Monday, February 12, 2007

The Right to Be Offended

The whole Snickers Superbowl fiasco has brought to the forefront a fascinating topic: the dynamics between those who offend, those who are offended, and those in neither group who weigh in with their own opinion of who should or should not be offended and why.

I'm not a person who's easily offended. The major reason for that is that I don't really belong to any group that typically deals with offense. I'm male, I'm white, I'm heterosexual, and I'm Protestant but not overtly religious. That's a lot of majorities. I count myself pretty damn lucky, because I don't know what it feels like to be a victim of discrimination, stereotyping or bigotry.

So when someone who does belong to a minority of some kind claims to be offended by something else, I can do my damnest to put myself in his/her shoes and try to imagine if I would be offended in that circumstance, but it is absolutely pointless.

I have no idea. I can't . I have no point of reference; not only can I not walk a mile in their shoes, I can't even fit them on my feet.

I find it amusing, then, that so many people think they do have that ability. It takes a lot of audacity for a heterosexual to tell someone, "You're gay. That Snickers commercial was insulting you, so you should be offended."

And it's just as audacious for a heterosexual to tell someone, "You might be gay, but there was nothing wrong with that commercial and you shouldn't be offended."

I fully admit that my first reaction, upon hearing about the Snickers thing, was to think the groups protesting the spot were being oversensitive. I thought it was pretty funny myself. But you know, once again I tried to put myself in the other shoes and stopped. They still don't fit. I still don't know.

Who am I to tell them whether or not they should be offended?


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