Signal v. Noise, a publication about the web
“No one has the right to spend their life without being offended.”
I was JUST thinking this exact thing this morning on my bike ride into work. Who in the hell has a right to not be offended? Nobody!
It happens to all of us at least once, and it’s part of life.
One of the biggest problems in our world, in our governments, in our legal system, is that people take so much personally and demand justice for the offense they felt for not being included or for being part of somebody’s stupid joke. So what? Does it really hurt you? If not, move the fuck on.
I wish more people would learn to be adults about things.
Amen. And things always sound more authoritative coming from a Brit. :)
From a Christian worldview, where Heaven and Hell exist and Christ is the only way out of Hell, his statement is absurd and full of hubris.
From a non-Christian worldview, his statement is reasonable and level-headed.
It all depends on your worldview whether or not you’re offended.
@Miles: I don’t think it has anything to do with your worldview. Rather, it depends on how easily offended you are. My priest friend pre-ordered that book as soon as he saw the title. He thought it would make an interesting read, as he likes to constantly challenge his own ways of thinking. :)
Beautifully and briefly put.
This debate could have lasted for months, but he used a well-crafted argument along with powerful, pointed language to pack everything he needed to say into an effective soundbit.
This is why thinkers who can write and writers who can think are so valuable to a society.
I agree with Joe S. It’s the same issue time and time again. No one is being hurt in the process of making this media – if you don’t like it. Look away. There are many more truly offensive things in the world that deserve more press so they can be stopped.
Yea Miles, your statement really doesn’t make too much sense. I’m a faithful believer, as well as going for a Masters in Theology (computers pay my bills).
Good thing the author selected Jesus as the subject!! If it was Muhammad…well there would a far worse result!
I like how he admits that people will be offended. It seems there is this group of people that seem to think we should “not” be offended and that we are somehow wrong for being offended. While I may not like his work and probably won’t, I have to respect his right to write it, just as he is respecting my write to be offended by it.
I’m also a Christian and I agree with what Pullman said in that clip, even though I think he is wrong about Jesus Christ.
@Miles, nothing of what he said is incompatible with the Christian worldview. In one aspect, Christians are offensive by nature (Matt 15:12, John 8:43-59), and in another, not (Rom 12:18, Eph 4:29).
As a Christian myself, I totally agree with this one statement. So many people try to keep us from evangelizing because some find it offensive. Not everyone thinks the same way! —which should be obvious, but seems that it must not be.
If I want to spread the message of Christ, I must let others spread their messages, too.
@Anders: It has everything to do with your worldview. If you are an atheist, you have no desire (or reason) to respect a non-existent God. If you believe in God then it is only natural to respect him. You cannot divorce your worldview (your point of view) from your decisions because it is the paradigm you hold (consciously or not). No matter how pragmatic you are, you still have that paradigm.
However, I object to the title, the book, the fiction about the life of Jesus, etc, but not his saying (to paraphrase): “I have the right to write and publish what I choose.” There’s a lot of toilet-paper fiction out there. If he wants to add to that bloated genre, then that’s perfectly fine! And as Pullman himself said: I have a right to dislike and complain about it. So I have.
But, unlike your priest friend, Anders, I don’t purposefully spend money on books that I consider worthless. An atheist writing about God has the credibility of the alcoholic writing about how to stay sober…
Fortunately freedom of speech is in good health around Christianity. Come anywhere close to Islam, though, and things are a lot different.
I praise his point and could not agree more. The people of today are simply too concerned with whether something is offensive or not. I’m a little offended at the choice of wording in his title but, at the same time I’d tell me to go suck it if I were him.
As a Christian I enjoy a nice challenge to my faith. Besides, without those challenges how hard is faith? I’ll probably read his book simply because it’ll make for a good read and I’ll probably come away with questions that will in the end make me a stronger Christian.
Oh, yeah. If in the off chance that something in my comment has offended you. You can go suck it. Now I’m off to ask forgiveness for telling you to suck it.
You can divorce your worldview from your decisions to interact with ideas you disagree with. Engaging those ideas and living with them for a time, allows you to find new perspectives on the worldview you started from. Assuming you wish to grow.
Dogmatic objections to opposing ideas is the easier route for many.
@Miles: Allow me to disagree. I would say that from a Christian worldview the statement he makes in this video is reasonable and level-headed.
