Hot Take: No offense follow-up
Last week, I sat down and wrote an article discussing the problematic ways I think all people, including myself, get offended. Admittedly, the take was not all that hot, so I was surprised to see that it sparked such an explosive response. Perhaps I did not articulate my point very well — it was certainly not the best thing I have ever written — but I feel that the article was largely misinterpreted.
For one, I never said that I think people should never get offended. I don’t believe that. Like I said, even I get offended — that’s part of being human. It is all too easy to live entirely within the confines of our own experiences and not attempt to understand others. I’m not telling people how to feel. I’m asking people to refrain from reacting without thinking.
Some people pointed out to me that as a white male, I have the privilege of not needing to be offended due to an institutional protection of my rights. I understand that in many ways, I am much more privileged than other people — I never claimed that underprivileged individuals should be unoffended simply because I am unoffended. Additionally, I think that many readers assumed that my point was aimed at a particular group of people — it wasn’t. In fact, my point was aimed at everyone — including white people who get offended whenever anyone wants to discuss the topic of white privilege.
There were many readers who expressed shock that my article was even published, reasoning that it was a bad column. I have to stop and ask: What is a bad column? If by “bad column” they mean a column that consists of poor writing — writing that it is difficult to understand — then on those grounds I would agree: Those articles should not be published. But many people seemed to be trying to front their ideological disagreement by attacking the level of my prose, as if by mere coincidence they were also upset by what I was saying. (Although it was clearly coherent enough that readers could form a negative opinion of what they thought I was saying.)
I also have to ask: What is the function of an opinion section in a paper if not to publish a diverse level of opinions? Many readers attacked The Daily Free Press as a newspaper — the staff of which does not necessarily agree with my opinion — for publishing my column. I have to point out that The Daily Free Press publishes the “correct,” or at least politically correct, opinions of the Boston University student body the vast majority of the time. It is interesting then that a single opinion column that people disagree with should warrant an attack on the paper as a whole, and a call for the suppressing of the opinions people disagree with — that’s called censorship.
I also think it’s important to address Nicholas Fuentes. I disagree with him on a great deal of topics, but I don’t think that Domino’s was aligning themselves with his political views by retweeting something he posted about their pizza. Regardless of whether or not I am wrong on this particular point, I think people took my use of this example to mean that my article was primarily directed at those who were offended by the retweet. My intentions were to use the retweet as an example of a reaction that applies to many people, including people like Fuentes. It’s a shame that the anger triggered by this one example prevented readers from hearing my true point.
In fact, I think many of the reactions to the article actually supported my true point. People assumed, among a great many things about my person, that I was targeting particular groups — and they became defensive and hostile. It may have been, in some cases, this defensive impulse that prevented people from actually understanding the point of the article. Ironically, this is the very type of unchecked offense that I was talking about: the kind that can obscure your vision.
Be offended. It’s your right, and perhaps you even are right. But maybe next time you are involved in a debate with someone who you think is absolutely wrong, try to understand why their point makes sense to them — they feel the same way you do, and they might have thought of something you haven’t. I understand why some would assume that I was purely ignorant because of the color of my skin, my gender and my sexual orientation, but I also think there were many ideological projections on my article that were more based in defensiveness than anything else.
I’m not saying I think this is the end of the discussion on sensitivity in the 21st century. I’m just offering my opinion to everyone — liberals and conservatives of all races, genders and sexual orientations — that we should at least try to recognize our own shortcomings. I feel that many of the article’s responses were defensive, impulsive and showed a lack of effort to understand a point that the readers had a knee jerk reaction to disagree with.