One argument I see quite often is the “Just because you’re offended, it doesn’t mean that you’re right!” Which is a true and fair point. Having said that, it should equally be remembered that just because you’re offensive, it doesn’t mean you’re right either. There’s a common attitude that “the truth hurts” and in some cases, yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean that the person who is presenting the most hurtful argument is the person who is right and nor does it mean that the person with the least hurtful argument is being too idealistic.
It’s just something that I have wanted to articulate for a while, because I see “just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right” come up so often and, really, it’s quite a worthless statement. It has about as much depth as “just because your hair is brown, doesn’t mean you’re right” or, in fact, perhaps it has even less depth than that. In a debate on any subject between two people, I think it’s quite fair to say that the person who’s wrong is more likely to have an argument that’s offensive. A level of offensiveness is a sort of warning sign that what they’re saying might be wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes people do become self-righteous and believe that their being offended means that they’ve got the moral high ground. For example “Seeing gay people on the television is offensive to my religious beliefs, so they should not be allowed on television” is a clear example of the person feeling offense being in the wrong. Equally, however, somebody might say “Gay marriage shouldn’t be legal, because homosexual relationships are just based on sex and there’s no real love behind it, like there is with heterosexual couples” and a lot of people would be, rightly, offended by that – the offense stemming from something that’s completely wrong.
It’s always important to assess why somebody is offended by something. If they’re offended because they (or another group of people) are being unfairly dehumanised, then their feelings of offense are absolutely justified. If they’re offended because they personally aren’t comfortable with certain hard facts about life, then they are not justified. Some people seem to think that if a person becomes emotional in a debate, then they need to be dismissed – but often offense, and other emotions, are bound to run high and (when it comes to certain subject matter) you’d have to be very detached for your emotions not to be affected.
(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)