Real men have a genuine concern for others, and they will do their best not to purposely offend, but taking responsibility for others’ feelings is not, and cannot be, a quality of Tonic Masculinity. Strong men are not concerned with the nebulous and shifting notion of “political correctness.” Perhaps surprisingly, the refusal to take ownership of other people’s sensitivities is in part motivated by concern for their well-being.
Let me explain.
Young children, lacking the emotional development to control their emotions or express them in a healthy manner, need parents, teacher and other responsible people to calm them; mature men do not.
Healthy, mature individuals take responsibility for managing their own feelings; unhealthy people expect others to do it for them. The outcome for each is very different, and only one of these attitudes produces true freedom; the other enslaves by stifling personal growth.
When a person expects others to follow protocols of political correctness, they are signaling that they are too feeble and fearful to grow into a strong, resilient person. Instead of learning to adapt to one’s environment and develop inner fortitude, one whose soul is easily bruised attempts to control everyone else and turn the world into a “safe space” utopia that can never be because the very idea is an impossible contradiction. Demanding the world caretake the emotions of others foists a despotism upon society filled with petulant little kings demanding others be their servants. And since no one can possibly meet the shifting sands of another’s emotional reactions, the entire idea must either be abandoned, or imposed by the State. The culture of correctness imposes an inherent tyranny exercised by those who refuse to govern their own reactions. Ergo, when everyone demands to be kept “safe,” no one is.
John Cleese said, “The idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to”; no one should.
In one sense, being exposed to potentially offensive language is a gift that makes you more of a man. Why? It presents an opportunity to grow. You simply cannot develop a thick skin without being exposed to ideas, words and images that challenge your emotions. Censoring or removing anything you don’t like is akin to removing the weights from a barbell. Resistance training, whether of body or emotions, requires you to challenge yourself, not demand that others do the lifting for you. Don’t expect to manage others by demanding “correctness”; lift your own weights.
A huge problem of our age is that people who “cancel” anything they deem incorrect become weaker and weaker in their mental and emotional fortitude, causing them to be “triggered” ever more easily. Because they do not exercise their tolerance, we have come to the point where Mr. Potato Head and a cartoon skunk are being cancel-cultured out of oversensitive society, and some Dr. Suess books are being metaphorically burned by emotionally frail people throwing a cultural tantrum. Instead of deciding, “I don’t want to read/watch/hear that,” they demand no one can.
“Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read.
“If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.
“I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn’t occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don’t like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don’t like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.
“To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.”
I would question the arrogance of presuming the moral high ground based upon one’s personal sensitivities. Who gave them the authority to decide what is “correct” for all of us?
The cancel culture priests of political correctness have become the new Puritans, branding anyone they deem whatever-phobic with the Scarlet Letter of social stigma.
As mature men, we can truly say to them, “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn” what you think. After all, we aren’t offended by their disapproval.