Monday, August 28, 2006


Another Question

What gives me the right to be offended?

Why and for what reason, am I granted the privilege of being offended by anyone's comments or statements?

No matter how harsh or destructive the individual's action, what gives me that right?

What do you mean by "right" to be offended?

I've always taken "offense" to be an emotional responce. People sometimes choose to vocalize that responce, but even if they don't, it doesn't mean they don't experience it.

But I am not sure where rights language comes in.
It seems that in modern day language, an individual has a certain "right" to not be offended. Although there is a great deal of leeway in this particular observation, there still seems to be a lot of control over media outlets such as television, radio, and newspapers and magazines (traditional mediums). I think this privilege has allowed for opening the doors to community and state-based regulation on what is "proper" or "appropriate" language, pictures, video, and even behavior and attire.

One could state that public provision of these outlets 'authorizes' this control, but legislation goes far beyond the "public" airwaves.

Okay, so getting back to my earlier statement. What gives anyone the "right" or privilege to not be offended?

Student, I am not sure I understand your middle paragraph. I am not claiming that someone does not feel offended. I am saying that individuals some how take offense to someone else's actions, statements, or behavior, and I am trying to figure out where that falls into. What right is it of our own, to be offended by the actions of another individual?

Is it some externality of social interaction?

I suppose this is kinda confusing, but I am wondering where taking offense for someone else's actions, behaviors, or statements falls for each individual. Is it beyond ourselves? Is it our problem? Or theirs?

Who ought to be compensated? Is it a "rights" or "property" problem? Or an alleged market failure?

Should one individual who takes great offense to some one thing outweight the actions, behaviors, and statements of another (or group of others)? This could be in terms of a utilitarian approach or even an economic policy matter using CBA.
I'm offended by this posting, not because I should, but because I can.

Granted, I'm not even going to answer your question Chris, I do find this whole idea of people being offended to be rather annoying. I find that most people who are offended by something tend to make sure everyone knows that they're offended (as if they can influence others by sharing with others what offends them). I think most are offended and make others aware of that as a matter of obtaining attention from others. For instance, South Park is a good example of something that offends many. For a while you couldn't help but hearing people bashing a show which, odds are a person had never watched yet they were outright offended by such horrible language. Boo hoo...Fortunately now all of those idiots who hated South Park have been shut up as South Park rolls out season 10.

Either way, I find that being offended by something tends to be the result of someone being exposed to an idea, concept, or some form of communication which they are not familiar with and their being offended is usually communicated back to a group of people they can identify themselves with almost to obtain approval of what is offensive, and possibly to get a larger group to support going against what offends them.

Personally, I'm offended by the fact that so many are offended for various reasons. I know I'm being a hypocrite, but hey, everyone has to find themselves being offended with something, so I'm just giving into peer pressure.

Sorry for getting off topic....I'm not sure what exactly gives us a right or reason to be offended.
"Offense" has been watered down. To be offensive an action or statement will encroach upon the recipient. To spit on someone is offensive. To play your music too loudly is offensive. To curse at someone is offensive.

If a group of individuals agrees on a set of societal norms, or "etiquette," to behave outside that set of norms within that group is offensive because it is a breach of contract.

When someone acts discourteously in the presence of someone who is attentive to manners the mannerly will often be offended, and make a point of breaking off association with the "rude" person. This is within the realm of freedom of association.

What no one has is the right to be associated with.

We all have the right to be offended by whomever we wish, whenever we wish, for whatever reason. What none of us has is a right to impose a set of manners upon someone else, or a right to associate with someone else without their consent.

So, go ahead, be offended, be offensive. Just recognize that associations are a scarce resource, like everything else, and you must work to earn them.

Conservatism tends to assume that certain societal norms ought to be enforced by government, or they may be lost. I'd have to argue that "good manners" are a form of capital, best promoted as such, and any attempt to impose them on the uncouth introduces static into the market for associating with mannerly individuals.

How can "society" have a contract with itself?

Where is this contract? What does it look like?

I don't remember signing it...
Neither did I. I'm saying it is voluntary to act mannerly, but to choose not to has a high opportunity cost, probably resulting in economic losses.

We have freedom of association, but actual associations can perhaps be best viewed as forms of capital, requiring differing levels of minimum investment, and paying various dividends
The bottom line is to not get offended when someone else takes offense, just walk away from the association.

The other day at Goodberry's an older couple walked up with a little boy in tow. "How old is your grandson?" I asked. "He's our son," was the flat response. "Oh, sorry." "You should be, it is very offensive. You should be more careful what you say."

The result: I feel stupid, they look uptight, and all the other customers chuckle quitely to themselves.
Was their taking offense worth it? Maybe not, depending on the potential value association with me might have added to their lives.
Would it have paid for me to take offense at them in return, "Well, Ididn't know, you don't have to be uptight about it!" No... I would potentially lose any associations with the surrounding customers, and who knows what might end up in my concrete?
Do either of us have the right to take offense? Sure. As you say, I haven't signed any contract to be nice. But many people consider not being a jerk as a tacit condition to entering into association.

Rights language doesn't serve the discussion well.
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