Do You Have The Right To Be Offended?

by admin on September 18, 2017

One Daniell Rider thinks she does. In a post to craft store Hobby Lobby’s Facebook page, Rider posted the photo below and demanded that the decor item of dried cotton bolls be removed for sale citing that :

This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves.

A little sensitivity goes a long way.

PLEASE REMOVE THIS “decor”.

 

The obvious problem is that no slave harvested these dried cotton decor items and the second obvious problem is that Daniell Rider likely wears a considerable amount of cotton.   The third problem is that African American slaves worked on plantations growing and processing rice, tobacco, and sugar cane, none of which we boycott or deprive ourselves of simply because 150 years ago it was grown and harvested at the expense of slaves.

So, the question, “Do you have the right to be offended?”, could be answered by stating that, yes, you have a general right to be offended on your own behalf.   Etiquette, in general, does not give grace to be offended on the behalf of others who may not share your level of offense in their name.    But others also have the right to not take your offense seriously and dismiss the offense as nothing more than either a power play or expressions of heightened entitlement to be continuously put out of joint over issues that aren’t really issues.

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee September 18, 2017 at 10:43 pm

I will be very happy to take any and all chocolate items off Ms. Rider’s hands and keep these offensive evidences of slave labour out of her home. If anyone else finds chocolate offensive I will be happy to take care of that, too. I am willing to sacrifice myself for others’ piece of mind.

Also, I’d like to relieve Ms. Rider of the guilt of owning that oriental area rug in her living room. And the seafood in her cupboard and freezer. Her expensive designer runners and her entire wardrobe, made in South Asia.

I’ll take the purebred puppy-mill dog, too. Ms. Rider can sign it all over to me and I’ll take care of it. She’ll be left naked, homeless and hungry but she’ll feel better about herself in the end, I’m sure.

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bap September 19, 2017 at 7:56 am

LIKE X 1000!!!!!!

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ladyv21454 September 19, 2017 at 8:46 am

This is such a perfect response – but you still can’t have my chocolate!

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Devin September 19, 2017 at 9:30 am

You make a great point about how difficult it is to be a conscious consumer. Almost every item that is mass marketed comes with a price tag that includes child labor, unethical trade agreements, explotative hiring, and unregulated pollution. You can either get offended and go on a rant every time you step into any big box store or you can let your wallet speak for you.
Getting bent out of shape over dried ornamental plants is neither productive or educated. Maybe get upset the next time hubby brings home a bouquet of flowers that were recently harvested by children in central and South America. Dee I think you and I could take down Valentine’s Day (no flowers, no chocolates, no questionable diamonds)!!!

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Dee September 19, 2017 at 11:51 am

I’m with you, Devin, except that I do very much enjoy Valentine’s Day. I actually love all the holidays. I just like to do them my way, not catering to what I’m told is the “proper” way. And if you celebrate the event AFTER the occasion then there’s no pressure, no line-ups, no crowds, and everything is on sale!

We have a local franchise chocolatier that sources its goods ethically (yea Purdy’s!), although I do buy the chocolate that I use on a daily (yes, daily) basis from the grocer, and I can only hope it’s ethical. It’s next to impossible to use my wallet to buy ethically if I don’t know how the goods were produced. But that kind of lobbying is beyond me right now, so I’ll just continue to make my choices as best I can.

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NostalgicGal September 19, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Bravo. [Like] <made my own like button.

Chocolate, (urp) what chocolate? I can assure you there's no chocolate here to be saved.

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lakey September 18, 2017 at 11:34 pm

Are we sure that this isn’t someone thinking that they are cleverly satirizing some of the people who look for things to be outraged about?

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Denise September 19, 2017 at 10:46 am

This has been the general consensus of the internet.

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AS September 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm

SJWs are real breed of people – unfortunately!

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Kate 2 September 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Unfortunately some people are completely serious about this stuff. I’ve encountered a few SJWs, for example that seriously think all white people should stop running for political offices, and should stop voicing any political opinions, because that gives more “room” for POCs to run and speak.

