Why do we care if we offend people?

  • Thread starter Pengwuino
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  • #26
Pengwuino
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I'm talking about practical concerns, not PC. PC seeks to avoid offence for its own sake; I"m saying that you don't call your boss a jerk, or fat, or old. You don't offend people for practical reasons, and after a while it becomes a habit. If the content of what you're saying just happens to be offensive to a minority, that's too bad unless they're potential friends, or in authority.

This goes to something I should have said. I see 3 levels of communication with people in this regard. You can either 1) speak of political correctness which is just stupidity in my views or 2) you speak in a normal, everyday, some might say "open" manner or 3) in a way that intentionally tries to make someone feel bad. For example, as was stated in an earlier post, we can look at how someone might tell a girl that they are a slut. You could 1) make note that they have a lot of guy friends or 2) that they sleep around with too many people or 3) they're a slut. It's as if people try to say something but they don't want to actually SAY IT, but they want the point to come across. Except, unless you're a moron in all honesty, you're not going to find a way to tell a person they're a slut, have the person realize you just said they're a slut, yet view you as a person who DIDN'T just call them a slut.

The first, I just don't understand. You're trying to SAY 2) but you're using weaselly language to say something in the hopes that somehow the person will hear it in a way that they'll feel better about you than if they had said it like 2). The question to me is, WHY? Has anyone ever heard 1) and did NOT imply 2)?

I also wonder another thing. I have not known of 1 person who likes political correctness. Yet, we feel we MUST be politically correct, and at the least, give a small or even reasonable effort to be political correct to the extreme. But why? Who are we trying to please? There has to be some people out there who feel better because political correctness exists in the sense that we have to almost walk on eggshells with people. Who are these people? And why do we care what they think?

Personally, I do not have any respect for people who get offended easily. To me, they are trying to live in a different world, and they demand the world be to their liking, right down to how people choose their words. It's as tasteless as if some guy decided to say that all girls need to be slim and trim so there were 'eye-candy' everywhere. To me they are practically identical, weaselly types of personalities. They want the world to be more enjoyable for them simply because that's what they want.

The fact that America seems to be the epicenter of political correctness at times seems to just laugh in the face of the ideals of a country that everyone initially imagines in their mind when they hear the phrase "freedom of speech". Sometimes I think we should change the first amendment to say "Freedom of certain speech". Someone get me a copy of Animal Farm.
 
  • #27
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I think you'd have a really good laugh watching me speak to someone. I'm not a particularly emotional person. If I unintentionally offend someone I don't react, it just doesn't bother me.

"I don't care if I offend you as long as I don't do it deliberately."

Really can't make it much clearer than that.

No offense, but you keep bringing this back to you, and how you'd act; I'm talking about people in general. The issue of easily offended people is seperate from, "why do we care if we offend people."

Answer: In the extreme, they'll kill us. In the least extreme, people we already don't like will not like us.

And everything in between. I think Pengwuino pegged three good markers on that contiuum; one that covers most situations, and I agree with his view of the people involved. None of that changes that you might want to avoid even unreasonable offense if the person you're talking to is going to sign on to a paper you wrote, or give you a loan, or a raise...
 
  • #28
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None of that changes that you might want to avoid even unreasonable offense if the person you're talking to is going to sign on to a paper you wrote, or give you a loan, or a raise...

Well they say you catch more flies with honey, you'd catch even more with manure, but im not sure how that would apply here. Sorry couldnt resist, not sure where I heard that one.

Its probably a lot to do with how you are raised too, manners and all that. I never go out of my way to offend anyone, but I much rather deal with an honest ******* than a weasely *******. "Do unto others" on a subconscious level maybe? People on the whole are nice, so I guess its expected of us to be nice.
 
