Everything will offend someone, sometime.
In this age of offense, where when one person offends another, the offender often ends up having to do a lot of backpedaling and quick talking, or hire an attorney because some over-zealous millennial wants to make the news.
Take the latest offending word to make the news: MAN.
As in “human”, or “mankind”. Our media wants to stir the pot and say that liberals are calling for this word to be stricken from our vocabulary, but really, it isn’t liberals. It’s not Democrats. It’s not even feminists. It’s one outspoken woman who happens to find the word “man” offensive.
And that’s how it works now, isn’t it? When someone finds something offensive, they attempt to rally supporters who will help them remove the offending item, be it a sign, a song, or even a word from our vocabulary.
The word MAN is not offensive.
Man is our race, as in the human race. It encompasses men AND women, adults AND children. Stirring up a pot like this does nothing more than make you look foolish in front of the entire country. Even Purdue University has updated its writing guidelines to discourage “gender-biased language” based on this premise that “man” is biased. Terms like “police officer” rather than “policeman” have already been in use for years. They do recommend we use the word “humanity” over “mankind” though.
I’m not sure how different the one is over the other.
But the offenses continue to pile up, and those bent on forcing the issues are becoming louder. The current generation of 20-somethings, who got trophies they did not earn and reassurances that weren’t needed throughout their entire growing up years are now leading these fights. The self-esteem movement of the ’90’s- 2000’s kicked off this party.
I’m not talking about things that are truly offensive, like racist language in older literary works. I find those racist writings hard to swallow, but that doesn’t negate the importance of reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin or To Kill a Mockingbird or even Mark Twain’s writings. These things are part of our sad history. It’s okay to be uncomfortable or even embarrassed or horrified by things our ancestors did but we cannot remove them simply because they make one uncomfortable. Humans are fallible. They make mistakes. They take on beliefs that, later on, are realized to be wrong.
Today these conflicts are played out in the media on every outlet, from television and radio to Facebook and Twitter and the MSN homepage. This generation is passively active, preferring media over other more physical outlets. They aren’t joining the military or the police forces. They aren’t becoming doctors or nurses. They’re just taking their entitled selves to the media and making noise.
I find that offensive but I also recognize their right to free speech, because it’s a free country.
Let’s try being offended by things that actually matter and do something about those.
Need some ideas? Start with health care, accessible services for special needs families, or encouraging high school students to go into trades they can actually earn a living at instead of pushing college for all. Let’s investigate more education choices for K-12, keeping our National Parks open for everyone.