Getting “Offended Over Nothing”

Yet again, I was sucked into the social media black hole, scrolling through a feed of memes when I came across this post from one of my “friends”. I met this person once at a party and genuinely loved talking to them, but this post brings up a lot of questions I wanted to direct to them. I considered typing a response in the comments but figured it wasn’t worth the hassle. This person has far more Facebook friends than I do. I had no doubt a sea of people sharing his views would rush to defend him if I tried to start any form of debate, probably responding before they even fully read my post. However, I still have this blog.

Just like the infamous “triggered’ accusation, complaints about people being “offended by everything” or being “too coddled”, “sensitive” etc. all assume that the people making the accusation don’t have any issues they get worked up about.  So let’s look at the post. Basically, the idea is that people used to have real issues and they still didn’t complain as much as we did e.g lack of child labour laws, wars, friends dying. Today we still have some of these issues, e.g Syrian Civil War, poverty. So the idea is that we need to get over minor issues like “microaggressions”, stereotypes, minority representation in film etc.

Okay, that sounds fair enough. One thing though. Generally, these posts have a target in mind: the “libtards”, “social justice warriors” and so on. Posts like this, in my experience, typically come from the same people who complain about the influence of liberals, in everything from politics to TV. So the people using these posts to make a point also have their own set of issues that you could consider minor ones, relative to wars, famine etc. The guy who thinks society is crumbling because a transsexual could possibly use the same public bathroom and see his penis (for a few minutes at a time) has as much right to hear that he’s “triggered” or “offended by everything”- at least if we follow the logic of this Facebook post. This Facebook post is one of hundreds you can find online that uses the same logic, the logic that collapses on itself because it is built on a double standard that ignores context.

This reminds me of the post I did on the old advertisements, where a series of sexist and racist ads from the mid 1900s are now being embraced by viewers as an ideal that we should strive toward e.g “I wish people could take jokes like they used to.” The reaction that I had was “wow it’s good to see society has progressed since this time”, and there was the odd person who shared my view. For the most part though, people just demonstrated a wish to go back to the social and political mores of an older time.

People who use these type of Facebook posts to make a point also forget that people might just pay attention to more issues as society develops. Yes, we can still be concerned about wars and worldwide catastrophes. Society has also evolved to care about minorities more than it used to, which some people view as an unfortunate thing. Yes, we should all take moments to appreciate the good things in life, like a roof over our head. That doesn’t mean that as long as we have food and shelter, we’re not allowed to care about any other issues. Some people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, they’re more worried about seeing gay people in their favourite movies or TV show. You can also tell them not to be “offended by everything”. Being “offended by everything” is not just a liberal issue, it is a human issue. Don’t try to hide behind the principle of “I don’t get offended” to silence the discussion of issues you don’t care about. Discuss the issue itself. This argumentative technique reminds me of the people who say they don’t like it when actors “discuss politics”. As I’ve discussed before, this is usually just their way of saying “I don’t like it when actors express political views I don’t agree with.” If the same actors they criticize were to preach views they believe in, I doubt people would say actors should stay out of politics. Hypocrisy doesn’t help the debate or create a better society. Hypocrisy is the true cause of our divided society.

What Does It Take for Something to be Considered Racist Nowadays?

I had another moment of weakness recently, scrolling through the scourge of YouTube’s recommended videos and watching a video from the REACT channel. Below was one of the recommended videos, and as you can guess, the title got my attention.

The video I was watching was one where millennials are basically tested on their knowledge of songs from the 90s, 80s etc. I guess the theme of “older music” related to older tv commercials with YouTube’s algorithm. Anyone who has read my previous posts might know my thoughts on the criticism of “pc culture” or “triggered snowflakes”. In short, the criticism of people who get “offended by everything” is often an argumentative tool used by outright bigots to defend their prejudice. You disagree with them saying Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in the US? You’re politically correct. If a smaller issue pops up, like people complaining about whitewashing in a film, you can bet that these same bigots will be there to complain about people getting worked up over nothing. And then they’ll also be the first to complain if a character gets “blackwashed”. Sometimes, political correctness can go too far. However, the people who constantly rally against pc culture are often just bigots upset that the world no longer tolerates their bigotry the same way it used to. They want to return to the good old days.

