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I Hope You Find This Post Offensive

March 11, 2020

Seriously, if I don’t say something in this post that offends you, I have failed.

Now, let’s be fair, as someone who writes on social media daily, I understand that nothing will make a post go viral quicker than a little bit of controversy.

But, that’s not my intent. It’s not about offending for offense sake. I think we as a society have forgotten how to be offended.

15: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Revelation Chapter 3 (KJV)

We find ourselves, as we do every four years, in the middle of a presidential campaign. There are three main people left in the race, President Trump, a polarizing Republican, Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden, considered by most people to be a moderate.

Four years ago, Donald Trump was the most polarizing candidate in the Republican field. His critics (including this writer) were sure that he would not last a month. . and then that he would not make it to the convention. . .and then he could not possibly win the presidency. After all, Senator Hillary Clinton, his opponent was much more moderate.

Why did Donald Trump win? This post is not nearly long enough to delve into that topic. Besides, I was consistently wrong all through the campaign last time. But, one thing that can be said with certainty is that Trump was much more objectionable than Senator Clinton. And yet he won.

I got put in Facebook jail today. Apparently one of my comments failed to meet the community standards for Facebook of bullying and harressment. I was naturally surprised since, as a writer, I pride myself on keeping my comments polite and well within the bounds of polite conversation.

It was a thread on a news site. The discussion was about guns. Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced they are going to stop selling guns in more of their stores. In the discussion the assertion was made that guns are only designed to kill people. After a few exchanges a woman named Christine Hall said,

We’ll agree to disagree

I responded,

Christine Hall, you can opt for that, but honestly since you have zero experience, your opinion really doesn’t carry much weight. Your ignorance is not equal to Al’s experience. When you “agree to disagree” with someone who has experience, you are really saying, “I don’t want to become educated on this issue.”

That was it. I asked Facebook to review it again. Two minutes later they sent me an email saying they did. And it was still in violation of the harressment and bullying policy.

I’ve seen much harsher comments on Facebook. So have you. I can only assume that Ms Hall reported my comment. I cannot imagine a scanning robot flagged it.

When facts conflict with someone’s world view it is easier for them to reject the facts than to change their world view.

And if you continue to argue facts, people often become offended. (And on Facebook that can get you thrown in Facebook jail.)

The legendary comedian John Cleese talked about the idea offense is necessary to comedy. And since comedy is often a slightly absurd look at society, society itself needs the ability to offend and be offended.

But, modern society has done everything possible to remove offense. We have trigger warnings to warn use that we might find something offensive. We have safe spaces were presumably we are “protected” from being offended at all. However, rather than improving society, these trigger warnings, and safe spaces, and facebook jail sentences, have turned us into a nation of wimps.

My son is an athlete. He will be a on the varsity football team at his high school this year. He noted that the best athletes get special treatment. “They don’t want to risk you getting hurt.”

He will quickly learn that special treatment doesn’t mean getting excused from exercise. In fact, the better the athlete, the more the coach will want them to hit the weight room, and the track.

Good athletes become great athletes when they are tested. When they subject themselves to hard workouts, grueling two or three-a-day practices. The best athletes understand that it’s the hard that makes them better.

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.
– Manager Jimmy Dugan “A League Of Their Own”

If it’s true for athletes, it’s also true for our social lives. Being offended and learning to deal with that makes you a better person. Not just better, but stronger. Constantly being protected from being offended is not empowering. It’s debilitating.

Now, I may be a mean cuss. But, I’m the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field. The world don’t give a damn about how sensitive these kids are, especially the young black kids. You ain’t doing these kids a favor by patronizing them. You’re crippling them. You’re crippling them for life.
– Coach Herman Boone, “Remember The Titans”

The great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said,

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

So, don’t be afraid to offend. Be hot or cold, radical or progressive, but not lukewarm. And realize that being willing to stand for something is what will make you strong.

I will post this to Facebook. . .tomorrow after I get out of facebook jail.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

5 Comments
  1. Mom permalink

    Standing up for what you believe is “right” is what made America and has kept us strong. Yes yes yes do it!!!! someone may have a different point of view. Good – Let’s hear it. We all might learn something. We can’t just say I have all the information and wisdom I will ever need so don’t confuse me with new information or a new way of looking at things. For many folks it is very difficult in a group to voice a different opinion. But I have seen one nervous hesitant voice change the actions of a whole group. Stand Up for what you believe and always be ready to listen, really listen to even those with whom you disagree.

  2. Mom permalink

    Standing up for what you believe is “right” is what made America and has kept us strong. Yes yes yes do it!!!! someone may have a different point of view. Good – Let’s hear it. We all might learn something. We can’t just say I have all the information and wisdom I will ever need so don’t confuse me with new information or a new way of looking at things. For many folks it is very difficult in a group to voice a different opinion. But I have seen one nervous hesitant voice change the actions of a whole group. Stand Up for what you believe and always be ready to listen, really listen to even those with whom you disagree.

    • I really enjoy political discussions. But, I’ve found I actually enjoy discussions (not debate, not arguments, but discussions) with people on the other end of the political spectrum. People are smart. If a smart person disagrees with me, I really REALLY want to know what made them think that.

  3. Yes, people can be too easily offended.

    I noticed an error though – guns were actually designed to kill people. The original invention was to provide a way that non-archers could penetrate armor (I’m told by historians that the English longbow was a terrifying weapon, even at great distances) with little skill or effort. The most popular designs are off the battlefield with few exceptions (shotguns). That design can be repurposed to hunting or target practice, and occasionally as a celebratory noisemaker, but that does not erase the initial design.

    That design has been honed and is amazingly effective. One person killed 60 some people in Vegas and kept hundreds pinned down with little effort on his part, and that leverage is not uncommon. There is a reason why the Colt was called ‘the great equalizer’ in the 19th century, a small man or woman could kill just as effectively as a large, powerful man – and made a smaller target.

    It is important to note that recognition of this history and potential is not the same as saying that all guns have committed murder. But it is important to recognize the potential there. I know that you are a responsible gun owner and take precautions. I wish all would do so. BTW, while I do not own a gun myself (my brother and I shared a rifle when we were young, but practice with it was rare) I have been out for target practice often enough to be familiar. We have little use for a gun here in town so I don’t own one. That’s out of prudence rather than fear. I’ve never had a decorative sword or warhammer go off by accident.

    • I didn’t say that guns weren’t designed to kill people. I said that killing people is not their sole purpose. As an extreme example, I have a “gun” that has the following characteristics. It’s barrel is 12″ long. It takes a .22 caliber shell. It fires a three inch “bullet.” To disengage the safety you have to press the end of the barrel into your target hard enough depress the barrel about 1/2″. You fire it by hitting the firing pin with a literal hammer.

      It meets all the criteria for a firearm. It’s even called a “gun.” It’s a nail gun, used to drive nails into concrete.

      You illustrate my point well, Randy. We can disagree. We can 180 degrees disagree. But, that disagreement should not lead to either of us being offended. You might think that only crazy people should own guns. And like the “catch-22” anyone who wants a gun clearly is too crazy to safely own one. (I’ve actually heard that argument.) I don’t think people with that opinion are stupid, or crazy, or even rude. I just think they are wrong. And that’s okay. They can think I’m wrong too and I’m totally cool with that.

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