The voluntarily indignant meet the smugly dismissive


When Brian Kilmeade made his foolish comment comparing interracial marriage to “marrying other species and other ethnics,” I objected in my professional capacity as president of UNITY: Journalists of Color.

Discussing the situation with a colleague, I was a bit surprised when he virtually dismissed those who voice their objections to such drivel as the “voluntarily indignant.” The term rolled off his tongue in a way that indicated he’d used these words before, so I had no trouble looking them up.

People do seem to get offended too easily these days. But I’ve also noticed a backlash against those who express offense. Terms like “voluntarily indignant” don’t add to the conversation when they’re applied as labels to anyone who expresses offense at anything. Others choose to say things like: “People who look for reasons to be offended will usually find one.” I assure you, I do not look for reasons to be offended. I didn’t ask Brian Kilmeade to compare intercultural marriages to bestiality. He did that on his own.

Do people get offended too easily? I’m sure some do (and I’m sure I have, at times). But labeling all expressions of offense as coming from the “voluntarily indignant” does not contribute to the dialogue: rather, it is an effort at silencing the dialogue through smug dismissiveness. It also wrongly takes the focus off the comment being discussed and instead challenges people’s right to discuss it.

And that’s something I gladly volunteer to be indignant over.

My colleague’s a good guy, and I respect his opinion. I just can’t share it.

Kilmeade, by the way, did the right thing this morning and apologized for his July 8 statement. It was the right thing for him to do, and I for one appreciated it.

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