I’m Offended!

Nary a day passes by when we don’t hear from someone offended by something or another and making a song and dance about it so that the whole world is aware of their plight. But before I go on, let me first go back a bit and start with some history. Many centuries ago, in the Roman Empire, most cities had a place that was called the forum. The forum was, in the first instance, a marketplace but it also served as a gathering place where diverse activities including political discussions, debates, meetings and the like could be conducted; it was a place where your voice could be heard. What you discussed was up to you and how you fared depended on how well you crafted your arguments and debated challengers. The remnants of those magnificent forums still remain.

Tavares Forum - (source: Wikipedia)

Tavares Forum – (source: Wikipedia)

By contrast, the concept of the modern-day internet forum is very similar, as many are a marketplace as well as a gathering place for all manner of discussion. You can include the likes of Facebook, Twitter and all manner of internet community sites, and even blogs, where people toss about and debate ideas etc and, to that end and for simplicities sake, I’ll call them all a forum. In the 20th century, the Roman forum also became a source for musicals, movies and other theatrics, the latter very apt in today’s internet dominated world.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum - (source: United Artists)

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum – (source: United Artists)

Thanks to the internet, forums are like a microcosm of the wider world when it comes to bringing in participants from all manner of cultures and beliefs. Even in forums dedicated to very focussed subjects, they bring in people with widely varying viewpoints and personalities. The interesting thing is that the nature and tolerance of forums varies incredibly, especially from one country to another, and depending on who owns the forum (private or corporate). At one end of the spectrum there are those that approximate full-on virtual cage fighting sites and, on the other end, those that try to be an idealistic ‘United Nations’ of hugging and emotional comforting. Not surprisingly, both ends of the spectrum tend to attract the extremes of the population, ready to fight in their own way.

Some poor guy whose image will live in infamy forever - (source: Google Images)

Some poor guy whose image will live in infamy forever – (source: Google Images)

That said, forums can be a wonderful place to exchange and gain knowledge, develop ideas, pass on information and undertake discussions on subjects of common interest in an open manner and with genuine honesty. But which forums offer the greatest opportunities for open expression and honesty? Personally, I believe those that allow robust discussion and debate, and allow personalities to express themselves openly (not ad hominem attacks) are the most honest that you can find. The ‘Cage Fighting’ forums are self-explanatory and tend to be a mess. On the other hand, the ones that I often find to be the most disingenuous are the ‘United Nations’ forums. These can hide unpleasant individuals under the guise of ‘friendliness’ who profess a desire to bring about ‘honest’ discussion; however, usually it’s not remotely about such things, it’s all about generating disruption and subsequently claiming offence when taken to task; a dirty form of warfare.

Carl Gustav - Graytown Victoria

Carl Gustav – Graytown Victoria

I’m offended, you’re offended, everyone is offended; that seems to be today’s catchcry. What makes this so depressing is that you can’t be nice and friendly to everyone all the time, the world isn’t like that. You can’t ever avoid offending people, especially when it comes to the internet where it’s so easy to misread things; any more than you can avoid offending people in the material world. There will always be people that are offended by something and, increasingly, the world seems to be producing more of the ‘perpetually offended’. The perpetually offended go actively looking for issues and people that have views and ideals that differ from theirs, so that they can complain and direct confected outrage at anything others may say or do. It’s not just relegated to the internet, unfortunately, it happens everywhere in today’s world. The ultimate aim of this ‘perpetual offence’ and subsequent complaints is purely to silence people and views that particular individuals or groups don’t like.

Stephen Fry on Offence - (source: The Guardian)

Stephen Fry on Offence – (source: The Guardian)

While I’ve focussed on the internet community, because it’s ubiquitous and a relatively easy target, just think about other areas of today’s world where perpetual offence pervades. There seems to be no end of things that people find offensive and willing to complain about, even hay bales, just to push their own moral wheelbarrow. Unfortunately, it’s something that is becoming increasingly the norm, rather than the exception. At least the survey about the hay bales in The Weekly Times that I referenced shows that the vast majority see the humour in the hay bale sculpture, but that won’t stop the vocal minority under any circumstances. Those who find the hay bales offensive, clearly have never visited a modern day art gallery.

