The Culture of Perpetual Offense

We’ve become a culture that’s perpetually offended at something and, what’s worse, we’re proud of this trait. Being offended has become the modern ideal of sensibility, perhaps, or a heightened sentimental morality. In tandem with this is the new pursuit of en masse public shaming on the internet. Public shaming is nothing new; however, the illogical mental rioting on a world-wide platform is.

To be honest, I’m tired of it all. In fact, I’m ready to be done with the game. And, yes, it was a game to me at one time, one that allowed me to slake off annoyance. Take homeschooling, for example. I’ve been doing it for years. I used to endure the shaming–what else was I going to do?–until one fine day a teacher asked me why I chose to homeschool and I, without hesitation, told her I was primarily motivated by my intense hatred for school teachers. Yes, that was the reason I gave, which was in complete opposition to the usual response of studies show that homeschooled children excel academically…. I had allowed myself to become offended over the years, which, in turn, came out as a shame response directed at her, the evil teacher. This offense-shaming response pattern doesn’t often rear its head in my soul, as I’m not the most excitable person. I have my trigger points, though, just as everybody does. Go ahead: tell a blonde joke and see what happens.

It’s obvious that there is a defensive reactionary mode mixed in with this offense-shaming cause and effect. For years, I defended my reasons for homeschooling, as if my carefully worded responses could change a naysayer’s mind. In the Christian circles, I’ve banged my head against the wall in my attempts to defend womanhood against black and white conceits, which often come in these kinds of capitalized slogans of foregone conclusions: All Women Are Like That. That was useless. More recently, owing to the unfortunate Zimmerman case, I’ve found myself in defense mode against accusations of whiteness, against people who claim that white people should feel guilty simply for being white, for harboring unconscious or conscious privilege and racism, and for being born into a country that at one time was involved in the slave trade. Even though I’m a Yank, far away from southern politics, who was born in 1973 (thereby missing out on the peak of the Civil Rights Movement), I’m expected to join in the collective guilt. Or I will be shamed.

And don’t get me started on politics. I’m a white, female, Christian libertarian, which means I’m not allowed to have a defensive. I’m screwed from the get-go and will be shamed into silence because libertarians are mean corporate fascists who want all the money for themselves while everybody else goes hungry and doesn’t have health care.

Ah, fuck it. Yeah, that’s right. Fuck it. Go ahead and be offended by my language. You’re allowed. This is, after all, the Culture of Perpetual Offense. But I’ve made a very important decision. I will no longer allow myself to wallow in the guilt and shame, having realized how unproductive it is. Likewise, I will no longer allow myself to be offended, and not because I’ve turned cynical and lost all my Holy Idealism. I was never idealistic about being a libertarian, anyway; it simply seemed logical to my weak feminine mind (Remember? AWALT). Logic and politics don’t really go hand in hand, though, unless one considers a small minority that masks its crimes by using the ideology of the existing political system to be logical…hmm…wait a second. I have to go think that one through. All right, I’m done thinking. It’s not that I’m cynical. I’m just done with being offended.

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8 comments

  1. Okay, her goes:

    A dumb blonde was really tired of being made fun of, so she decided to have her hair dyed brown so she would look like a brunette.

    When she had brown hair, she decided to take a drive in the country.

    After she had been driving for a while, she saw a farmer and a flock of sheep and thought,

    “Oh! Those sheep are so adorable!”

    She got out and walked over to the farmer and said,

    “If I can guess how many sheep you have, can I take one home?”

    The farmer, being a bit of a gambler himself, said she could have a try.

    The blonde looked at the flock and guessed, “157.”

    The farmer was amazed – she was right! So the blonde, (who looked like a brunette), picked one out and got back into her car.

    Before she left, farmer walked up to her and said.

    “If I can guess the real color of your hair, can I have my dog back?”

    Just kidding, and thank you for the diatribe!

    We have two things going on in our culture right now: the Cult of Ignorance (watch Idiocracy) and this Cult of the Perpetually Offended that you describe. The ones who revel in their own stupidity are the Neo-Philistines, and the ones who wear their dour (or worse yet, enraged), moral disapproval like an ill-fitting hair shirt are the Neo-Pharisees.

    Perhaps your “give-a-fuck” is broken?? Don’t worry, mine is too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Wow, how freeing to not be offended by blonde jokes! Isn’t it lovely? Give me some more, and I’ll just laugh merrily. That’s what all this about. It’s not meant to censor anybody, or to be unaware of what is going on around me, but to be more aware due to the fact that I will no longer allow myself to be offended or shamed (unless the shame is merited, and then, all right, carry on).

    2. Ah yes! I’m done with it too. My problem now is that I feel like I sit quietly while people rustle each other’s feathers. I tap my foot thinking, “How do I bring this up without getting worked up?”

      As a white, middle class woman who is embarking on my first year of homeschooling I can relate to everything you just wrote.

  2. I don’t mind offendedness as much if its legit and personal. I hate offense taken on behalf of . . . where a lot of the yelling and shaming comes in

    1. I’m only speaking for myself and my own reactions. I don’t have to be offended or accept shaming. There are always legitimate reasons for people to be offended.

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