Can I Offend You?

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Or in other words is offence taken or given? Most would say that offence is given. Equally, if I say something which ‘any reasonable person’ would regard as offensive, then I therefore offend ‘a reasonable person’, at least that is what most would believe, based upon the current viewpoint.

However, have I really offended that ‘reasonable person’ or has that person made a conscious decision, within their capacity to reason, that what they heard creates offence in their own mind. If that is true, then I would argue that offence is taken not given. That ‘reasonable person’ made their own personal choice about the offensive nature of the comment. They took offence!

Now I understand that many will simply say that their conscious choice to be offended was driven solely by my comment. There were no other influencers that lead to their being offended. But is that true? Where there no other drivers in their conscious decision other my words. Well yes obviously, their decision process must place my comment into some sort of contextual position. That context must be driven by their own life experiences and the acceptance of others written/spoken opinion, otherwise there is no basis upon which a decision can be made, in any reasonable fashion. And for each individual person that is a vastly different set of decision criteria.

Let’s look at it another way. In a room, full of people a comedian tells a joke. The response from people in the room will typically vary from ROTFLOL to bemused head shakes. Now the ‘intent’ of the comedian was surely to make all in the room laugh, there is no other reason for the telling of the joke. But the response is surely based on the internal capacity of each audience member to make a conscious decision to laugh or not.

In a more broader sense, I believe that I can’t make you laugh, cry, weep, rage or feel anything. Only you can make that choice. It is always your conscious choice to feel how you do. If you claim that I made you feel that way, then haven’t you given away control of your own being, haven’t you become subservient to my words? Haven’t you given away you own independence of self, belief and personal integrity?

Simply put, I believe that it’s OK for you to be offended by my words, but don’t tell me I offended you, when the decision to be offended was decided by your conscious thought processes and is therefore yours alone.

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