'Offensive' Hay Bale - (source: The Weekly Times)

‘Offensive’ Hay Bale – (source: The Weekly Times)

'Offensive' Hay Bale not so offensive - (source: The Weekly Times)

‘Offensive’ Hay Bale not so offensive – (source: The Weekly Times)

Sadly, it’s becoming almost impossible to express that open and forthright Australian character and humour that that has been our national identity for so long. In 1957 John O’Grady, under the pseudonym of Nino Culotta, wrote a comic novel called ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, which was turned into a movie in 1966. While the movie uses a bit of artistic license, as they usually do, the essence of the story is much the same.

Giovanni ‘Nino’ Culotta is an Italian immigrant, who comes to Australia as a journalist, employed by an Italian publishing house, to write articles about Australians and their way of life for those Italians that might want to emigrate to Australia.

In order to learn about real Australians, Nino takes a job as a brickie’s labourer with a man named Joe Kennedy. The comedy of the novel revolves around his attempts to understand English as it was spoken in Australia by the working classes in the 1950s and 1960s. Nino had previously only learned ‘good’ English from a textbook.

The novel is a social commentary on Australian society of the period; specifically male, working class society. Women mostly feature as cameos in the story with the exception of Kay (whose surname is not revealed in the novel), who becomes Nino’s wife. In the novel, Nino meets Kay in a café in Manly and their introduction is effected by Nino trying to teach Kay that she cannot eat spaghetti using a spoon.

The final message of the novel is that immigrants to Australia should count themselves fortunate and should make efforts to assimilate into Australian society, including learning to speak Australian English. However, there is also a satirical undercurrent aimed at Australian society as a country of migrants.

Could such a novel ever be written again, or a movie representing such Australian culture be produced today, without incurring the wrath of the perpetually offended (via a Twitter storm at the very least)? I wonder? While Australian life and culture has certainly changed and diversified significantly since 1957 (in so many ways for the better), the essence of our character is still there, barely. Unfortunately, there is so much pressure being imposed to remove everything that represents our national heritage and character, and no end of people prepared to disparage that heritage and culture, as the perpetually offended see everything that’s ‘Australian’ as being offensive. This year’s Anzac Day was a sober illustration as to how far some people will go in order to disparage that heritage and to be truly offensive themselves.

Gallipoli - (source: Anzac.com)

Gallipoli – (source: Anzac.com)

And more recently, as Hollywood movie stars flout our laws and smuggle in pets without adhering to the appropriate quarantine processes, and our agriculture minister announces that ‘It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States!’, the perpetually offended erupt into paroxysms of confected anger at the temerity of the minister to speak forthrightly about a ‘highly respected celebrity’. Were it a mere mortal that committed such an offence, they would already be experiencing the full wrath of the law, with nary a peep from the perpetually offended. It’s curious also that ‘…it is understood the two tiny pooches were due to be rigorously inspected by US customs upon their return with America not classifying Australia as a rabies-free zone.’ And it’s always interesting to see who likes to join the fray.

johnny-depp-amber-heard - (source: www.freemalaysiatoday.com)

johnny-depp-amber-heard – (source: www.freemalaysiatoday.com)

I simply could not leave this one out; another tale from the world’s most perpetually offended group comes this story:

A case of alleged animal abuse in the far west of New South Wales has led to debate about whether sheep can comprehend human speech.

“The allegation was that bad language was used by an employee on the property in front of the sheep, and that they could have been offended by the use of bad language.”

The complaint was lodged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which had apparently obtained footage and testimony from an undercover operative working at the station.

… Nicolah Donovan, president of Lawyers for Animals, said …

“I think it is conceivable that verbal abuse of an extreme nature against an animal, whether it be human, sheep or otherwise, could constitute an act of violence,” she said. [ed: our King Parrots may need to seek legal advice, their abuse towards us, if birdseed is not available, definitely parrots this lawyer’s comments]

And something more:

The group created controversy in Britain this week, calling for the name of the country’s oldest pub to be changed. PETA claimed that “Ye Olde Fighting Cocks” is ­offensive to chickens and should be changed to “Ye Olde Clever Cock” to celebrate them as ­intelligent, sensitive and social creatures. [ed: as well as delicious]

Heaven help us. As the world has become far more closely connected than ever before due to technology, are we slowly being forced to adopt some bland, characterless, persona that ensures that no one will be offended by what we say or do? Are we now inexorably entering into a different form of a Brave New World? I sometimes wonder what sort of nation we’d be if that same perpetual offence was as prevalent in the formative years when Australia was growing as a nation, as it is today. We may well be on the road to finding out.

