New Fad: Being Offended
All the cool kids are doing it. Well, maybe not ALL the cool kids, just the ones with a social media account. This is not an indication that these times are worse than ever, and neither are the people; it’s just easier than ever to share your opinion.
If someone states an opinion that’s different from another, you are bound to hear, “You’re a nazi,” or “Your offensive”. Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right. Sometimes people don’t agree.
I am more likely to run into the problem of “being offensive” now that I’m holding a microphone for a living. I hold that microphone in front of diverse crowds, whether delivering a keynote on resilience, a motivational speech to high school students, performing at a comedy club, or emceeing a gala.
I am not hired because of my ability to read cue cards, anyone can do that. I am hired for my insight, opinion, and to share my perspective. My perspective is from my point of view. If you and I differ in points of view, I run the risk offending you.
Now, it shouldn’t be that hard to not offend someone, right? WRONG! People are searching for a reason to feel offended. One of my vegan friends commented on one of my posts today about being offended. Nothing against her, I think its just where our culture has taken us.
I unconsciously had to say, “Nothing against her,” because of my constant fear of offending someone…ugh! I’m seriously filled with love for all people and I have no intentions of hurting anyone with my words.
I will note, she wasn’t attacking me for my post, or aggressive at all when sharing her feelings about it. If you ever were compelled to want to speak up about being offended, this is 100% the right way to do it. I love open and honest communication because that is what leads to solutions to problems. I only use this as an example because it happened today.
These are two tweets I jokingly posted:
This was her response:
Firstly, coming off “a bit transphobic” on a post should not be acknowledged if it’s clearly a joke.
What is clearly a joke? Well, Bill Maher took some heat recently after a reporter on his HBO show told him to come out of his studio and “Work the field,” a term commonly used in reporting. With his perfected comedic timing, Maher, responded with, “Work the field? Nah, I’m a house-n****.” What pissed me off is that he said,“I’m just joking, guys.”
Now, as a young black American, I can pull the “I’m offended card” here. But its obvious that he isn’t a house slave, the reporter isn’t a field slave, and slavery isn’t even being discussed. He shouldn’t have to say he is, ”Just joking.” Also, his job is to be funny. Funny is subjective. It may not be your taste of humor, but it’s obvious he’s joking.
People wanted him to lose his job for his racist remarks. *Insert eye-roll*
This isn’t a racist rant. Michael Richard’s (Kramer) rant should be considered a racist one. Maher was thrown an unexpected alley-oop, and he decided to dunk it. I would have been offended if I saw his face light up and he didn’t say anything.
I asked her why she was offended. Her response:
In this make-believe situation, a restaurant owner walked into his restaurant to see a child drinking at the bar by himself. He finds the hostess to ask why the child is consuming alcohol. The hostess answers “He identifies as 21 years old”. The restaurant owner accepts this and doesn’t question it. The restaurant owner immediately becomes concerned that this make-believe child is too drunk and must be cut off. The make-believe bartender in the situation tells his boss, who signs his check, that the drunk child identifies as a sober person.
Lets acknowledge that I made that whole story fit into 140 characters.
Now, lets understand that the things that hit close to home are likely to be more offensive. Jokes that contain some truth tend to be more offensive.
She may have felt offended because I accidentally brought up a point that someone that opposes her thinking would bring up. Remember, just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right. We need to be more tolerant to humor.
The “Dating advice” post offended her because…well…I’m not exactly sure. I Urban Dictionary’d “Cis” and it’s basically a man that was born a man. Without pulling the “I’ve got *insert group feeling attacked* friends” card, I have recently done an episode of my #FailingForwardFriday series with Pat Manuel, the first female boxer to fight as a woman, have a sex change, become a man and fight as a man.
The episodes are usually 8-12 minutes long but this episode was 30 mins long. My goal isn’t to offend; Pat is my friend and I felt comfortable asking questions that many have wanted to ask him but haven’t out of fear of being offensive. Check out the episode.
I don’t want to confuse humor with comments of hatred and ignorance.
Saying, “I bet you like grape juice” to a black person isn’t funny. There is no humor in that. Saying, “The ability black people have to appreciate fine-aged wine before anyone else is almost a superpower.” Whether you think that’s funny or not, you can sense the attempted humor.
I do not think that there is any topic that is off limits for comedy. Once you start drawing lines of what is fair game in comedy, you ruin the art. If you can articulate a well thought joke that has an unseen punch-line, do it. What Kathy Griffin did wasn’t funny. There was no humor in that. It was mean, disgusting, and violent.
I think it’s important to use humor to ease tension. I use humor to ease the tension while emceeing Vegan Festivals. I pander to non-vegans and often poke fun at vegans while on stage. I can get away with saying the “V-word” because I am one.
I’ve had a few vegans call me out on it…but I don’t care. My passion for welcoming people to the vegan lifestyle far surpasses my care for being accepted by the vegan community. Vegans are already vegan, I’m not here to make vegans even more vegan.
I am not the world’s most experienced comedian, but I have grown a lot as a comedian in the last few years. I heavily relied on cursing and shock humor to get a reaction of out the crowd. I admire comedians like Senfield who can be 100% clean and not offensive in the slightest. I am not there yet. And I don’t know if I ever want to be. It’s just not who I am.
I think we need to be less sensitive to what we hear and more sensitive to what we say. We need to stop being “offended” so easily. We need to stop confusing disagreeing with something with being offended by something, especially if it’s something that is humor-based.
With that said, I’m going to be the emcee at San Diego VegFest October 1st. I have every intention of making plenty of jokes about vegans. Haha.
Editor: Missy Fitzwater