What to do if you're offended
I have a popular feature on my Facebook page called Dood of the Day, which is exactly what it sounds like: a photo of a hot guy in very little clothing. Generally speaking they’re nothing more daring than what you’d find in public advertising anywhere — although I do take pains to ensure the men are of differing body types and ethnicities.
About once a month someone will complain that the Dood of the Day photo is offensive and use one of two arguments to justify the complaint.
The first argument is something about how people should not be sexually objectified and that my posting of buff guys is somehow damaging to the self-esteem of less genetically gifted men.
The second argument suggests that certain people, while not offended themselves, must think of their children, spouses or co-workers who might accidentally see their news feeds and be fatally offended by the image of an attractive man.
But it’s not enough for these people to complain because I have offended them. They also want me to stop posting the Dood of the Day, despite the many positive and humorous comments and viewings the feature receives.
Yes. We now live in a world in which some people believe that everyone else’s enjoyment should be sacrificed at the altar of the offended few.
It often works, particularly with the religious folks. Draw a picture of Allah, write a play that suggests Jesus might be gay or have fun at the expense of the Mormons’ magical underwear and you will hear from them loud and clear, sometimes with deadly results.
And yet these same religious folks will preach hatred and even murder against the queer community in the name of the gods they serve and then take umbrage when right-thinking people are offended enough to fight back.
I will often make this point on Facebook after another rabid god-channeller has suggested there’s nothing wrong with the imprisonment and extermination of queers by stating I hope someone kills the god-channeller first. Suddenly, all of these straight people are responding to my suggestion in an offended manner because “we’re supposed to be better than our enemies, hate should not be met with hate, etc.”
The truth is, I don’t want to kill anyone — but I do want straight people to know what it feels like to have someone call for your death from time to time. One might hope putting them in our boots might create some empathy, but, sadly, many just don’t get it.
That’s the thing about being offended. It doesn’t always work out the way you hope it will. For every repressive religious regime that tries to create a world where members will never be offended, there are those who are drawn to things simply because they are offensive.
Writers, directors, comics, painters and artists of all types have built sound careers based on their ability to offend the right people.
That bogus protest group One Million Moms, who are offended by any sort of gay representation and threaten to boycott the store or institution hiring the queer spokespeople, have such a pronounced reverse effect I’m beginning to suspect they’re actually a very canny gay marketing group using the right’s own tactics against them.
And then there’s the “ambush offence.” These ones are sneaky, and you have to be very careful not to fall into them, as poor little Gwyneth Paltrow did recently when she dared to tweet the title of the song “Niggas in Paris for Real” while cavorting with Jay-Z and Kanye West. Suddenly people were calling little Gwyny a racist for quoting the title of a song written by two friends. Some have suggested white people should refer to the song as “Paris for Real.” Frankly, different song titles for different races sounds a lot like different drinking fountains for different races.
And finally, there’s the canny offence. This is the well-conceived offence that is sure to get everyone talking. A perfect example is a show that was a ’90s cross-country fringe piece called The Happy Cunt. This show got more press because the papers didn’t want to print the title than it would have if they had simply printed the title.
No one lives in a world where he or she will never be offended. It happens to everyone, everywhere, all the time. No one knows this better than the queer community, which is pretty much always under attack by some dark force. We know there are offences that are genuinely worth fighting for and offences where the best thing to do is turn away and carry on because what you can’t see or hear can’t offend you.
And should I offend you, you have a number of choices. On the computer you can defriend me, hide my posts or block me. In real life I’m mostly indifferent to the fact I’ve offended you, so your best choice is probably just to fuck right off.
No offence intended.