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Lady Catford September 19, 2017 at 12:36 am

Personal licence plates have been found offensive. Assimi8 from Star Trek’s Borg has offended some Canadian First Nations. Grabher is also offensive. The owner, Mr. Grabher, has had this licence plate for over a decade, but now it is offensive.

Sometimes I think that some people have so few Real things to worry about (they have a steady income, a home , etc.) that they almost go out of their way to fuss. Or maybe they are just Not too Bright as my Mother would say.

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NostalgicGal September 19, 2017 at 2:56 pm

In the state of Colorado, a couple had custom plates for about 18 years, with their initials spelled out.

RAP-JAP

Early 2000’s someone of Japanese American descent took offense and got a lawyer. For the two of them displaying their full initials on a license plate. It was ruled they had to change the plates. The rest of the suit was tossed.

This was also about the time someone went after Miley Cyrus because she had a social media snap of her with several teenage friends messing around and three of them put fingers to the outside corners of their eyes and pulled them outwards. To me it looked like kids goofing off. To a few different sets of attorneys she was purposely slandering and defaming those of Asian Islander descent and they filed for many millions. It was obvious someone went after her just because she had money… it never ends.

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HelenB September 20, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Or, many people had felt uncomfortable seeing the licence plate over the years and it wasn’t until years later that someone finally brought it up.

Or they decided to be faux offended.

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JennyM September 19, 2017 at 4:52 pm

I remember when the “Grabher” license plate made the news, and I can see both sides of the issue.

The plate is just Mr.Grabher’s name, as you said, and lots of people have their first or last names as vanity license plates (my mother, for instance). However, at the same time it does look like the message “Grab her”, which brings to mind the phrase “Grab her by the (lady part)” that Donald Trump famously said and which became popular among some of his followers.

Most people who saw that plate (unless they already knew the owner) would naturally be reminded of that quote and the fact that it promoted sexual assault against women. It would also be natural for them to assume that the car owner himself would therefore advocate performing said violent action against women. So of course they would be offended by it and want the plate revoked.

I’m rather conflicted about the plate myself. It does indeed make me uncomfortable despite knowing that it’s just the guy’s name, simply because of what else it looks like it represents, but knowing that at the end of the day the guy was just using his own name on the plate and not intending to spread an offensive message makes me feel that he should ultimately be allowed to keep it if he wishes. It’s not his fault his name happens to be spelt that way, and it’s only because of Trump’s words that people are even noticing it now after a decade of use.

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BeachMum September 20, 2017 at 7:34 am

I have a Honda minivan that looks very much like a storm trooper. I wanted to get a customized plate that said FN2187 (which is the name of a character in one of the Star Wars movies). It was rejected because ‘F’ stands for the F-word and 187 is the California penal code for murder.

I sent them a picture of a doll with the name, and it was still rejected. I think they’ve gone too far in the wrong direction. I’m not sure how anyone would read that plate as offensive, but California, in its wisdom, felt that the plate was offensive.

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Kate 2 September 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

The thing is, those people who wanted him to take the plate off aren’t helping anyone, nor are they preventing sexual assault. ALL they are doing is hurting an innocent man. It’s just an easier way for them to lash out, they get to be offended without really doing anything. If they really cared about preventing and stopping sexual assault they could volunteer to walk people home, donate money to legal defense funds for victims, help raise money for self-defense classes, dozens of options other than harming an innocent man and making people think they are self-righteous jerks who aren’t too bright.

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o_gal September 20, 2017 at 6:19 am

Ohio’s current license plate template is AAA-NNNN. They have been rolling out for a number of years now, starting with the A sequence (AAA, AAB, AAC, etc.) It doesn’t look like any combination of letters is being banned, although we’re up to the H sequence and I haven’t seen any that begin with GOD. I’m just waiting for someone to see a sequence and get offended by it. I found it really amusing that they still issued the sequence FFS and it wasn’t deemed offensive (common Internet acronym for “For F**K’s Sake!”). I haven’t been forced to change my plates in a number of years, and I’m hoping that when it rolls around to WTF that I can get new plates (hoping I can snag WTF-0007). Then wait for someone to get offended and I can tell them that Ohio issued it, take it up with them.

