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Taking offence on the off chance you might be offended

April 18, 2009

I’ve had a long standing belief that offence is an over-used term. I don’t get offended often, I am not offended by things people may expect me to be offended about, and I have a really big problem with people who take offence on my behalf, especially when I haven’t.

Take for example the Dizzy Rascal interview on Newsnight after Obama’s election which I blogged about. I was hugely offended by what I saw as a clear ‘putting in your place’ activity. Many people I spoke to didn’t get what I was on about.

I once had an office debate at my old job about whether or not Ali G is offensive, I’m on the fence, as far as I’m concerned he is nothing like the black people I know and does more damage to perception of the white youth communities living on the outskirts of London who don’t really have any black friends.

The real issue is where their idea of what it means to be black comes from. My colleague at the time felt that Ali G himself was offensive to black people. My colleague was white. I kinda had to tell him where to go, if you don’t understand why something is offensive, you can’t be offended on someone else’s behalf.

I should point out the same colleague once tried to tell me that black people don’t tan so I don’t think he is representative of a sensible mind!

Last week on The Apprentice one of the contestants (white lady) had a huge go at her team because she thought they were saying another contestant couldn’t be on an ad campaign because he was of Asian heriatge and they already had a black girl in the campaign. Said Asian guy was sat next to her and silent. One of the people she was having a go at was black (she actually said “I’m black and I’m not offended”). To be fair, they phrased it all wrong, when I heard “we don’t want it to be an ethnic minority thing” I shivered. But what they were actually saying is that they wanted someone better looking but they didn’t want to offend the guy they were talking about. Can you see how this all gets a bit messy?

Then we have the ABC special that was sent around the web about the ‘Shopping-While-Black’ phenomenon. A hugely over the top attempt (and slightly mis-representative) to give white America an understanding of what black folks experience in certain shops. One of the white ladies who saw the black shopper being treated badly, started crying. I would really like someone to slap her. It’s not that she shouldn’t be offended that she was being forced to witness racist behaviour, its not even that she shouldn’t be offended that the shop assistant tried to bring her in on it…..but I beg crying? The actual victim had to comfort her for goodness sake!

And don’t even get me started on the madness of *political correctness* (prize for anyone who actually gives me a sensible definition on this) which has seens schools in the UK not putting on nativity plays or even using the word Christmas. Work places banned from saying Merry Xmas and sending out Season’s Greetings cards instead. Note that no-one is banning the saying of Happy Diwali, Eid Mubarak or even the handing out of Easter eggs (I’m pretty sure banning Easter eggs is on the cards; it might offend fat people who shouldn’t eat chocolate). Why are they all so scared of offending people who don’t believe in what you believe?!!

You may not agree with my examples but we are all a bit too sensitive to the issue of offense across any subject. My position on this is that everyone needs to calm down. Like seriously calm down. It is ok for me to find something offensive and for you not to. We do not need to legislate for it. If you are claiming offense on behalf of a third party, be clear on what is and is not offensive before you go opening your mouth. Make sure your voice is not louder than the so called offended party, especially when they can speak for themselves, and please, I beg of you, THINK FOR YOURSELF!

And so, to demonstrate my point, I will share two videos that have assisted me with my sore throat and flu-ness this morning by making me laugh till I cry.

Video 1 is the official video for the latest UK funky house (love me some funky) craze called Tribal Skank. I’ve loved the song for months and just like the sucker that I am, have also learned the dance. I was debating if I found the video offensive for the following reasons: so called african tribe stereotype of grass skirts dancing around a fire, the predictable white boy reaction, the predictable white boy’s respectable family reaction etc etc etc. I don’t know why I felt there was a debate. The video is comedy, pure and simple. Just catch jokes and have a bubble.

Video 2 has to be the worst thing I’ve seen in a while. Treasure in you by Namata. Its offensive to music, it’s offensive to good music, it’s an assault on my ears, it’s so stereotyped against black men (black guys and white girls only video) it’s undisputable, the dance moves are offensive to the eye and finally, it’s a clear example of when money passes sense. Production quality is the only thing this has going for it. I apologise in advance for all manner of offence to be caused by watching this video. Please don’t cry (unless in laughter), don’t sue me and for goodness sake try not to get any post-traumatic stress!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. webround permalink
    April 18, 2009 5:08 pm

    ‘….Make sure your voice is not louder than the so called offended party, especially when they can speak for themselves…’

    sometimes even though it doesn’t look like it, the offended party can not [don’t want to] actually speak for themselves and so they appear not to be offended. You go to an Oil company office in Nigeria and witness an expatriate staff being downright rude to a cleaner, security man and you react but guess what? – the cleaner will keep quiet/tell you it’s not an issue/ sometimes even chastise you for speaking up. Why? he’s afraid of losing his job. It doesn’t even have to be an expatriate staff doing that. i’ve seen Nigerian managers do the same thing to junior staff.

