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Cultivating a culture of offense

As reported by the Orange County Register, in August of last year a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that Shirley Rae Dieu, 56, of Irvine, and Crystal Matchett, 26, of Westland, Michigan could proceed with their joint lawsuit against talk show host "Dr. Phil" McGraw and the CBS Television network.

"America is cultivating a culture of offense." - Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
by Larry Darter

The suit was filed in connection with a 2007 episode of the "Dr. Phil" show the women and four other people agreed to take part in. The civil claim alleges that the two women were subjected to fraud, negligent misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of being exposed to nudity during the episode.

The show's topical focus was on the ability of the participants to tolerate unique individuals and situations and their willingness to resist their own judgmental character. One of the scenarios the participants were faced with was a nude man joining them for dinner.

In her sworn declaration Matchett stated that when the nude man appeared, "I was in shock and total disbelief of what was happening, feeling violated and disgusted." Dieu said in her declaration that after being exposed to the nudity she and Matchett immediately retreated to a bedroom "horrified and crying."

[MORE from Dallas Nudist Culture: Nudist Culture ─ Piercings, tattoos, and grooming]

While a lawsuit by two women that alleges emotional distress over being briefly exposed to nudity within the context of a television show taping they voluntarily participated in seems a bit extreme, it is of course common knowledge that some people do find nudity to be indecent and immodest and are highly offended by being exposed to the nudity of others especially without their consent.

Yet in light of how relaxed attitudes have become with regard to other things many commonly took offense to in the past, it is interesting that attitudes towards simple nudity haven't relaxed much at all. If anything, in general it seems many in our society today are even more prudish than their grandparents were. An interesting question related to that is whether people are actually that more modest and morally conservative or whether they have just become quicker to take offense, not just at displays of nudity but others things as well.

Hypersensitive people have been around likely as long as people have been around, but their numbers seems to have increased almost exponentially. Hypersensitive people get offended easily because they see life as having a certain set of rules and they find it infuriating when someone or some group doesn't seem to be going by those rules. They play by the rules and think others should do the same.

Discussing things related to sexuality, relationships, racism, religion, politics - and yes, simple nudity are all but guaranteed to offend someone. Disagreeing with someone is simply part of life. There is nothing wrong with people not agreeing with the concept of open nudity. But telling other people what they can and cannot do just because their worldview doesn't square with yours goes too far.

[Op-ed piece on the clothing optional access petition: Petition Asks White House for More Clothing Optional Recreational Access on Public Lands]

A part of the problem it seems is the era of political correctness we live in. Political correctness teaches people should feel offended by the words and actions of others that they don't agree with. Political correctness imbues people with the belief they are a victim of something and that should do something about it, hold someone accountable. Political correctness has gotten so far out of control in this country that anybody can be offended by anything at anytime. But who gets to decide what is offensive anyway? Each individual that's who - people take offense because they choose to be offended.

Too many Americans have become hypersensitive and are too easily offended. American Orthodox rabbi, author and public speaker, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says, "America is cultivating a 'culture of offense,' whereby as groups and individuals, we look to be offended." That's true and the fact is many things that thin-skinned people take offense at these days have absolutely nothing to do with them and don't impact on their personal lives to even the most smallest degree. Sometimes I wonder when it comes to nudity whether people are really that offended by it or just believe they are supposed to be offended.

Personally I despise political correctness. Whatever good intentions may have been behind political correctness when it came into vogue have long since been swamped by swells of negativity. It is now one of the most despicable aspects of our society and culture in that people must walk on eggshells to avoid offending the thin-skinned that are so defensive about the values and principles they embrace that they find within the most innocuous ideas reasons to be offended.

Whatever happened to simply ignoring people whose ideas, opinions and lifestyles don't square with yours? Is it really necessary to take offense at every little thing? The hallmark of a free and democratic society is the free exchange of ideas. Political correctness is the very antithesis of that concept. It is a license people use to suppress words, images, or ideas that are "offensive" to them and it is nothing short of an attempt to impose one's own personal social or moral values on others.

It has been said that political correctness is "progressive" thinking but it is not, it is actually regressive. It's about putting the rights of small but vocal minorities ahead of the rights of everyone they don't agree with. Nudists and naturists and no one else for that matter should have to mentally filter every word and action with the aim of avoiding offending overly sensitive people who feel as if the whole world should adhere to the same values and principles they do.

For the most part, nudists and naturists cloister themselves on private property, behind privacy fenced clubs and resorts and the unreasonably few clothing optional spaces permitted them, spaces that are often very inconvenient to get to and spaces no one else really wants to utilize anyway. In other words, as a group they go out of their way not to offend those who have issues with being exposed to nudity. Certainly the motives behind it are not purely selfless since they are well aware that being confrontational about nudity will only precipitate even more restrictive government regulation of their lifestyle. But the point is, with few exceptions, those who actively oppose nudism/naturism can't honestly claim they have ever been unwillingly exposed to nudity.

People shouldn't be able to visit a clothing optional beach and then go to the government agency with jurisdiction over it and complain because they were exposed to nudity. Anywhere there is a clothing optional beach there are usually plenty more clothed beaches to choose from. Why else would a person who objects to open nudity go to a clothing optional beach unless they were simply looking to be offended so they could complain about it?

Do I ever get offended? Yes, I am offended by the easily offended, the politically correct, fragile personalities who can't seem to face the realities of living in a world of over 7 billion people where each person is a unique individual. Those contentious types that are always creating confrontation and problems that needn't even exist because they are thin-skinned and easily offended.

No matter what social norm they are defending or what social problem they claim to be trying to address, they aren't the solution, they ARE the problem. It is a waste of time and energy. It is unproductive and it's harmful. It's bigotry plain and simple. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is now about 79 years. That is about 29,000 days or 689,000 hours. Life is too short to spend time worrying about how other people choose to live when it doesn't affect or concern you.

Nobody is accountable for the actions of someone else. You are only accountable for your own. If you are offended by someone's lifestyle or values, if they really seem so bad, why lend them credibility by even talking about it? If the choices of those folks don't affect your life or impinge on your rights, do what most normal people would do ─ nothing. Live your life and let others live theirs. Just because something might offend someone doesn't mean that it's wrong, evil or necessarily bad. People just disagree sometimes.


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[From the just for fun department today: Don't let this happen to you]

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