The Vacuity of Taking Offense
A few followup thoughts on my previous post. Just what is at the core of those who say they are offended by someone else’s words or actions? Why would someone be offended, especially in the emotive sense as typical of the PC crowd? It can only be because they expect something different, and specifically, they believe themselves to be entitled to whatever it is they are being denied by the alleged offender. All offense, at least in this context, is a denial of the offended by the offender.
Yet, if you look at what is decried as offense by the PC, it is almost always simply that someone has had the audacity to have a different opinion about something, and is consequently suggesting a course of action different from that of the alleged offended. I continue to use the adjective “alleged” because in most cases, the allegations are baseless in that the offense is either trivial, seeks to claim a privilege to which the offended has no right, or seeks to alter reality in a way that is divorced from fact. In other words, disagreement, and discussion, debate are found to be offensive.
In sharp contrast to the ease with which PC personages are offended, we read in Psalm 119: 165,
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Hebrew is delightfully pictorial, and here is no exception. To be “offended” literally means “to stumble” or “to encounter a stumbling block.” Thus, to be offended is presented in the word picture of someone tripping over a stone in the path that was, for whatever reason, not observed. Generally, it is usually the one doing the tripping that is injured, not the stone that causes the fall.
Living a life that is continually being offended is a sharp contrast to the Christian principle of conduct in which we are exhorted to “follow peace with all men.” (Hebrews 12:14) It is a particularly significant contrast, for example, to the Muslim propensity to be “offended” at the slightest provocation, totally ignoring the greater “offenses” they offer other religions, and, indeed, the rest of humanity; personally, I find a sword threatening to introduce space between my head and my neck, or someone wanting to paint the landscape with my anatomy, offensive to the extreme.
The sense of entitlement in taking offense is the height of pride, one of the worst, if not the worst, of man’s fallen attributes. Thus, I would again say, to be offended in the PC way is an exercise in vapor management. It is sound and fury, signifying nothing beyond one’s own inability to think beyond oneself. Consequently, it signifies more about the one offended, and about the idiots who attempt, successfully or not, to create public policy on this foundation of quicksand.