Monday, 25 March 2013

To be or not to be offended....

I could take offense at a lot of things I reckon.  Blonde jokes - I know they are only jokes but let's be honest a lot of people, blonde or not, have blonde moments.  I could take offense that people regularly call my son a girl because he has long hair.  The same way that I could have got offended when I was regularly called a boy as a child.  I could definitely take offence to some of Tim Minchin's songs or the ramblings of religious zealots spouting about how gays are damned to hell.  Here's the problem though (other than the fact I cannot think of any other examples of things to get offended about!!!) - taking offense is a choice and a damn silly one if you choose to take it.

I don't need to get offended about Zack being called a girl or me being called a boy when I was younger.  I don't need to get offended about blonde jokes or non-politically correct jokes about women.  I definitely don't need to be offended by Tim Minchin because he is just awesome and the religious nuts talking about gays going to hell are not even worth my time.  And that is it - if I choose to get offended what a total waste of time that is.

This seems simple to me but some people seem to find it difficult to grasp.

On someone else's blog today I wrote "The ‘abuse’ we put our children through when we ‘force’ them to learn stuff when they are not ready or able is appalling. Passion for learning is our children’s right and school squashes that right every single day. The joy on my 11 year old’s face when he realised that he could read is something that I will never forget. He learnt to read in his own time and at his own pace. His passion to read needed that time and school steals that and many other passions every single day." and someone took offense.  The question I ask is why?  This is just my opinion.  These words do not hold power over anyone who has made a choice to send their child to school and is happy with and confident about that choice.  Those who are wavering about school might read them and think - oooh I hadn't thought about it like that, maybe I should do a bit of research.  What other positions are there?  This however illicited a response about how offensive 'abuse' and 'force' were as terms.

Here's an analogy though - if you saw a mother forcing a 9 month old baby to walk before he was ready wouldn't you think that was abusive?  Just because that scenario couldn't really happen doesn't make it less awful an idea.  The damage that could be done to an under-developed spine or leg joints doesn't bear thinking about.

I often wonder if my dyslexia came from being forced to read before my brain was ready.  I am very like my son who grasped the finer points of reading at the ripe old age of 11.5 years old.  He wasn't forced to try to read at 4 or 5 like I was.  He was left to work it out when he brain was ready much like babies are left to mature into walking toddlers at their own pace.  I wasn't left - I was forced to read when I wasn't ready and who knows if that abuse left my brain scarred and malfunctioning.  Scientists now know that leaving babies to cry (as in controlled crying) actually causes brain damage so who knows whether it could be discovered that our schooling system also leads to brain damage for some children.

Regardless of the reasons for my choice of words.  They are words, just words.  The same way that your thoughts about my words are your thoughts and yours to control.  So control your thoughts and don't take offense.  That is your right and a damn good one it is too.

I have to say I replied to the offense-taking woman with the following  " Taking offence is just another choice you have chosen to make along with other ones I choose not to make. None of my comments are anymore offensive than your insinuations. I am not offended by your insinuations because I choose not to be. This is one of the life lessons I have explained to my children. Thanks for giving me another example to show them." I believe that she may well take offense to that and all I can say is - don't.  Life is too short so just stop taking offense.  It doesn't do you any good other than making you feel crappy and it definitely doesn't stop the offense-giver having their opinion.  Opinions can maybe be changed through discussion but they are rarely changed, if ever, by someone taking offense.

Anyway enough of the serious stuff.  Here are some funnies about 'stopping it', Tim Minchin probably offending someone (although there are way more 'offensive' stuff of his out there is you look!!) and a great scene from West Wing about gays and God.

And here is a great video about taking offence


  1. Well said Vic-also very happy you spoke up on the blog. I only saw it late on last night and have also commented but I'm sure it meant a lot that you contributed.

    1. Good reply from you too!! I tried to stop the home ed versus school thing from happening with my first comment but it was not to be. Thought I would step in so no-one else had to waste their time on it.

  2. Do you ever find it hard not to get offended by things? Of course i understand that we all have the CHOICE to take offence to something subjective such as another persons view on say homosexuality, but surely if yourself were being personally attacked by someone, for something like your appearance or sexuality, or peoples opinion of your family or lifestyle, do you not think that would be hard to not become even the slightest bit offended with? I ask merely as i myself have taken offence to many personal opinions about me, and with such a diverse range of people, not finding offence in some peoples opinions seems very difficult for me! I can't wait to hear back for your reply!
    best wishes, faithful reader!:)

  3. I would have thought most people find it hard not to be upset by insensitive comments. I know I do. However I think it is what you do with that feeling which is the difference. If you hold onto it and "need" the other person to apologise to fill a "need" in you to feel all right then that is giving the other person way to much power. Also if person the uttered the offenseive coment did so on purpose then I don;t feel that will get you anywhere anyway. If on the other hand it was an accident then maybe demanding an apology "teaches" that person something although I feel that just saying I found that comment upsetting should do the trick anyway. What I find problematic is the removal of feelings from the process of "taking offence." You can take offence without acknowledging what the comment made you feel. You can take offence without feeling anything and actually not being upset or angry or even slightly bothered. So I feel that "taking offence" has therefore become a weapon with which to attack rather than allowing authentic, honest communication. I also think it allows feelings to remain unresolved and unexpressed over time and that is never good. When I hear someone taking offence I always want to ask "what is it you are feeling?" I hope that makes sense.

  4. Here is a similar idea about not allowing haters to hate on you ->