Are you offended or an offender?

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Taking offense does not give you an automatic win

Taking offense does not give you an automatic win

Being offended does not give license to offend

Article: Farron Ager – Oped Editor

Have you ever been offended? That’s a stupid question when you think about. I’d be willing to bet that everyone has been offended at some point in their life. How did you end up reacting to being offended? The reason I ask is because I think it’s high time we talk about the apparent dichotomy between the person who offends and the person who claims to be offended.

I honestly could not tell you when this rift started, but swiftly and suddenly, it became the case that you were placed into one of two categories: the offender and the offended. Worst yet, it became commonplace that you could only be in one of these two categories. You could be an offender or you can be offended. Especially now, the former title demonizes you while the latter canonizes you. Care to guess which one is more desirable?

If it wasn’t bad enough, this artificial gap has since then been abused as a vessel to promote hate-addled speech.

Let’s give this some context. The most prominent example I can think of today is the “Thank an Indian” sweatshirt scandal that has been circulating around the province. One of the loudest voices among the dissenters is Michele Tittler, a pentagenarian who proclaimed that she was “immensely offended” and “was going to do everything in [her] power to have that shirt banned from that school.” Using her claim to offense as a platform for her argument, Tittler has gone on a tirade about her own beliefs and values.

Now, if it had been done properly, Tittler could actually say something meaningful and contribute to long-running and seriously-regarded conversation. But no, that doesn’t happen. Most people who probe deeper into Tittler’s online footprint (including the End Race Based Law Inc. initiative) realize how brutishly, viciously, and, for lack of better phrasing, offensively she treats other people, especially through social media. For someone who is offended by a screen-printed sweatshirt, Tittler appears to have no qualms about offending other people as she “voices” her concerns.

Granted, Tittler is probably one of the worst recent offenders out there, but her reactions are something seen daily on a much smaller scale. Examples I can think of in the past include pictures of patriotism proudly depicting slogans such as how a country was founded on a specific and, arguably, archaic belief system or encouraging people to learn the a specific language or promptly leave. Basically, it’s a just a smaller scale of cyber bullying. More often than not, it’s not against an identifiable person, but the sentiment remains the same: “I have taken offense to what you said/did and now I cannot be in the wrong. Oh, by the way, since I can’t be wrong, let me spout a litany of hateful comments back at you. You’re the offender, don’t cha know?”

I think Ricky Gervais said it best with “just because you’re offended, it doesn’t mean you’re in the right.” By absolutely no stretch are you absolved for what you say after you shout out “I’m offended,” especially when you’re touting your own hateful little agenda immediately thereafter. It’s people like Tittler that actually help to show that the simulated fissure between the offender and the offended is slowly dissolving away, one hateful remark at a time.

Image: Carlos Latuff

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