Are Americans too easily offended?

Comedian Bill Maher wrote an opinion piece last week suggesting that Americans are too easily offended. He suggested that we should stop demanding apologies for speech we find offensive, and instead should just stop listening to it. Today’s Question: Are Americans too easily offended?

  • Mr. Dana W. Carlson

    I would have to say that Americans take a lot for granted and have too much time on their hands ever since America ended the draft in 1973.

  • Justin Kwong

    I think most Americans have a pretty thick skin or they at least know when a joke went wrong and something offensive came out by mistake. It’s the political class that gets up in arms so they can score points against the other side in the unending election war that has replaced civil discourse in this country. It’s an arms race, where each side has to stoop to lower levels of sensitivity to maintain their sense of justification for the positions they take. At the end of the day, it uses up all the oxygen in the room so that when something truly offensive happens, it just gets thrown in with the rest, and that’s a shame.

  • Gary F

    As compared to whom? Islamic fundamentalists?

  • Rich

    We actually seek out opportunities to be offended and when there are none, we create them. It’s part of the polarized nature of American culture right now; we want to be angry at something or someone.

  • We become easily offended when we are taught to be proud instead of humble.

  • reggie

    In the words of the (almost) immortal Groucho Marx (or some earlier comic): “I resemble that remark.”

  • Steve the Cynic

    I agree with Justin at 7:19. Most of these kerfuffles are little more than manufactured outrage by political zealots. Still, words matter. When talking hotheads say outrageous things, rational objections should be raised.

  • Sara Kastic

    Who’s too easily offended??? I object!!! This question is nothing more than a scurrilous attack on our freedom of speech!!! MPR is clearly trying to undermine our democracy and is nothing more than a front for the Socialist Workers Party, together with the PLO!!!

  • Surley the Cynic

    Sara,

    You finally figured it out!

  • Philip

    Bill Maher suggested we stop listening to speech we find offensive, eh? I haven’t listened to him in about 10 years. Is that what you mean Billy?

  • BenCh

    I think Americans have lost the meaning to a lot of words. Offended? I think a lot of you just don’t like what someone else said. A politician becoming “offended” is just perpetuating the fight against the ‘other guy’. Words used to carry meaning- like awesome and amazing but now are used every day. Maybe it is the politicians who try to use these for the smallest issue to try to evoke emotion, but either way Americans have lost the true meaning of the word and what it is like to be offended. Am I saying you are never offended? No, but are you really offended that someone said something in light of the fact that we have our first black first lady??

    In the end, maybe the words that have lost the most meaning have been the words, “I’m sorry.”

  • Jake

    That makes sense…I stopped listening to Bill Maher years ago…don’t need that morons dribble effecting my day. I only wish the media in this country could repair itself as well…I don’t need the spin that is placed on all the news broadcast in this country…Thank God for the BBC.

    I think The Eagles nailed our current society with the song

    “Frail Grasp On The Big Picture”

    “That ain’t what’s going on

    Journalism’s dead and gone”

    Read lyrics here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eagles/frailgrasponthebigpicture.html

  • Gary F

    Not quite sure who watches Bill Maher anymore. I guess he still might be big with liberals.

    It was interesting to watch his show years ago, he’d have on some interesting guests which made a fool of themselves.

    But, when he was all whipped up in Palin Derangement Syndrome, and his show was full of liberals who claimed to be feminists, spewing their vile bile. I turned it off.

    This whole Rush deal really did expose Maher for the hateful person he is.

  • Sara Kastic

    Surley,

    What do you mean, “finally”???? Are you implying that I’m slow? You’re probably one of those sexist, neo-nazi, white-supremacist skinheads who thinks all women are stupid! This is outrageous! First MPR insults America by saying Americans are too easily offended, and then they encourage other people to insult us even more by asking such ridiculous questions! I’m offended!!!!

    (Just kidding, in case you couldn’t tell.)

