Sure, I can be an asshole I will never contest that, as it is purely factual. The question is, how much of a bearing does my being an asshole have on your life? We all remember as children when our elders explained to us that our responses to the actions of those trying to get our “goat” would dictate whether or not they continue to do so. If I am being an asshole and I get no response from my target, then chances are I will leave them alone. The more you react in anger, however, the more I get my jollies (largely depending on my designated target). Many people fail to grasp this concept, so most of the pain that they receive, they bring on themselves. When you think about it, don”t so many people just make their own lives difficult by placing such weight on the words of others?

Indeed, we are all human, and most people get offended by something. While I cannot rightly consider myself the foremost authority on what should and should not offend everybody, I look around and have come to the conclusion that many people do not know how to pick their battles. For every little thing that someone deems somewhat offensive, there is some right-wing, conservative, Christian-based, moral majority organization dedicated to its eradication. You”ve got Jerry Falwell blaming homosexuals for the downfall of society. You”ve got Gwyneth “The Toothpick” Paltrow on MTV whining about the exploitation of women in the “booty” videos. You”ve got Dionne Warwick complaining to senators about the lyrical content of rap music (the Psychic Friends should have told her sorry ass to focus on reviving her dead career instead of on efforts done in vain).

I believe that the problem lies in the fact that people don”t know how to effectively pick their battles. These days folks are so quick to blow the proverbial whistle on things decidedly non-politically correct, and I believe that it causes people to lose sight of a rather important facet of our country”s freedoms that should not be as compromised as it appears to be as of late. I am virtually incapable of being offended by anything perhaps as a result of a mixture of early exposure to adult issues and a childhood plagued with incessantly being fucked with by other children. If I really should be offended by anything, it is the fact that I can”t speak as freely as I would like to. I do a pretty good job of it as it is, but the fact remains that I can”t be as expressive as I would like. Should I choose to pursue journalistic writing as a career, I need to accept the fact that my dear college publication is as close as I will probably ever get to true journalistic emancipation.

The male-female double standard is alive and well in the world, despite our desires to believe that things have changed. Women want the cross-gender equality that they do deserve, but many seem not to really want men to treat them the same. When you consider the idea of offending or disrespecting a woman in more traditional aspects, you will find that much of it involves saying things that an average male wouldn”t take offense at.

It appears to be a societal courtesy that men try to watch their tongues in the presence of the fairer sex. I see it is a practice of gender discrimination to bite one”s tongue should a female wander into earshot, but most of us view it simply as a gesture of respect. The whole concept is ass-backwards, but it is so second nature to most people that they typically don”t acknowledge it. I know what you all are thinking do I feel obliged to speak harshly around my mother? Of course not for obvious reasons. Indeed I do conform and watch my tongue (sometimes) around the opposite sex, for the sake of saving myself undesired grief.

It seems lately that every time a female gets a glance of a Maxim magazine in my possession, I get all sorts of feminist banter about how such magazines “objectify” women. Of course, such responses are not limited to the magazine, and so I am forced to go into an explanation about why they are so woefully misguided in their opinions. First of all, men would not have a chance to objectify women if they didn”t objectify themselves to begin with. These girls have to pose for these pictures, correct? No one forces Tyra Banks into a thong with a gun to her head and a camera in her face. In addition, these women make healthy sums of money posing for said pictures! Forget the oft-argued concept of the women representing some sort of societal standard of physical desire I will put it in the words of a friend of mine who said it well: Women are profiting off of the weakness of men, sweet and simple though many women still have a problem with this. I imagine that most of the women who feel this way are the ones who don”t have that desirable body, and much of their animosity likely derives from pure jealousy.

As I previously stated, the words and actions of man carry different weight for different people if your father kicked you down a flight of stairs when you were three and you never quite got over it, then perhaps your sensitivity is justified in the matter. However, people who have a desire to jump on a cause that lacks relevance in the long run, versus taking up something of importance, are the ones who probably have internal issues of their own. I”m no psychiatrist, but I look and listen at the people who get offended by menial issues, and more often than not, it makes perfect sense. As for me being an asshole, well I suppose that”s relative also.

Knowledge.

Dustin Seibert can be reached via e-mail at dseibert@umich.edu.

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