I’d say that all customs are fair game for ridicule. Sure, people like to pretend they’re offended — and they may even feel offended — when someone “insults” Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, or Ramadan, but they don’t really have any such “right”.
but they don’t really have any such “right”
I agree completely. The absence of a right to not be offended is an important aspect of our free speech which I hope will be regularly exercised by prominent people publicly saying things that will offend the precious minorities who believe that they have a right to be protected from words that hurt them. This applies to Christians, Jews, Islamics, Native people, gays, all racial groups, Mormons, COS, JW, and all their prophets and holy people times and places. etc. etc. Even Republicans!
While I have no personal desire to ridicule the sincerely held beliefs of these people, I think our society will be better when it can be done and reported in the media without any fear of retribution.
While I do not go out of my way to hurt the feelings of anyone (That would lack empathy and hence technically be psychopathic). If faced by a situation where I thought is desirable to do so, I personally would exempt in my own speech only people having mental or physical disabilities, or children, where I think it is, if not morally wrong, in extremely poor taste.
I think this raises an interesting question:
Do some people earn the right to not be offended?
Many of us would probably give that right to war veterans to whom we all owe an immense debt. However, the right to criticize our involvement in wars in which many soldiers may have suffered and died is one of the most important aspects of free speech.
It is a shame that we just can’t expect them to appreciate the constitutional point and should expect them to often take it very badly, and perhaps even react violently. Try telling the marines that their sacrifice was wasted? The Vietnam vets did not understand, and took it very personally, adding to their PTSD neurosis. Perhaps this could have been avoided by anti-vilification laws, but the lessons of Vietnam had to be learned by all of us, whether we were involved or not.
Another example might be medical professionals who work for free in ghastly places and at great risk: those who are fighting AIDS in African war zones for example. While I would find it hard to criticize these wonderful people, some may feel that AIDS is God’s punishment which should not be interfered with, and they have a right to express such a crazy opinion.
What about women and children. Do they have a right to be shielded from filthy language. It always makes my flesh creep when I am with a classy lady and some street trash says inappropriate things in her hearing.
I once camped with my young family in a tent, when later a group of Hell’s Angels arrived and camped next to us …
What about police? Possibly not, because we must avoid the police state and be able to criticize them freely. But we put them in the position of having to deal with the worst dregs of our society on our behalf, and it is unreasonable to expect them to tolerate unfair abuse, even in the media.
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