Sunday, January 24, 2016

I Am Offended by Your Offense by Amy Yarbrough


Over the years, freedom of speech has become kind of a foreign thing to us.  Everyone is always so worried about offending someone. And apparently, it’s better to coddle the offended instead of teaching them to deal with things. Seems logical. And while we’re at it, why not teach people that they should try to completely destroy anyone who doesn't agree with them? Yes, that sounds healthy. 

If someone disagrees with President Obama, they're racist. If someone disagrees with a homosexual, they're a homophobe. But everyone has a right to an opinion! Y’know, unless your opinion is wrong. A Christian offends a gay couple by not catering to their wedding because it goes against their beliefs. Then said caterer is put out of business by the government because the gay couple was offended by their religious beliefs. Or, the Westboro Church will try to ruin a person's funeral because they want to show the world how much they are offended by gay people. Meanwhile, no one seems too offended by the homosexuals getting murdered and thrown off of roofs in other countries? Oh yeah, they're just expressing their religion! It is easier to worry about little things than to actually fight real injustice or bring real attention to it.

Modern feminists are apparently now offended that unlike men, women can't run around in public shirtless. Never mind that typically other women don’t want to see that either. But go ahead ladies, run around without a shirt! I’m sure all the men you're trying to stick it too will absolutely HATE that. Women are being enslaved in other countries, and we feel oppressed by the lack of “strong female characters” in fiction, angry that we can't run around half dressed, and offended by constant "microaggressions," while elsewhere, woman have acid thrown in their faces for trying to get an education. It's so much easier to deal with petty insults, both real and imagined, than it is to struggle with true injustice. 

Being outrageously offended goes for both sides of  the parties. Have you ever tried telling a Donald Trump supporter that Trump's not a conservative or that you don't agree with him? Well the National Review did, and look where that got them! Other Republicans want to drive them out of business because they disagree. Sounds fair!

You know that most of the Tumblr generation have gone to college when some colleges have started having “safe rooms” filled with pillows and comfy chairs for people who have been triggered. Triggered by what? Heaven knows. What if I once had a nasty encounter with a fish, and my college professor was talking about Moby Dick? This incident “triggered” me, and I need to skip class to go and sit in a quiet room full of pillows. Is this a valid reason for me to skip class? Even if someone realizes it’s silly, who are they to tell me I don’t have fish-related PTSD? I’m not trying to compare a bad fish encounter with real violence or some other trigger-inducing incident. The point is no matter how stupid my fish triggering may seem, people are so afraid to trigger someone that they try to do anything to avoid it. Some even think that people shouldn't have to read their homework if they could be triggered by it. According to Michael Miller of the Washington Post, students at Columbia University are stressed out by Roman poetry.“Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom,” wrote the four students, who are members of Columbia’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board. “These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.” (Washington Post May 14, 2015).

Sometimes injustice is real. Sometimes, students have real reasons to feel "triggered." This idea that free speech, or even education, that offends anyone at all must be shut down is offensive. And this constant search for something to be offended about trivializes everything. Then concerns about real problems get overlooked because eventually, no one will be listening anymore.

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