sugar_spun (sugar_spun) wrote in evil_trepannys,


I was just reading a certain monstrous 300+ post thread on EHell about the evils of a vegan birthday party and I was wondering whether the theme is restrictive.

If I'm invited to an 80s themed party I have to go out and buy something to wear. My vintage collection doesn't count the 80s as vintage, more as the decade that fashion forgot. So if a vegan potluck is rude because it requires someone do some thinking about the snack they bring, then an 80s party is also rude because it requires guests to buy sticky hairspray and a ra ra skirt.

In 2004 my apartment held an election night party. We invited everyone, we started at midnight, and we ate snacks, drank clear beverages dyed blue with food colouring and watched the results come in. This was about as political a party as you could get without actually running for office, but the Republicans present didn't have any objection to our blue vodka shots and had as good a time as the rest of us. Since good hosts would have taken our guests' political sensibilities into account, should we have had red-dyed drinks as well as blue so that the Republicans could have made their political decision colourfully known?

That thread and the Whinese thread seem to me to be making a wider statement: that it is not appropriate to make any clear-cut statement just in case someone else is offended. I can't say, I'm a vegetarian and I'd prefer not to have to pick around meat at my birthday party, because a carnivore might be offended in case I think my diet is superior. I can't say, You're speaking Whinese, I can't understand you, because someone might be offended because I made up a word that rhymes with another word. Incidentally, my grandmother used to say, Are you speaking Chinese? I can't understand you, when I was speaking so excitedly and quickly I made no sense as a small child. Should she be tossed into the depths of EHell for referring to a different language she and I didn't speak?

I'm not going to tailor my speech to appease hypothetical offenders. I won't use the F word on the tram when surrounded by nuns and priests out of common courtesy, but then I wouldn't use it there anyway unless I'd dropped my books on my toe. I imagine though there are plenty of inappropriate things I could say that would be offensive to someone, and I'm not going to take a vow of public silence in case my throwaway thoughts on whether it was appropriate for Bush to pat his wife's butt in public and do that Godfather pat on the cheek of that senator cause offence to an incognito Republican beside me.

If we tailor speech so that nobody can be offended by it it becomes so bland that there's nothing left to say. I'm all for not offending people, but within normal limits. If you're offended because my opinion and yours are not the same then that's your fault, not mine, and I'm not going to keep mine to myself while you pontificate so you're not upset. I think this is the same theme of the last several posts here, and I wanted to pull them together into a long and rather cathartic rant.
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