A highly offensive post

This was going to be a post about homschooling and public schooling and private schooling. But as I got to thinking about it, and mulling over the post that got me started thinking on this, the more I realized that what I really wanted to write about was offense.

Keep in mind that I’m as guilty as anyone here, if indeed “guilt” is the appropriate word to use.

Let’s start with one of the things I find most annoying in the world: Lists of things NOT to do/say to <insert special group here.> My sister subscribed to Adoptive Families for a while, and they were always good for a “Things not to say to a family who’s adopting” or “Things not to say to a family that’s working with infertility” article. (Never mind that the only people to see those articles were the families themselves…) There’s lists all over. What not to say to a pregnant woman. What not to say to a Latino manager. What not to say to a Gay person. What not to say to a Handicapped person. What not to say to a handicapped Latino Gay person who’s adopting and pregnant. I mean, really. Some of these are meant to be funny, but most are not.

Hold that thought.

Now think about every time you’ve blogged about, talked about, tweeted about, or FB status’d about being offended by something. Or how many times you’ve read news stories about things being offensive. (That breastfeeding doll, for example.)

Offensive:

1. causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying: offensive television commercials.
2. unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense: an offensive odor.
3. repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting: an offensive remark; an offensive joke.
4. pertaining to offense or attack: the offensive movements of their troops.
5. characterized by attack; aggressive: offensive warfare.

Now, do you think maybe everyone just needs to get over it? Some things truly are offensive – repugnant to the moral sense. Racist jokes, for example. But most things that are labeled as “offensive” are really simply, um, something that the person doing the labeling just doesn’t like. Or that are annoying.

Also, many of the comments or questions that various special groups find offensive come from a true position of ignorance. OR are easily misunderstood by the listener into something offensive. (I see “are they all yours” often on the list of Things Not To Say To Adoptive Families lists. The average person wouldn’t have any reason to think a family was an adoptive family and isn’t likely saying anything too offensive if you stop to think about it. I’ve been out places with my two kids plus a few extra and have gotten that question. When W was a baby, I was out with one friend with a baby of the same age, and SHE was asked if they were both hers. One could make a good argument that people ought to just mind their own business, but I don’t think those questions are truly offensive. Just the person being asked doesn’t like it, and for whatever reason thinks that they’re being singled out.)

Maybe it’s time we all just get over ourselves and develop a thicker skin, or take the “offensive” comments as an opportunity to educate. Or just, you know, get over it.

(As in my solution to those offended by seeing breastfeeding in public – just don’t look.)

It’s also important to realize that no single group, person, or side of an issue are the only ones being offensive. In any issue, there’s plenty of mean-spirited, over-the-top, taking-it-too-far things being said. Most of us are most comfortable choosing to only see the negative comments from the OTHER side and ignoring those coming from our own side, but that’s not a very honest way to look at things, is it?

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