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NostalgicGal September 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm

There are some sequences they will purposely skip to avoid having certain things being spelled out by the plates.

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Claire September 19, 2017 at 1:08 am

In the words of Stephen Fry:

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that’. As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so f***ing what.”

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Miss B September 19, 2017 at 6:50 am

it seems I heard the exact same story one or two years ago about cotton. I think someone is just trying to get attention.

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Miss B September 19, 2017 at 6:51 am

also, they are cotton bolls, not boles.

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Cleosia September 19, 2017 at 7:45 am

I always have a problem with people who are offended on behalf of other people. 9 times out of 10, said people aren’t offended.

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Michelle September 19, 2017 at 11:03 am

Agreed. I would wager that 99% of African-American customers did not even blink at the display.

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Phitius September 19, 2017 at 11:29 am

This is so true! A few years ago there was a show out called Starved about people with eating disorders. It was a very dark satyrical show that took the different types of disorders to an obvious extreme. As someone who suffered with bulimia I found the show utterly hysterical and remarkably cathartic. They really captured the horrible and yet utterly ridiculous lengths people with eating disorders go to to feed (or starve) their particular demon. Almost every other person I knew with an eating disorder felt the same way. It spoke to us and made us laugh until we cried because we all understood it.

The show ended up being taken off the air when people, who in many cases never suffered with an eating disorder, complained about it being offensive.

I wish they hadn’t spoken on my behalf…

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Dee September 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm

“Soap” was pulled off the air (in the 70s? 80s?), despite being very popular with high ratings, but there simply weren’t any advertisers left to pay the bills, as lobbyists were so vocal that advertisers simply couldn’t afford to support it anymore. It had such great writing and crazy scenarios but it featured an easy-going, respectable gay man as a single father of a daughter, and that couldn’t possibly be allowed to go unchallenged, I guess. For what it’s worth, in my neck of the woods (west coast) most people adored the show and couldn’t make heads or tails of the controversy. And we’re called the Bible Belt, too. Go figure.

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AS September 19, 2017 at 7:49 am

@Dee nailed it.

If we carry offenses years, and even centuries later as in this case, we can do nothing, because almost everything might once have been made or produced with the blood of others if you look back long enough. Battles were fought and won. Carry on with life. Don’t punish the hardworking waged workers in fields because back in the day they would have been slaves!

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JD September 19, 2017 at 7:59 am

I hate to tell Ms. Rider, but I grew up a “free state” and cotton was grown in the southern end of the state until the mid-20th century. The farmers, paid farm hands and the farmers’ kids picked it. So while a lot of it used to be produced by slave labor, even in the slavery years some of it was not.
This is someone in search of an offense for her own self-aggrandizement. Cotton is used all around her, even in some papers, so is she offended by those products? Cotton is still grown in the U.S., and machines pick it. People passing fields where cotton has been picked will sometimes stop to pick up some of the leftover fluffy bolls, to amuse their kids or use as décor, like on wreaths. So someone got the idea to cut some of the dried plants and sell it as décor. And she’s offended. Good grief.
Slavery was, and is, a terrible thing, and we are rightly angered by it, but she would do far better to work for or donate to organizations that work to end child labor, sex slavery and kidnapped workers, and promote fair trade and wages for farmers and worker than to get her cotton panties in a twist because of some random cotton bolls at a craft store.

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Calli Arcale September 19, 2017 at 11:06 am

“Cotton is used all around her, even in some papers, so is she offended by those products?”

What a good point! For instance, I believe it’s used in US currency.

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amydkw September 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm

US currency is 75% cotton, 25% linen 🙂

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AS September 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Yes, it is used in the US currency! Maybe she is a plastic-only person! And if anyone wants to pay her with US currency, she insists on a bank deposit! 😉

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Katana September 19, 2017 at 6:12 pm

No, that’s linen I believe

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ladyv21454 September 19, 2017 at 8:44 am

Ms. Rider needs to save her energy to spend on something that really matters – like protesting actual discrimination against people of other races. It would be interesting to talk to African-American customers of Hobby Lobby and see if they’re offended by this decor. I’d be willing to bet they’re not. It’s one thing to want to fight on behalf of others when there are actual offenses; quite another to be offended about something that the group of people you’re allegedly supporting aren’t offended by at all.

