To Be, or Not to Be Offended
New York City is proposing a $250,000 fine for using the wrong pronoun in reference to a transgendered person. Really?! How would you know which pronoun to use? Why would a he that used to be a she be upset if one slipped up and used the feminine pronoun? Accidents happen, especially where confusion abounds. Are we now to ask about genitalia before we address a person with a Ms. or a Mr.?
No, that won’t work. Caitlyn reportedly still has his/her male genitalia. But I digress -- it’s too easy to wax sarcastic with all of this, and I know there’s also some real human suffering here, and my concern really isn’t the transgendered movement. It is with all the fuss about being offensive.
Where, on what planet, in what list of thou-shalt-nots, among what tribe of people is being totally inoffensive the most important moral value? And who has the authority in a free society to determine for the rest of us what is or is not an assault on general sensibilities?
I can hear the libertine voices shouting, oh yeah? Aren’t you offended by pornography? No, because it’s avoidable -- but I do feel protective of the people porn damages, the marriages that are destroyed, the careers damaged, the minds twisted. I’m even more concerned for those who produce the pornography -- especially the very young. True morality has nothing to do with who’s offended. It has to do with limiting the chaos in society.
Being offensive is a breech of etiquette, not of morality. Being offensive is belching loudly, swearing like a stevedore, farting in church. It’s a failure of proper manners and decorum; it has nothing to do with political opinions, religious faith, or human morals. Case in point:
There’s a house in my town on a road I occasionally travel that never fails to catch my eye. It’s purple. Not a soft lavender or a gentle mauve, but a violently, poisonously, passionate purple. It offends every aesthetic sensibility I possess. And yet, there it sits in defiance, offensive in every sense of the word. I can as I drive by look away, but its presence is so commanding, the offense so great, that, like a car wreck by the road, it’s hard to tear my eyes away.
Nevertheless, these chromatically intrepid folk had no moral obligation to check with me before they bought that paint. They had no local ordinance to go by. They chose that color because 1) it was being thrown away so they got it cheap, 2) they’re color blind, or, most likely, 3) they actually like that macroaggressive shade.
And, last I checked, people, outside of HOA’s, are still free to choose a paint color that pleases them. Would I feel the same if they had chosen, in solidarity with the gay movement, to paint this house in rainbow colors? Whereas, I find it appalling that God’s promising symbol, the rainbow, has been co-opted by a group of people who use it to mock the very God who offered the promise, the offensiveness of the house would remain the same.
And my inability to do anything at all about it remains the same. My being offended is not, nor should it be, a matter of law. I haven’t been denied anything I want or need. I am not required to drive down that street. I don’t have to look that direction when I do.
The gay couple in Portland who wanted the wedding cake, could have obtained one at dozens of other groovier bakeries than the Klein’s. The couple wasn’t being excluded unlawfully; the Klein’s had served them before. Their wedding wasn’t in jeopardy, nor was their health or wealth or wellbeing. They were simply offended by the bakery owners’ stance. That the Klein’s were offended by the gay couple’s wedding plans seems not to be an issue, which I don’t understand.
These storeowners, however, have been fined an exorbitant amount of money and had all their bank accounts completely stripped of funds just before Christmas -- for offending someone, someone of what I call “the whiney class.” These are people who claim a special dispensation and demand that they never be offended, slighted, or snubbed in even the slightest way. Some blacks claim the right to never be called on anything, and demanding such deference is a big part of the Muslim stealth jihad; evidently being even close to bacon will undo their spiritual journey to their personal clutch of virgins. Atheists appear to be of the opinion that no one should ever say anything about God; they evidently find His mention disturbing and references to His Son ever more disorienting. Feminists appear to be upset by anything men do.
I’ve lost track of the people we have to tiptoe now that our most important right is some imaginary privilege to never have our opinions, our suppositions, our biases questioned. Which amendment is that? “The right to have and hold opinions without ever having to defend them, or having to know anything at all about the issue, or be presented with any contrary opinions shall never be abridged, especially by Christians.” Is that how it works?
I am offended now and then. I’m offended by TV shows, obviously written and filmed in a land where 50% of the population is gay or transgendered. I get cranky about that not because of the gayness as much as by the untruth of that ratio. I’m offended by people extolling those who lie, cheat, finagle, and steal. I’m offended by criminals getting away with murder, and by my guns having to take the blame for it. But -- I would never sue anyone over my disquiet and revulsion. I live in a free country; I can take it.
I am not offended by the behavior of ISIS and orthodox Muslims; I’m horrified. It’s not simply offensive to rape a little girl to death; it’s pure evil. It’s not merely offensive to slice off a Christian’s head, or burn him alive, or nail him to a cross. Those things are terrifying. I grew up thinking mankind had left those barbaric cruelties in the distant past.
I’m not upset by people calling me names, nor by those who speak to me rudely because they disagree. I’ve learned that such behavior simply means they can’t win the argument in spite of their arrogant posture.
This business of having to cow-tow to the overly exaggerated feelings of those whose misbehavior has left them with uber-fragile egos is exhausting. Should we be polite? Of course. Loving? Why not? We are all God’s creatures and we should treat all people with the respect that warrants. Until…
Until I, and those I love, are threatened. Roseburg is only an hour away from me and I teach in college. And my school, a small, moneyless Bible college, is being harassed by our state over our gay marriage stance. That threatens my career -- all because someone is worried that something someone says on our tiny campus may offend someone. I mean, we don’t ever conduct weddings or bake cakes or actually do anything that could interfere with a gay couple’s wish to marry. So why are we being attacked? I’m not offended; I’m mad.
America has grown half a population with no backbone, no resilience, no interest in truth and the discomfort that often accompanies its discovery. Americans -- can you believe it? -- are all fussy about “microaggression” and not at all aware of the macroaggression that will be ours to deal with if we can’t face the truth about morality, about our enemies, and about God.
God’s not real receptive to whiners.
Deana Chadwell blogs at www.ASingleWindow.com. She taught high school English for 30 years and currently teaches writing and speech at Pacific Bible College in Medford, Oregon.