  • #29
1,031
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Like most people, I don't go around insulting people. Probably, the reason is that my parents didn't do so. So for me, it's more a matter of convention than of morality. Those who do make a habit of insulting people may be suffering from a mental condition that causes it. But if not, then I imagine that they don't insulting everyone they meet. After all, you only have so many arrows in your quiver and the savvy hunter quickly learns to conserve them.
 
  • #30
2,745
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No offense, but you keep bringing this back to you, and how you'd act; I'm talking about people in general.

You're question was: "Do you care if you accidentally offend the girl you're courting?". Hence answer, about me.

As an additional, I can't speak for others, so I don't.
The issue of easily offended people is seperate from, "why do we care if we offend people."

That's what I've been saying this whole time.
Answer: In the extreme, they'll kill us. In the least extreme, people we already don't like will not like us.

What and double what?
And everything in between. I think Pengwuino pegged three good markers on that contiuum; one that covers most situations, and I agree with his view of the people involved. None of that changes that you might want to avoid even unreasonable offense if the person you're talking to is going to sign on to a paper you wrote, or give you a loan, or a raise...

Now you're adding additional factors.

Regardless, you aren't differentiating between a deliberate act and an unintentional one. I'm not going to deliberately offend you when speaking to you, but that doesn't mean I'm going to consider every little thing I say just incase it may cause you offence.

I will speak to you freely, openly and honestly. If you can't handle that then it's your problem. If you want someone to hold your hand and tell you the world smells of roses then I ain't that guy.
 
  • #31
Hepth
Gold Member
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Regardless, you aren't differentiating between a deliberate act and an unintentional one. I'm not going to deliberately offend you when speaking to you, but that doesn't mean I'm going to consider every little thing I say just incase it may cause you offence.

This is what I have a problem with. I've had this discussion before with people and it seems like a cop-out to say "I shouldn't have to watch my words as you MAY be offended/humiliated/angered/etc unintentionally." That somehow you should be treated as a child who can't watch what they say because, well, its difficult? or something?

If you have the mental capacity to think about what you say before you blurt it out, you should especially if its things that may offend others.

The things most people get offended about are not small slips or misunderstandings. They are about abuse of words that usually extend to racism/sexism/etc.

I understand (as I hope you do) that its NOT black and white. There is no LINE. If you say something about dogs and I'm offended because I was abused by dogs as a child, well, that's not your fault. If you deliberately call your friend a slur, say "F*gg*t", and my gay friend I'm with overhears, and is offended, you ARE at fault. You can't claim "Well I shouldn't have to mind what I say in public places. Thats too P.C." Thats BS>
 
  • #32
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I understand (as I hope you do) that its NOT black and white. There is no LINE. If you say something about dogs and I'm offended because I was abused by dogs as a child, well, that's not your fault. If you deliberately call your friend a slur, say "F*gg*t", and my gay friend I'm with overhears, and is offended, you ARE at fault. You can't claim "Well I shouldn't have to mind what I say in public places. Thats too P.C." Thats BS>

That's exactly what I'm talking about.

In the first part of your post you, as per Nicodemus, seem to misunderstand what I'm talking about when I say "a deliberate act".

If I'm not deliberately abusive, as per your first example it's a case of sh*t happens. It wasn't an intentional act, heck it wasn't even abusive. In your second it's being deliberately abusive (even if not directly to the person). Simple as that.

I'm curious if people understand the difference between speaking offensively - deliberately offending someone, and speaking normally (no offensive language) - and someone simply taking offence.
 
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  • #33
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The first thing I thought about when I saw this thread was

That fellow is seriously funny! Thank you! I've not seen him before.
 
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  • #34
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Okay, now, fine, but the question, as I understand it, is: why do we care if we offend people?

Preface to this: yes, yes, yes, some people seemingly live to be offended, and yes, there are political and/or socially hyper-sensitive groups who seem to define themselves by the ways in which they can be offended, and those people are beyond annoying. Yes.

