I find that I offend people. It's not something I set out to do, it seems to just happen. As someone who attempts to take his faith seriously, it's cause for lots of introspection, some self-blame and navel-gazing, more guilt and then a resolve to do what I need to do to change.
Unfortunately, it seems that not much time will pass before it happens again.
A too-quick choice to be offended by something (and it is a choice) tells me a couple of things about a person: first, that he feels so uncertain of who he is that he must declare and define himself as “thus” or “such” in order to establish a reference marker — a stake that is meant as much for himself as for the rest of us.
Me = this sort of person.
When you know who you are, you don’t have to tell spell it out for others.
Second: a death-grip on an identifier, used in conjunction with feather-ruffled offense-taking, tells me that this person is a passive aggressive — someone so weak that he needs to resort to the tyranny of “shut up” because he cannot trust his ideas or arguments to hold up under debate. Rather than subject himself to a debate he knows he cannot win, he declares himself “offended” and usually demands future silence on the issue and a public “apology” (also tiresome!) that is meant to warn-off others from attempting to address it.
It is certainly a kind of tyranny; increasingly, for me, the boring kind. I don’t remember who said it first but I know someone has said that we can have freedom of speech or we can have freedom from being offended, but we can’t have both.
She's got more... including updates with links to others who have related thoughts.
I'm no angel and know that I'm more than capable of offending people out of hand.
But I also am aware and take comfort in knowing that more and more are aware that we live in hyper-sensitive times where people are offended largely by someone like me simply existing.
I close with Timothy Dalrymple's close (though encourage you to read his piece in its entirety):
While it’s helpful to be aware of the objections of your critics and detractors, it’s not helpful to be paralyzed by them. But the classroom became a place that was littered with landmines, a place where you could not speak freely for fear of reaping the whirlwind. Our social (and national) conversation erodes as we cannot speak clearly to one another, as we exchange sentiment and anger for evidence and argumentation, or — worse — as we hide our beliefs from one another and seal ourselves into hermetic chambers of isolated news and opinion. This is rarely appreciated. There are many causes for the balkanization of our political culture — but political correctness takes a huge share of the blame. We withdraw into our own worlds where we all believe alike and do not offend one another — and soon thereafter we cannot understand one another either, like tribesmen separated by mountain ranges whose languages develop in seclusion until, when the tribes reestablish contact, they cannot understand one another.
And it’s not merely external. We internalize the lengthy list of questions we cannot ask and things we cannot say. Our thoughts become armed against us, and we’re no longer free to think clearly and critically and without inhibition.
“I’m offended.” It’s a dangerous game to play. In the short term you gain a specious “win.” In the long term, you erode the bonds that hold us together. Thanks for that.