I have no idea about the book—and I likely completely disagree with his conclusion but I think too many Christians have lost track of the fact that OUR MESSAGE IS OFFENSIVE. Jesus said it would be. The fact that Jesus is the Christ was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, this is nothing new. It’s of little avail to convince people there is but one savior until they really understand that they are wretched and lost because they have rejected the one God. I don’t claim that is welcome news to anybody but without the problem, the cure doesn’t make sense.
That said, I believe it is scriptural to make sure that when we offend it is purely with the message of the cross and not through fault of our own personality or foolishness in how we treat others.
As a Christian I would say I am not offended by his book title. His argument is not with me, it’s with Christ himself. And I think that God himself becoming flesh and dieing to pay the price for my sins is both the greatest scandel of all time and a more epic demonstration of grace and love than we could ever dream of.
Jesus was a scoundrel by his own contemporary standards. He offended people so deeply that he was tortured to death for the things he said.
@Caleb, thank you for saying that. People love to jump on Christians for being narrow-minded, when in fact orthodox Christianity heavily emphasizes the exercise of free will.
@miles: Sorry for the double commenting, but I forgot one point.
I welcome the chance to talk about Christ in these terms because of the two statements in his title I think the more dangerous one to believe is the first. Many more people think of Jesus as “just a good moral teacher” than those that actually consider him to be a scoundrel. But in fact anybody who was a scoundrel would not be a good moral teacher - they cannot both be true. To suppose that somebody could at once be a scoundrel and a good man is “absurd and full of hubris”. Any level headed morally upright “good” man who claimed to be God-incarnate must actually be labeled a lunatic. And a lunatic is not the Jesus we see in the scriptures - we see God in the flesh proving his claim to divinity at every turn.
I agree with Ryan’s setiment in that it’s so easy to pick on Christian’s and their beliefs. Show me someone who’ll egg the house in the rough neighborhood on the wrong side of town in the middle of the night, and then proudly proclaim your doings to the neighbors, then I’ll be impressed.
Having said that, I also agree with Pullman, nobody’s forcing you to read his book, nor your ability to challenge his theory with your own. God isn’t lessened by a town trying to rebrand Good Friday and/or Christmas, but people are. Our response to those events, and this book, speak more to the weakness in our faith, than it does anything else.
Indeed, if you want to read about the “scoundral” side of Christ from a Christian perspective, try “The Jesus I Never Knew” by
Sounds like he was well-rehearsed for that question ;)
In other news, Jesus himself would probably agree with the sentiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/But_to_bring_a_sword
I agree with his statement 100%. Very eloquently stated.
@miles: I disagree. As a Christian I don’t have an expectation to not be offended and, in fact, I am on a regular basis. I’m fine with that. It causes me to look into myself and examine my thinking and mindset. It can be a valuable learning experience. What I find interesting though is that often, in America at least, Christians are expected to be quiet about their faith and the exclusive claims of the Christian faith, lest they offend someone because the exclusive claims of the Christian faith are very offensive to some.
P.S. I know there are Christians who’d like to shut down offensive speech too.
Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Pullman’s book, I think this situation illustrates a great point. To build an audience, you must have a point-of-view you believe in. You should be putting forth new ideas, and evidence of why they are right. Some will agree with you, and some won’t. That’s the essence of discussion and debate. If everyone agreed and no one ever got offended what would be the point? Why would we even need to protect freedom of speech?
That doesn’t mean you should go around offending everyone for no reason, but if you have an idea that you strongly believe in don’t let that it might offend someone stop you. Remember, at one point, many people were offended at the idea the world was round instead of flat.
Freedom of speech is NOT incompatible with a Biblical worldview.
Traditionally, Christians have welcomed public discourse with opposing views. A simple search for “Hitchens vs” on YouTube will render hundreds of results. Other world religions, (Buddism, Hinduism, Islam) aren’t so open to debate.
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me.” —Jesus Christ
If this quotation is removed from this page, does that mean that you’re offended or worried others will be?
Hi there! I’m from Romania (Eastern Europe for some of you having hard times locating this small country) and I’m an Evangelical Christian.
