You Might Be “Offended” by Reading This
You Might Be “Offended” by Reading This
Written By   |   10.09.13
Reading Time: 4 minutes

If I said something like “I wish we still had segregation,” or “women shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” you would probably be offended. And rightly so. But why?

Would you be offended because you understand the context of my words and recognize the inherent harm they convey? Or would you be offended because society has decided that some things should simply be labeled as “offensive”?

The difference is important.

We once lived in a free society where people were allowed to “agree to disagree” on all sorts of topics; and did so in a civil, respectful manner. It’s called tolerance. But the word has been hi-jacked to mean “affirmation and acceptance of a politically correct view or position.” Consequently people don’t know how to actually be tolerant anymore. The ability to have civil discourse on topics while respecting the right of people to disagree with your position has been lost. Also predictably, certain views are expected to be tolerated while it is acceptable to be intolerant of others.

For example, it is perfectly acceptable to be intolerant of a cross being in a public place, funded by tax dollars, for any reason at all. A good example is the 9/11 memorial where a display of steel from the rubble in the shape of a cross is being protested. This is a publicly funded memorial and no vestige of religion should be present, some say. However, when Christians and other people of faith protested a publicly funded “art exhibit” featuring a cross submerged in urine, they were told to tolerate it as free speech.

So what exactly is the difference between two crosses that are publicly funded being displayed in public? Simply this, one elevates the religious faith of certain people while the other mocks that faith. Society has decided that elevating faith is detrimental to those of other faiths or those with no faith at all, so it cannot be allowed. Society has also determined that those of other faiths or with no faith are allowed to be “offended” by such displays. But mocking faith is permitted because it is free speech and protected by the Constitution. (Unless you mock Islam, in which case Muslims are allowed to be offended and the mocking is now considered wrong.)

No, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Yes, it is wildly hypocritical. And yet the reality of this cannot be denied as we see more and more cases of Christianity being torn down by people claiming to be offended while those mocking our faith are protected and encouraged.

Joe Infranco, writing at Alliance Defending Freedom, says of people who suffer from selective moral offense:

“Should these people have a Constitutional right not to be offended? If so, why is it superior to my offense over a taxpayer-funded cross soaking in urine? (Apparently a cross may receive government money so long as fashionable artists are mocking it.) We have been sold a bill of goods that mere offense should be a special exception when religious expression is made in public.” 

The mind-numbing part of it all is that the people who seem to be most offended want others to acquiesce to their demands, while refusing to even admit that they can offend others. So while atheists scream about being offended a cross on public land, they can’t even see that others are offended by the lack of crosses on public land. As homosexuals yell about being offended by being asked not to publicly display their sexuality, they can’t even comprehend that others are offended when they do display their sexuality. As abortion advocates turn blue arguing that they are offended at the lack of “choice” over their bodies, they can’t even entertain the thought that others are offended by killing unborn children. 

 It’s a special breed of absurdity that seems to come from years of ingesting liberal rhetoric which renders one incapable of critical or objective thought; not to mention the side-effect of narcissism which renders one unable tolerate any other view but their own.

But the question Joe Infranco asked, that bears conversation is, do we have the right a constitutional right to not be offended? Is it even plausible that we can live our life without being offended in any way? If so then the word tolerance will have been eliminated from our society because its very presence implies a difference of opinion. But if there is no offense at all it surely means we have all come to agree absolutely on everything.

 Joe Backholm, writing for the Family Policy institute of Washington agrees that freedom used to have room for disagreement:

Freedom…is the right to do and say things other people disagree with. While a belief in individual rights used to be the hallmark of liberalism, it has since been replaced by a commitment to amorphous concepts like ‘equality’ and ending ‘discrimination’. While they never define those terms in a way they could be held accountable for, what is obvious is that their pursuit of those values leaves no room for people to disagree.  After all, how can we have a tolerant world if people are allowed to do things that are intolerant?    

If tolerance no longer exists in our society it doesn’t mean we have all come to agree, it means we have lost freedom and liberty. It means we no longer know how to respectfully and civilly discuss ideas and views, but have been forced to accept what the government has decided is right and appropriate. Tolerance, the ability to recognize and respect the divergent views of others, is a hallmark of a free society. Notice that there is not much need for tolerance in China, North Korea, or Cuba? It’s because they are not free societies, they are a society being told what is and is not acceptable in an attempt to keep people from being offended. 

The reality is that we are never guaranteed a life free of offense. But a life without offense is a life without freedom and liberty, a life where we are forced to live based on someone else’s convictions rather than our own. I’d rather live life happily being offended in a free society than to be ensured I would never again be offended.

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