Pat Condell skewers the easily offended, using as his example an Irish fellow who won a settlement because his feelings were hurt…by a joke:
The is one of the many unintended consequences of the multi-culti dogma which the preachers of eternal tolerance have foisted off on us.
There’s a link at the video to The Spectator, and the original story, a plaintive essay by Douglas Murray. In “Why Can’t Anyone Take a Joke Anymore?” he recounts the horrors in his sad tale of intimidation by ankle-biters who made his life miserable for months. All because he was flip about that stupid Irish ‘joke’. Even the Irish Embassy got involved.
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More and more special-interest groups are demanding more and more acquiescence or silence in relation to their agendas. And as a result there are now certain subjects which you are simply better off not writing about. Anything to do with race, religion or sexuality you’re better off out of. What carries the day is the extent to which someone can claim to have had their feelings upset. When it happens to you, you finally realise why so many journalists spend their lives taking celebrities seriously. It’s easier, and people who love the limelight are less likely to complain.
I can see his point, and that of Mr. Condell. The key here is “more and more interest groups”…they breed faster than flies from maggots, these “special interest groups”. They wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the EU’s bureaucratic mechanisms for punishing hate speech. We don’t have that here yet, and as a counterbalance, we still have remnants of a robust, ornery Anglo Saxon impatience with flapdoodles like this.
Sure, the press can spend lots of time making itself ever more irrelevant over such dust-ups, but do average Americans take them seriously? Look at the balance sheets for these news outlets; their bottom lines tell the tale.
Andrew Klavan, in a recent City Journal essay, took a quick look at the subject as it pertains to Islamophobes (that’s you and me, kid):
One of the cleverest tricks of the cultural Left is demonizing perfectly reasonable actions and opinions by giving them sinister names. It is the logical go-to technique for those whose ideas have failed in every practical application but who nonetheless still dominate the media by which ideas are spread.
A favorite example of mine is the old feminist declaration that men “objectify” women when they respond to female beauty as nature decrees. This particular reframing was not successful over the long term for the same reason that health scares involving coffee have never caught on: no one was willing to give up the stimulant…
Fortunately, that one is slowly dying out everywhere but in the academic ghettoes like Harvard. Yes, for the elites it is a pressure point, but not for real people. Does “sexism” exist? Sure. And it cuts both ways.
Klavan points to the latest absurdity as it concerns objections to the Ground Zero Mosque (only he called it, in quotes, a triumphalist “Muslim Cultural Center”):
Rather than engage in serious debate with the vast majority of New Yorkers and Americans who oppose the project, the mosque’s defenders have simply dubbed the opposing viewpoint “Islamophobia.” As ever when this naming device is used, the left-wing media seem to rally as one. Within the space of a single week, Time put the word on its cover, Maureen Dowd accused the entire nation of it in her column, and CBS News trotted out the charge in reporting on mosque opposition.
For anyone born with the gift of laughter, the term is absurd to the point of hilarity. A phobia, after all, is an irrational fear. Given that Islam is cancerous with violence in virtually every corner of the globe, given the oppressive and exclusionary nature of many Islamic governments, given the insidious Islamist inroads against long-held freedoms in western Europe, and given those aspects of sharia that seem, to an outsider at least, to prohibit democracy, free speech, and the fair treatment of the female half of our species, those who love peace and liberty would, in fact, be irrational not to harbor at least a measure of concern.
What Mr. Klavan doesn’t realize is that much of the little corner of the blogosphere that concerns itself with Islam’s “exclusionary nature” long ago appropriated the label “Islamophobe” (and proud of it) for our own.
The media are not creative; they heard the word and thought it meant something, not understanding that it was an inside joke. So they grabbed it as a handy weapon. Too bad for them it’s a rubber sword.
The same thing has been happening across the conservative groupings as they incorporate the word “Racist” into their persona, turning it into an Elmer Fuddian “Waaycist!”. The Left used it too often and too loosely for the word to have much punch anymore. Now it works as a scary label only within the realms of the Left; they have no idea that most everyone else quit worrying about it. Bigots abound, and they always have. In fact, some of the most reactive bigots going can be found within the ranks of the Left, which may be why they have to do so much heavy lifting and projecting? Ah, so many groups for them to look down on, so little time in which to condescend.
Mr. Murray says he found a disturbing phenomenon, and it’s one that you can see on college campuses here:
But there was also a presumption – and the younger the interviewer the more prevalent it was – that there must be, there had to be, something in place in society that stopped people having to face the risk of having their feelings insulted. Particularly if it had something – anything – to do with their ethnic heritage, religion or sexuality.
Perhaps that perverted idealism – perverted, that is, by the multi-culti dogma young people are fed by their government schools – is outgrown eventually. At least if you leave the environs of academia, government, etc., and live in the real world.
My own reaction to this is fairly robust. Being offended, and learning to deal with it, is part of being a grown-up in a grown-up society. I get offended every time I walk down the street. I’m offended by very fat people, I’m offended by flashy people. I’m offended by Channel 4 News. Most of all I’m offended by super-sensitive people who think that they’re the only ones in the world with feelings. Yet I don’t try to get any of these things banned because I know that it’s not the state’s job to punish people just because they annoy me.
An increasing number of us appear to think differently. I suppose we should have seen this coming. After all, if government is meant to provide everything else in your life, why shouldn’t it be expected to police your feelings as well? It is a logical end-point of the welfare state. But it signals the breakdown of normal working society.
Indeed. That is why we will instinctively fight off the nanny state as long as possible, even if it makes life insecure, or puts “security” below the freedom to talk out loud.
Here at Gates of Vienna, we remember well the feel of that Leftist boot for our purported Waaycism. Most of you know the story, but for newer readers (those who wandered in after the Spring of 2008) the incident is here. Being kicked out of the fold wasn’t pleasant, but it sure was freeing. Without that experience we wouldn’t be have developed the network which exists now, and we’d never have known the abiding generosity of our donors. After two-and-a-half years, I am still awed by such openhanded giving.
Hat tip: Zenster