Update 1. And here is yet another example where honesty in the most innocent way falls afoul of the perpetually offended ‘The comments drew widespread outrage…‘:

Hunt has since apologised, claiming his comments were meant to be “light-hearted” yet “honest,” while still standing by his argument.

“I did mean the part about having trouble with girls, I mean it is true that I have fallen in love with people in the lab and that people in the lab have fallen in love with me,” he told BBC Radio on Wednesday. “It’s very disruptive to science.

“I’m really really sorry that I caused any offense, that’s awful. I just meant to be honest, actually.”

Update 2. The perpetually offended have spoken.

Update 3. I doubt the list will ever end, but here is another one that is apropos to this story.

Update 4. I simply couldn’t resist including this one; it follows from the latest Australia Day Lamb 2016 ad. I truly do wonder what Vegans will do when ‘…worlds leading scientists at Cambridge University’ [sic] or somewhere else discover that plants have feelings and reel with shock when cut and processed?

Update 5. Those of high moral standards have been at it again, but nothing keeps a good farmer down.

Update 6. And to assist the perpetually offended as much as possible, a new term has entered the vernacular, ‘Trigger Warning‘:

A phrase posted at the beginning of various posts, articles, or blogs. Its purpose is to warn weak minded people who are easily offended that they might find what is being posted offensive in some way due to its content, causing them to overreact or otherwise start acting like a dipshit. Popular on reddit SRS or other places that social justice warriors like to hang out.

Trigger Warnings are apparently also used extensively in today’s universities for much the same reason.

Update 7. I came across this and thought it had to be listed, especially as it was from a comedy festival where you usually don’t associate such discussion (about the 4 minute mark of so):

Update 8. There is no end to the lengths to which people will go to be offended:

Highly Offensive T-Shirt - (source: Target)

Highly Offensive T-Shirt – (source: Target)

“Target, can you explain why you are selling something as offensive as this in your stores currently? What message are you intending on sending to young girls? I’m insulted that you present a future where our daughters need to complete their ‘home duties’ before they can go out and save the world. We know that working mothers still do more housework than their spouses, we don’t need you to perpetuate this inequity.”

Update 9. This deserved to be added (please do read the article):

Earlier this year the HRC declared me officially not racist. Now the Australian Press Council has ruled I’m officially not misogynist.

Update 10. Given a major event in the US this year, it’s provided a constant stream of examples that illustrate some of the problems with today’s world:

…a sticky note bearing the words “Suck it up, pussies!” was found placed on a window of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion…

“A group of cross-functional college staff representing campus security, student conduct, human resources, Title IX enforcement, and diversity and inclusion measures convened Tuesday morning to discuss how to address the hateful message.”

“The group determined that the message constituted a Hate Crime, based on guidelines from the Jeanne Clery Act and state law. In accordance with the policies and procedures set forth in the Edgewood College Student Code of Conduct, this incident has been reported to the Madison Police Department and is currently being investigated as a Hate Crime.”

Update 11. It’s refreshing to come across tales such as this:

If You’re Going To Come To Our FB Page To Be Condescending To Us, Please Don’t Be Surprised When We Aren’t Polite In Return.

People will come at us with guns blazing, and then are genuinely puzzled that we fight back. They’re all, “How dare you be insulting to me after I insult you?!!”

Update 12. This one is a bit belated, as I wasn’t quite sure how to present it, but Australia recently lost one of its greatest voices that fought against the perpetually offended – Bill Leak. Bill Leak had a way of revealing the injustices, insecurities and iniquities of life in Australia as no one else could have done. He did so through very dry humour, which has always been the Australian way; but, in today’s society, doing so will inevitably invoke the wrath of the perpetually offended. As such, he was hounded by government sanctioned officials, versed in the ways of the perpetually offended, in a way that no one deserved. Those who hounded Bill Leak for telling the truth may feel smug now, but karma has a way of dealing with such things.

