A Note About Writing Offensive Things

A while back I wrote a few posts where I called suicide cowardly. The titles and content were intentionally rather provocative, to promote discussion.

It served its purpose. In the comments sections of the articles an interesting and enlightening discussion ensued, where I admitted I was wrong (at least to a large extent) and learned several things from posters who made very good points and challenged my views (I unfortunately can’t recall the names of the posters – you know who you are).

You know what those people were not? Offended. And why not? I’m speaking for them, but I can think of a couple of reasons that would make sense. One is that being offended serves no purpose except to push me away. I won’t take you as seriously if you’re offended because then you’re writing in a spirit of anger, and in my experience emotion often clouds judgment. Also, a lack of respect for me is going to make it harder for me to address your points with the respect they, perhaps, observe.

Another point is that, objectively, what I wrote should not be considered offensive. It should be considered, if you disagree, wrong. I attacked no person, nor any group of people, and whether or not you think it was effective in my posts I made an effort to specifically differentiate between an individual act and the person who happened to be committing it. To be offended by my comments would be to show you did not understand them, or else were so close to the issue that emotion indeed clouded your judgment.

Instead, your reaction should have been what the reaction of my commenters was: disagreement with reasons given as to why. Because I saw that disagreement I reevaluated my views and learned something.

Now, what do you think my reaction would have been if a nitwit like Mark Shea looked at my posts and said that they’re “gut punching people grieving suicides” (unfortunately I can’t find that link; Crude may have it), what purpose would that have served? Would I have learned anything? Would a substantial point be made?

That is SJW behavior. And that is not a good thing.

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3 Responses to A Note About Writing Offensive Things

  1. Syllabus says:

    Another point is that, objectively, what I wrote should not be considered offensive. It should be considered, if you disagree, wrong.

    I don’t see why it can’t be both. Considering that since some of the people who respond to/read a statement like that may have attempted suicide themselves, accusing someone of a cowardly act is probably a legitimate thing at which to take offense. Unless you’re of a mind that accusing someone of a lack of virtue is not an offensive statement, but I would find that a rather idiosyncratic use of the word.

    That being said, i don’t think that getting offended at a remark necessarily makes you irrational. What makes you irrational or whatever is when you use your offense and your offense alone as the basis of a refutation or counterargument. It’s perfectly legitimate to take offense so long as one makes a sober, logical counterpoint.

    • This is all more or less true. But what I mean is, if you read my posts I’m careful to say that the action itself, on its own, is separate from the value of the person qua person. I’m not making a value judgment on a person – just an act.

      All, by the way, on a subject where (I believe) you made some points in the comments I did not consider that I agreed were good, and admitted that there are certainly times where suicide has nothing to do with a lack of virtue.

      So this is an issue I was educated about, and I agree with the statements you made correcting me. If you were offended but respond like that, fine. My problem is folks like Shea, who see my title and then use it as an excuse to bludgeon the person they disagree with. That’s SJW thinking, and it should be rightly condemned.

  2. ah so you do know of the Seattle blowhard… lol

    It’s more than offense too, and maybe the only “legitimate” use of trigger warnings I can think of. I’ll admit that there are some things which I just cannot discuss for very long (if at all) without becoming very emotional and allowing “offense” to become an all out flamewar. Adults (and I stress this as a mental state, not a state of age) should know when they cannot discuss things rationally and choose to back out before reaching that state (caveat: obviously this also relies on the other participants also being adults and realizing that the other person needs to back out – chasing after someone and continuing to provoke them should be legitimate grounds for an ass-whupping).

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