For me this statement seems very dangerous and uncovering unwanted paths for the future. No matter how smart might be, it is obvious that the statement could come only from a spoiled child of Western culture and I am shocked of how easy some of you are taking it for granted, making it just a perfect playground for some brain stretching.
Until ‘89 Romania was under communist regime, and I was 16 years old when we broke free. Facts:
- in order to be able to travel outside Romania you had to make an application to the Police in order to give your passport where it was held in custody. No to mention who were asked were are you going, why, whom you will meet and so on. Needless to say you could go mostly in Communist country.
- after ‘85 every family had an allowance of food/month like this: 0,5 l of oil/family member, 1 kg of sugar/family member, 1 kg of wheat flour/family member, 20 l of gasoline/month/car. Every family received special coupons for this. No coupon, no food.
- we saw oranges and bananas only in winter time, sold “under the table” conditioned with some canned fish
- the secret service (securitate) was listening to our phone calls
- if you had a bad opinion or made a joke about the system and country leader you went to jail
- in ‘50 all the elite of Romania’s culture was thrown in jail, the farmer’s properties were ceased and nationalized against their will
- today, everyday I am offended by the holes in the tarmac, by the dust on the streets, by increasing taxes, by poor medical service, etc. etc. etc.
I do now want to continue but the list is long!
Why all these happened? Because some Communist guys thought in a very subversive way “No one has the right to spend their life without being offended”
Instead of raising the bar by spreading the idea “Everybody has the right to spend their life without being offended” and be ready to die for it, by embracing this statement we make room for all kind of stuff which will lead to a even lower standard society. No matter how high is our standard and how much we do NOT want to offend, we are blowing it anyways because of our human nature, but could you please take a moment and try to foresee where the above statement could take us?
I am sorry guys but I am fed up of living being offended every day. In Law science a person’s right triggers an obligation on the other person’s side and I want to make my personal mission statement as follows “Everybody has the obligation of spending their life being respectful with the others”.
How did you become a Christian? What is your testimony? They may not want us discussing this on this blog. If so, please email me at “saxe17 @ gmail dot com”.
Well, this is just another guy making a good buck with some bold statements, before the Passover, hoping to sell something.
Freedom of speech it’s on of the most important Christian values.
Jesus always spoke freely and his speech was so powerful and true … no one dared to touch him in the day light.
The reason why it was murdered it’s his message. So why should Christians try to stop this man publishing some obscure book. In 10 years from now we won’t even remember his name.
Jesus Christ is God, The Eternal God, what wrong can he to to God? Who can harm God?
Jesus Christ is a scandal and He will always remain The Scandal.
See how Christians are being treated in China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Palestine, Middle East, while the fat and weak western Christian Church does almost nothing.
Or the worst thing it supports the Israel atrocity in Palestine, without thinking about Christians in Palestine.
It is politically incorrect for the western liberal media to speak about the life of Christians in these countries and all the atrocities they have to suffer.
Who cares about some stupid book that got some media coverage? I don’t.
Democracy and freedom are values extracted from Jesus teachings. His ideas are every were in our culture. It changed and influenced everything.
Yes Jason, no one has the right to stop him speak, but in a free country, such as USA, everyone has the right to sue him.. Ha.. ha..
Every man should be accountable for his actions and words.
Freedom of speech is all well and good and I don’t disagree with his statement. However, speaking freely doesn’t exempt you from retaliation by the offended. That is what happened to Jesus. That is what happened to Theo Van Gogh. I don’t condone physical retribution to offensive speech. If you disagree with the speech, writing, art, films or cartoons feel free to speak, write, sculpt, film or doodle your disagreement.
@Calin, I believe when others move beyond rhetoric to trying to materially affect your way of life, then it is a time to respond in kind. In the US and many other countries we are fortunate to have a fairly effective electoral process. Unfortunately that is not universally the case.
No offense taken. Monkeys banging on key boards might eventually type the same words. Still no offense taken.
I am not speaking for Jesus Christ, but I believe Jesus has endured much worse. He has forgiven worse.
Isn’t there a saying about he who laughs last laughs best?
Speech is only free if you get the last word.
Jason co-founded Basecamp back in 1999. He also co-authored REWORK, the New York Times bestselling book on running a "right-sized" business. Co-founded, co-authored... Can he do anything on his own?
Read all of Jason Fried’s posts, and follow Jason Fried on Twitter.