Sunday, April 04, 2021

You'll always offend someone

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for March 10, 2021)

The Righteous and Holy Arbiters of What is Acceptable now seek to cancel Dr. Seuss. This may be my final last straw with "cancel culture".

Yes, some of Dr. Seuss's illustrations look insensitive today because he and his drawings aren't from today, but from an earlier time. I seriously doubt he would draw them the same if he were drawing today. Even then, someone would be offended. 

His illustrations make everyone look ridiculous in one way or another. Even animals, plants, and gadgets. Most playful portrayals of people are inaccurate and silly. People have traits which will be exaggerated for effect, and people do dumb things which seem funny. Otherwise, what would distinguish anyone from the crowd? Why draw them?

If you eliminate all representations of people of other races (and cultures) which might offend someone, you can't complain if only one bland race is represented everywhere from now on.

Should we get rid of everything which doesn't fit how we imagine people should be portrayed? How rude will current illustrations and writings look in a few decades or centuries? Should they then get rid of everything from our era which doesn't live up to their new standards? Standards which may or may not be better? Do you believe hiding the past is ever a good idea?

When you're offended by something, it says more about you than about the person who did whatever offended you. Everyone is offended by something.

I'm a bit offended by statues of politicians or military figures, but I think it's important to not erase the signs of the past. The next generation could grow up imagining the past was exactly like the present, except for fuzzy notions of old technology. Why bother striving to improve if you can't see proof humans have improved throughout history?

I also find these calls to ban certain Dr. Seuss books offensive-- but since I'm an adult, I don't imagine I have a right to not be offended. Such a right can't exist. Everything is going to be offensive to someone.

I stand with Dr. Seuss. I stand with Lenny Bruce, Colin Kaepernick, Jordan B. Peterson, and even politicians who have offended someone at some time. To do otherwise will cripple civilization and paralyze us into inaction for fear that someone, somewhere, will be offended. Get over it and get on with life. Do something worthwhile. You'll offend someone. Do it anyway.


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