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Archive for April, 2012

It’s true. Nobody has the right to not be offended. All those sexist images and word choices and explanations for gender differences that women in the skeptical movement point to as offensive when they are asked why they are so mad about stuff… well, nobody promised those women that they could go through life–particularly not through life in the skeptical community–without being offended. There’s not some kind of Orwellian Freedom From guarantee going on that they’ll never have to experience unpleasantness or have their feelings hurt. It’s ridiculous to even suggest such a thing. They don’t want to be offended, well, that’s part of life. And if they choose to interpret images and statements as offensive, well, they’ve done that to themselves. They are responsible for their own reactions.

And it’s also true that the people who create the “offensive” (because offensiveness is subjective, right? so the scare quotes are necessary) content are perfectly within their rights to express themselves however they want to express themselves, and that the freedom of expression sometimes mean that people get mad, but that just because someone might be upset by what you say doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say it. I mean, fine art! And Jonathan Swift! Jonathan Swift offended all kinds of people, but he was doing important social commentary, and he’s part of the literary canon now, and if he didn’t write because he was nervous about hurting people’s feelings, well, Irish people and oppressive English people and colonialism. And maybe if you can’t handle being offended–if being offended is causing huge problems of your own making for you–you should probably just leave skepticism altogether, because thick skin and shit just got real and tensions inherent to public discourse and stuff.

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