Bill Leak on Australia's Shame - (source: The Australian)

Bill Leak on Australia’s Shame – (source: The Australian)

Update 13. The sheer lunacy of the perpetually offended beggars belief:

…apparently, for quite some time now, Berkeley has made 20,000 lecture videos available to the public for free on YouTube and via other platforms. For people who cannot afford tuition, or who aren’t interested in college credit, but who wanted the opportunity to listen to lectures from Berkeley’s professors, this was a pretty fantastic offering.

As of the 15th of March, those videos are being pulled off of YouTube because they are out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Two employees of Gallaudet University, which is a school for the deaf in DC, filed a complaint with the DOJ saying that Berkeley’s online courses were inaccessible to their hearing-impaired community. The DOJ told Berkeley they needed to get the online lectures into compliance. So Berkeley had two choices: either spend the money and time it would take (read: lots of both) to bring every online video into compliance with the ADA, or remove them entirely.

No guesses as to what happened.

Update 14. The Offence Industry really doesn’t seem to have any end to it, to wit an innocent Mother’s Day post:

Nothing better than spending time with you. You are an amazing mom & I’m so grateful I get to spend the rest of my life with you & raising our kids. I love you!

Yes, that Instagram post offended numerous people and they had to make it known. These people are insane.

Update 15. It’s a gift that keeps on giving:

A Canadian student association has published an apology after a playing the Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side during a university event. The apology describes the song as having ‘transphobic lyrics’

Update 16. And once again Mike Rowe says it like it is:

Our country is filled with people who believe their feelings are more persuasive than their arguments. I don’t know if this is a symptom of arrogance, impatience, laziness, cowardice, or all of the above, but there’s no denying it – millions of Americans are no longer interested in persuasion – they are interested only in telling the world how they feel, and then using those feelings to justify their actions.

In other words, they want the right to offend, but they can’t bear to be offended.

…we’re no longer rewarding logic and reason; we’re rewarding temper tantrums. We’re no longer focused on justice; we’re focused on “social justice.” We’re no longer appalled by violent crime, we save our deepest disgust for “hate crime.” We’re no longer curious about our actual history; we’re more interested in revising the past to reflect the things we wish had happened, but didn’t. Consequently, people like you are less concerned with what I said, and more concerned with where I said it.

Update 17. Here’s a great one:

‘Star Trek’-Themed Vanity License Plate Deemed Offensive In Canada

Update 18. There is no way that anyone can ever appease the perpetually offended or those simply looking for offence:

Caitlyn Jenner has revealed that one of her favorite songs is “Dude Looks Like a Lady” by Aerosmith and now she’s getting slammed for it by transgender SJWs on Instagram.

Caitlyn Jenner posted a picture on Instagram with Aerosmith’s lead singer Steven Tyler with the caption “@iamstevent and I are working on our duet for Dude Looks Like a Lady. One of my favorite songs!” Now, transgender people on Instagram are pissed off and they’re expressing their hate in the form of angry comments on Caitlyn Jenner’s photo.

Update 19. Another good one, ‘microaggression‘ for engineers:

Engineering researchers and faculty were reportedly subjected to an hour-long workshop on “microaggressions” in the middle of a conference on advancements in manufacturing techniques.

“Who all has had implicit bias, sterotypes, microinsults, microaggressions, and [T]itle IX training?” a post on an LSU forum asked. “Cause I’m at an engineering symposium in lod cook today and have been dealing with snowflakes and trigger warnings all morning. They scheduled an hour for us to learn about all this.”

“At one point they had us write a microaggression that we gave or someone gave us,” the post continued.

Update 20. This University President Can’t Take a Joke:

A university president recently addressed his campus community about an incident that had shaken his Wisconsin school.

“The last few days have been painful ones for many members of our community, as they have also been for me,” wrote Lawrence University’s Mark Burstein. “The event and its aftermath have left many students wondering whether the University cares about their safety.”

“We are working closely with the Appleton Police Department to investigate all instances where physical safety is threatened. If there is anyone who has an immediate safety concern, please contact Campus Safety….”

Television news crews captured the aftermath of an event so disturbing that Burstein never identifies it specifically. So what was it? A spate of muggings? A murder?

No.

