You Have The Right To Be Offended

in life •  6 months ago


There’s been a lot of discussion on my channel lately about freedom of speech. Mostly, it’s stemming from the Count Dankula stuff, which is patently absurd and a terrifying harbinger of dystopia:

Most people agree that it’s a huge problem when a Government gives itself the authority to charge people with crimes based on arbitrary definitions of the word “offensive”.

But there are some that disagree. They believe that there are some words which should not be permitted to be spoken because of how they might make other people feel. They believe that the authority of the State, with all of its money and power and violence and corruption, is right to charge people as criminals for just saying words.

They believe there is a right NOT to be offended, and they’re ready and willing to exact legal authority to enforce that “right”

Cathy Newman and Jordan Peterson

Even though his reputation had already been growing, this interview on Channel 4 News with Cathy Newman launched Jordan Peterson into even greater viral celebrity.

Here is the peak highlight of the interview:

Newman asks Peterson: “Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans-person’s right not to be offended?”

His response is quite good, and I’d recommend watching the clip to see it yourself in all its glory.

But this brings up a broader question of what even is the nature of a “Right”.

You don’t have a right to NOT something


The nature of rights are positive, not negative.

You have a right TO something, not NOT TO something.

I’ll use property rights as an example.

Property rights are theoretical socially-enforced constructs in economics for determining how a resource or economic good is used and owned. (The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics). The nature of property rights is the establishment of legal ownership of property; that is to say, we have a system that establishes that THIS belongs to YOU. The violation of property rights happens when someone lays claim to property that is not recognized as theirs.

It’s not that someone has a right NOT TO have their property taken; it that they have a right TO their property, period, and others are not allowed to take it.

It’s the same with free speech and offense.

I have a right to express what I want (so long as those words do not damage the body, property, or reputation of any individual); and you have a right to feel offended by it.

I want you to take a moment and realize that there are some places where people do not have the right to be offended; where the State will impose authority over you if you express offense against it.

Is that the kind of society you want for yourself?

Under the umbrella of human rights, your right to be offended is directly coupled with your right to express yourself freely.

Being offended IS ITSELF free speech.

Saying that someone has a right NOT to be offended is the same as saying that someone has a right NOT to be happy, NOT to be joyful, etc.

Offense is simply a feeling, and the expression of offense is permitted by the right to freedom of speech.

What happens when you’re offended?


This is probably my favorite clip on this topic.

Steve Hughes sums up exactly my thoughts on the topic of being offended and how it should be handled by adults:

“What happens if you say that and someone gets offended?” Well, they can be offended. What’s wrong with being offended?

Feeling offended is a perfectly normal thing. The diversity of human interaction in societies is broad, and offense is one among a plethora of feelings and responses an individual can have as a reaction to their environment.



What do you think?


Share your thoughts in the comments below.

We all have the right to express what we think or how we feel; our sense of humor (which others might not agree with); our aesthetic vision; our political beliefs; our religious practices.

And if others feel offended by it, well -- THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE OFFENDED.

I’ll end with this quote from Christopher Hitchens:

Those who are determined to be ‘offended’ will discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

Images from

Follow me @shayne

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

Unfortunately, freedom of speech is an illusion.


No, its not. it's just the coincidence of the community not handling getting offended anymore . it meaning most people dont risk there life over it.


You should not have to risk your life over it if you have the constitutional right to practice freedom of speech.


I can equally see that actually, I have no reason to be offended, for an insult/slight describes the psychological state of the person issuing it, and says nothing about me, the individual. I can choose to enter that state as well, be offended, and that in turn probably says more about my desire to step onto some moral high ground or other and vent an outraged poor-me story, rather than anything about the actual situation.

The energy around being offended - outrage, justifying, justifications, judgements etc - is exhausting. Everyone walking on fearful eggshells means very little of substance is expressed; numbed and dumbed communication, unchallenged shit. I've been working my way up and out of that zombie-zone, where being 'challenged' is equated with an 'attack', and being 'offended' the easy side-step to distract from my own unease with dealing with something I'm shaky on :D

Cheers @shayne, I like your writings, I respect your style and perspective.



