On Being Offended

If you’ll forgive a little loftiness: I write to sort out and arrange my thoughts, but also to inform, surprise, inspire thought, and entertain.

I don’t set out to wound, but I do have a sense of humor that’s not shared by everyone, and I’m OK with that.

Don’t like it? That’s fine too. Some people hate broccoli, or country music, or the color fuchsia. It’s neither a virtue nor a shortcoming to dislike something. The sooner we all stop pretending that being offended by something we don’t happen to like entitles us to a higher level of rectitude, the more self-inflicted misery we’ll ban from our lives.

There’s simply nothing respectable about the word “offended.” On the contrary. It’s a ransom note, with the ransom being an instant apology. Pass.

The marvelous Stephen Fry sums it up:


While I’m sharing my affection for the man and his low tolerance for the easily piqued, I might as well toss this one in too:

The identical twin of “offended” is “shocked” — no longer as prevalent today, for which I’m grateful. I love this A.C. Benson quote:

It is a misfortune that many people think it is a mark of saintliness to be easily shocked; whereas the greatest saints are the people who are never shocked. They may be distressed; they may wish things different; but to be shocked is often nothing but a mark of vanity, a desire that others should know how high one’s standard, how sensitive one’s conscience is.

About Rogier:
Rogier is a Dutch-born, New-England-dwelling multi-media maven (OK, a writer and photographer) whose dead-tree publishing credits include the New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Reason.
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