Brigham Young once said that a person who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and that if someone takes offense when offense is intended, he is a greater fool.
And yet, it seems like every time you turn around, there is another controversy: an actress said something insensitive, a pundit used a racial slur, a singer dressed provocatively, etc.
Recently, we have seen a few scandals over various topics, including free speech, immigration, religious freedom and civil rights, and they all have one thing in common: someone is taking offense where none is intended.
On Ser Bowl Sunday, General Mills ran an ad for Cheerios that depicted a father explaining to his daughter that their family would be welcoming a new baby.
The daughter used the moment to negotiate for a ppy to go along with her new sibling.
Frankly, it was adorable, but the idiots of the world found a reason to get set: the little girl was biracial, with a black father and a white mother.
What was a cute tale that intended to see beyond antiquated racial boundaries ended dividing the intelligent ones from the meatheads who decided to get offended when no offense was intended.
Recently, Katy Perry performed at the Grammys in a routine that was instantly derided by some as being influenced by witchcraft and Satanism.
The song she performed (which I personally do not like, for the record) is about the bimodal nature of love: passion and pain in near-equal measure, and her performance reflected that. I cannot imagine that Perry intentionally designed her performance to offend Christians, yet many took offense.
And finally, who can forget Dan Cathy, founder of the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain?
Cathy, after affirming his position in defense of traditional marriage, found himself the target of untold amounts of disrespect from gays, lesbians and allies who took issue with him.
Boycotts of his restaurants were organized as the world erted into offense that the devout Southern Baptist would voice sport for the Biblical definition of marriage.
Full disclosure, I am 100 percent in favor of gay marriage and disagree with Cathy wholesale.
But the day after he said what he did, I went out and bought a chicken sandwich because I wasn’t going to let Cathy’s right of free speech stand in my way of eating the food I love.
I doubt that a Christian intended to offend 10 percent of the nation’s population with his opinion, yet people took offense.
We live in a culture of hypersensitivity, where even the most innocuous words get scrutinized and evaluated by a general public that seems desperate to find something to get set about. Political correctness is the entrée du jour, and opinions are strangled before they have a chance to be heard, all because everyone is afraid to offend someone else.
But what if we committed to stop taking offense? Years ago, in my high school English class, we were discussing book censorship, and to illustrate her point, my teacher revoked all the civility rules we made as a class.
In exchange for promising not to take offense, the class was encouraged to swear, tell racist jokes, testify of their religious beliefs and generally stop caring about what others thought. The class discussion was more real that day than it ever had been or ever would be after those common-sense rules were reinstated.
Instead of finding ourselves offended at each other’s differing opinions or standards, we found that we respected our fellow classmates more for their rawness and vulnerability.
I do not think we should revoke those unspoken rules of politeness, but it is refreshing to be real, genuine and unashamed of our opinions because we are not afraid of others’ feelings.
Instead of taking offense at every perceived (or actual) slight that others make, why don’t we give others the benefit of the doubt and assume that they did not mean any offense?
Why don’t we share with them our honest opinions, trusting them to be kind and fair in receiving those opinions? That’s the kind of world I want to live in.