The commercials above are a great example. I did not watch all of them. Why? The title of the video and the description (which pokes fun at present “I’m offended” era) says there was nothing wrong with these ads at the time and also implies that there is nothing wrong with them now either. In short, while people nowadays are more likely to get offended because they are “snowflakes”, the ads are not racist. The issue is the pc snowflakes, not the ads themselves. That is the point the poster and most of the commenters are making.

So, if I watch any of the ads and find any of them offensive, that means I view the poster’s point as invalid. Firstly, many of these ads were released decades ago. Some were released during times such as Jim Crow, so obviously the standards for representations of minorities were not the same. If you are watching videos from that time and your first reaction is “I wish people would tolerate commercials like this nowadays”, then you are the issue: Not social justice warriors, political correctness, feminazis, white knights etc.

This is the perfect example that many people that say they want to avoid being pc just want to be able to embrace racism and misogyny without any criticism or pushback from the society around them. One commenter after another fails to see that maybe it is a good thing that these sexist and racist ads are no longer acceptable. Yes, maybe people do get offended by nothing sometimes, but these people think these ads are a good example of “nothing”.

In this day and age, these right-wingers need to hear a racial slur or see a lynching to be convinced that something is in fact racist.

Triggered a.k.a You Disagree With Me

Anyone who engages in any form of communication online is surely familiar with the term “triggered”. At the most basic level it is used to criticize people who care or get “worked up” about a certain issue. It is normally used by conservatives or the right-wing to shut down any discussion of a topic they don’t care about. If you are one of those people who doesn’t believe in the left/right classification, read the below excerpt from another one of my articles:

People love to say that they don’t like pigeonholing themselves as right or left wing, or that they don’t identify with the spectrum at all. They are a unique snowflake who isn’t like the rest of the sheep they look down on. This argument parallels the infamous “race is a social construct” argument. The fact that something is socially constructed does not mean its impact can be ignored or simply dismissed. Our use of hours and minutes to plan our day is a social construct that has developed over centuries, and the political spectrum is the same. Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Are you against social security or not? Are you a gun-control advocate or not? The answers to these questions will place you somewhere on the spectrum. The totality of your views about different political issues will see you land somewhere; left, right, center-right, center-left etc.

picture-2

 

Think that’s deterministic, rigid, stupid? Ok, then let me throw off another social construct. I no longer recognize myself as a black man. So a girl who only dates white guys will still be interested right? Cops who are more suspicious of black people will no longer feel the need to pull me over or frisk me, right?

Anyway…

Triggered isn’t just a word used to denote passion or concern for an issue. It has a negative connotation. It is applied to the “politically correct snowflakes” who get “offended by everything”.

I have touched on the double standards in what people choose to care about in previous articles, such as my articles on whitewashing v blackwashing and my article on how easy it is for minority inclusion in a film to be viewed as “forced” or “heavy-handed“.

If someone criticizes someone else for being “triggered”, it implies that the accuser doesn’t have any issues that he gets worked up about. The same person who calls someone a social justice warrior (SJW) or pc snowflake because they care about whitewashing is the same person who gets worked up when they see an example of “blackwashing”. The same person who shuts down a conversation about police brutality against black people will be the same person who gets “triggered” when they see a gay couple in a tv show or a black student union on a university campus.

Yes, some people are too sensitive and get worked up or “triggered” over something that is not real discrimination or a real issue. However, right-wing buzzwords like pc and sjw start to lose their meaning when people use the terms to describe everything ranging from protest against Trump’s Muslim ban to calling little people “vertically challenged”. Maybe some people are only using the terms pc to describe the latter example but there are plenty of people who think anything that does not endorse their outright bigotry is politically correct. The problem is not the world around you. The world around you isn’t getting “too liberal”. It is catching up to modernity. Yes, you can no longer say all Muslims are terrorists or that Mexico doesn’t send its best without a lot of people disagreeing with you.

Minorities are now allowed to have groups for themselves, because they are MINORITIES. China doesn’t have Chinese student associations and the US doesn’t have white student unions. I doubt people who hate black student unions would get as worked up if they saw Polish student unions.

