I found myself a prayer in Sirach today, chapter 22:
O that a guard were set over my mouth,
and a seal of prudence upon my lips,
that it may keep me from falling,
so that my tongue may not destroy me!
As a writer, the risk of giving offense is always present. It seems to count for little, sometimes, when words are cast out into the anonymity of the internet (at least, judging by the anonymous comments I find on some sites). But my blog is not anonymous, nor will my novels be, nor is my music. I run the risk of offending people I know and love, every time I make available anything I've created. I can never be exactly sure what will bother whom.
I have an overdeveloped postmodern fear of giving offense. The result is that sometimes I find myself simply saying nothing.
Not that I feel the need to speak my opinion into the lives of everyone on the planet. It's just that the restraint is a burden so heavy as to leave me understanding why the societal battle cry "Just be who you are, and screw anyone who disagrees with you" appeals to so many. Of course, that rally comes with a disclaimer: if you agree with the zeitgeist. That's a big if.
I wasn't raised to say "Screw anyone who disagrees with me". My parents taught me to be respectful of other people and their opinions and beliefs. But respectful disagreement can still offend, and in some cases nowadays, it doesn't even seem to matter if you disagree respectfully. You disagree, and that makes you either stupid or a bad person.
These thoughts aren't directed at any person or any idea. I just thought I'd pose the question: Where do you draw the line?
Irony: Lou and I just spent ten minutes debating whether "screw" was an inoffensive enough word to use in this post. I left it in. Hopefully it doesn't offend anyone. :D