I want to talk about the disturbing trend lately of being offended. Well, not so much the being offended, but trying to outlaw offensiveness. Whether we are talking about the confederate flag, words, a football team name or mascot, someone’s political views, religious views, lifestyle choices, comedy, or anything else people are being offended by this week. It’s all nonsense. All of it. I guess I’ll use the rest of this blog explaining why, although I wish I could just stop right here.
First of all, there are tons of things that are offensive. Too many to list. There are words I won’t say, and there are offensive words I love to say. People are social creatures and like to make each other laugh. They like to make fun of each other. People like to point out faults in a comical way. People can be mean. I don’t think this will ever change. The easy targets, or low hanging fruit, if you will are: looks, intelligence, attitude and physical ability. So we call each other “retarded”, “gay”, and any of countless other, more creative ways of saying the same thing. I know several people with children on the autism spectrum and can certainly understand how referring to someone as “retarded” would make them angry. But here’s the thing, before the word retarded was used, the technical terms for the different levels of low IQ were idiot, moron and imbecile. The word “retarded” was created as a way to replace those words as they became known as derogatory terms. Now “retarded” is derogatory and we can’t use that. Guess what, whatever replaces “retarded” will soon be used to call people stupid and will then need to be changed. It all means the same thing. It’s a never ending cycle!
By all means be offended, nobody can take that away from you. Just realize that whatever you change the word to, it will also be used in a way that is offensive. Instead of trying to change the language, try creating an argument that would persuade people to be nicer to each other. Better yet, understand that when you hear one person call another one “retarded”, they are not making fun of your child or mentally disabled people in general. A literal comparison is not being made. If I were to call someone a “scumbag” or “douche”, I’m just calling them a jerk in a slightly more creative way. There is no literal connection between jerky behavior and used condoms or vagina cleaner. When the vast majority of people call other people “retarded”, there is no literal connection between the victim of the insult and mentally handicapped people, in their minds. The few for which there is a connection are scumbags. (See what I did there?)
The other currently trendy way to be offended is through symbolism. Specifically in the news right now is the confederate flag. Ever since a racist, white moron shot up a black church, and we found out he loved the confederate flag, there has been a concerted effort to eradicate that flag from human existence. This is the same flag that previously represented southern pride, or pride in being from the south. It was proudly worn by white people and black people alike. Sure, it was one of the flags of the south during the civil war. Yes, the south had slaves. Yes, at one point the confederate flag represented a system that endorsed slavery. I live in the south. My relatives, for the most part live in Georgia. You can’t get more southern that that. I have met many a racist in Georgia and not one of them would advocate for the return of slavery. The meaning of the flag has changed over time. What I believe the racist moron who killed those people, and the people I hear making racist comments when visiting family in Georgia mostly complain about is the perceived preferential treatment for black people over white people by the government. What the flag means to these people is a solidarity against northern aggression, (Washington, DC). In and of itself, this is not racist. Their racism is a completely separate issue. While their logic is maddening to say the least, it’s not the flags fault.
Again, eradicating the confederate flag from Amazon.com, Walmart and the television will not take away the history of the civil war. It will not end racism. It will not even change the attitude of racist people. If anything, it will make it worse. The civil war was a real thing that really happened. The other thing is that it’s a slippery slope when you cave in to mindless, mob mentality, pop culture rage protesters. There are very few flags or symbols that don’t offend someone. How can Walmart sell Che Guevara t-shirts, but not confederate flag t-shirts? He was a sociopathic killer and communist revolutionary! How can you want to eradicate Chic Fil A from existence for supporting traditional marriage, but freely fill up your tank with gasoline made in Saudi Arabia where being homosexual is illegal?
There are tons of arguments against the banning of books, symbols, words, etc… They are all good arguments, but apparently they are not working. We are raising a generation of people who are perpetually offended. My guess is that this mentality is mostly coming from college campuses where social justice warriors are castrating the minds of young people. When these young people graduate and enter the real world, they are not prepared for what they see. Catering to the mild sensibilities of these people is enabling in a way that is not only harmful to their perception of the real world, but dangerous to our freedom. These young people will be the next generation of elected officials. They will be in a position to make laws. They will be in a position to redefine what free speech is. If we let them define the terms of our language now through private means like social media, is it a stretch to think they won’t define those terms through legal means later?
At any rate, supporting free speech means defending offensive behavior, but not necessarily agreeing with that behavior. I firmly believe that words and symbols only hold the power that we give them. Please give me your best offensive term in the comments below so that we can laugh at them and remove some of their power.