Letter to the editor

Leo Costello

The following is a public service message to anyone who has ever gotten offended. Maybe I’m in the minority here, or perhaps I have a sprinkle of sociopathic tendencies in my conscience that makes me feel nothing, but I never find anything offensive. It’s an emotion (is it even an emotion?) I don’t understand. Being offended is a choice. No one has values that trump another. It’s subjective. So I really get irritated when people believe getting offended is a justified reason to attack the person or thing that offended them. A few weeks ago, I posted a comedy sketch I wrote on Facebook about Jesus in his mid-twenties running his own carpentry shop. He doesn’t want to be the Messiah. He just wants to make furniture. When a man comes in with his sister begging Jesus to heal her of her leprosy, Jesus reluctantly tells him it’s his store policy to buy something first. Here’s the catch – he’s a terrible carpenter. Unsurprisingly, someone got offended. He said the sketch is “likely to be considered offensive by those who love Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. This is America so feel free to offend. I just think in the end you’ll find that being offensive isn’t the best choice you can make.” This response is a perfect example for me to explain why being offended is a choice, and it ultimately doesn’t really mean anything. Of course people who “love Jesus” will be offended by this sketch, but there’s no doubt that there are others who “love Jesus” just as much yet think this sketch is just as funny as I do. Like I said, being offended is purely a subjective choice–just as much as it’s a choice for a kid to kick and scream on the floor of a grocery store when his mommy doesn’t buy him Pop-Tarts. The person who responded to my sketch may have offended someone by the shirt he wore that day, but do you think he’s going to change his shoes? Doubtful. I do feel a little sorry that I offended this person with my sketch, but frankly I’m not to blame. I think sense of humor is directly related to how easily someone can get offended, and if you don’t have an open sense of humor, you’re much more likely to get offended. Laughter, by the way, is an innate involuntary reaction. Being offended is not. It’s healthy and for the good of all people to have an open sense of humor of all things, within context of course. I wouldn’t perform this sketch at a church. Not because I think it’s wrong, but rather I know many people there would likely be offended by it, and thus they would annoy me. Logically, it just doesn’t make sense to attack just because you’re offended because anyone can be offended by anything. That leaves us with two choices. One–Treat everything as potentially offensive and have to police yourself 24/7. Two–Consider everything fair game for humor and criticism. So what do you do when you read a script that offends your personal belief system? Stop reading! What if you see a man on the street yelling things you don’t agree with into a megaphone? Keep walking! But what about people who are clearly intending to offend? Just ignore them. They’re just as childish as the offended and the kid in the grocery store. If you tend to get offended easily, you’ve probably stopped reading by now. But if not, I challenge you not to get upset, and maybe even find the humor in the situation. Pete Davidson is a comedian who lost his father on 9/11, and he openly laughs and jokes about it often with no sense of sadness behind it. He doesn’t do this to shock, but rather because it’s healthy to laugh at tragedy. In fact, all comedy comes from either tragedy or surprise. Maybe if we all try to adopt a higher level of tolerance and openness, there will be less unnecessarily rabid dogs out there. The act of offending, whether intentional or not, is simply attacking an idea, not a person. There should be nothing shameful about challenging an idea, no matter what it is.