Saturday, 13 April 2013

Pop: How do we right the terrible injustice of offending people?

I am offended

There seems to be no sentence that currently holds as much power as is contained in those three simple words: I am offended. Normally this is said with capital letters and full stops. I. Am. Offended. The words are simple English, something most adults would understand if taken apart from each other and yet when placed together they hold a meaning that transcends all reasonable and rational thought and becomes something more akin to ‘you scoundrel, you have dared say something that I don’t like. Either rescind your statement or follow me to the duelling grounds. You provide the horses.’

Blip and I have long since despaired at the use of this deceptive sentence and have sought to combat it but have found nothing effective to combat fingerpointers imposing their own opinion on the actions of others. The problem seems to sprout from a confusion between what an action is and what a word is, as well as a false belief in importancy - something endemic to the population in many other areas as well, individualism breeds power and power is something we all like to retain once we’ve got it. Discrimination is specifically an action or behaviour committed towards a person based on a characteristic that they portray. So beating up a person because they’re blonde is discrimination as is not letting the blonde have a job because they’re blonde, but beating up someone with blonde hair is not discrimination even if there is a massive trend in society towards the hatred of blondes. Discrimination has to come with prejudice. Prejudice is the application of characteristics, whether positive or negative, towards a person or a group but it doesn’t come with actions and is not inherently damaging to the people involved. We are, as free beings, free to believe what we like. Whatever prejudices we hold, we are free to hold as long as they don’t turn into discrimination, which they don’t necessarily have to. 

When we say something offensive to someone, we have not done anything to hurt them. We may be guilty of allowing our prejudices into our speech but we have done nothing to them. This is different from verbal abuse because where verbal abuse is involved it is specific to one person and is on the fault of the speaker. When a person is offended, they have chosen the insult whether it was intended or not. They have actively decided that they are going to be upset with no care for what the speaker meant or believed when they said it. It is an example of power. They have taken control of the situation and demanded your obedience. 

It is another example of the application of morals to logic. A person who has been offended has applied their own sensibilities and their own view of reality to the person speaking, thereby presuming their view of the world to be correct. They blame the words and externalise blame rather than considering why they themselves have a problem. A word can never be offensive, it is outside of our petty human squabbles. A word is just a label, something we use to categorise the world. 

Whether it is abuse depends on the outlook of the speaker and whether it is offensive depends on the outlook of listener and all of this in turn depends on the hierarchy of power in any given situation. 
The problem with offense is that it is another person directly trying to alter your personal view of reailty and your freedom to speak how you wish to. If you don’t think women should be allowed to walk on the left-hand pavement, but you in no way are trying to implement it or affect other people, it’s just a view you hold, then that isn’t offensive. It is not something that you should be banned from saying, it’s just your opinion. But people who claim offense because they are seeking power, in this case feminists, would use those magical three words ‘I am offended’ and instantly there is something that you can’t say. Your freedom is restricted for the purpose of the extension of theirs when in reality you never tried to restrict their freedom. 

‘I am offended,’ barks the feminist stood in the centre of the darkening pavement. At the words' beckoning a thunderclap fills the air, storm clouds gather and their edges gain a tinge of red as they glower down onto the three people  stood in an accidental triangle far below. The rumble of the oncoming war above shakes the houses lining the scene throwing their deep blue heads backwards and lightening their windows with an unearthly yellow glow, turned green at the edges where the bricks stole it away. 

The two companions to the feminist are forced back a step by the earthquake her words spread through the ground, a path now drawn between them all by the ripples of the broken ground. Fire and lava spills up through the cracks left by the event, spitting embers and shards of glass onto the surface to provide spotlights for the attention seeking young woman. She stands proudly amongst all this, apparently unfazed. 

Without ever fully regaining his footing, the first of the two sinks awkwardly down to his knees as he pulls a sword smoothly from where it was sheathed by his side. He plunges it into his stomach, deeply enough that he wonders for a moment if he will accidently come out the other side and, even as blood pours in rivulets like a waterfall down his front and across his legs, he continues to drag it across himself until the full cut is made and the sword lands limply on the floor by him. At this weakened moment his lips part as if to scream or cry to his God for mercy and his friend, position already taken by his side, pulls out a sword of his own and slices the neck of the disembowled man. With a shake to his head the still living gentleman walks away amid the creaking and groaning of the Earth restoring itself, injustice righted. 

If all of us, as stupid as we might feel, act out our own deaths in as over the top manner as possible in front of the idiot who claims offense, then their own embarrassment for us might stop them being that stupid in the future. This doesn't of course mean actual violence, or using any actual objects, its all play-acting. Pretend to pull the pin out of a grenade and throw yourself backwards in a mockery of being blown up, pretend to shoot yourself in the head with all the loading of the revolver that comes before it included. Mime whatever, as long as its noticeable and over the top. We had some fun with this the other day, starting with what isn’t too embarrassing such as sticking two fingers in our mouths and pretending to shoot ourselves, to opening the shotgun and filling both barrels first 'Spaced' style, to full blown seppuku such as in the description above. 

If we should care that they’ve been ‘offended,’ lets really bloody care. 

On a final note, I apologise profusely for my liberal use of the word ‘bloody,’ just let me get my sawn-off...


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