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PJ September 19, 2017 at 9:52 am

Sure, you have the right to be offended.

I have the right to roll my eyes at you and not take you seriously when I believe you have gotten carried away.

I also have the right to regard you as a smorgasbord offense-taker, choosing your target and offense on more of a whim than actual principle.

That is, unless you are offended by anything that came off the back of slaves, which leaves you with little to wear, or eat.

I have to wonder if this woman is equally outraged at gemstones, common chocolate bars, or clothing made by certain Asian makers, that are coming from current slaves? Does she post nasty comments on the facebook page of every drugstore, supermarket, Target, Pier 1………?

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Jackie September 19, 2017 at 10:21 am

Please keep in mind, I have no problems with what other people eat, or how they eat, so I am not trying to shame anyone. I posted this on my Face Book page after I read this article.

Where does she think her vegan friendly 100% cotton clothes come from?

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Lacey September 19, 2017 at 10:28 am

Does this extend to people who are offended by being told certain things are racist, or offended by people saying “Happy Holidays,” or told they can’t use certain words? I don’t think the display is racist, but it seems like these “everyone is so easily offended” things always come out in response to a social justice issue being called out and never in response to the people who lose it over things like being told they can’t tell a rape joke or even being called white.

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Elaina September 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Yes. This. I was really turned off by this whole post by the admin and comments actually.

It doesn’t matter what the truth is and what slaves picked. It doesn’t really matter whether I find this racist or not either since I’m white. Cotton may not have been the only thing slaves picked, but it certainly is often used in images and is OFTEN understood as representative of the slave trade. I could understand why this could be problematic to see for someone.

I am also confused as to what this has to do with etiquette. Why can’t I call out things that could be viewed as problematic? Why can’t I tell a fellow white person that their joke is racist or offensive even if it isn’t about me or my identity groups? I guess I am just participating in poor etiquette then and that’s the way it’s going to be.

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admin September 20, 2017 at 5:53 am

Sometimes a cotton boll is just a cotton boll (it ripens in the autumn so it’s autumn decor) and for you or others to assume it’s being used intentionally to insult others is where the etiquette issue comes into play. Cotton ripens in the autumn and driving through the countryside in late September through October one sees huge, snowy white fields of cotton. WHile I don’t prefer to decorate with cotton bolls, others may and in doing so, they are merely expressing their taste in decor choices, nothing more. For you or others to assign an evil motive to the use of cotton bolls for decor is speculation.

You can choose to look for evil everywhere and therefore see it everywhere or you can choose to give people the better benefit of the doubt until otherwise proven wrong.

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Elaina September 24, 2017 at 5:37 pm

I still don’t understand your logic, but I accept that you feel that way. Isn’t saying: “Well, I didn’t mean it that way because I feel such and such”. Isn’t that doing the same thing? Does it always belong to the person who owns it whether to say it is racist or it isn’t? I really disagree with that logic, and I am uncomfortable with that as an answer here. I think we can question the things that people choose without assigning blame. While I disagree with the way this person went about it, I DO think it’s important to question and I am highly disappointed in the notion that you would shut that down in the name of civility. There are things that were once assigned neutral status that have taken on racist implications over time and images that were problematic. Blackface, for example, and using certain words. It’s okay to give the benefit of the doubt and still call out something that is potentially problematic. I actually do this regularly in my own community.

Recently there was some discomfort in my community around some imagery around a game that involved picnics for example, because picnics and images like that were often used around episodes of lynching and the game could call up recollections for folks. Discourse ensued. It was heated but we decided to stop playing the game because of the potential implications. There’s nothing wrong with discourse, and my impression is that you are saying there isn’t room for it at all. This where ettiquete and my sense of justice diverge, I would much rather pursue justice than being polite and I’m not particularly sorry about it.