  • Jim G

    Americans, especially we Minnesotans, are easily offended. We think that everything we do and have is the greatest. We have nothing to learn from other cultures and regions of the world. There is no grace for those who broach the standards. How dare anyone disagree with us that green Jell-O must be present at every potluck for meeting our nutritional requirements. Most importantly, we will treat you passive aggressively until you offer an apology for referring to tatter-tot” hotdish” as a casserole! What the heck are you thinking? Demand an apology? Uff-da! You should just know you offended us, you dumkoff.

  • Craig

    In olden times, during rogation, priests would take boys into the woods to show them the boundary marker of their parish and then pinch or beat the boys in order to cement the memory. It was a ritual used to prevent future encroachment by neighboring parishes called the beating of the bounds.

    Often, in our culture, feigned, vociferous taking of offense is designed to show the next generation which class boundaries they should defend.

  • kim

    I think the word “American” defines such a diverse group that it’s meaningless to say “Americans are too..” anything. Americans are citizens of the United States of America. Some are easily offended, some aren’t. Some rightly so, some not. I think we all need to think before we react, but we also need to have the courage to speak up in the face of injustice.

  • “Rich in Duluth

    I was fascinated by the outrage generated by the Duluth Unfair Campaign. It seems to indicate that a great number of people are very easily offended, even by things that are not said.

    The campaign’s message was: “It’s hard to see racism when you are white.”

    Many people heard: “White people are racist.”, and were offended.

  • david

    I don’t know, and I don’t care. Americans are not any more or less easily offended than any one else. People just use it to get their way. As an emotion (if it really ever was one) it’s pretty pointless and far down the evolutionary ladder. As a political tool it’s wielded by bigger tools to to distract from something else, or to pretend they are more in favor of something than they really are. Usually to pander to the sheep of society. At least we seldom run awoke with assault rifles and touches when we feel offended.

  • david

    *run amok with assault rifles and torches*

  • Cassie

    Jake: Do you perchance mean “drivel”?

    And “moron” – possessive – as “morons dribble” should be apostrophized,

    Tell you one thing that does offend me. It’s the Exceptional American, insistence that English is the national language when 75% of Exceptional Americans are evidently incapable of using the language properly.

    Rich’s comment re: seeking out things to be offended about, or creating them, if necessary, is the most meaningful comment posted today.

  • JasonB

    I can’t speak for all Americans, but as the current strongest nation on Earth we shouldn’t be easily offended. I can say that a person of strong, confident character is not easily offended because they are secure in themselves, and don’t let things get under their skin.

    Easily offended people are a bit insecure and perhaps even paranoid. The former doesn’t sound like an American trait, but unfortunately the latter sometimes does.

  • Em

    BenCh: I would have to agree with your comment on people generally just not liking what others have to say. Also the overuse of specific words and using words inappropriately/improperly are becoming very common in this country.

    Your comment on “I’m sorry” is interesting, because I think that “I’m sorry” is overused often as well. People apologize far too often when actually what they mean is “Excuse Me” or “Pardon Me.” I rarely hear a true apology these days, I’m sorry has become trite in many situations. I do think some people claim offense far too quickly without really examining a situation, and it can make it difficult to navigate a conversation when any slight slip-up will have someone running to HR/the media etc… claiming they were offended.

  • EAL

    The true tragedy is that in today’s others should make me “feel good” society, the massess somehow believe they have a right not to be offended. The defense of a Nazi’s right to spew to spew hate speech is on par with the with the same fervor for those who demand the federal governement step outside it’s Constitutional boundries by being all things to all people.

  • Sue de Nim

    I think some folks are addicted to the adrenaline rush they get from being angry, so they go looking for things to be angry about. Meanwhile lots of other folks find it useful to stir up anger in others as a way of selling a political platform. Those two groups tend to find each other.

  • GregX

    Are Americans too easily offended? ======== Only in groups! Like PTA, School Board’s, Legislatures, Congresses, religions and sports teams. As individuals we willingly ignore just about anything.

  • Considering cartoons about a particular religious figure caused death threats in Europe, I have to say no. Americans do not get as offended about things as some other cultures do.

  • David

    Are you kidding? We continue to widely air the utterances of right-wing Republicans and “Tea-partiers” in this state and nation. Much of what they say about social issues, the economy, or pretty much anything else is quite often an offense to the mind, if not the soul, of those who choose to listen.