Several Scenarios of Unintentional Offense

-This is an unfinished blog and will be continued later

 

Some people assume that everyone who has said or done something offensive has done it out of malice and hatred but that is untrue.

I don’t say this to defend those who are hateful and malicious, because there are plenty of individuals who offend on purpose without sympathy for the person they are offending.

I am however talking about several situations in which individuals can and do offend but do it without bad intentions and these are important to be aware of before writing off individuals.

  1. Ignorance and or lack of awareness

Some people are totally unaware of social etiquette, especially when it comes to proper etiquette when it comes to different cultures, ethnic groups, religions, sexuality, genders, sexes etc.

I don’t expect many individuals to be aware of all of these things, but I do expect them to be aware of some basic things. Perhaps that expectation is too much considering that racially there are people are racially isolated in their own homogeneous communities. However with the internet, which is accessible to most people there are online testimonies, documentaries and live discussions as well as books on personal experiences of marginalized groups.

No one in this day and age can make the excuse that the information is not accessible. It is rarely taught in schools and is not something that someone will learn by default, but if someone desires to search for the information, it isn’t hard to find at all. Plenty of minorities and underprivileged groups have openly voiced their experiences.

Note that there is a difference between rational ignorance and regular ignorance. Rational ignorance is an awareness of ignorance and a complacency within ignorance. This kind of ignorance means that the individual is aware that they know nothing of the topic and will not pursue any further information on the topic. This kind of individual chooses to not know and to stay that way. Offense from an individual like that is on purpose as well.

As a minority, I know statements as arbitrary as “you people” or “those people” which I am aware is an offensive term to most Black people may be misunderstood as a whiny complaint. However it is not so much about the vocabulary being used, but rather the way and tone in which it is stated and what the statement implies. It implies that a certain group of people, being generalized and bunched into a monolith are an annoyance and a problem, and by the usual tone it’s said in, it’s stated in a way that blames, scapegoats and criminalizes an entire group as the source of a specific societal plight.

I know that there are people that hear the words, “you people” or “those people” and are baffled as to how I could come to such a vile conclusion. It is important to consider what words mean in other cultural contexts. It is also important to consider what words mean in historical contexts, hence why the N-word is still so controversial. It is important to consider what certain words would mean when said to certain individuals.

Someone has to be conscious, aware, sympathetic, empathetic, considerate and mindful to even take these things into consideration. If someone is coming from an environment that is homogeneous then chances are they have never had the necessity for these social skills in their life and would probably struggle to see why it would be necessary in the first place.

2. An individual generalizes an entire group as being comfortable with something that a friend or friends that they know are comfortable with.

3. An individual assumes that because a close person is comfortable with something that a stranger or acquaintance form that group will be also.

4. Individual who thinks something is comfortable because the other individual is from the same group.

I am Black, but I’m not comfortable with another Black person addressing me as, “Yo, whaddup mah nigga?” I am a woman, but I am not comfortable with another female addressing me as hoe, bitch or slut. I”m bisexual, but I’m honestly not comfortable with the “reclaiming” of the word queer to identify anyone in the LGBT community. Even though it can be understood that since we are from the same marginalized group that they mean no offense, I am offended by those terms, no matter who they come from and just because someone is from the same marginalized group doesn’t mean they should assume I am comfortable with certain terms or actions.

5. Sarcastic, cynical, easy going, crude, vulgar people and personality

Everyone has their own unique personality. Some people are easy going and make jokes. Some make crude jokes. Some make very vulgar jokes. Some make jokes that go over the line and there are no boundaries. Usually those jokes involve making fun of stereotypes and sensitive topics. There is no standard of what is considered ok to say and what isn’t because everyone has their own bar set to a different level. Some people say they aren’t racist because they make fun of every race, including their own. Some people will defend their comedy by saying it’s an equal insult.To me insulting everybody equally doesn’t make an insult ok.

For comedy, it’s an option to watch it. I know that. If there is comedy that offends me I don’t have to watch. With regular people however, I believe that there is an etiquette for that public that should be observed and one should be conscientious that other people may not be comfortable hearing vulgar insensitive jokes.  Certain jokes should only be told among close friends or behind closed doors. Some people see this as being fake or dishonest about true feelings, but if they are just light-hearted jokes then there’s little to no harm. I do believe in people’s right to privacy and I also believe that all jokes that are told do not reflect true feelings but can simply be done in jest.

However if an individual does truly believe the stereotypes and generalizations of the jokes that they tell, there is a deeper, underlying, psychological issue at hand.

These rules of public etiquette I feel are not and should not be required in the privacy of one’s home because one’s home is one’s sanctuary and I don’t think anyone should be required to be PC in the privacy of one’s own home.

-This is an unfinished blog and will be continued later

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