Are we taking offence to a new level?
“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so f**king what.”
Eloquently put by Stephen Fry, but can we take it at face value? Are there some things we should be offended by? And if so how should one react?
There is rarely a day that goes by where we don’t hear about someone getting offended by something or other, whether it’s something someone said or something they did.
Obviously taking offence is completely subjective. That has everything to do with you as an individual, or a collective or a society, your moral conditioning or your religious beliefs. What doesn’t offend me could quite easily offend someone else. But throwing that O word around is, in my opinion, dangerous. It’s such a strong word to use when it comes to certain situations. We hear stories of gay couples getting offended that someone has objected to their public displays of affection. But whether this is actual bigotry, or simply being an uneducated moron gets lost in the “That’s offensive” mantra, and these couples end up with the classic miserable face in the Daily Mail.
Our knee-jerk reaction to something happening to us, is to fight back, to defend our right to be how we are, but how does this actually help a situation. Shouting “I’m offended” is the cheap way out. It can stop a conversation right in its tracks, make a person feel bad and give you an undeserved sense of victory over that mean person. When it comes to being gay and how people are with us, the natural reaction would be to become offended by some of the stuff that is said. However, how easy is it to cry victim at the drop of a hat? To demand special treatment because of a perceived hurt. Now I’m not saying that we should simply ignore every slight made against ourselves as a community, certainly expecting equal treatment is something that should just be a given, and certainly one should take offence to the notion of withholding basic human rights to marriage and equal treatment in the work place. But a worrying pattern is happening, where mistakes in speech or simple ignorance are vilified and witch-hunted, where an almost mob mentality of perceived offence takes on a life of it’s own and people can be hounded off social media without being given a chance to either explain themselves or have a reasonable conversation or debate.
Being offended is letting the other person affect your moods, affect your way of thinking. Flying off the handle at the person who has slighted you, has given them the power over you. Katie Hopkins recently made headlines after tweeting a bit of an insensitive tweet (aren’t they all) about the death of Cilla Black. At no point did she say she disliked Cilla herself, she merely pointed out that it seemed crass for a lot of celebrities to rush to twitter to send a disingenuous tribute to her, yet as soon as it was posted people screamed of offence. Hopkins has a rather abrasive way of making her point, but reading between the lines of the way she says things, she can make valid points, she’s just a bit of an asshole about it. Would she be offended by my calling her that? It seems highly unlikely.
The latest thing to also be offended by is certain businesses refusing to provide services to gay people on the grounds of their religious beliefs. So what, go somewhere else that will serve you and leave those brainwashed fools without an order, those people have just lost your money. The fact someone reported a bakery for refusing to decorate a cake resulted in that bakery being fined a lot of money, but because of the headlines, people set up crowd funding sites and made hundreds of thousands of dollars for that bakery, quite easily covering the fine that was imposed and giving them a lot extra. If the people who were refused service had just said “Fine, f**k you, you’re not having my $250 for that cake”
That bakery would’ve lost an order, and while it might have been a bit inconvenient to have to find someone else who would decorate that cake, that bakery also wouldn’t have made back hundreds of thousands of dollars and had 10 times the amount of usual visitors, giving them yet more money. Had the original people who wanted said cake, just got pissed off and just taken their business elsewhere, that bakery would’ve just stayed at the same level of business, maybe even lost some customers if the couple who were refused had warned their friends not to go there. It’s not like they were in some backwater with a population of three rather mangy cows, a dachshund named Colin, and a small hen, in its late forties. They were in the forth-biggest city in Oregon, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found another bakery.
Same as the gay couples complaining about not being able to book into certain privately run hotels. Yes it’s annoying, not very nice and can be inconvenient, but the sad reality is that there are people out there who will still have firmly held, usually religious beliefs that stops them from offering business to certain members of society, do a little research into what places have no problem with you staying there and go with that. Giving these people press attention only makes the situation worse, and results in people who have never heard of these places, suddenly jumping on the bandwagon of moral Christian rights to refuse business.
Nothing actually happens if you’re offended, you’re just offended. Which is fine, be offended, but don’t let it control your life; don’t go on some kind of moral crusade to prove a point. Get annoyed and move on. But as I said before, getting offended by something someone says or does, is completely different to wanting gay rights. Let the people who don’t think we deserve those rights get offended and get their knickers in a twist. Nobody got those rights by being offended. They got those rights by being assertive and logical and pointing out that it’s only fair to have same-sex marriage and other gay rights. You may be questioning how I can talk about the bakery and the hotels that refuse service, and then talk about gay rights. It’s because the places that refuse business are in the minority these days. Vast swathes of places have zero problem with offering you service, and those are the ones we should be supporting, and as the minority lose business, they may well change their stance, but if they don’t, don’t get offended.
Now obviously there’s a time and a place to say and do certain things, you wouldn’t go to your grandmas house and make vagina jokes, unless of course she’s the sort of woman who likes a good dirty joke, and one shouldn’t go out of their way to deliberately offend people. But if you’re just being you, and someone gets offended by it, well that’s their prerogative and their problem.
I’m sure some of the points I’ve made will be a bone of contention to some of the people reading this, and that’s fine, it’s my opinion, and you’re entitled to yours, But if you’re offended by anything I’ve written…well nothings going to happen is it!
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.
I’m a 36 year old gay man who’s been in a relationship for 11 years. I now live in Manchester. My interests include writing, movies and watching many different types of documentary. I’m not afraid to voice an opinion, but respects others views
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.