But why do we care? Because we're social creatures. Because we function, largely, best in groups, as a collective. The total being greater than the sum of each individual part and all of that. And being social, we need to co-operate, so we learn skills such as tact and diplomacy in order to hone our socialising and co-operation skills.

People here are giving examples of that and how one need not be "offensive" in order to be forthright, honest, and truthful. You employ a bit of empathy and choose the words you're about to deploy in such a way as to achieve maximum effect. You don't get the best results from another human being should you behave in a way that's offensive. So you take care.

It's all about getting the maximum bang for your buck. If you want to incite conflict or disagreement, or cause someone else to feel sad or shamed, and therefore get defensive, whereby the odds are good they'll strike out at you, then go ahead, say something deliberately provocative. Or mean. Or rude. It'll work. If that's the end you'd like to achieve, it's certainly doable.

The point is is that most people don't have the time or energy or resources or drive to deal with constant conflict. Generally, the quickest means to any ends is co-operatively. Hence why we care whether or not we offend people.

And/or if we're using the word "care" in the emotional sense, then it's largely the same thing but with a larger empathetic component. We "care" in that sense because our words have caused another person some sort of psychic harm. We've inflicted pain -- deliberately or not -- and that makes an awful lot of us uncomfortable because of the empathetic angle. So we prefer not to do that.

Do I get offended? Yes, sometimes people are rude or mean or cruel and say things that just aren't fair or warranted or are just plain insulting. And that hurts. How offended I'll feel depends, of course, on how much I value that particular person and their opinions. If they don't mean a great deal to me, it's more difficult for them to harm me. I don't get riled over differing opinions or any of that sort of nonsense. I am, however, human and have feelings, and, yes, I can be hurt with words. That people care makes my world a better place.
 
  • #35
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I clearly don't understand your position jarednjames, and you seem to be missing my point that, "deliberate", counts for about as much with offending people as motive does with murder.
 
  • #36
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What is this nonsense I have been trained to believe in? Why do people get offended over anything? What does it even feel like to be offended?
It feels like you would feel as a teaching assistant if someone complained to you about their grade. It feels like any boundary you've set has been crossed without any respect for your reason for setting it as a boundary in the first place.
 
  • #37
2,745
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I clearly don't understand your position jarednjames, and you seem to be missing my point that, "deliberate", counts for about as much with offending people as motive does with murder.

1. Did you read post #32? That clarifies the difference between deliberately being offensive and unintentionally saying something.

2. Motive is a major factor in murder.

3. 'Deliberate' is also an important factor - it's one of the main reasons we distinguish between murder and manslaughter.
 
  • #38
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1. Did you read post #32? That clarifies the difference between deliberately being offensive and unintentionally saying something.

2. Motive is a major factor in murder.

3. 'Deliberate' is also an important factor - it's one of the main reasons we distinguish between murder and manslaughter.

You keep saying deliberate, but much offense given and taken is NOT deliberate. I don't see where in my posts I've been arguing that. I just said what I thought, you jumped on it, and now you're qualifying the whole argument in a way I never did. When you figure out what you're actually debating, get back to me.
 
  • #39
2,745
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You keep saying deliberate, but much offense given and taken is NOT deliberate. I don't see where in my posts I've been arguing that.

The topic is why do we care if we offend people. I only care about offending someone if I do it deliberately. If it is unintentional on my part (as per the dog example) then I simply don't care if you are offended by what I say. That's all there is to it, for me. If others care about offending someone, as per the dog example, then that's up to them. But I don't.
I just said what I thought, you jumped on it, and now you're qualifying the whole argument in a way I never did. When you figure out what you're actually debating, get back to me.

Re-read your responses, focus particularly on the response you gave to my initial reply to you (you know, the one you tried to deny saying).

I don't care very much for this back and forth any more, I have given my point, you have given multiple, conflicting points. I'm leaving it there.
 
  • #40
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You're parsing the use of "I", and "we" in the context of group identification? Take the last word, you need it.
 
