This column will probably offend you

Dennis Warden

Comedian Don Rickles (May 8, 1926 – April 6, 2017)  made his living by offending others. He was considered “the insult comedian.” In fact, it was a compliment to be offended by him. If he were still alive he would probably think most people today are too thin skinned.

It’s seems to me that almost  everyone is offended by something. (I nearly said everyone, but then I remembered that it offends me when someone makes a statement that generalizes everyone into a specific category.)

What offends me is all the people who are offended about much of nothing. This tells me our society has too much time. Those who work 12 to 16 hours a day and are worried about paying their bills don’t complain about such trivial things —  read a farmer, or a single parent with two jobs.

You see it in the news all the time where people are offended about a red hat, the slogan on someone’s shirt or even the wording on the back of a coat. Really I don’t care what your hat, shirt or coat says.

Children in college are offended by someone else’s speech. So they need a safe zone. I call them children because an adult would not be offended. I hope that offends some people.

For several years now people have been offended by the names of various sports teams and their mascots.

This past week I found three unrelated  instances  that caught my eye.

First scenario: “Times Square billboard for ‘appetite suppressant’ lollipops slammed by actress, Twitter users.”

Everything about this billboard seemed to offend someone. It was pink, it included a picture of a young girl. It promoted having a flat tummy.

I thought America had an overweight problem. Some on Twitter wondered how they could best petition the billboard company for its removal.

Scenario number two: “Migraine post taking over instagram getting back lash on social media.” A story I read explained the controversy this way: “The pose, given its name by makeup artist Nam Vo, “involves posing with one or two hands pulling your face up by your temples as if you had a, well, migraine…The pose tightens the face, makes your cheekbones look more prominent, and lifts the brows.” 

Of course this trend is offensive to people that have migraines. It just doesn’t have the same ring when you say “pushing your temples back pose.”

Scenario number three: “University Wyoming’s Cowboy slogan rustles up some controversy.” Their slogan that caused all the controversy, “The world needs more cowboys.” To me, this is innocent enough. Taken in the context of the university and its mascot, a cowboy riding a bucking horse, it’s promoting the university and all of its graduates (white, black, Asian, male and female, etc).

Of course the slogan offends anyone who is not a white male. Never mind that the first cowboys were Mexican and that there were many famous black cowboys. According to the Smithsonian, one in four cowboys was black. Don’t believe me? Do some research.

Two of the three scenarios involved advertising which I am very familiar with. Images used in a  national campaign represent the type of  person the company expects will use their product. The reason the Times Square billboard ad did not use a 55-year-old man was because he wasn’t considered a good customer for their product.

National ad campaigns can cost their clients millions of dollars. They are usually tested by focus groups to get feedback to understand its ability to sell the product. I guess they aren’t doing enough studies to make sure the campaign doesn’t offend anyone.

It takes two people for someone to be offended — one person to give offense, another to take offense. But for every one of these examples no one was trying to offend anyone. In fact, on the two advertising examples, they definitely do NOT want to offend anyone.

Being offended is a choice. I choose not to be offended by what I consider trivial things. All of us have control over how we react to our surroundings and to the degree we allow others to affect us.

In my opinion, being offended takes too much time and energy. It can make a person angry and I don’t want to be angry. I would rather be happy.

Maybe this column has offended you, but I hope it has made you think about all the stupid things people complain about.

What ever happened to the philosophy of “live and let live?”