The ease with which one gets offended is, I agree, a problem for individual people. It's important for mature adults to cultivate an ability to be fine with others having different views and opinions. That's just for one's own wellbeing, but it also has a broader cultural affect of actual tolerance.

People think of tolerance in the wrong way, I think. It's typically seen as an embracing of things that you don't like. But that's not really what it is. Some people are offended by homosexuality, for instance, and tolerance is the simultaneous holding of disagreement with that lifestyle while also permitting it to exist. It is tolerated. It doesn't mean people who are offended by homosexuality have to go around hugging every gay person they know and wish their whole family would become gay or anything.

Where was I going with this...?


Dunno Shayne, you tell me :D

Agreed that 'tolerance' can be seen as having to force yourself to 'like' something that you don't. I do think that 'tolerance' has within the concept a forcible acceptance, or endurance of something. It seems a bit like a suppression of 'being offended', not speaking out or saying that one 'doesn't like'. Tolerance just puts up.

I (too?) think the issue is upside down.

If I am tolerant of, say, homosexuality, then I do not 'accept' it, for I am fighting the very notion/concept (or perhaps the tendency within myself). If I am offended by the very presence of someone who expresses 'gayness', then this says a lot more about my prejudices/issues than anything about the person. This is what I was trying to express in my comment. If I judge (and being offended or 'tolerant' or 'intolerant' is to pass judgement, rather than to just accept), then my judgement says everything about me, and my psychological position, and nothing about the person I am judging. Although the words can look as if I may be saying something about them, the real between-the-lines stuff is all about me and how I view the world, how I project my unprocessed pain and trauma onto the world and onto others.

Thank you so much for this article, there are no words to describe my appreciation for all the efforts of prof. Peterson he put in dealing with this absolute insanity modern society is faced with!

Yesterday I listened to his explanation of why bill C-16 is dangerous, and completely agreed with him:
"If people are forbidden to speak up their opinion, they are not allowed to think as well, and when we are not thinking and discussing issues among ourselves, those issues only accumulate and grow, and suppression of all those negative emotions we accumulated by not talking to each other can only lead to absolute aggression and going into the far-right end of spectrum."

Totally Agree with your observation regarding the Right to Be Offended is Free Speech!

Great thoughts. We SHOULD be offended! I'm offended all the time. And that is my right. I have no right NOT to be offended. People will offend me, and I will call them morons or walk away. But I will never in my wildest dreams take away them their right to offend me (free speech)

Resteemed btw!


I hate vikings. How's that? (need a safe space?)



Thank you @scandinavianlife for resteeming this, I would've missed it otherwise!

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvote this reply.

That Steve Hughes sketch is fking brilliant, he is awesome.

So true though, we'd all become mute if we were to avoid offending anyone, ever. Sticking a law on a feeling is crazy business!

Haha! Great post @shayne. Steve Hughes speech about being offended hits the mark! It made me laugh while watching it but he makes sense. I mean come on, adults should learn to deal with it because if not, then are we gonna call the cops when somebody offended us?


"I'm offended and I have rights"

That part always cracks me up.

Heard in the sauna, one friend of mine to another: hey, you're a negro, and I'm fat. It's not exactly secret, anyone can see that. Why has it become such a taboo?

Glad to find your post. Happily following you for more.

The bottom line: PC is simply a method of control. And it is very effective since we have an instinctive need to be acceptable to the tribe. In ancient times to be rejected and cast out of the tribe meant death. That imprint in our souls is still there and still very real. So most people comply. They do not offed, they prefer to be controlled, to be part of the PC patrol, they even feel they are aiding the tribe by doing so. Blessings, that was a really shitty post and I'm offended.


You are right that social ostracism is part of our natural concerns as human beings. I'd like it if we had fewer laws and some combination of transparency / ostracism.

Martin Luther King said civil disobedience is a moral imperative. That's why in this kiddy glove, touchy feely world we live in today, I use the word "cunt" every chance I can. Especially when I'm teaching Sunday School.


Very naughty.