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No Offense

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

Being offended is a choice.

We seem to be particularly concerned with “getting offended” these days. And before you think that you are not prone to this type of behavior take a second to reflect how you react each day (even in your own head) to some social media post you disagree with, or something on TV you don’t like. And yet not only are none of those pieces of content directed at you personally, you also chose to look at them.

But more importantly, being offended itself is a choice. Sure you might have an initial reaction to something you see. But if you can’t control that reaction or honestly assess it for yourself, then you are admitting to literally being powerless over your own emotions. What does that say about you? Being offended is your problem. Not somebody else’s.

Christopher Hitchens said the following about this topic:

If someone tells me that I’ve hurt their feelings, I say ‘I’m still waiting to hear what your point is.’ In this country, I’ve been told ‘that’s offensive’ as if those two words constitute an argument or a comment. Not to me they don’t.

Sam Harris echoed this sentiment in a podcast:

Your capacity to be offended isn’t something that I or anyone else needs to respect. Your capacity to be offended isn’t something that YOU should respect. In fact it’s something that you should be on your guard for. Perhaps more than any other property of your mind, this feeling can mislead you. If you care about justice, and you absolutely should, you should care about facts, and the ability to discuss them openly. Justice requires contact with reality. It simply isn’t the case, it cannot be the case, that the most pressing claims on our sense of justice, need come from those who claim to be most offended by conversation itself.
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