Don’t go on offensive

Madison Bettle
Madison Bettle

I have to say, even before coming to Queen’s, I was never afraid of contention.

In high school, I was considered the overly-passionate and outspoken individual who always had an opinion about something, even the topics no one ever bothered to talk about. I always felt there was something to say, and something should be said.

Now that I’m here, I’ve met more people who are eager to discuss the issues no one bothers to mention.

But there are so many that many things seem to get lost in translation.

And someone, somewhere, is always offended.

I think today, more than ever, we live in a society that’s bogged down by political correctness to the point that even the nicest person you know could be accused of being racist, sexist, homophobic, classist—the list goes on. All because of a single comment he or she may or may not have made without realizing it was an error.

Throughout my life I’ve heard nice people say things they don’t even consider to be wrong or offensive.

A friend of mine back home would often say, “That’s so gay” every time he thought something was stupid or unfair. It bothered me not only because it was wrong, but because he identified as gay himself. No matter what I said, he kept telling me it didn’t bother him that people used the word out of context.

What he didn’t realize was that it bothers other people. Especially me.

I know I’ve probably said a few things that have offended other people in the past but this is where the idea of self-growth and development rears its prominent head. If you don’t take responsibility for the language you use, then you’re telling me that you’re not aware of the history and context behind it.

But that doesn’t make you hopeless.

I don’t condone or condemn ignorant or thoughtless comments, but what I do condemn is the immediate dismissal of the people who make them.

A single ignorant statement could cost someone everything. What we need to ask ourselves is: can we really call their entire character into question?

What has been going on these past few months isn’t something I’m remotely impressed by. I don’t think that, in light of these issues, any tangible solution has been offered.

A lot of people are hurt. A lot of people are offended. But being angry isn’t the way to go about it.

When I hear racially-charged, sexist or homophobic remarks, my immediate reaction is not to attack or blame those who make them. I want to educate them. I want to ask them why they use the language they use and how, together, we can better ourselves in the process.

It may sound corny to you. But you’d be surprised how much these individuals would be willing to listen if you would just listen to them.

Call me naïve. Call me idealistic. But if everyone thought this way, we could live in a better world.

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