Lori Falce: No offense intended
I don’t mean to offend.
I try hard not to make people feel like I’m targeting them personally when I write. My goal is to make people think, not wince. I want to plant a seed and water it and see what grows, rather than have people close down and back up and not listen.
When people are offended, they get defensive. Walls go up. Ideas can’t get through. That’s not the plan.
But sometimes it seems like offense is the only thing that actually does take root, whether it was planted or not.
And so, I admit, I have offended more people than I would have thought possible.
Years ago, I offended what seemed to be the entire Jewish population of Pennsylvania when I wrote about pre-Lenten fire hall fish dinners in Centre County.
I once offended apparently all of the Penn State alumni when writing about their alma mater.
I have offended a friend with a pithy Facebook post about my son’s abysmal kindergarten handwriting grade.
I may have missed my calling as a radio shock jock, because it seems I am capable of offending almost anyone with scarcely any effort at all.
Or maybe that’s not it at all.
Maybe all of us need to work on what we choose to nurture and fertilize — letting the roots go deep and the stems grow tall — and what we choose to keep from sprouting.
I admit that I am just as likely to read into a statement and turn it into an attack. Believe me, when your work is out there every day for people to criticize openly, they seldom pass on the opportunity, and I have a writer’s natural inclination to spurn good advice and read the comment section. It’s not pretty.
But there are enough overt offenses out there. Do I really need to seek out what might be a passive-aggressive dig? Or would I be better off to pull those weeds before they take over?
This isn’t just a personal issue. It’s all over politics and popular culture. It isn’t a left or right thing. President Trump is as likely to react to a perceived slight as he is to tweet one. The world is full of snowflakes on all sides.
There are people who are upset about Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the balloon-bearing white-faced horror from Stephen King’s “It.” Are they upset that he lures children to their deaths? That he has a mouthful of razor teeth on occasion? That he is the personification of nightmares?
Nope. They’re upset that he’s not gay-friendly. Out Magazine called him “surprisingly anti-queer.” Well, OK.
When we have reached the point of wanting horror movie villains to tread lightly lest they offend us, we need to regroup.
We have to realize that sometimes what offends us motivates us to change things. I am offended by hatred and bigotry. I am offended by people who deliberately cause other people pain.
But I’m trying as hard to not be offended as I do to not offend. I think it’s a good rule of thumb.
Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].