Category Archives: News-International

Do individuals or groups have a right to not be offended?

This is a topic, very hot in the news today, but I rather doubt a new issue for some. The radicalization of certain Muslims has been, (in part) brought about by just that premise, of being offended. Some may disagree, for sure, but the whole notion of understanding those being offended is that it is not for the offender to decide what is offensive or not. I would suggest that they, (offenders) might do well to listen to what those feeling offended are saying and act accordingly.

In the West, we tend to be more tolerant of ridicule heaped on our heads, for our ethnic origins or religious leanings. We may not like what is being said, but for the most part we don’t  take out a hit on those perpetrating the offence. That notion of our (somewhat misguided tolerance) clearly does not give us the right to, in effect attempt to sway or change the thoughts of (in this case) those of the Muslim faith to our feeling on these topics. There is not a one size fits all, when it comes to feelings of offence regarding faith or ethnicity. The same standards of expression do not apply to all.

I agree, that those of Islam that have become radicalized and seeking jihad to those in the West have gone beyond what normal civilization would or should accept. Even the more moderate Muslims are condemning the current actions of those radicals. But they don’t feel any less offended and  in many cases they feel completely marginalized.

We owe it to them to show some empathy with those feelings and adjust our rhetoric accordingly.  It does beg for a solution for the future and though I’m not sure where or what that might entail,  a good start might be to stop doing the obvious.

Freedom of Expression (or speech) is not carte blanche without responsibility, (and unfortunately as of recent, severe consequences). I have even heard some prominent journalists remark that it’s fun to characterize others, and if it offends, tough! I don’t really get the point of that, but with the freedom we have, I hope I don’t sound too hypocritical , but I do defend that right. However, when it no longer seems like  true satire, or is totally offensive to others, where is the accountability and responsibility? What is it then?  It is becoming at minimum hate speech and at maximum racist when we continually poke our finger in the eye of the offended and refuse to let up. The point that the (in this case) satirist was trying to invoke upon the public becomes totally offensive without principle and actually becomes lost to the majority.  In my view.