Monday, February 11, 2008

No Offense Intended, but . . .

David Schuster of MSNBC has been suspended for saying (correctly) that the Clintons are "pimping out" their daughter. Specifically, he has been suspended because Hillary Clinton chose to be offended by that comment, causing her to write a letter to MSNBC demanding they take action against him. I find it troublesome that a news organization is responding this way to a letter from a politician. Keith Olberman said the same thing about General Patreus, that Bush was pimping him out, and there was (appropriately) no negative consequences for Olberman.

Politicians have no business sending letters of intimidation to news outlets because the politician is offended. When you are offended, you are not harmed in any way. "If someone or something harms you-- that is, injures you physically against your will -- you are not an accomplice to the injury. [. . .] But offense is something else. If someone or something offends you -- that is, insults you in some way -- you are definitely an accomplice to the insult. Why? Because you took offense at it. You may be passively harmed by something such as a physical blow, but you take an active part in being offended by something such as a painting" or a comment (Lou Marinoff, "Plato, Not Prozac!", 48). In the U.S. especially, it seems, we have "allowed offense to become confused with harm." Worse, we have even taken steps to codifying it and making it a criminal offense (this is the basis of many "sexual harassment" and "hostile workplace" laws). "Nowadays people take offense themselves, then accuse others of harming them, and the system backs this up with policies that undercut individual liberties. Worse, the system reinforces this confusion by rewarding people monetarily for taking offense" (48). Think about that: you are the one who will or will not take offense. Whether or not you take offense at something is entirely out of my hands. I have no idea what you may take offense at. But if you do, there is a possibility that you could make money from having taken offense. "People looking to take offense will always find something to take it at, but then they're the ones with the problem. The problem is that they need to feel offended" (49). You don't have to be offended at something. It's entirely your choice if you are or are not offended.

In other words, a man may lose his job because Hillary Clinton is either thin-skinned, or she consciously chose to be offended. As manipulative as she is about everything, the latter wouldn't surprise me. I'm not surprised she would do it, but it's still a pretty rotten thing to try to destroy someone's career for your own political gain. Too bad nobody cares enough to may her pay for it politically.
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