What Do You Mean By “Be Less Offended?”

14 Jan
“Of course, today, simply “taking offence” isn’t enough. Instead, you have to immediately run around honking on about how offended you are, as though this is some kind of devastating eureka moment that absolutely must be shared with the rest of humankind. It isn’t. Go home. And next time wrap a towel around your waist before running outside.” – Charlie Booker

I can’t speak for all outraged individuals, for ours is a proud yet varied class of people who take outrage seriously. I like Charlie Booker, but if I had a dollar for every time a white establishment humorist wrote about how people shouldn’t be outraged then I’d have $1,623.

I think it would surprise humorists exactly how not-outraged the great unwashed masses are. If I were to take offense at everything I saw that was remotely offensive then I probably wouldn’t be able to make it to work.  Imagine Wanda Sykes or Chaz Bono locked in their rooms, crying, unable to turn on the tv or talk to another person, unable to function, because every little black joke, transgender joke, cher joke, cuts them deep.

Oh woe betide the simply offended!

 The truth of the matter is, you’d be shocked to see how not-offended I am if you were in my shoes.  If you’re Charlie Booker then you see the worst end of an outraged person’s day, but here’s what an average outrager goes through:

First Sphere: General Outrage:

Here is all the outrage for wars and murder in the world. Really everything we have in common and everything we don’t know how to fix.  Generally, when people say “Stop worrying about [x agenda] so we can start worrying about REAL problems,” well here is where all the real problems lie. You are outraged by infanticide, correct? Of course, we all are! Now let’s write articles about it.

Second Sphere: Kooks & High Schoolers:

The amateur outrager gets their start here, while veterans have learned long since past to ignore these folks.  Here is baby’s first outrage: Loons looking for attention and kids making declarative statements on twitter or facebook about a group of people. Easy pickings, but something has to make you mad first.

Third Sphere: Entertainment Industry:

Here is where things get interesting. I would say that 90% of the time I can’t be outraged with things I see in movies or TV because they’re so prevalent, but it is their prevalence that can become irritating to the point of making people snap.  This sphere is like a buzzing fly, ever-present, and only biting certain people and leaving others alone. Imagine being a transgender person and having every other joke in every sitcom be at your expense. You can only grin and take it for so long. This sphere, unlike the first, is easy to manage, fix, and yell at. Django Unchained lives here.

 

Fourth Sphere: Kooks with Followers:

Here is some real entertainment. I consider folks like Bryan Fischer to live in the third sphere. You can’t tell their rhetoric apart from the second sphere’s but you can see that they have the ear of a lot of folks. Pastor and clergy can be found here.

Fifth Sphere: I’ve never heard of you but you said something incredibly dumb in a smart way:

If you are in the fifth sphere then, congratulations, you have currently invoked the ire of a bunch of people who think you should know better. You sound smart, you have said thinks that make sense, you are published in the Guardian (har har) but then you–for some reason–went off on a tangent about how great eugenics is, Oy.

Sixth Sphere: The Fallen:

“Establishment media.” Intellectuals. Scientists. Humorists who think anti-gay folks and gay folks are two sides of the same coin. Richard Dawkins who I used to respect and then said some nasty things about women. This sphere is real heartbreak, real emotion, it is an outrage of opera-like proportions.  We loved you, you see, and you have fallen. Damn you. (Django the movie might live in the fourth sphere, but Quentin Tarantino, for some folks, might be here). People caught up in the Sixth Sphere are usually spoken about in hushed tones, like Anakin Skywalker’s name in the original Star Wars trilogy. This is the most frustrating sphere because, unlike the first sphere, these can be easily fixed with an apology, or with humility, or a simple “okay I didn’t know what I was saying.”

Seventh Sphere: Kooks with interesting new points of view:

My personal favorite level of outrage is when an established kook shows a remarkable spurt of life and invents a new  argument so preposterous, yet, so infectious that you just know a bunch of other people will start using it. (See Bryan Fischer inventing the term “Big Gay” as a play on “Big Brother”). Warning: This level of outrage is delicious.

Here is the thing, if you’re Charlie Booker, or any other white establishment writers, then its possible to go through life only knowing the pleasures of the first sphere, but for a lot of other folks, the whole spectrum is available! Look yonder at all those spheres, just for YOU! And guess what, not all of these spheres “cause personal offense” or “outrage,” because otherwise I would have no time to do anything else. Also, these are the sphere’s I’ve discovered, and there may be many more that are blind to me (Chaz Bono might have access to 20 spheres).

So, if you write “be less outraged” you’re going to have to be more specific. What sphere should cause less offense? Because I thought I was doing a damn good job of holding the floodgates.

*With apologies to Cory Booker who I keep mixing up with Charlie Booker. Ya’ll white people l—nah nevermind.

 

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