Taking Offense

dennis grace amazing at mail.utexas.edu
Thu Oct 24 15:10:43 PDT 1996

Greetings Cousins, 

Lyonel here.

Mistress Gunnora recently posted a long explanation on the dnager of taking
offense for others.  Shortly thereafter, Baron Aodhan, made reference to
Daniel de Lincoln's sexual preferences.  Mistress Gunnora responded with a
"shame on you" to Baron Aodhan for "outing" Daniel.

Baron Aodhan replied:

>Hogwash. Your just butting in. If I stepped on Daniel's toes, it's his place to
>thwack me for it.  A "class action" compaint is out of bounds here.

I've heard such arguments many times in the past, but I don't think the
situation here is the same as the earlier case in which one gentle took
offense for another over a nickname he thought *might* offend the individual
so named.

Gunnora is dealing with outing someone else, an attack on a member of a
minority (clearly self-outing would be a different matter).  I can remember,
several years ago, working in a small space with five other men, one of whom
(I'll call him Jerry) was African-American.  Another member of our group
(we'll call him Pat) spent a good deal of his spare time at work making
jokes, many of them racist jokes of which African-Americans were frequently
the butt. Pat's two friends (call them Mike and Fred) always laughed; Jerry
never complained; Jeff (the other worker) and I simply ignored him.  After a
while, it just got to be too much.  It seemed every other word out of Pat's
mouth was a reference to African-American supposed inferiority (I refuse to
repeat any of the stereotypes).  So, one day I cut Pat off mid-sentence and
said, "Stop.  I just can't stand it anymore.  Can't you find another topic?"
Pat, of course, replied that Jerry wasn't offended and that it was Jerry's
place to respond if it bothered him.  Jerry said nothing.  Jeff, however,
took Pat to task:  "We're not responding for Jerry.  We're offended.  We
don't want to hear it anymore.  Jerry may not care, but we do."

Pat and Fred and Mike grumbled, but the jokes stopped.

Later, Jerry caught Jeff and I in the corridor and thanked us for silencing
Pat. He said, "It's hard to take on something like that when you feel
completely outnumbered."  This response embarrassed me.  I could have
stopped Pat's abuses earlier, but I kept my mouth shut.  What's worse, my
internal reasoning for keeping quiet had been exactly the reasons Pat gave
to counter my objections.

Gunnora's right.  Outing someone--without permission--would be wrong.  Her
concern was not misplaced in this regard. 

Baron Aodhan further noted, however:

>And I didn't "out" Daniel.  He publicly posted his orientation months ago on
>the Rialto (or maybe it was the SCA Heralds maillist).

Obviously, Mistress Gunnora was unaware that Daniel de Lincoln is out.
Baron Aodhan's response could have been _far_ more cordial in corecting this

The baron also said:

> I don't see what earthly difference it makes who an adult wishes to
>consentually exchange bodily fluids with, and I don't understand why people get
>uptight about it.  So someone is gay, or isn't, big deal.  Ranks right up there
>with their shoe size.

Well, I think His Excellency is a bit off the mark here.  People don't get
fired, evicted from their apartments, arrested in Georgia for lewd and
lascivious conduct, drummed out of the military, accused of child
molestation, beaten, raped, and generally reviled over their shoe-size.
We're all happy to hear that the baron has so enlightened an attitude.
Would that it were only so for much of the rest of our nation.

Yours in Virtual Service

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis G. Grace
Postmodern Medievalist
Division of Rhetoric and Composition
Department of English
University of Texas at Austin
amazing at mail.utexas.edu

Baro, metetz en guatge                    |  Lords, pawn your castles,
Chastels e vilas e ciutatz                |  your towns and cities.
Enanz qu'usquecs no'us guerreiatz         |  Before you're beat to the draw,
                                                    draw your swords.

                   -- Bertran de Born (a really fun Viscount)

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list