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Being offended: What does it REALLY mean?

Inspired by a comment on another post that I read recently:

I get a chuckle out of it almost every time I see someone trumpeting about how something is offensive to them and they get triggered by it.

"That person offended me."

"That movie/song/book is offensive."

"That person's clothes (or lack thereof) are offensive."

My perspective is that if you are offended, then you lack the strength of character to prevent another person from controlling your emotions for you.

If something offends you, look the other way. We are in control of the way we point our eyes and ears, so DO something other than bitching about it. Walk away. Do something or surround yourself with things that don't offend you. If you're offended, take control of your life and emotions and focus on YOUR life instead of what you don't like about others, and watch how quickly things improve.

Meep70 7 Apr 16

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Being offended by something is far more than an emotional state. It can very literally be a survival instinct. If someone says something offensive to you, it is a social cue that they are (at least potentially) hostile towards you. Offense is not an issue of over sensitivity, it’s an activation of flight-or-flight. I’ll give you two examples:

  1. Nigger (I use the word unedited with intent). You might think that black people are simply letting racists idiots control their emotions with that word, but I would argue that that would be a failure on your part to apply context. When you understand that for generations of black people, that was very literally the last word they heard before they died and indeed, there are still places today where that’s the case, the word has a much different connotation.
  2. Rape Jokes. Plenty of people -mostly guys- think people that are offended by rape jokes are just hyper-emotional, but think about this; if you’re the kind of person who thinks rape is nothing to take seriously, then can I trust you to come to my aid if I am the victim of rape? Can I trust you not to do the raping?
    Offense almost universally comes with an unbalanced power dynamic and history of abuse on one side and victimization on the other. Anyone who equates offense with over sensitivity is advertising pretty clearly what side of that line they reside on.

I’ll also add that being offended by things that don’t directly threaten you (something racist you might see on tv for example) happens because you’re forced to realize that society as a whole is on some level hostile toward you.

Excellent point and thanks for your perspective. For most intents and purposes, I still stand by my original post, BUT with the realization that I was ignoring and/or overlooking exceptions.

The N word is getting personal, belittling someone which is a bit different to taking offence. It really comes down to context.
Humour should have no boundaries, nothing is sacred. If a rape joke offends it is most likely because it is a crap joke and not funny. Humour is an expressive art and art is meant to confront so nothing should be off limits. I really hate pedophiles but a funny joke I have heard is "My grandad taught me to masterbate. He said I was getting so good at it I could do it to myself soon." Now jokes like this are bad taste and apologies to any this actually happened to but I would rather comedians push boundaries than tip toe around, hoping not to cause offence. Another example from the late, great Robin Williams. When asked by the German media why he thought there was no funny German comedians he replied "Maybe you killed them all". Good comedy confronts and like all art forms, some love it and some find it distasteful but it is important not to censor art.

@powder I disagree with your premise. Comedy (and art in general) does have boundaries. Now mind you, I have no desire to codify any set of rules. The boundaries are natural (for the most part). Bad taste isn’t a rule, so much as that cringy feeling you get when something misses the entertainment mark and instead sets off the gross/taboo alarm. There are exceptions of course (reality tv unfortunately comes to mind) but I digress.
The pedophile joke falls into this category because no one wants to imagine a child being abused in this manner. The Robin Williams joke, while controversial, avoids it because it’s punching up. It’s the reason why black comedians can do race comedy (in America) a lot more readily and successfully than, say white comedians. BTW, if I use race relations a lot in these arguements, it’s because it’s where I have the most experience and thereby the most “authority” to speak on the topic.
As a counter argument, I would say that those decrying PC culture are the most sensitive and unecesarrily offended group of all. ESPEEEEEEEECIALLY comics. clears throat, assumes whiney voice “Why can’t I say what I want? Why must there be consequences? It’s a free country! First Ammendment!” whinier voice “Why aren’t you laughing at my jokes!? They’re so OBVIOUSLLY funny! You know what? You’re just a bunch of whiney liberals!”
In what other context can a comic complain about people not finding their jokes funny and not be ridiculed into oblivion? Get better jokes! Step up or step off. Just saying.

To me offence is a very personal thing and being offended on behalf of a group is bollocks. If I can emphasise, belittling people or inciting hatred or violence, encouraging discrimination against a group is a different matter. Offence is personal. Defending a group from discrimination or hate speech is totally different, which is where I think you are coming from and I agree with you there
I am sure any comedian will tell you that even the best joke will not please 100% of the audience. People are too individual, comedy is an art form and art is subjective.


I disagree.
As a white, cis hetero male you are rolling in white male privilege, so likely don't face many challenges, but if you are a black, Muslim, female, Latino, in the LGBTQ community, etc., you will quickly find out how cruel and insulting people can be.
YES, people can be triggered.
You just haven't experienced it, so don't get it.