Update 21. I came across this interesting clip from a long past Star Trek series from the late 1960s. Will we have to wait until the 23rd Century before we become tolerant of language?

Update 22. The time is fast approaching when anything, published anywhere, will require approval from a regulatory authority before publishing. I can see the day when mere talk in the streets will be reported and authorities called in to arrest and investigate the violators. We are already seeing it now. If you’re not worried, you should be:

Every year for the last 15 years, Dads4Kids has celebrated Fathers’ Day with a total of 13 different television campaigns focused on the special role of a father with his kids.

The majority of free to air TV networks across Australia have graciously run these ads for free as a Community Service Announcement up until now. These television commercials are simply a gentle encouragement to Australian dads, and an affirmation that they are an important figure in the lives of their children.

Unfortunately what is a simple Fathers’ Day message has now become a “political” statement.

It is extraordinary that this is where we have come to as a country; we can no longer celebrate Fathers’ Day without being forced to look at it through the lens of the same-sex marriage debate.  It’s a tragedy that a political motive is now implied in any mention of fatherhood.

Update 23. It seems that the ‘offence industry’ is still capable of raising many a discussion, including comedians the affect on their ability to convey humour. Australian comedian Steve Hughes is recognised as one comedian that doesn’t agree with the offence industry:

…comedians in particular have found it difficult to navigate the waters of a culture in which many people are easily triggered. A 2015 article in The Atlantic described how comics were censoring their own jokes before standup routines on college campuses. The article was probably prompted by Jerry Seinfeld, arguably the most famous comedian in the world, who had explained months before why he wouldn’t perform on “PC” college campuses.

“They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist’; ‘That’s sexist’; ‘That’s prejudice,’” Seinfeld told then-ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd. “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” (Cowherd himself was let go by ESPN a month later after making comments about Dominican baseball players the network deemed offensive.)

Hughes, a former heavy metal drummer who looks a bit like Frank Zappa, says being perpetually offended is, well, anti-intellectual and rather childish…Hughes gets to the heart of some important ideas here. Namely, when did it become accepted thinking that people have a right to not be offended by the words, people, or ideas around them?

Update 24. The following articles I think sum up a lot of what’s wrong with the offence industry. On the one hand women demand to go topless and are staunchly defended by those supporting Women’s Equality Day, yet we probably have the same feminist activists protesting women’s freedom to choose what they do and calling it old fashioned and exploitation, because it doesn’t suit their narrative. And when it comes to exposing women’s breasts in public, not in bars, it’s also staunchly supported. These people should really get together and work out a consistent and logical message, rather than appearing completely contradictory at every turn.

Update 25. This is an excellent example of what is happening in today’s world, where men seem to be constantly demonised and some women look for any opportunity to continue the onslaught to emasculate all men, ‘‘Boys will be boys’: Pyjama top pulled after parent complaint‘:

A popular Australian pyjama brand has removed a boys’ jumper emblazoned with the slogan “boys will be boys” from the market after concerned parents complained about the use of the phrase.

The grey pyjama top was marketed in Peter Alexander’s children’s range, and was spotted by Melbourne mother Bridie Harris in a shop last week. She then made a complaint to the company on social media.

“Boy won’t be boys,” she wrote on Facebook on June 20.

“Boys will be held accountable for their actions. I hate to see an Australian store, who makes such great pjs, put such a sexist statement on a t-shirt intended for young boys. Excusing boys of their behaviour is not a step in the right direction. It’s 2018.”

Update 26. I came across this article, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA DEAN APOLOGIZES AFTER CALLING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE A ‘NICE GUY’ and thought what a sad world it’s become:

A dean at the University of Georgia apologized after calling a Republican gubernatorial candidate a “nice guy” and receiving “racism” and “privilege”-related backlash on Twitter.

UGA journalism and mass communication dean Charles Davis congratulated Georgia politician Brian Kemp on winning the state’s GOP primary, but deleted the remark after backlash, according to Campus Reform.

“I went to high school with GOP guv candidate [Brian Kemp],” Davis said initially. “We played YMCA ball from childhood. Politics be damned. He is a nice guy, always was. Kind to a fault. He’s a friend, always has been, and will be when we’re old(er) and grey(er). That’s how all this should work, people.”

 

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