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Fight speech with more speech

Updated on March 5, 2015

I'm offended

When people claim to be offended by something, it means nothing to me. Whenever I hear that statement uttered I think, "So what?" Claiming offense to something is not a valid argument against the item. If a person is "offended" by something someone says, that person should explain why they are against what is being said. Go further than using that typical superficial statement.

It's fine to start of the argument against an item by claiming to be offended, but in order to have a valid point, it's imperative to bring reasons to the forefront to explain why something is wrong. Far too often, someone says they are against what someone else is saying and expect that to be valid in itself.

And it's simply not. There needs to more depth and actual evidence put forward. This is the problem with a lot of parts of movements today. They use this "trump" card to try to get their way.

Kill converstation

One of the biggest problems with claiming to be offended by something or calling something offensive is that it often kills any conversation that could be productive. When people say that, time is taken away from the conversation to justify why something isn't offensive and it shifts the target of the conversation. And shifting the target is a poor way to argue for anything.

People kill conversations in a variety of ways. When someone says, "That's sexist!" or "That's racist!" without giving clear and well articulated reason/s why said things should be classified in that way, the conversation tends to change dramatically. Those claims are used as if using them by themselves are a viable arguments, and, obviously, they are not.

Most people often dont' simply say something is racist, sexist, etc. and leave it at that, sometimes they do, but they often will provide inadequate explanations for why they classify an image, video, subject, etc. as what they think it is.

An example would be, "That's sexist because the woman is being subjugated by the man." In my hyptholetidaql example, this could very well be true, but this kind of "explanation" is not truly an explanation of anything. Something like this would imply that any subjugation of women by a man is inherently sexist, which is obviously not the case. There needs to be evidence to why this particular case falls into that category and why it is bad or wrong.

This kind of example can be applied to many different situations. I'm sure many of you have heard similar claims for various things that would fall into that kind of sample example that I provided above. A statement like my example is nonsensical by itself because it doesn't provide any reason or evidence to go along with its claim.

If someone is going to make that kind of claim, it needs to be followed up with evidence and/or logic.

You don't have the right to not be offended

One of the greatest parts of freedom of speech is that it allows people to have just that, the freedom to express themselves. There are things that can limit this freedom. The freedom of expression should never be absolute. It should only limited in very limited situations.

An example would be slander and another would be a direct threat on someone. I'm sure there are some other very limited scenarios that would related to these general examples, but essentially, as long as no one is put in danger, then that speech is fine. But that is all separate from the argument from offense.

Charlie Hebdo has the absolute right to mock religion in anyway they see fit and to do it in any way they want. People getting offended is one of the worst reasons for them to not publish what they publish. Nobody has the right to not be offended by other's speech.

What's even worse than people simply claiming to be offended by the cartoons is when there are claims that the magazine provoked the attacks by what they published. That they are somehow partially responsible for the shootings.

The explanation for the attacks is simply because of the religion of Islam and the violent things that are promoted within the holy books of its faith. Charlie Hebdo's images did not cause the attacks to happen, the violent religion that was offended by images was the cause.

Charlie Hebdo has the right to offend people while also possessing, simultaneously, the right to not be attacked or held responsible for being attacked. It's very similar to blaming a woman who dresses a certain way for being part of the reason she was raped.

"Offense" is subjective

The offensive nature of something is completely subjective to the individual viewing the material. Even if every single person viewed something as being offensive, this would still hold true.

Materials that are offensive are critical to have because unpopular ideas are often important ones to be discussed in society. This creates an open marketplace for ideas and a way for ideas to be rejected, accepted, or changed because ideas themselves won't be limited.

Having freedom for media like Charlie Hebdo is just as important as having freedom for groups like the westboro baptist church. Because without the freedom of expression, that is protected from violent repercussions, their ideas can be attacked with counter arguments and ideas. Not violence.

I would be hard pressed to find someone that is for what the westboro baptist church does. Most people find what they do disgusting and, yes, offensive, but they shouldn't be silenced or not given the ability to freely express themselves. Most people have no issue explaining why they are offensive and many people have explained why they are. And they have lost in the marketplace of ideas.

Even though, they have the freedom to express themselves, their ideas haven't spread. This is because people have rejected them. There isn't a need to suppress them in any sort of way because their ideas suppress the people who hold them by themselves.

People used to think gay marriage or gay people, in general, was an offensives subject, but now the majority of people are pro-gay marriage and, in turn, pro-gay people. If people were able to suppress the ideas about gay people because it offended their ancient, tribal belief then the United States could very well be even further behind gay equality than they already are.

So this "offense" is essential to promote the positive ideas as well as to dissuade people from the negative ones.

So let's change this

This is a phenomenon that very well may never change, but it is something that people can recognize and point out. And when it is pointed out, they can call out the person making the weak argument and attempt to get them to make a more valid case for their viewpoint. Because doing that will help people on both sides of the argument. Ideas will be able to be heard out and challenged on a more intellectual level and not on an superficial and emotional one.

Even though it may never change, it will for sure never change if credence is given to people who make these kind of weak arguments. When people words' are given power when they are not backed by evidence, they are given the ability to make changes based on those words that they should never have.

I much rather listen to a person or group of people that base their arguments on evidence and logic and not on weak emotional ones. Those are the people that deserve to be listened to and have the ideas evaluated.


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