It's like telling Jews to "get over" the Holocaust, telling black people to "obey the police" and they won't get shot, telling women they bring sexual assault on themselves by wearing sexy clothing, or telling a LGBTQ person "be hetero" if they don't want to be attacked.

You assume quite a bit by applying labels, but I see where you are coming from. Read the comment that @ghettophilosopher made, below.

I don't see how the statement "telling black people to "obey the police" and they won't get shot" is of the same level as the rest of the examples you presented.
I'm not trying to snide or a smart-ass, I simply don't understand. Other than singling out one race it seems to be common sense. Does it have to do with profiling or abuse by the police or something like that? Please give me your view on that.

@MacTavish seen any of the Multiple videos of unarmed, laying-on-the-ground harmless black men being shot by a barrage of bullets lately? I have, and her comment, sadly is dead-on. You need to look around you!

@AnneWimsey I said I didn't understand how her comment was of the same level as the others, and politely asked for peoples views to help me understand. I asked to informed so I can make a better connection to her statement. Yes I have seen those videos you refer to and I have seen videos where the victim didn't do as he was told to by police and acted aggressively.
There are too many police shootings of everyone no matter their color, it seems to be systemic in the cop culture, bullies with guns. Why don't they use tasers or other non-lethal means.
I asked for an explanation, things may be more obvious to you than me. I didn't ask for a smart ass, pissy reply.

@MacTavish Make a post singling out black treatment and trying to minimize it...yes there are iffy situations but even One malice-filled unnecessary shooting is Way too many...and I will happily be in your face. Snarky, "pissy" and nasty, just like your oh-so-innocent query.

@AnneWimsey My question was an attempt to understand why "telling black people to "obey the police" and they won't get shot" is offensive. So far you seem to want to attack because you have hidden knowledge and understanding you are unwilling to share. You want to jump on me for asking a question? How about providing an answer? Why is her statement offensive?
Don't put words in my mouth and don't spin my questions to fit your agenda. It was a simple question (that's ALL it was) because I don't know, I'm trying to get info so I can see why it is offensive. It's called learning. If you don't know you ask.

@MacTavish Are you serious? You don't know about all the innocent black people, of all ages, gunned down in their own yards by the police? Even children. Wow. You sound alt-right.

@birdingnut No I never heard of it or read about it or saw it on TV. Is this a new phenomena that is recently occurring? (That's called sarcasm).
I guess I'll see if I can contact one of my college professors and ask her (she happens to be black) at least I can get a straight answer unlike here. You guys want to toss around accusations and try to show others what a brave and heroic person you are by belittling a question. Who are you trying to convince, the world or yourself? Y'all can't answer a simple question yet you crusade the cause and say "I don't like his question therefore he must be an enemy.". Perhaps you don't know the answer so you resort to other means.
Do you know (off the top of your head) the torque spec and sequence for tightening a head on a 1975 El Camino 350 4 bolt main? If not then you must be a complete and utter moron.

@MacTavis betcha he is offended By the phrase "black lives matter".........

@MacTavish You sound so alt-right I wonder how you got on this website.

@birdingnut rand pretty good at deflecting, too. Just wow.........


It is everyone's right to be offended by whatever they feel .. Just because i don't get it does not mean it is not valid either ... it is a two way street and give and take is what makes things work. What is important is how we al deal with someone being offended. By trying to understand that POV or not .. If it's bullshit sure call them out for that. You have to try to understand first though.

The word "triggered" is a word used by mental health professionals and now banded about in ignorance to describe people essentially being immature.. Don't devalue real issues 😉

I hope this doesn't offend you lol.

Here is an interesting Reddit thread .. hope it helps .. 🙂


You will notice the girl gamer community uses the insult, "internet fuckboy starter pack" to describe your use of "triggers" lmao .. Owned.

I've been called worse. I was married at the time, though. 🙂


Being offended and finding things offensive ... there might be a subtle difference here. ut either way, I don't agree with you'r assessment of people who feel offended. I conidered some images offensive I saw recently of this actress dressed up as Hitler with burnt jew cookies. She's jewish herself... but ... did not earn herself favours with these images, meant to be funny. So do I steam over it and feel 'triggered'? Not sure. I feel disgusted. I feel disgusted when a so called president calls a protesting, kneeling sports person a son of a bitch. I don't feel anything much when people do whatever the hell they like to a flag. But doing things to poeple, threatening doing things to people, calling people names ... for no reason. Why wouldn't I find these things offensive?


