February 18, 2014

"It's really hard, in America, to say: Could we all please stop taking offense at this?"

People are never going to stop taking offense, I say, as Glenn Loury urges that we stop taking so much offense. (The Samuel-Jackson-Laurence-Fishburne mixup comes up as an example of taking offense, and both Glenn and I do our Samuel L. Jackson imitations.)

42 comments:

mccullough said...

You're both right. No one will stop taking offense, and it is hard to say that people should stop taking offense. People make a good living lambasting others who say people shouldn't take offense.

chickenlittle said...

The term "take offense" confuses. If I actually take offense, I stay quiet and take it. Otherwise, I defend against the offense. This isn't the same as defending the offense. But to take offense seems to combine an element of passivity (take, receive) with a unequal countermeasure of active (offense).

Capt. Schmoe said...

It is too far effective of a tactic to ever stop using. We have become a nation of outrage.

Unfortunately, society doesn't care if some groups are outraged, while everybody has to tippy-toe around others - lest they feel offended.

It's all part of the wussification of America.

I would have said pussification of America, but I was affraid that I would offend someone.

The Crack Emcee said...

What Loury's saying is stop passing judgement, which is childish.

What we want is a final answer to some of this crap so we can stop arguing over it.

If astrology is nonsense, let's stop toying with it and putting it in our newspapers, and asking TV psychics what the year will hold. If homeopathy is water, wipe it from our pharmacopeia. Finally put our foot down somewhere based on evidence.

Start cutting off some of the avenues for fuzzy thinking and we might start getting somewhere.

garage mahal said...

A really smart commenter here said the Jackson/Fishburne flap was overblown.

Ann Althouse said...

"What Loury's saying is stop passing judgement, which is childish."

I think he's saying we should lighten up and not be so easy to take offense. Give people a little more slack.

But he also agreed with me that people aren't going to stop taking offense, because offense-mongering is standard politics… and also because there are a lot of people and we value self-expression.

MadisonMan said...

When someone tells me they're offended, I am often inclined to say So? or ...and..?

Make them really explain their offense, take complete ownership of it, before you tell them that there's no right to be unoffended in the Constitution, and they should really just get a thicker skin. They are the embodiment of a first world problem.

Revenant said...

There are over 300 million people in the United States. I don't care what you say or how you say it -- if it goes public, somebody is going to be offended. Thousands of somebodies, probably.

What we really need to do is stop caring if people are offended. Just accept that there are people out there who hate what you say... and move on.

rhhardin said...

It started with Anita Hill.

ALP said...

What I find especially irritating about the Fishburne/Jackson thing is that Hollywood is notorious for hewing to a certain look in actors. The similarities between actors is deliberate! I think that a random group of actors of the same race would look even more alike than a random group of ordinary people off the street. To use an example from my own, white race, I have a theory that there is a factory somewhere that spits out female actors created from one template: skinny, 5' 8", blonde, cheekbones, etc... with slight variations so that we MIGHT have a chance of telling them apart. But often, I can't unless I look very closely.

Jesus Christ, I lost track of my own white boyfriend at a concert years ago...he had such an ordinary look that once he put on a baseball cap - he could be standing right in front of me and I still couldn't see him. And he WAS right in front of me the whole time I was looking.

This is about the narcissism of actors.

eric said...

There are entire industries based off of people taking offense. We can't stop taking offense. If we did, entire groups of people would have nothing to do and no one to blame but themselves.

Take Democrats for example. If they couldn't take offense at everything that came out of a Republicans mouth, they'd have to actually come up with policy and debate the merits of it. This isn't how they operate. They rely on taking Republican or Conservative statements out of context and putting their own spin on it to take offense.

How could we convince the rubes to vote the right way if we stopped taking offense?

Rumpletweezer said...

I love Jackson in the Allstate commercials...and in the Sprint commercials with Malcolm McDowell.

mesquito said...

The rewards for pretending to be offended are just too great.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick O said...

Taking offense is very empowering. Even though it's ultimately passive, it's an expression of selfhood in the face of supposed negation.

I may not be a somebody but I'm not a nobody! Pay attention to me!

The Crack Emcee said...

"Lighten up and not be so easy to take offense" means allowing wrong, possibly to yourself, for the sake of Loury's sense of harmony. Very NewAge in intent. He can have it.

There's also that whole passive/aggressive Buddhist control thing in there, of telling someone what to do ("not be so easy to take offense") while demanding they lighten up. Why doesn't he lighten up? Why doesn't he be an example and let other's outrage pass without mention? I've been asking this since Bagoh first brought it up with me, here, years ago:

Why can't the people, demanding others be humble, first be humble themselves?

