This is one of my favorite topics because it forces me to think outside the box and stretch my vocabulary. And, it tests my knowledge of pop culture.
When people say they are “offended” by something I write, it isn’t that I said or did something wrong. It’s that they have an emotional response that doesn’t allow them to see things clearly. They get “offended” by what they perceive as an attack on their intelligence or personal dignity. This can happen when someone uses a word or phrase that is not commonly used, or when someone implies something they know to be false. For example: “Cake is not bread.” How could anyone argue with such a statement? It’s not only false, it’s offensive to those who are bread-oriented. Cake is a form of bread. It has some properties of bread, and it tastes like bread… so… it is bread. Get over it!
Another example: “The definition of ‘terrorism’ has been hijacked by the terrorists.” That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But consider this: If you say something often enough, people will start to believe it. For example, if you say, “That movie was terrible; it had no plot whatsoever.” Then people will start to believe that’s what you think of most movies. If you keep saying it, eventually, people will start to believe it about all movies. Even the good ones.
And that can lead to real problems. If you are part of a group that is responsible for protecting our country and you keep saying something is not true, even though it is true, people will stop listening to you. They won’t see things your way anymore. This is called “emotional reasoning” and it is a huge problem in the world today. It affects how we deal with international relations, how we resolve conflicts and why people vote the way they do. If you want to understand emotional reasoning, read Malcolm Forbes’ classic, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Back to cake: As I said, this forces me to stretch my vocabulary. So, I’m going to do that by explaining some of the definitions of words that may be new to you. Here are the definitions I use:
Offensive: Describes something that causes pain or discomfort. For example, a remark that is hurtful, a photo that is distressing, or a song that is annoying.
To be sure, some people find everything I write offensive. I don’t care. I write to offend the easily offended. And besides, sometimes, what I write is true… even when… it is not intended to be hurtful.
Intolerant: Describes someone who is unwilling to consider other points of view.
Ignorant: Describes someone who lacks knowledge or understanding.
All of these words have negative connotations… but… they also have positive ones. In fact, in many cases, they are only positive. Take tolerable for example. To tolerate something means to be able to stand it without getting angry or distressed. Something that is tolerable is not offensive and doesn’t cause much pain or discomfort.
Onward to ignorant… A person who is ignorant of something is simply not aware of it. For example, I am not aware that cake is not bread. I didn’t grow up eating only bread… so… I don’t know it. Maybe you don’t either. That’s why I titled this piece “Is Cake considered Bread?” Because most people don’t realize cake is bread. They think it is a dessert… or… some other food they are not familiar with. Or maybe they think it is a name given to something that looks like bread… but… has little or no nutritional value.
All of which brings me to the positive meaning of these words. Someone who is ignorant of something is someone