It’s time to stop getting so bloody offended.
Remember when people were enraged by Rugby League star Sam Thaiday’s comment about the Maroons’ first State of Origin win?
“It was a bit like losing your virginity, it wasn’t very nice but we got the job done.”
While that seemed like a damn good analogy to some (myself included – losing your virginity is painful AF), others were FURIOUS WITH BOLDED CAPITAL LETTERS.
One of Australia’s major publications labelled Thaiday’s joke the “most tasteless sport thing ever”, another clutched at non-existent pearls and called it a “lewd and tasteless victory speech”.
Politicians asked for a public apology, and the Family First Party proclaimed itself personally offended, “shocked that Mr Thaiday would bring sex into the discussion over a game of rugby league, especially because he is a family man.”
Columnists berated Thaiday and went so far to slam his words as sexist and offensive to women…
… except they weren’t.
Were his words colourful? Sure. Unexpected? Most definitely. Were they threatening? No. Were they pitting men against women? Definitely not.
Was what unfolded a case of political correctness gone mad? 100%.
This week, we saw another example of wild political correctness unfold.
After Ellen Degeneres tweeted this joke about Usain Bolt’s freakish athleticism, she was promptly trashed as a “racist”.
Apparently, making a joke that includes any person of colour – even when it has nothing to do with that person’s race – is automatically offensive and needs to be censored.
It should be said the man at the crux of the joke – Usain Bolt – was far from offended, and even retweeted the meme himself.
She was celebrating Bolt’s success. She was being self-deprecating. She was MAKING A JOKE.
But that didn’t matter, for many Ellen had crossed this ridiculously blurred, moving, illogical line that suggests anything cutting, edgy or witty doesn’t belong in the public sphere. To many, anything that isn’t vanilla and blasé should be admonished and deleted.
Perhaps this irks me more than most, because when I wrote an article about ‘Queen Bey’, commenters kicked up a fuss about me using the title ‘Queen’ for anyone but Queen Elizabeth. Doing so was disrespectful and upsetting and TOTALLY NOT OKAY… apparently.
Or the time I wrote an article about the most successful names on Tinder, and the most liked comment was about how unfair this was to single people. It was offensive to imply that single people even want to date and that you can be perfectly happy as a single person and how dare I act like relationships are an appealing concept.
As someone who was happily single for the majority of my life, can I stick head in an oven now? (Or is saying that offensive too?)
What these perpetually offended people don’t understand is this: constantly being offended by things trivialises the bigger issues at play.
Calling Sam Thaiday sexist takes away from actual, real-life sexism that has actual, real-life effects on women. The same goes for Ellen Degeneres and racism.
Choosing to become personally offended by everything exhausts our channels of communication – and stifles any chance we have of meaningful, important discussion because we’re all too bloody busy scrutinising whether celebrating a black man’s athleticism is racist or not.
It’s time we stop getting so bloody offended.