"Being offended" is in such vogue these days. It is either the basis for or the dominant element in most major news stories. "Offense" is a kind of fuel that keeps the fire of "righteousness" alive. And "righteousness" is crucial to news stories, it is what gives them urgency and relevance—it is what makes the story a big deal.While I certainly appreciate Mr. Pelicano's sentiment, wasn't this also basically the preferred response by the Clinton team to the bimbo eruptions?
But, not all offenses are created equal. There are mortal offenses, venial offenses, and even phony offenses. It is important to know how to tell the difference between them. To do so, we cannot just rely on the ardor of the "offended" to show us the gravity (or even reality) of the "offense." No one is more prone to exaggeration than a person who has been "offended." And the one who screams the loudest is not necessarily the most wronged—they may just have the biggest mouth.
To ascertain the truth one must look for the truth. Some real effort must be made to find the third side to every offense—to find the substance of genuine offense beyond the relativism of personal indignation of what "he said" and what "she said." But alas, this sort of investigating and reporting falls outside the limits of sound bite journalism. In fact, sound bite journalism was invented because substance no longer really matters, and "being offended" is really just for effect anyhow. It is a garment, an article of clothing that provides the appearance of "righteousness" intended to make the story or the issue appear more important than it really is.
As long as this is the case, I hope more and more people will respond to the endless stream of people "being offended" by saying ... "Big deal!"
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Chris Pelicano from Catholic Culture: