Friday, February 6, 2015

If this offends you then your child custody case may have a problem

Few things are as annoying to me as hearing phrases such as “that offends me” and the vacuous people behind them. Today I am continuing with a series of postings about personal responsibility. In False Attributions, Groupthink and other Methods of Avoiding Responsibility that lead to Adverse Child Custody Decisions I wrote about how society conditions people to falsely attribute their outcomes to outside forces that are not responsible. In Owning your feelings improves child custody decisions - How Dr Phil got it wrong again I wrote about the ingrained nature to attribute personal feelings to others and how this is wrongly perpetuated by people such as Dr. Phil.

Being offended is a feeling and just like other feelings it is incumbent upon you to own your feelings -- take control of them. Separated parents who are embroiled in a child custody battle see each other through the lens of past acts that contributed to their division. Otherwise innocuous actions or utterances may be interpreted as offensive.

Here I contend that no action nor any word spoken can be offensive. Similar to the aphorism that beauty is in the eye of the beholder the same holds true for offensiveness. The infelicity of an expression lies entirely with the listener.

This is not to say that “offensive” is a useless part of our vocabulary. I feel it is incorrectly used when applied to the actions of others. I do concede that odors or tastes can be classified as offensive based upon evolutionary biology. Our theoretical ancestors who had the “poison berries taste delicious” gene likely eliminated themselves from the genepool whereas those who had the “poison berries taste offensive” gene are the likely contributors to our being.

For subjective offensiveness take comedy as an example. Comedy often relies upon the experiences of the listener. A comedian recounting disastrous experiences with diaper changes is much more likely to get laughs from the parents who recall similar experiences than from those who were recently subjects of those diaper changes but have no such memories. Likewise, ribald jokes may evoke laughter in some but disdain by others.

Epithets or phrases applied to racial or cultural distinctions are always ripe for consideration by the “offensiveness police.” I have heard niggardly attacked by fatuous beings who are at the summit of Mount Sanctimonious. Interestingly their condemnation of the word is based upon a perceived offense to black people when it may be more accurately applied to a Jewish stereotype.

The takeaway that I want to give you is that when interacting with that equal contributor to your child’s genetic make-up be mindful of who is being offensive. It’s that little being in your head doing it. Once you have the profundity for this proposition you are more likely to experience greater serenity in your life and a better relationship with your child’s other parent. If you still want to be offended by others then that is your own fault for being an obdurate idiot. And if you take offense to that it is only because of your own feeling that you are an idiot.

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