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admin September 20, 2017 at 6:17 am

Further, cotton production on plantations started in the 1800’s whereas tobacco has been a plantation crop since the 1600’s in the US. Are cigarettes a racist reminder of plantation economics of 150+ years ago?

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Elaina September 24, 2017 at 5:49 pm

I disagree that items and symbols are ever neutral. Each thing has a particular history behind it that we use and work with. I think we can both acknowledge that neutrality isn’t a thing that really exists. Everything that we purchase and use has an effect on the world and someone else whether it’s symbolic or it’s participation in slave labor. We may not be able to avoid everything, but we can take conscious actions toward making better choices about some things.

Cigarettes do have an economical and racist history behind them, whether it be in the history of the crop or the way they have been marketed to communities of color. While I would never give Wikipedia as a research space, it provides a good starting point for understanding and further research: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_marketing_and_African_Americans

I’m not saying we have to change the space, but what I am saying is there is nothing wrong with speaking about these things. I really think etiquette is wrong here.

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Dee September 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm

The problem, Elaina, is when you take offense at something that wasn’t designed to be offensive. You’re seeing something that isn’t there because your biased lens (everybody has one) tells you it’s offensive. Looking at it as objectively as possible there is nothing to find offensive in this display. Feeling offended is perfectly natural and acceptable; trying to inhibit others’ freedom to meet your offended sensibilities, when they aren’t warranted, is where the problem begins. In this case, trying to make the creator of the display feel badly enough to take it down is hypocritical, because we all know the offended party participates in the same economic game of slavery and repression as we all do, given little to no choice in making purchasing decisions based on fair trade and ethics only.

So, we know this display has no offensive qualities whatsoever, and we know the offended party is engaging in buying behaviours that support slavery of one kind or another, and thus the response to all this is incredulousness. Be offended as you wish, we all have that right, but don’t cross the line and demand others sanitize the world to meet your sensitivities if they aren’t warranted.

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Elaina September 24, 2017 at 5:54 pm

I never said anyone had to sanitize the world, you read that onto my response. I said that I don’t see why we can’t have the conversation about it or why etiquette dictates that thing is automatically neutral. Why does the person with ownership over the thing get to decide what it means? Your reaction to my response is unwarranted, frankly. I didn’t even say I was personally offended by it.

There are many things not “designed to be offensive” that have come to take on offensive connotations over time. Words, symbols, ideas…Culture moves in different ways and I would hope that etiquette would have the common sense to move with it. If not, than etiquette as a tool for engaging in the world becomes outdated and ineffective.

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Surianne September 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm

I agree, Elaina. I think it’s important to call things out and have these discussions. Even if someone is overreacting, it’s better to have the discussion and unpack why someone is offended, and see if there’s genuine merit. I’ve reconsidered several of my own knee-jerk “But it’s not offensive! Stop being so sensitive!” reactions because of open, respectful dialogue and listening to why someone feels offended.

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Elaina September 24, 2017 at 8:13 pm

This is exactly my point. I am disappointed in the way that admin and commenters have been so dismissive of this as an option. Sure, the reaction on this person’s part was perhaps out of place and maybe not in the right forum or worded in a way that invites that dialogue (isn’t this what we should be focusing on as the breach of etiquette?!) but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at it at all. The more we dismiss feelings the more we get to the point in the country where we are right now, where every single thing is not only divisive but we just yell at each other. Pretty sure that isn’t good etiquette either. We’ve forgotten or perhaps never learned how to have conversations around these things in any type of way. We’ve forgotten to do exactly what you stated, listening to others with an open mind.

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InTheEther September 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm

The etiquette issue is in the sheer level of self-entitlement and selfishness that her messaging HobbyLobby indicates. Rider doesn’t like X thing, so the large international company must change it. Because Rider’s opinion is what’s important here.

Everyone gets to have their own opinions that they may choose to share if they wish. That doesn’t mean their opinion is valid and not ridiculous. Opinions are not sacrosanct and above reproach. Rider may choose to go through life horrified at the sight of unprocessed cotton because Hollywood likes/has liked to make that the cliche’ crop in representations of slavery. Or maybe she’s got another excuse, though that’s all that I could think of. But its perfectly reasonable for the rest of us to point out the flaws in her argument of cotton=slavery.

