Tuesday, November 8, 2016

That's Offensive

I read the subject for a blog post that got me thinking again.  It was something about writing books in such a way that they'd be inoffensive.  (I didn't read the post, so it might not have been about what I was thinking it was about from that subject.) 


I don't write books to purposefully be offensive.  I also wouldn't write books to purposefully be inoffensive.  I write books hoping readers will be entertained, and that they'll take something away to make them think (maybe).  If, in the course of that book, someone finds something to be offended about?  Well, that's on them. 

The only person who can offend you is you.  Know what ah mean, Vern?

All sorts of stuff offends me.  That new commercial for something called V.I. Poo?  (I thought it was a spoofy commercial, but it's not.)  That offends me.  The rise of people vomiting on TV shows and in movies?  Yup.  Offensive. That all sorts of things are now 'X-treme' offends me. I'm waiting for someone to die on live TV, and the thought of that offends me. I take it all as a slow slide into America's version of the Fall of the Roman Empire. 

But that's me.  When I run across something I find offensive, I change the channels, or Hide the post on FB, or unfollow on Twitter. 

A while back, I had an editor ask me to correct something in Accidental Death.  One character uses the word 'spic' to refer to Hispanics, and she thought that might be offensive to some readers.  Well, of course, it's offensive.  He's an offensive kind of character.  I didn't put it in there to offend people.  I put it in there to be true to the character he was.  Needless to say, I left it. 

In Wish in One Hand, I refer to Renee the receptionist as 'plump'.  And I was asked to change that, too.  I guess I never realized that plump is now offensive.  I'm plump and I'm not offended, but that's me, too.

Anyway, different strokes for different folks.  My point is that various people can be offended by various things and there's no way of knowing what will offend someone at any given point in time.  Scrubbing your manuscript so that you won't offend people seems like a waste of time and as if it would water down the writing.  But that's also me. 

So, I'll leave you with these words from Shakespeare...

“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”

Which just goes to show that even Shakespeare was concerned with offending people.  LOL, I wonder if that can be counted as the world's first disclaimer.  ;o)


  1. re: When I run across something I find offensive, I change the channels, or Hide the post on FB, or unfollow on Twitter.

    Exactly. Why must we conform to every perceived slight? And when did we get so thin skinned as a people?

    Every time we get "offended" by something stupid, we give it weight. It doesn't get a chance to naturally die on its own.

  2. I'm so un-PC that I end up choking on all sorts of retorts and clicking delete rather than sharing. But you know that and like me anyway. ;)

    I recently encountered the same problem. I explained that the term WOULD be used by the character--who was the villain. The editor and I went back and forth. Ultimately, it was my choice and I kept it. If I get flack, so be it. My characters--even the heroes/heroines aren't always PC. Because there are all sorts of people in this world. I don't agree with half of them. Doesn't make either of us right. *shrug*

    And one of my favorite characters from my favorite Shakespeare play, A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM. Kudos! And I'm smiling right now because I was saying the lines while reading. (Why yes, I did play Puck once upon a time...) :D