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Perpetuating the Offense of the Perpetually Offended

Someone sent me a link today to a post by a right-of-center blogger asking for people to stop making racist or homosexual jokes. I just had to roll my eyes.

This has the exact opposite effect that these ‘well-meaning’ people intend.

You know how people stop being offended by insults? They get over it and move on with their lives. You know when people stop throwing insults at people? When they realize that the insults no longer have an effect on their intended target.

It’s like the old lesson that the best way to get rid of a pest is not to keep reacting to it, but to ignore it. The pest pesters just to get a reaction. Thus, reacting perpetuates the pestering. Stop reacting, the fun of pestering is gone and stops.

This seems to be the lesson we all learned as kids in grammar school and high school. Everyone was pestered and insulted and offended as kids and teens. It’s what kids and teens do. And they keep doing it until the offended party either (1) fights back or (2) stops being offended. Pretty simple. We all go through this maturation process as kids and teens. It’s part of growing up, growing thick skin and learning (1) what it feels like to be picked on and (2) not to be that type of person to pick on others, since you know how it feels.

Now, in extreme circumstances, we have option (3) be deeply hurt by the insults and pestering, take it to heart and withdraw from society to avoid the constant insults and pestering. In the very extreme circumstance, “withdraw from society” means committing suicide. That definitely will end the insults and pestering… permanently.

I know this from first hand experience, as I attempted suicide as a teen, twice*, for these very reasons. I grew up as an innocent, naive and kind-hearted young man. I saw things — life, friendship, romance, marriage — through a window of idealism and The Golden Rule. I also was not a partier, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do drugs, wasn’t particularly attractive (especially during the worst teen years where I had braces, glasses and bad acne), I saw girls as angels to be treated well not as sex objects or conquests… and because of all this, I was very introverted and self-conscious. As a result, I had very low self-esteem and felt like a ‘loser’ compared to all the ‘pretty people’ and ‘popular people’.

I knew I was different and I heard and saw all the insults and mockery thrown at young men like me, and had some of them thrown at me personally as well. It hurt. It hurt to my core, because I was proud of the person I was. But, because it seemed everyone else thought that type of man was a ‘loser’ (or, in today’s popular description an “emo git” or “beta male”), I felt there was no place for me in this world, that I was a mistake and I should ‘correct’ that mistake.

Now, obviously, I didn’t succeed. (Whether that is a good or bad thing, I’m still not sure). But I did learn one thing from all of that turmoil: that I was in control of how I felt, not anyone else. That no one could offend me or make me feel bad without my consent. I also learned that no one was going to protect me from insults, from being taunted, from being mocked or from being offended… that was all my responsibility. I could either let it destroy me inside and ruin my life, or I could learn from it that the world is full of mean, shallow, despicable people and I need to harden myself to their attempts to affect me with their behavior.

And, 15 years later, here I am. Am I still insulted and mocked and offended? Yep. I’m even a running joke on a certain right-of-center website. The same insults thrown at me 15 years ago by petty, immature and mean-spirited people are still thrown at me today. The atmosphere today is no different. What is different is how I react to these types of people. And I learned how, because I was forced to learn. I was not protected as some politically correct protected group. Instead, I learned that life sucks and is full of people who suck and I need to not let that bother me.

So here I am today, not thinking about suicide every time some asshole decides he needs to put me down to make himself feel better about himself.

Do the insults still hurt? Sure. I think anyone would be hurt by having who they are inside insulted in the most mean-spirited and condescending fashion and told that who I am and what I stand for is offensive to them, that it makes me not a ‘real man’ and that people like me are the reason this country/world is the way it is. But none of us has a right not to be offended.

In fact, White heterosexual men, these days, are the most insulted and parodied groups out there. On TV in series and commercials, in movies, in songs, etc… men are stereotyped as stupid, bafoonish, incompetent, deadbeat dads, misogynistic, worthy of violence against them for infidelity, etc. Heck, if you’re a Christian or ‘traditional’ gentleman type man, you’re even more mock-worthy.  (These days, if you’re a homosexual — male or female — you are on a higher status level than being a White heterosexual male.)

Of course, then we have the protected classes of homosexuals and minorities. What I don’t understand is why. Creating PC protected classes of citizens simply perpetuates the offensiveness towards these groups. It’s also akin to the soft bigotry of low expectations of Affirmative Action, in that is presumes that these groups cannot handle the insults and their delicate sensibilities must be protected. Or, it puts them on a pedestal as some group which is so superior that “they must not be mocked!”.

I don’t understand how people don’t realize that this simply perpetuates the cycle. (1) The offended parties never harden themselves to the insults, mockery and pestering and (2) the offending parties never give up on their insults based on their behavior losing purpose, since their intended targets no longer give them the reaction they desire.

What the PC protected classes end up doing is creating even more resentment among both groups. The offended parties simply go on thinking that others are still offensive, but are only keeping their insults to themselves based on the protected class status in effect. And the offending parties simply get even more offensive, because now they are offended that certain people are getting special treatment.

It’s simply a lose-lose scenario.

Yet, we get right-of-center bloggers out there promoting such a thing. In addition to which, they promote the idea that “White heterosexual males can’t be offended, so get over yourself”. Yeah, well, speak for yourself, champ. Maybe you, as a White male heterosexual, have never been offended in your life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Get outside your own little bubble of life in which you live and stop projecting your own sheltered views onto millions of people.

Everyone can be offended. And they are. It’s just some of us don’t get babied and protected from offense and learn to get over it. If we ever wish to help others to get over it, the answer is not to shield them from it, but to help them learn to ignore it.

*(I actually only ‘attempted’ suicide 1 1/2 times. The first time was the week after my High School graduation when I downed about 20 aspirin before I went to sleep one night, hoping that would do the trick. It didn’t. I simply woke up the next morning with a bad headache and stomach ache. The second time I ‘attempted’ was my first week in college. I took walks around campus around 11pm each night, trying to figure out what I was going to do. I came across a 3-story parking garage across from ‘Greek Row’, which faced the backs of all the buildings and was in a quiet area. I finally decided one night to walk up to the top and intended to jump off. But I couldn’t do it. I was too scared. Eventually, some guys on bikes and skateboards came by where I was and, in a scene not out of after-school, made-for-TV specials, mocked me, laughed at me and one of them, as they rode away shouted out “just jump already!” I would have thought that would have pushed me over the edge, as, at that moment, I realized that I was truly alone. This wasn’t TV or the movies; no one was coming to save me from myself. While that realization I would have thought would push me over the edge (figuratively and literally), it actually was the first step in strengthening and hardening me inside to deal with life ahead, knowing that I am the only one who is responsible for getting me through life.)

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December 10, 2009 , 5:49PM - Posted by | Homosexual Movement, Liberalism, Life, Racism, Sexism

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