Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I’m Offended

In today’s culture, to be offended often means that someone feels emotional discomfort because of something someone said or did. It used to be that to offend meant that someone had actually done something more grave than “stepping on someone’s toes,” but such is our world. The simple truth is that we have no control over what will cause people emotional discomfort. Take our political system, for example. If I were to get up and talk about how great trickle down economics is, most of the Republicans in the room would think it was a great speech, but the Democrats would be “offended.”

So here’s the problem. If we remove the right to offend people, we remove the right to free speech. As people define it today, the Constitution of the United States guarantees a right to offend people. If we have any hope of defending our right to free speech then we must also defend the right of others to offend us. Yes, I said to offend us.

Just because someone doesn’t agree with us doesn’t mean that we have a right to silence him. Some people are “offended” when they see a cross on government property. What a thing to be offended by. It is nothing but two sticks fastened together and it isn’t hurting anyone. We Christians don’t like, people making such a big deal about this, but we need to keep in mind that while it is wrong for people to make such an issue out of a cross being on government property, it would be just as wrong for us to be “offended” at some Muslim symbol or the images of evolution showing up on government property. We have a right to believe as we think is right. We have a right to speak concerning those beliefs. But we must be careful that we do not take that to mean that we have a right not to be offended, because we don’t. The freedom of speech is a right to offend and to defend that freedom is to defend the right for others to offend us.