Interesting - I get your argument and its sound; and I still feel there are times when I want to be offended and make a deal of it, say if a big man was spitting near me and I couldnt take him on because I am only five feet and one inch. The only place I can go to is frustrated/offended. And I do seriously think some guys get a kick out of being offensive especially in rude remarks to women about our appearance , or being called 'a dog'. yes I think I come down on the side of its my right to feel offended and if you don't like it - you seem to be saying you will lump it - Good, good on you!


Have to agree with ghettophilosopher that somethings just shouldn't be ignored but the other case you've ignored are those individuals who are deliberately seeking to provoke and offend. You don't get to walk away because they follow, they get in your face and nothing will stop them until they get a rise out of you. Totally aware it is attention seeking on their part and therefore any sort of rection from you rewards their behaviour but as you aren't allowed to gag or kill them there aren't many alternatives left.
Know someone who will regularly use the most inappropriate language and whenever they get pulled up on it whine that it isn't their fault other people get offended. Sorry but calling somebody an effing c@@t is likely to cause offensive, making loud lewd suggestions at someone else's partner is similarly frowned upon and I will not stand idly by if some poor girl working a till is being harangued with racial slurs.
While some examples of people being offended strike me as ludicruous there are other times that yes, it's offensive.

Kimba Level 7 Apr 17, 2018

Right now I am so offended, I just want to say, Fuck off


Yes it is political correctness gone crazy. Being offended is basically your preconceptions being confronted, you can't handle it and have a cry. This is especially true with ideology esp patriotism/ nationalism and religions. Don't let it stop you confronting people when they sprout BS. If that offends them, their problem. Confronting ideas is what I am talking about. Belittling the person or inciting to violence/ discrimination is a totally different matter.
So confront people who sprout BS with logic and reason. If they get offended by their preconceptions being confronted, they may run away to their "safe space", no concern of yours.
A great example for discussion. I have concluded America is now fascist ([] by definition. Now this statement confronts many Americans preconceptions about their country (patriotism) and they will be offended. Rather than have a reasoned and logical debate about it, they will ignore me and retreat to a "safe space"
PS As an Australian my country is also well on the way and #1 cheer squad.

Interesting. Your link doesn't work. I was able to get there, though.

google "indicators of fascism" for others, there is 14 of them.


A lot of things offend me. But why should I dwell on it all? Should I try to suppress the voices of those who disagree with me on something. It's pretty childish--it's just a part of the real world it's not always wonderful place (it is no echo chamber, especially for the nonreligious). If the problem is trivial then we shouldn't think twice about it.


I'm not a snowflake, so I don't get offended. I offend many people!


Like any strong emotion I'd say it's a survival instinct. But after feeling it it's how you process and use the information that is important. Not everyone is petty, some people are in danger when attacked and the tone of a comment has a lot to do with the attacker's intention. As a child we were taught never to point a gun at someone, I will always find this action offensive.


Surely your offensiveness is governed by your upbringing ?


Excellent advice! I'm sure those who need it most will never consider it, as they damn well should.

In example, see my recent post about preferences on beards. It seems every immature, butthurt man with a beard or mustache thought my opinion was about THEIR emotional attachment to facial hair. So they decided to make sure I knew I was "rude" and "judgy" while not answering my query why this trend is popular.

I'm just about done with the 5 year olds on this site. There truly is no correlation between intelligence and nonbelief OR mental health and nonbelief!


Sounds reasonable to me. Good post


I am offended by people being offended.


Perhaps those who are so easily offended should introspect a bit and ask themselves why something is offensive to them. Stepping back and taking an objective look at it might be enlightening.


I couldn't have said that better myself.

If someone is offended, they really need to look a why they feel that way. Until they can say why, without pointing to anything or anyone outside of themselves, they will continue to be offended by others. It's all about control.


The best defense is a good offense.


Could you write a coffee table book about this? There are several people could really benefit from that advice.


Yeah I used to get blistered by transphobic bigotry on social media. I can't tell you how many times I've seen "XX or XY," (By someone who got a C- in 8th grade biology), "If I had a dollar for every gender, I'd have $2," and, this is a favorite DIRECT quote, "Your a man."

I used to engage with them, but it would only upset me. Now I block those mf'ers in a nanosecond, and immediately forget they exist. Time is way too precious to waste on people like that.


Totally agree.


But wait! What if the person is purposely doing something to be offensive? Are not you seriously depriving them of attention/validation/ satisfaction? You need better ethics! Lol!


Well, it seems for some people is a lot easier to be offended / embarrassed than to turn around and go their merry way. Is an attempt -quite unsuccessful- at controlling people and saving face


I just don't take rudeness personally anymore. People have issues worse than mine. Plus more of them. Lol. If they want to be an asshole to me, IDC. I won't talk to them unless I have to.

@Keyboard-Mama Yeah, no one is an asshole to others at work. Just an agnostic is rude to me.

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