The Art of Being Offended: Part One

Our Victim Culture

The victim culture in this country has been turning out countless numbers of indignant sufferers who can cry out their personal brand of injustice with the convincing wail of a child that dropped their ice cream scoop onto the sidewalk. These martyrs have gotten so good that they could start their own professional league. It’s practically a spectator sport as it is.

You hardly ever know in advance who you’re going to offend or the reason why. Then suddenly someone leaps out, having identified their target of opportunity, and then delivers their war cry: “That’s offensive!” And for some reason it’s become mandatory that you immediately cease and desist whatever activity set off this self-righteous victim into such an indignant rage.

It’s difficult to predict what words or images will injure the chronically ultrasensitive. But it doesn’t matter. This has nothing to do with hurt feelings. The offended victim card is played exclusively to elevate a person to a special status where they can control the conversation of some pet political agenda. Your part in this politically correct dance is to shut up and award them with whatever concessions they demand. And it’s all been calculated in advance before a word has even been said.

These are crocodile tears of the first order. And all of it is the learned behavior of a society that’s become severely infantilized. Americans have discovered that if you cry loud and long enough, you get your way. Political action now includes public tantrums of outrage over people who have done nothing but use words, think ideas, or displayed symbols that have been blacklisted by the righteously indignant. In his novel 1984, George Orwell had a name for it: Thoughtcrime.

Let’s take a look at the offenses of some recent thought criminals. Former NBA team owner Donald Sterling was forced by the NBA to sell his team after a private conversation was made public that some considered racist. His remarks were intended for no one other than his girlfriend, but once the public heard the recording, his crime was exposed for all to hear. In the court of public opinion, his words reflected racist thoughts for which he’d have to be punished. More recently, World Wrestling Entertainment fired former wrestler Hulk Hogan after a 2008 audio tape surfaced that contained racially charged language.

In both cases, the private conversations of Sterling and Hogan were evidence that they harbored racist thoughts. Yet neither committed a statutory crime nor did they even imply that one had been committed. So what was there offense? What did they do? Nothing. But it’s not their deeds for which they’ve been penalized. It’s their thoughts behind the deed that got them into trouble.

We already prosecute criminals for a particular brand of thoughtcrime known as a hate crime. Judges have additional latitude when prosecuting and sentencing criminals based on what the court believes a defendant was thinking during the committing of a crime. The mere suspicion that one might have been holding hateful thoughts can add time to your sentence. How long will it be until legislators are given the same power that we’ve given the courts to penalize those who have entered that forbidden zone of unacceptable thoughts? Hey, look around, it’s already happening.

The term political correctness is no longer adequate to describe this severe tactic of thought enforcement. I prefer the term “Intellectual totalitarianism.” But whatever you want to call it, it’s widely practiced everywhere. The media, the arts, our universities and schools, as well as our government on all levels, nowhere can you escape the ever-diligent eyes and ears of the American thought police. They will find you. And when they do, they will demand that you cease and desist. No longer is the realm of your own mind yours to do as you please.

Let’s say that I just had a racist thought. At what point does is become a crime? If I whisper it to someone and another overhears? If I write it in a private journal that gets stolen and then published? The results of a lie detector test are made public? I contend that in the minds of many a crime has already been committed. As it is now, unspoken thoughts are insufficient evidence to prosecute a thoughtcrime. But give it time. We haven’t heard from the mind readers lobby yet.

There isn’t an act or gesture too petty, no subject too trivial that escapes the righteously indignant eye of the thoughtcrime police. And there’s no limit to the lengths they’ll go to keep us quiet and compliant. That they’ve been phenomenally successful thus far should give us grave concern. But be careful and try not to think about it too loudly.

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