  • #41
Jasongreat
Imo, offense is almost entirely out of our control at most times, since it is based on ones belief system. Unless we know the person we are talking to, there is no way to avoid offense in all cases. Even if we walk on eggshells and take political correctedness to the extreme, we could always run into someone that gets offended at that. All we can do is be the best we can be, according to our own belief system, and hope that for the majority of interactions thats good enough. That old rhyme about sticks and stones must not be taugh anymore.
 
  • #42
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Imo, offense is almost entirely out of our control at most times, since it is based on ones belief system. Unless we know the person we are talking to, there is no way to avoid offense in all cases. Even if we walk on eggshells and take political correctedness to the extreme, we could always run into someone that gets offended at that. All we can do is be the best we can be, according to our own belief system, and hope that for the majority of interactions thats good enough. That old rhyme about sticks and stones must not be taugh anymore.

Sure, with the hard lesson that our nation's "A-OK" thumb and forefinger combo is obscene in the Arab world, we have to realize that in a world of billions, we constnatly offend. If you genuinely want to have others listen to you, offending them is a very rare way to win them over. If you don't care, then you just don't care about that person, which doesn't have to be a bad thing; no right in this constitution to live free of offense, quite the opposite in fact.
 
  • #43
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1. Did you read post #32? That clarifies the difference between deliberately being offensive and unintentionally saying something.

2. Motive is a major factor in murder.

3. 'Deliberate' is also an important factor - it's one of the main reasons we distinguish between murder and manslaughter.

Is it intentional to build up an attitude of hate and/or desiring someone(s) to be dead and then claiming it was unintentional when emotions lost control and someone gets killed in a fight?

I think a similar attitude builds up in people about offending others. E.g. I knew someone who disliked green activism so much that he wanted to tune his engine to a level that dark black smoke would billow out of his tailpipe and just rev his motor to upset people with the pollution. This is maybe an extreme example, but the fact is that it's not that uncommon for backlash sentiments to build up in people where they almost wish for people to be offended, even if they don't intentionally choose to do offensive things to harass them.

Of course, the other side of it is that these people must have themselves become offended by whatever they are backlashing against to end up wanting others to get offended. So, whether intentional, semi-intentional, or unintentional, I think people build up cultures of conflict where the goal isn't so much to have a constructive debate as it is to torture others in some subtle and relatively safe way, e.g. by offending them.
 
  • #44
183
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About the only thing that offends me is something I think offends most people: Being unfairly wronged:

1. Being accused of lying/cheating/stealing when I did not.

2. Being lied to, cheated, or a victim of robbery.
 
  • #45
263
1
I'm not sure why people REALLY care about offending others... but I'm an Aspie, I view most of these social interactions from the outside anyways.

Offensive jokes are often quite hilarious, particularly when you get people to laugh at things that they think they shouldn't find funny.


It annoys me when people who know what I can do/know/understand still doubt me on those subjects, not much really offends me though, besides being tickled.
 
  • #46
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1
I'm the type of person who rarely gets offended by anything. I'm also a person who can see "how" someone can be offended over various things.

well....i can change that
 
  • #47
I'm not certain why in general we care if we offend people, but if somebody is a teacher, they can't downright say a student is stupid, or repeaditly correct them(in an apathetic "you're stupid" kind of tone") because that's giving negative feedback. You're supposed to inspire students to whatever subject your teaching, not turn them off the subject. Also, there are positive ways of telling someone they are wrong. Like, in some sort of long drawn out problem - if they only make it halfway through and do their math wrong, you're supposed to tell them that they were close, and then tell them how to do it. It's only normal for them to mess some things up if they're just learning it. People are more inclined to be passionate about your subject if they think they are not totally hopeless at it. And chances are, if they think they are hopeless, they won't even bother try - and for most people, if they try, they'll probably do fine.
I don't know about proffessors, I've heard they pretty much don't care about who you are and you sit there for an hour, then learn the lesson yourself. :\
 

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