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What do we owe people who get offended? No one wants to be deliberately offensive. But what, exactly, is offensive about a black girlfriend, a gay boyfriend or an atheist insight into religion? Offense in these cases just is the collision of cultures. It is the feeling people have when you aren’t playing by their rules. And you do it when you’re with them.
What effect does ‘being offended’ have? It’s a topic-changer and conversation-stopper. And it’s a threat: “Say certain things and my mood will quickly change for the worse. I won’t be content until you stop and promise not to offend me again.” Now, we all have the right to draw boundaries. If I don’t want to be in the presence of certain people, for any reason, I don’t have to. But the easily offended don’t do this. They want to go anywhere and speak with anyone and have their sensibilities respected. This is cultural control, plain and simple. When we welcome people into our lives, they are not programmable like the devices we carry around. We live in a pluralistic society. We don’t have to celebrate diversity, but it is a fact. If we don’t like it, we can withdraw, but we can’t redraw things to our liking. That is segregation.