I got into an argument on Twitter today. “Wow Jon, what a fascinating lead! Next, can you tell us about your last Candy Crush score on Facebook? And how’s that sinus infection going?” Look, I know my Twitter squabbles are boring, but I was trying to make a larger point before you so rudely interrupted me, Voice In My Head.
Anyway, Twitter peeps were going back and forth on childhood vaccination and I foolishly jumped in the middle of it. I had related the story about my children getting whooping cough from non-vaccinated children in their classroom. My kids had been immunized as babies but were nearing the time for their booster shots. As it turned out, our whole family was quarantined for a week and fed a steady diet of stomach-churning antibiotics. That experience left me less libertarian on the issue than I once had been. “Your rights end at the tip of my nose,” and all that.
One interlocutor noted that vaccinations might cause autism (they don’t). Another wondered if the State can mandate immunization (sure). But shouldn’t parents have the right to say no? (Not if they put the community at risk.) All fair questions and a fine debate to have. And so it went until one person replied with what he felt was a trump card: “That really offends me!”
Ummm… So what?
I felt rude responding this way, but his taking of offense is not my concern; public health is. Harrumphing “that offends me!” has zero bearing on any argument. It’s a non sequitur revealing naught but your delicate constitution.
No need to argue the pros and cons of vaccination in the comments; that specific debate isn’t the point. As our culture has slid to the social justice warriors of the left, activists on all sides seem to think that their being offended carries some sort of moral authority as a victim. It does no such thing.
I don’t understand taking offense in the first place. If someone insults me, I don’t feel badly about myself, I just think they’re an idiot. I certainly don’t grab my pearls and weep into my fainting couch. If you hate me for being conservative/white/Christian/etc. that’s on you, not me.
In a meme traveling about the interwebs, British comedian Stephen Fry said it best:
It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that,” as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase.