Dear Arthur, Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
Meg
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It’s never pleasant to be called out for doing something, especially if, when you were doing it, it did not occur to you that it was offensive.

Meg — this is purely a matter of perception.

A says something to B, and B says they are offended. Is said offense the result of A’s comment or B’s sensibilities? I am not saying this is a black-and-white issue, but the problem with reflexively blaming A is that you create a tool to potentially shut anyone down. No one is allowed to say anything lest someone takes offense.

Suppose someone came on here and said everything Meg Barclay says offends them. Are you ready to cancel your Medium account? Of course not. But think why not. Because you think what you are saying could never be offensive? I am not saying it is offensive — just that you are into a dangerous zone where someone gets to judge what is deemed offensive, whilst others just get silenced. (That’s a key mechanism that states grab to push propaganda. And be under no illusions: I think it was one of Obama’s last acts — to legalize state funded propaganda through the MSM).

This is already a culturally advanced cancer in which mere words are described as ‘violence’; simply looking half a second too long at a woman is branded ‘rape’; and even holding a door open for a lady can be an ‘insult’ or worse.

But this is where individual actions are tied to group actions. Often, within a group, certain norms prevail.

Exactly. This is why actions should ideally be seen as actions of individuals. Sure — society tempts people into a sheepish allegiance to all sorts of groups, along with the sheepish behavior that such groups encourage, but that is a form of stupidity to be called out for what it is — not something we should mold our world to accommodate.

They can soak in the criticism and reflect on their behavior, or the can become defensive, retreat into their group and circle the wagons, commiserating over cocktails how awful, ignorant and offensive their critics are.

And there is a third option which is to do neither — unless of course they judge the criticism valid in which case they may be big enough to learn.

I think the first is the path to both becoming a better human being and creating a better society and the latter is petty and childish.

The latter is petty and childish as you mention. But as regards the first, a mere criticism over something voiced is in itself not proof of anything undesirable as regards whoever is the target of that criticism. When Trump takes offense over media criticisms, do you jump to attack those who have supposedly hurt his feelings?