"You find me offensive, I find you offensive
For finding me offensive
Hence, if I should draw the line on any fences
If so to what extent
If at any should I go
'Cause it's getting expensive"
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words, words will really cause people to lose their shit. I'm not the first wanna-be blogger with a pen and a pad to point out that over the last decade or so, people are becoming more and more offended at seemingly less and less provocation. Put bluntly, we are becoming more sensitive by the day, with people of all shape, size and colour wailing on about how they have been offended in all forms of media, print, TV, Internet, postcard, Etch-a-sketch. I don't think I'm being alarmist when I write that the bar to being offended has been lowered so much, you are now at risk of stubbing your toe on it.
The cries of the offended come from all directions and have a common theme. Something is said, typed or shown, and by golly some other group takes an offense, which is really being defensive, if you ask me. Naturally, the offended wishes and often demands that the offensive group be silenced and censored, lest their poor little ears and eyes hear and see something of which they disapprove. Which is akin to saying we don't like that, so don't say it. Ever. Again.
Now, don't get me wrong oh Internet warriors of justice, actions and deeds can be and often are offensive. Acts and deeds that are abhorrent to our not-so-common sense of humanity. But actual actions and doing deeds are a far cry from words and sounds and symbols.
Much of the new found offensivism, if I may coin the term, is rooted in our ever growing sensitivities, and I'm not talking about peanut allergies here folks. Since when did we all become so gosh darn sensitive about words and symbols? I'm not too sure on this one, but if I had to venture a guess I'd say it has something to do with how certain words are banned from a young age. You might be familiar with a few of these words yourself, you bunch of shitbirds. By sealing off certain words and ideas, we only feed the power they have, heightening their impact. Perhaps it is time we tore down the artificial walls built up around such words and emptied them of all meaning.
Maybe this will be a sort of cultural novocaine, numbing our sensitivities and encouraging true freedom of speech, rather than provoking waves of offended cries the minute someone doesn't take too kindly to an idea.
We need de-sensitivity training. The polar fucking opposite of what we have now where sensitivities are not only encouraged, but reinforced every step of the way by ensuring everyone is hyper aware of how offensive words and symbols are by banning them at the first inkling of offensiveness.
Now how about this for a politically incorrect alternative, as soon as kids are old enough to understand, we rationally and calmly explain to them what words mean and that many words only hold the meaning you give them. No words are out of bounds. Encourage hurling different word combinations at each other until these words are stripped of any and all meaning and revert merely to the sounds and symbols they truly are. Imagine, Lennon style, a world without 'bad words'. If you weren't told words were bad and that you shouldn't say them, would you give them any meaning? You're a nog-woddler. What's that you ask? It's a made up word I just thought of and it has zero meaning. Now take this word, tell a group of impressionable kids that they should never call anyone that name and two things will happen. 1) They'll immediately start calling each either that name and 2) they'll associate it with negative emotions. Don't believe me? Get someone to chew you a new one (one being an asshole, the nerve!) in a language you don't understand, perhaps Arabic or Russian. Bet you don't bat one eyelash, why? Because you nog-woddler, you have no meanings attached to the sounds! And without meaning, you can't be offended anymore than you can be offended at the sound of the wind blowing.
Listen, I'm not saying sit the kiddies in a circle and have them cuss each other out until the words lose all shock value, but wait, that is what I'm saying. Maybe then we'd all be a little less sensitive about shit (gasp!).
George Orwell, author of such hits as "1984", the year of my birth coincidentally, anticipated our current state of affairs when he said "First they take the words, then they take the meanings".
Perhaps the anti-dote to having the list of approved sounds from shrinking is to realize that's all they are, just sounds. And last I checked, sounds and symbols couldn't hurt anyone. So maybe we can all agree the next time we think we are offended, to remember that although sticks and stones and RPG's and ICBM's can be very hurtful, words can never break us.