Thursday, November 19, 2015


As a writer, as a community manager, and as someone who moves in many circles, and among some extraordinarily difficult people, I've been informed innumerable times about words, concepts, or references which offend someone or other.

Running Chowhound, I found offense-taking to be viral. Get people examining and broadcasting what offends them, and there will be literally no end to it. It will completely take over any discussion. It is kudzu.

But the strange thing is, though I've constantly been informed of other people's issues, hot buttons, triggers, and issues, no one has EVER asked about mine. In fact, no one's shown even the slightest interest. Isn't that odd? I've found myself commanded to fit myriad bills - cushioning, assuaging, and gingerly sidestepping a minefield of petty contention points, but my position as chai wallah to the piqued multitudes has been strictly unilateral.

Since no one's ever asked, I've never had cause to examine, much less broadcast, my own requirements for how people must discourse in my midst. Lord knows I have my preferences, but it would feel bizarre to turn those preferences into demands. Having realized all this, I've pretty much stopped giving a fuck about what offends anyone.

It sounds harsh, I know. So you'll be surprised to hear that I adhere quite closely to the yogic principle of ahimsa, or non-violence (of word and deed). I make it a top priority to at least try not to hurt anyone. Contradiction? No. The equation of umbrage with injury is ridiculous; it could arise only in a society so rich and so mild that actual injury is rare. Princesses in such places lower their thresholds to ever tinier peas of perturbation, until mere dust grains provoke howls.

Someone's issues don't need to become my issues, and it's pure narcissism to presume otherwise. What's more, as far as I can see, chronic offense-takers enjoy the friction. Why else would they make it a central preoccupation? In that light, I dutifully accept my occasional role to serve as the grist they so evidently crave.

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