Yes, we now live in a world where there are more gay and interracial couples out there. Or maybe there aren’t more. Maybe we just have more who are willing to come out since it is no longer illegal in the US and they are less likely to face physical violence for it. Of course, they can still face rejection from friends and family. Or they can face disgust from people forced to see them represented on screen. I have literally seen someone on IMDB’s forums (RIP), complain about a three second kiss between two gay characters on The Walking Dead. I really wish I could still access the post, because the IMDB poster literally said homosexuality was being “forced down his throat”. Realize that the heavy-handed homosexuality this poster was complaining about was a three second kiss between two male characters. If that is heavy-handed homosexuality, are all the kisses and implied sex in The Walking Dead heavy-handed heterosexuality? Didn’t think so. For people who are bigoted, any inclusion of minorities on screen is too much. It becomes part of an “agenda”, is “forced” or “pc.” A two second gay kiss can be interpreted as an entire episode where the writers were trying to force them to sleep with a man at gunpoint.

We are now in a world that is more divided politically than ever. Not because the left discusses racism or discrimination too much. We listen to the right’s arguments, we pick them apart with facts. They hear our arguments, they don’t listen. They jump to straw man arguments, denial, racist assumptions etc. This is something I’ve experienced personally with comments on my articles, YouTube videos, tweets etc. Or something I have seen from the reactions people have to any liberal thoughts they come across online.

It is a toxic environment where both sides can start to drive each other to further extremes. Maybe the conservative who starts off a little disgruntled with minorities, because he thinks Black C students get all the good schools and jobs now, isn’t able to find the same support he used to find among his friends or co-workers. Then he turns to more conservative sites that fuel his ideas about the world. Like Dylan Roof, the Charleston church shooter, maybe he finds skewed statistics and narratives about Black Lives Matter orchestrating police killings. Then maybe he decides that if the majority of the world (from his point of view) doesn’t see the problem he sees, he’ll try to deal with it himself.

The Right Wing Buzzwords

Politically Correct,

White Knight,

Social Justice Warrior.

 

We’ve probably all heard these terms, and many of us have probably used them,

People are always quick to say it’s (insert year) anytime a conversation about discrimination comes up,

As if the year itself changes the way people think,

There is the idea that time always means progress,

Yet the state of the world makes it clear that the flow of time can lead to more entropy,

Time can lead to a regression, instead of a progression,

 

It’s 2016, racial, religious and sexual minorities have more rights than ever and are more respected than ever,

In theory,

Many laws tell us that we fixed the problem of discrimination,

Yet why is rape culture increasingly embraced among men?

“Women shouldn’t dress like that if they don’t want to get cat-called or raped. Anyone who disagrees is just a white knight.”

Why is racism so accepted in our progressive population?

“I’m not racist but I’d never date a black guy.”

“A black guy got hired; no way he deserved the job. It’s affirmative action, reverse-racism. Why can’t these social justice warriors see that?”

 

Why is discrimination against other religions so widely accepted?

“We should ban all Muslims from entering the country. We can’t be politically correct about this.”

 

Maybe that last sentence is the issue, The use of terms like “politically correct”, “white knight” and “social justice warrior” to criticize anyone whose beliefs fall farther left of the political spectrum,

I can see why it is so seductive to rely on these words,

You don’t have to try to understand what your opponent is saying,

You don’t need research, facts or figures of any kind,

The words speak for themselves and you become a pied piper, attracting all the bitter and angry people who share your view of the world,

Your words entice them, seducing them and encouraging them to embrace their prejudices,

You can just throw out one of these words and wait for like-minded people to commend you for your argument,

The real beauty is that these words help to disguise prejudice,

No one who uses them sees themselves as possibly being prejudiced,

To them, it is only common sense,

It is the liberals and the minorities that need to smarten up and get their act together,

These same people who preach about their tolerance, how It’s 2016 and they don’t even see colour or care about religion, often hold the most discriminatory views,

Cognitive dissonance is a permanent part of their lives,

These right-wingers complain about how minorities focus on race too much,

Meanwhile, they also make decisions about who to date and what areas to live in based on the racial preferences whose existence they deny,

They will complain that Muslims get too much recognition in their secular country,

Meanwhile, they also protest against “Under God” being removed from the constitution,

They will deny that sexism and objectification is a problem for women anymore, arguing that men are the real victims,

Meanwhile, they will assume that a successful woman got her position due to her gender, not due to her skills or intelligence

 

It’s the start of a new year, and instead of making another failed resolution to eat better and get in shape, maybe we can make some real progress and try to change the way we see the world,

Instead of shutting down facts and common sense we can try to listen to reason,

Maybe we can have conversations about diversity, tolerance, equality, without going to our knee-jerk reaction to blurt out the right wing buzzwords