Stumps 'em every time.

I'll stick with insisting we finally acknowledge what we know, once and for all, and eliminate what we know is worth eliminating. When people can't run, or hide down blind alleys any longer, the outrage will cease. And we might start getting some answers. Today, anybody can walk away from answers they don't like - the divorce rate says so - and that's got to stop.

It's really all that we're too chickenshit to do,...

Billy Bob said...

So long as people can gain political advantage and power there will be no end to taking offense.

carrie said...

Taking offense is a form of censorship and is a power that people abuse for their own advantage.

Unknown said...

I let it go if i can't work up to "pissed off". Offense is such a uptight, prissy emotion.

Lonetown said...

Jackson was having fun with the interviewer to prolong his embarrassment. He was improvising. I've seen many comedians use te technique. Its a poor example for the premise.

David said...

Everybody Must Get Stoned.

It's not just a drug song.

The Drill SGT said...

John Roberts, "The way to stop discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating based on race."

Mike Wallace: Black history month you find ridiculous. Why?
Morgan Freeman: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
Mike Wallace: Oh, c’mon.
Morgan Freeman: What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month? Well, c’mon, tell me.
Mike Wallace: I’m Jewish.
Morgan Freeman: OK, which month is Jewish history month?
Mike Wallace: There isn’t one.
Morgan Freeman: Oh, oh. Why not? Do you want one?
Mike Wallace:No.
Morgan Freeman: No, I don’t either. I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.
Mike Wallace: How we gonna get rid of racism until…
Morgan Freeman: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.



http://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&p=mike+wallace+black+history+month

David said...

garage mahal said...
A really smart commenter here said the Jackson/Fishburne flap was overblown.


Stopped clock syndrome?

No. Credit where credit is due, Garage.

See. Wasn't that nice? (He said, moderatedly.)

Freeman Hunt said...

A really smart commenter here said the Jackson/Fishburne flap was overblown.

I think it was the same guy who made an underrated Palin watching the Olympics from her back porch joke.

EDH said...

Dennis Miller, "America the Touchy"

According to recent census figures, whites have officially became the minority in New York City. And I, for one, am SICK AND TIRED of being hassled by the man!"...

NOW I DON'T WANT TO GET OFF ON A RANT HERE, but that's the problem with America. You can't tease anybody...

And yet this is what it's come to. This is what it's come to in contemporary America. Everybody's broken off into these petulant little Travis Bickle tribes. Everybody walks the perimeter of their own damaged esteem ever-vigilant against an incursion by They, Them. The Other Guys. Everybody's touchy and everybody's encouraged to be touchy, everybody that is . . . except me: the White Anglo-Saxon male. I'm everybody's asshole. Black people think I'm oppressive and physically deficient. Women think I'm oafish and horny. Gay people think I'm overly macho and latently homosexual. And Asians think I'm lazy and stupid. Hey, you think you've got an ax to grind? I'm fuckin' Paul Bunyan over here, okay, folks?

And if I'm expected to be genial, there's a principle of reciprocity here, I expect you to do the same. Why are we so hung up on the name calling? We are all such overgrown babies. As it turns out adult life is just a tall grade school: "You suck," "With your mouth," "Hi, my mouth," "Hi, me." It's embarrassing. I can't believe it, the playground is way back there in the mist. We've got to let it go and get on with it. Why do you think we get hung up on all the little bullshit?

I have a theory: I think we're far less evolved ourselves. I know we consider ourselves to be very nineties creatures, we take it all in, we deal with it . . . we put it back out. We are just the hippest little creatures, but you know something? I think in a deep gut level we're scared shitless. We live in a madhouse and it's brought into our living rooms on a day-to-day level via CNN. And we see things that we probably aren't equipped to even vaguely get our head around. Children in Somalia . . . the atrocities in Bosnia -- Cal-a-frag-a-listic-ex-pee-al-a-docious. I think all this shit comes down and we think, "Christ, it really is out of control."

So what we do is we take all the little bullshit things, we trump it up into something bigger than it actually is, something we can mold and handle, and in some vague pathetic way keep our feet tethered to the planet.

And that's why this entire country has turned into Gladys Kravitz from "Bewitched."

Seeing Red said...

"I've never been so insulted in my life!"

"Then you need to get out more."

Benny Hill skit.

Real American said...

