The Right to Not Be Offended

Celebrity news outlets went into a tizzy this week when a picture of teenie-bopper Miley Cyrus surfaced and pissed off an awful lot of people. In the photo, Cyrus, along with several friends, was snapped making a face – slanting their eyes.

Before I get going, I need to remind our readers that I’m not a racist. A person’s skin color or culture doesn’t matter to me; what matters is a person’s character. Regardless of where you’re from, you’re human, and I judge every person on that basis or not at all.

That said…

The whole Miley Cyrus thing has become a circus that shouldn’t have been. It’s become a tempest in a teacup. Asian-American groups immediately railed at Cyrus, decrying the photo as a racist gesture. True, it is often seen as offensive to Asians. But here’s the part you didn’t hear about: also in the photo was an Asian-American friend, smiling brightly with all of them. He hasn’t taken any offense at all. Exactly three days after the story broke, however, a woman in Southern California slapped Cyrus with a FOUR BILLION DOLLAR CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT on behalf of all Asian-Americans for the offensive gesture. Margaret Cho also publicly lashed out at Cyrus, calling her “a disgrace” and lamenting how racism against Asians isn’t taboo.

This has gotten to be beyond stupid. You know what? When I was a teenager, we did the same thing. We didn’t know then that it was racially insensitive. I have a Korean-American friend, Jennifer, who is amazingly talented and is an overall amazing young woman. We’ve known each other since I was in junior high school in Houston. She’s also good friends with my younger sister; we used to spend a lot of time together. I remember once when we were kids, Jennifer’s mom took a picture of us together and my sister and I slanted our eyes. Nobody was offended by it. We were friends, and spending time with Jennifer’s family we learned an awful lot about that culture. We weren’t being mean-spirited – we were trying to look like our friend in a goofy way.

Miley Cyrus is only 16 years old, and I promise she did not strike that pose out of some racist ideal (especially not with an Asian friend nearby). People are reacting to this as if we have some guaranteed right not to be offended, and I hate to break it to you, but there are always – ALWAYS – going to be things everywhere that we will each personally find offensive. But if this is how we’re going to respond, then I want a few things, too. I’m Irish by heritage. I want to sue the pants off whoever that sorry SOB was that invented that Lucky Charms bastard, and I want a public apology for offending my culture. I want reparations paid by all the descendants of the business owners in the late 1800’s who put out signs that said, “help wanted: NO IRISH.” I want a friggin’ month of Irish history recognized because of how the Irish people were treated after immigrating to America, being caricatured in newspapers as little demons with forked tongues, being forced to live in the first American ghettos, and being relegated to the jobs that not even freed slaves would do.

Sound a little ridiculous? Fantastic. Now you know why I’m so frustrated about the whole Miley Cyrus thing. What’s next? Is she going to have to appear on a national news show and cry about how sorry she is? Rehab, maybe? Or are the people lambasting her for an ignorant, harmless act going to accept her apology and forgive her?

Hmph. I’m not holding my breath.

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One thought on “The Right to Not Be Offended

  1. I’m with you there! People have no skin! I figure if I am not offending someone, I’m not doing my job as an American;-) Does this mean I can’t say that the Democrats couldn’t organize a pissup in a brewery full of alcoholic Irishmen?” Plus my gram actually did not get a teaching position because “we don’t have one of your churches nearby.” She was Catholic, not Irish but EVERY group has at some point been discriminated against. Most people just sucked it up, grew some thick skin and soldiered on doing what they had to do to work and provide for their families. I miss having Archie Bunker around to make people realize how ridiculous prejudice is but he couldn’t be on the air because some moron would be offended.
    Does anyone realize how many jokes/offensive comments/stereotypes the Japanese, Koreans or Philippinos make against each other?

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