You Sir, Have Offended My Honor

Not to sweat myself, but it's worth re-reading the thread below on the Harry Connick Jr. and then looking at a few of the reaction. In fairness, to Australians the opinions run the gamut. But there's a very familiar strain of straw-manning, overreacting, changing the subject, and protesting too much. I don't think this is an Australian thing, or even a white thing, I think it's a human thing.

People want to be right. Moreover, taking offense is a kind of tribal ritual, even if you're only taking offense at other people taking offense. Thus a century ago, blacks weren't fighting for the rights of citizenship, they were actually fighting for the right to "ravage Southern white womanhood," and today gays aren't trying to secure marriage rights, they're forcing preachers to preside over gay marriages.

When you aren't the hero of the narrative, you simply change the narrative. No one says--"It's my intent to hurt you." It's usually more like--"Why are you making me hurt you." This is why "I found that offensive," quickly becomes "How dare you call me a racist!"


Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In