There are far too many cottage industries built around taking offense and brow beating the offender into some forced apology so they can get their "awareness" PR out there. Most of the time people don't even have a reason to be offended - they just are - the perpetually offended. These people are really just a bunch of bullies. They can go fuck themselves.

Vile Pliskin said...

I thought Jackson was playing it up for humor's sake. Comedy isn't always comfortable, nor should it be.

The chastened white guy's apology was pathetic. For Christ's sake, people make mistakes. Even when talking to black people.

Ann Althouse said...

""Lighten up and not be so easy to take offense" means allowing wrong, possibly to yourself, for the sake of Loury's sense of harmony."

Oh, no! I'm suddenly seeing that the phrase "lighten up" is offensive to black people!

Ann Althouse said...

"I thought Jackson was playing it up for humor's sake. Comedy isn't always comfortable, nor should it be."

I agree, and I found it very funny, especially — as I say in the video — when he said "Oh, hell no!"

Ann Althouse said...

And I think that comic offense was helping us deal with our culture of offense.

I would prefer (and if you continue the video, I think I say something like this) if we had more expression. Instead of trying to stop everyone from saying the wrong thing, giving offense and taking offense, it would be better to become more freely expressive. Take offense and make it bigger and funnier and apologize if needed but also laugh at yourself, or if the offense-taker is overdoing it, laugh at them, top them, do something, anything, out loud and loosen up the constraints that torment us.

Repression is not this answer. Silence isn't a place we can ever get to anyway. So find ways to move forward — toward more freedom and more camaraderie.

Ctmom4 said...

" if the offense-taker is overdoing it, laugh at them, top them, do something, anything, out loud and loosen up the constraints that torment us." Exactly. As I watched I thought that the interviewer should have said he didn't know how he could mix the two up, as Jackson looks much older than Fishburne.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

Oh, no! I'm suddenly seeing that the phrase "lighten up" is offensive to black people!


It is to this one. Don't tell people to calm down - fix something.

Vile Pliskin said...

What's the benefit of shaming and forcing an apology (and again, I'm not blaming Jackson) from someone who clearly had no ill will, racial or otherwise?

Or maybe the question is "to who's benefit?"

chickenlittle said...

Here you go, Crack:
Keep Calm And Lighten Up

Birkel said...

If there were an "ignore" button I could "fix something".

I blame Blogger

Drago said...

Vile Pliskin: "What's the benefit of shaming and forcing an apology (and again, I'm not blaming Jackson) from someone who clearly had no ill will, racial or otherwise?"

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

It has always been thus.

Lucien said...

Ann is so blind to her own weightism that she doesn't even realize that "lighten up" is offensive to heavy people!

The Crack Emcee said...

chickenlittle,

"Here you go, Crack:
Keep Calm And Lighten Up"

Thanks dickish white person.

Must be nice - that 6 to 1 advantage - where no white defends the outnumbered blacks. The racists get free reign, to hop around and tease, and just be your racist selves - anonymously, as always.

And then they wonder why I could give a damn about the whites in South Africa. Like whites like chick aren't teaching me they're as worthless as he apparently is.

Or why I started singling out whites in my writing. chick is a direct connection to where my blog is now. I reached out my hand to whites - for years, right here on this blog - and they bit it.

And then demanded I vote with them - fucking hilarious.

6 whites to every one black. That's a fair fight to chickie - unless it's six black teens against a lone white man - then it's an unspeakable outrage and somebody's got to die.

Because the likes of chick boy wants it so,...

garage mahal said...

I think it was the same guy who made an underrated Palin watching the Olympics from her back porch joke.

Indeed!

chickenlittle said...

O'fense: take it or leave it.

Matt said...

Wait, Crack takes "lighten up" racially!? Zoinks! He is around the bend!

chickenlittle said...
O'fense: take it or leave it.


Hey! I'm Irish and that is deeply o'ffensive to me! O'k, I'm not Irish.... but if I were...!

In college, I had a friend from India who frequently greeted me with "Skinhead!" because I am half German. No offense was ever taken. I also had a roommate from Sri Lanka who would, at times, wake me up in the morning by whispering, "White man is the devil. White man is the devil." No offense was taken.

Seriously, lighten up. "Racism!" is such an insidious charge that it should only be leveled when the person, ya know, actually does something racist.

Saying Trayvon "deserved it" is not racist. He made it home safely and then went back out in search of Zimmerman. Personally, my thought was that it was sad that the young fool would never have the opportunity to learn from his mistake; however, one could justifiably say he "deserved it" without being racist.

It would seriously do you well, Crack, to stop your fool's errand in search of more and more racism especially when most of it is imagined. Enjoy life.