I’ve been a little busy this past week, but I wanted to make sure I got something out to you. This is an editorial inspired by a post I saw on Facebook a few days ago. The post itself is irrelevant, and the gist of it will be pretty clear here in a moment. This is one of my “favorite” topics.
We all get offended by something, and I usually have the experience of other people being offended by me. One a more positive note, that’s awesome; people are paying close enough attention to actually get offended. On the other hand, there is the proclivity of the offended to react self-righteously and to demand the offender to cease all subjectively offensive behavior immediately based on their opinion, which is unequivocally and definitely the right one. I usually manage to keep my temper in check, but there’s little I abhor more than attempts to silence or censor someone else. I don’t care if I agree with it or not, I’m always on the side being persecuted. You have the right to be offended, and you have a right to be offensive; what you don’t have is a right to go through life without ever being subjected to anything that offends you. As I often say, the universe may be all around you, but it does not revolve around you. See the difference?
The answer isn’t so simple as “if you don’t like it, don’t read it.” That’s a copout, third-grader answer to what is possibly a legitimate complaint or point of view. Or is it? Three years ago, back before it was cool, I got wind of Chik-fil-a’s donations of profits to organizations that basically fight against anything non-Christian. I stopped eating there, which was pretty easy seeing as I only ever wanted to eat there on Sunday anyway, the one day of the week they’re closed. My protest was silent, few knew about it, and even fewer had any reason to care.
On that same debacle, I refused to sign a petition brought to my door attempting to remove the restaurant chain from my city/county/something-or-another last year when all that stupid bullshit happened. I did not go to the damn place and buy a sandwich like the legions of lemmings, either. Some might think that my actions were contradictory, that with the opinions I held, I should have stood up for their free speech and showed my support by giving them my money so they could give part of it to combat non-Christian everything, and then allowed my head to explode because my money was now supporting religious-based exclusivism. I humbly disagree. I supported their freedom of speech by refusing to sign the petition to silence them, and I protest them by refusing to purchase anything from them. I didn’t agree with silencing their voice, but I did exercise my right to not agree and/or support what they had to say
It’s rational, clean, quiet, and effective. The world doesn’t need dogmatism to fight dogmatism. It doesn’t need hate to battle hate. It doesn’t need intolerance to war against intolerance. The greatest lie that was ever told was that the world is changed through laws and mass protest. No parade, rally, or movement ever changed the world. Racism didn’t end after the civil rights movement, for example. That coveted change, the shift of social opinion, happens within a population on an individual level. You change one mind at a time, until you’ve changed enough.
But that’s just the generic background of my point of view going into the comment I saw. It was about what people allow themselves to be offended by. Some of you may remember the offense I took at An Unforgettable Pair A Forgettable Pair: Chapter 2. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t need to find that story offensive—I could have shut that part of myself down and approached it completely logically, but I didn’t. I chose to get angry, and I did so because there was baggage attached to the real life events exploited in that story. My readers may have noticed that I often channel my rage into comedy, which I hope creates some funny material. I use subjects that annoy me to be constructive, or at the very least entertaining. There is plenty of stuff I find repulsive, stuff that sends me into fits of apoplectic rage, but I don’t seek to muzzle those who spew idiocy. I simply make fun of them. They have their say, and I have mine.
What some choose to take offense at is what I find curious. How a person can read a molestation fic and complain about the use of foul language, or an incest fic and complain about blasphemy is something I find fascinating, and it validates my opinion on the subject of offense. In my completely subjective point of view, any decent person would be right to take offense at the subjects of torture, incest, abuse, molestation, racism, bullying, and especially, the mother of all clichéd plot devices: rape. But in reality those are often what people are looking for, it’s what they want to read and write. I wouldn’t call all of these people indecent by any means, though the term one-trick pony comes to mind for most of them. I’m sure that if we all had a dollar for every time we’ve read someone defending their fucked up story against criticism of their chosen insta-drama plot device, we’d have destabilized the world economy long ago and those dollars would be worthless.
It reaffirms my belief that we are in complete control of whether or not we take offense to something. I’m sure many of you have probably let me get away with something that you wouldn’t appreciate someone else saying. I’m sure that others have taken offense to something they’d have agreed with simply because I’m the one who said it.
I hope I gave you all something interesting to think about over your Friday night wine and cheese functions. I hope to be back to putting out regular content as soon as possible. Until then, send me all your warm cozy feelings and a check for a thousand dollars. And your leftover wine and cheese.