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Editor’s Note: The fear of offending has often been cited by Church leaders as a reason members hesitate to invite a friend to hear the missionaries or come to church. In today’s political climate, this fear may be exasperated. This article is a great read, and brings up many good points. What do you think about some of today’s ‘political correctness’ issues? Are we getting so afraid of offending that we hesitate to be member missionaries, or even hesitate to teach correct doctrine?
The era of offense seems to have reached a fevered pitch.
Perhaps you’ve felt it, too — that sense that you can’t say anything without offending someone: old people, young people, people of faith, people without faith, minorities, women, men, Northerners, left-handers, non-athletes, people who drive Subarus or wear white after Labor Day.
You get the idea.
It seems the entire country is on alert, looking to be offended at every turn.
Political correctness was the buzzword of the ’90s and early 2000s. But this more recent trend goes beyond political correctness into what a recent article in The Atlantic — “The Coddling of the American Mind,” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt — calls “microaggressions.”
The term microaggressions grew out of the 1970s to mean unconscious racial affronts. Recently, the term has ballooned to encompass any seeming offense, and nowhere is it being felt more than on college campuses.
Traditionally places of free speech and liberal ideals, universities have become coddled spaces where nothing shocking or outside the norm can be said or discussed. This summer, a professor, writing under a fake name to protect his identity, wrote an article titled, “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.”
Professors have been called out for assigning “threatening” literature to their students in everything from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” to Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” Students are demanding that professors issue “trigger warnings” on content that might offend or cause trauma. And they are turning against other students who, often inadvertently, say or do anything that might be considered offensive.
As Lukianoff and Haidt write, “Attempting to shield students from words, ideas and people that might cause them emotional discomfort are bad for the students … (and) they are bad for American democracy, which is already paralyzed by worsening partisanship. When the ideas, values and speech of the other side are seen not just as wrong but as willfully aggressive toward innocent victims, it is hard to imagine the kind of mutual respect, negotiation and compromise that are needed to make politics a positive-sum game.”