Slate published a really fascinating..."article"? that tracks the things people found offensive and outrageous in 2014. It's ongoing. Each day has a little picture that you can click to see what Americans found offensive ON THAT DAY. It allows you to vote on whether the issue in particular was truly offensive, or overblown. Here's the article: "The Year of Outrage"
Usually something like this I'd just share on facebook so people could check it out themselves, but I thought my reaction to one of the issues was amusing so I wanted to post this quickie. I was clicking through some of the topics, not all, when I saw Patton Oswalt's picture. I've always liked his comedy. I couldn't remember him making the news though, and clicked it. Here's what popped up:
And I got pissed off about this. Like..."outraged"...if you like. And that made me laugh because of course how fitting to post something about outraged Americans and get outraged about it. What victims? How did they suffer? There was no joke. The offense had to be manufactured...you had to use your OWN MIND to create a joke that would be offensive to a hypothetical victim...the irony of this is DELICIOUS. If there is no actual joke, then in order to be offended about it from the victim's standpoint...you have to create an offensive joke in your mind in order to be outraged by it. YOU make the offensive joke. The extent to which some people will strain and stretch in order to reach offense is amazing to me.
And I'd have probably just chuckled at this to myself, but it made me think about the endless autism wars I see and once participated in (and I suppose if I'm being fair, still do, to the extent that living in the autism blogosphere does not allow me to remain completely on the fence) and how offended each "side" gets about the others' views.
And this seemed like a really great way to illustrate how you should really strive not to get too upset when someone gets outraged by your thoughts on a topic. Your path defines your view, and nobody will have the same path you do. From where you stand on it, you see only what your experience allows you to see, not what someone else sees from what they've experienced. And you can hedge your bet with all the lawyeresque caveats you can think of and STILL someone will call you to the carpet for being a narrow minded asshole or...much much worse.
The next time you make your opinion known (whether it's in the autism community, politics, whatever your passion du jour happens to be), if it's well-considered, if it's sensitive to those issues about which you are aware, if it's well-meant (oh I know..."well-meaning" is profanity 'round these parts), but someone crucifies you for it...please remember this. Someone can ALWAYS find something about which to be offended. ALWAYS. And remember too, that their being offended does not make your opinion "wrong" necessarily.
And try to learn from it. I'm not saying blow it off. And I'm also not saying...SAY ALL THE OFFENSIVE THINGS! Because...don't be an asshole. But what I am saying is, they're not in the right just because they're mad at you for saying something. Because we can all find something about which to be offended in ANY statement of opinion.
Try not to be so hurt when someone is offended by something you've said that you never intended to cause offense with. Try to understand why what you said was offensive to that person. Try to see it from their perspective (you won't be able to completely, but you can try) and learn when to walk away from statements you've made that you don't believe in strongly enough to continue to offend the other person. But don't be so hurt that it damages your mental makeup...because there's ALWAYS something for people to be offended about. And some of them are just as ridiculous as the guy responding to Oswalt's tweet.