Yes, Honesty is Offensive … Get Over It

Slut-shaming, fat-shaming, gay-shaming, shame-shaming and all the rest of the myriad ways people express their disgust with others are apparently all completely and utterly inappropriate in modern society. If you don’t like something, Uncle Sam, Big Brother, and “society” want you to be quiet about it. Yet, somehow, people still manage to be shamed, embarrassed, and offended about pretty much anything and everything under the sun. It boggles the mind how all these perpetually offended people live without severe depression leading to inevitable suicide.

Because here is the reality. If you are free to be and do whatever you please, then others are free to be honest about what they think about it. I’m not saying “offensive” people are always right. All the shamers probably are close- and narrow-minded bigots who need to figure out something more productive to do than post juvenile insults under the pictures of homosexuals and fat people.

But let me ask you all a question: wouldn’t you rather people were honest? If a business owner is a racist, wouldn’t you want to know? If the civil government or society at large gags said business owner from saying racist things or forces him to serve other races at his business, we are all done a great disservice. I would much rather know someone was racist, so I could avoid giving his business money.

Aside from that, the shame-shaming that seeks to create a shame-free environment for all is not really creating a shame-free environment for anyone. Because everybody still thinks whatever they think. Getting them to be dishonest about it doesn’t really change anything. It might make the situation worse actually.

Take this recent example. An overweight photographer went into Old Navy, and she overheard a conversation between a mother and a daughter about a certain plus-size American flag tank top. Here’s what she overheard, in her own words:

I was shopping in Old Navy, standing in between a teenage girl and her mom. The girl picked up a plus-size tank top, showed it to her mom and said, “Look! Me and So-and-so can fit in this tank top!” Her mom laughed and said, “Yeah, you could! That thing is huge!”

Very hurt, the photographer began crying. But she gathered her emotions, went back into the store, tried that tank top on, thought she looked “fierce” in it, took a selfie, bought the tank top, and then posted the tank-top selfie along with a small homily on fat-shaming. A bajillion heartfelt virtual high fives and a gift card from Old Navy later, and our fat-shamed photographer is an affirmed person again. Until the next time someone says something “impolite” about fat people.

Now don’t get me wrong. The teenage girl could have kept her opinions to herself. That probably would have been the “polite” thing to do. But she is a teenager, and her mom was more than likely just doing her best to affirm her. And the fact is, frankly, the tank top probably could fit two teenage girls in it. So what?

Very, very many of the people who “affirmed” this photographer did so because they felt like it was a self-affirming thing to do. In other words, most people affirmed this overweight photographer in order ultimately to affirm themselves. Most of them honestly don’t care about this woman’s suffering. Most of them honestly think being overweight is less attractive than being trim. But, on the other hand, nearly all of them want to be the kind of people others will see as open-minded and tolerant. Because it’s ugly to be otherwise. Fine.

It used to be that we didn’t need everyone in the world to like us. Now we force everyone in the world to pretend to like us even when they don’t. The only things that suffer in that scenario are honesty, real friendship, constructive criticism, and discourse … you know, nothing Americans would miss. Especially when we have so much fake love going around. It just warms my heart knowing how much insincere affection people pretend to have for each other in this country.