I think we’re all guilty of harassment

The trend nowadays is that everything is offensive and everyone should be offended by everything. But for those of us who don’t have a stick up our… well, I’ll get to the point.

I’ve written about the whole “cancel culture” thing and how it’s not just targeting people who say or do something stupid in present day, but also something like a tweet from years back or even a high school yearbook from 30 years ago.

Often the accused offenders are celebrities or politicians – people who can be publicly shamed. Of course, rarely does the bus driver or fast-food manager or someone in a low-profile position make national headlines if they behaved badly.

I recently spoke on this subject on the radio and it led to a bigger discussion.

“I bet you have sexually harassed someone at some point in your life,” someone said to me. I thought about it for a moment. My reaction was, “I guess I have. I think we all have.”

Growing up as teenagers, we all probably said something that was funny at the time. Perhaps our circle of friends thought the off-colour joke was hilarious but someone on the sidelines took offence to it. Boom. There’s a harassment claim.

It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t meant to devastate someone – much less someone who overheard it. But in the end, it was funny to the people involved.

Or maybe you have a great joking relationship with a friend but make a comment when he or she is having a bad day and what would normally have been laughed at is suddenly considered offensive. Boom. There’s a harassment claim.

At the same time, it’s easy to say nowadays, “Hey, I’ve thought about it for 10 years and it kind of bothers me now – especially since everyone is offended by everything lately.”

Is that the problem? Should there be a time limit? If I really think about it there was probably someone at some point when I was growing up that said something to offend or insult me. Should I spend hours thinking about it and track them down online to thrash them on their social media page?

Having thought about all of the different situations people are in – school, work, nightclub, wedding, vacation, etc. – I don’t believe there is anybody who can say, “I’ve never said anything that another person would’ve been offended by – ever.” I really don’t think it’s possible.

Am I justifying harassing people or downplaying the seriousness of the very public claims that have surfaced as of late? No, I’m not. What I am saying is we have all made a joke or said something that could be taken the wrong way despite our best intention. We’re all victims and we’re all guilty.

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