    In general, i agree with you that people should calm down when it comes to offense but sometimes it may be easier said than done..

  2. Shubby Doo permalink
    April 18, 2009 8:36 pm

    like video 1…the grass skirts are ok…just…maybe because the song keeps repeating the word tribal…i wish their would do their homework and be authentic with the costume/attires…that said their grass skirts didnt annoy me as much as beyonce in her deja vu video…that irked me big time!

    video 2 i stopped watching after 45secs…i’m sorry i watched that much of it…honestly u should be sued for just posting the link…money pass sense indeed

    the dizzy rascal thing had me fuming…i was so angry about it…
    jeremy paxman ought to have known better…in the context of what the night represented…he tried to undermine it…utterly shameful behaviour IMO

    i’m on the fence about Ali G, not because I find him offensive (as he doesn’t represent any sort of black African but I have known at least one Jamaican like that…but only one as all the other Afro Caribbeans just don’t fit in with the Ali G depiction)…the problem occurs when he is taken as a black stereotype by those who don’t know better (but ignorance is not a defence in my opinion) who then use Ali G out of context…EXAMPLE: when people choose to interact with me as they would an Ali G type persona in a serious office environment at work, i have no problem putting them in their place.

    i think the problem is NOT ‘treating people how u would want to be treated’…if people of all races acutally did…there would be no need for political correctness to go overboard

    p.s
    I don’t tend to advocate violence but the guy that said black people don’t tan should be slapped

  3. LoloBloggs permalink
    April 18, 2009 8:48 pm

    @webround I hear you. It is a lot easier said than done. My problem is just with those who don’t think much about why something is offensive and even how their reaction may or may not make it worse.

    Actually, your example isn’t too far off, the cleaner wasn’t thankful, the situation maybe didn’t change and all that happened is one person felt they *had* to speak up….was it worth it?

    @ShubbyDoo I’m sorry, but I did have a huge caveat about the potential offense! lol!

    I must say I found Ali G funny all the way up to the film, it kinda plateaued for me after that. I genuinely don’t know anyone like him so I can just point and laugh!

    The ex-colleague was permanently 2 words away from a slap but I left before I could give him one!

  4. RocNaija permalink
    April 19, 2009 3:07 am

    Lol… You’re really heated aren’t you?

    Take a deep breathe dear..

    Roc gat you..

    PS. Been missing Sir Alan this season.. Any good?

  5. LoloBloggs permalink
    April 19, 2009 9:05 am

    @Roc *exhale* thank you, just had to get that one off my chest!

    Sir Alan ain’t saying much right now….actually quite rubbish so far.

  6. JustDB permalink
    April 19, 2009 2:48 pm

    hpefully you’re all simmered down now aight? i typically don’t bother with offenders — responding to them takes effort that might generate much greater results elsewhere….

  7. Artsville permalink
    April 26, 2009 5:23 pm

    I completely agree with you, people really should calm down about a lot of stuff.
    The third party offender thing reminds me of the Bristish airways brouhaha. Would you say the man shouldn’t have been offended on behalf of his fellowman?

  8. LoloBloggs permalink
    April 27, 2009 7:40 pm

    @JustDb My blood is much calmer, but probably still quite heated! lol!

    @Artsville I think the BA thing was very unique, that was a clear case of civil infringement, and the backlash on the guy who stepped up was further indication of that.
    Each case should hold it’s own merit, above all I ask that people just think so they truly understand their own pov before acting…or crying self!

  9. Original Mgbeke permalink
    May 1, 2009 5:03 am

    That treasure in you vid is a RIOT! Hmmm I think that Ali G is definitely ‘politically incorrect’…don’t ask me to define this one too o. Haha!
    And yup to people trying to be ‘politically correct’, Seasons greetings/Happy holidays as opposed to merry Christmas. You can’t please everyone sha, someone will ultimately still feel slighted. It’s whatever…

  10. Jaycee permalink
    May 4, 2009 12:31 pm

    I particularly like your stance on not taking offense for a third party…I believe it is a waste of precious time.

    It is good not to be overly sensitive…really…helps a lot of unnecessary problems!

    Nice blog 🙂

  11. LoloBloggs permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:23 pm

    @Jaycee my point exactly! Thank-you for coming by!

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