certain label. The tactic tends to work very well. Unlike other tactics if one were to look objectively almost any social group uses this and it is a major recruitment tool for many groups including religion, politics and what have you.
How far does the rabbit hole of horrors go? Let us take a peek into the nonsense and not to claw out our eyes in disgust. Here are a few examples:
Remember this lovely story? Well it is about Tim Hunt who is a Noble Prize winner who was fired after supposed “sexist” comments. Someone got offended and because of that someone got fired. Notable people such as Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox came to Tim Hunt’s defense. As it turns out and despite major media and social media demonizing of Tim Hunt the whole sexism story started to have more holes poked in it than swish cheese being assaulted by an automatic machine gun. But the Twitterverse went to action as soon as the story made waves. People were “offended” even though it is clear that at least 99% of the offended were not even present to know if Tim Hunt committed the offense or not. Remember when I said the perpetually offended tend to flock like birds of a feather? What do you think happened here? This is where being offended can be used as a weapon.
Remember this little gem? Matt Taylor did what many before him thought to be impossible. He landed a man made object on a space object traveling at speeds many of us will never witness even if E.T. landed on Earth tomorrow. The suggestion by this social media posting is that Matt Taylor is contributing to the relative lack of presence of women in STEM fields. So in other words some people got offended by a shirt (made by a woman by the way) and because of that offense attention was taken away from the monumental accomplish of this guy and placed on attire. What is hilariously hypocritical about all this is that the very ideology and social group attached to most of the outrage contain many people who’d say, “violence and crime is not justified by what someone wears.” Yet in a lesser degree they have no problem in reducing a man to tears on live national television because a few people don’t understand that someone has the right to wear what they want with or without their approval.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Similarly to how an army may attack a supplier that may not have anything to do with the actual war this attack on a company is so similar that it is almost sickening to see. Because someone got offended and interpreted a game as “transmisogyny” this person has the nerve to tell someone else what they should or should not back based off of their level of being offended. If this doesn’t represent the greater problem nothing will. Someone being offended is one thing but someone being offended (if they really are or not and aren’t just doing it for attention) should have no bearing on everyone else if others will not be seriously harmed in the process. One really has the burden of proof on them to demonstrate that a video supposedly displaying “transmisogyny” (a term probably coined out of outrage) is going to harm anyone since we known video games have not caused violence or sexism in any conceivable way and we have studies that demonstrate this.
Finally we have the easy way out of the offended and that is by being more offensive. How does one compare over a hundred people losing their lives in a single event to what happened on a college campus where nobody lost their life? Remember the black lives matter movement on the University of Missouri campus? Out of that protest came rap songs titled, “Fuck Paris.” Out of that protest came Asian journalists being harassed and assaulted for being a, “white supremacist” as if the KKK are suddenly taking Asian membership. Out of that protest came students being harassed and one female student in particular being referred to as a, “racist cunt” just for not wanting anything to do with a bunch of people bursting into a library and causing all sorts of ruckus. This is the offended on the attack. Remember when I mentioned how someone could use their offended status to go on the attack with a sword and then use a defense of being “marginalized” or “misunderstood” as a shield? There are few examples better than this.
Now we have a good picture of what shouting, “I’m offended” really means. It just means the person wants to be able to attack without you being able to defend yourself. It also means this person is out of intellectual ammunition and need you to the instigator of your own demise by labeling you something in order to have a weapon against you. Recognize these patterns and overcome this. In order for us to progress as a society in the West we need to recognize and defeat these tactics.