Everyone should discuss problematic issues, but you better be able to back up your stance with something other than a knee-jerk emotional response. If your opinion can’t hold up to a rebuttal then maybe its time to rethink your opinion. (Not necessarily even change it, just actually consider it deeply enough to be able to defend it.)

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Elaina September 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm

I agree that the etiquette issue here is in how the person with offense handled the situation, but I don’t think the question itself is without merit, and that is where my problem comes in. I see no reason why we can’t question it in the first place and work with the problem/perceived offense rather than declaring it morally neutral territory where we can’t even discuss it.

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InTheEther September 29, 2017 at 8:45 pm

We are discussing it. And the conclusion most of us have reached is that finding the sight of unprocessed cotton racist is a bit silly, seeing as the tie between unprocessed cotton and the slave trade is a bit tenuous and that the offense seems to be purely over cosmetics, as it is unlikely that Rider has stripped any instance of cotton or any other good that was once harvested by slaves out of her life.

Like I said before, opinions aren’t necisarily valid. Just because Rider’s personally decided that unprocessed cotton=slavery doesn’t make it so.

Lacey September 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm

It’s just a funny question to ask from a site that has posts indulging people who are offended by things like clothing that people wear to events. It feels like it has more to do with politics than etiquette.

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sandisadie September 19, 2017 at 11:03 am

Some people just have to show their ignorance IMO. There are some things about Hobby Lobby that one could be offended by, but displaying cotton bolls is not one of them.

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DianeRN September 19, 2017 at 12:06 pm

http://wkrn.com/2017/09/18/lipscomb-university-student-says-cotton-centerpiece-points-to-a-larger-culture-gap/

For those questioning if that story is satire or fake, see the story above. A the president of a Christian university in Nashville is under fire for the treatment that students received when invited to dinner at his home. There were several complaints but ‘“I think the most offensive thing was the cotton centerpieces,” Sims said.’

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Semperviren September 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

That’s an interesting story and makes a nice point about context. To me, Ms. Rider comes across as really reaching for a reason to take offense. On the other hand, to invite a group of black students to your home, serve collard greens, ribs and cornbread and have cotton stalk center pieces? Oof.

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InTheEther September 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

That’s pretty standard fair in the Deep South. Seriously, down here cornbread about beats out rolls as a staple. Collards are just about the most popular side dish, and good ribs are for special occasions since they take a while to make well. Are those items even cliche along the same lines as fried chicken and watermelon (and I don’t know about you but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like those two items either).

I’m seriously confused how those dish choices are racist.

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Semperviren September 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm

It’s the overall picture. This was ostensibly a dinner for the particular purpose of hearing black students’ perceptions, concerns and experiences at the university, and their suggestions for improvement. Really- NO ONE reviewed the planned menu and decorations and considered whether soul food and cotton stalks struck the right note for THIS dinner?

Mind you, I don’t think it was malicious. Just dumb.

Here’s another article about the dinner: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/09/19/a-university-president-held-a-dinner-for-black-students-and-set-the-table-with-cotton-stalks-and-collard-greens/

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Dee September 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm

The issue in this instance, though, wasn’t about the cotton. One of the students even says that. The list of grievances is long and detailed. If the university hadn’t treated the students so shabbily they likely wouldn’t have cared one whit about the centerpiece, or maybe even have noticed it. Interesting, too, that the Latino students the night before had been served tacos. It seems the university wants to make it perfectly clear that they are prepared to host students but only in a way that emphasizes white superiority. Hopefully, the students can provoke enough shame and bad publicity to see necessary changes made, such as in the top levels of administration.

viviennebzb September 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Of course everyone has the right to be offended.

Seems to me what some are after is the the right to never be offended, a ludicrous and unattainable notion. This story reads more “attention monger” than anything else, imho.

A little rational common sense goes a long way as well.

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Julia September 19, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Hm. Whether this were just some troll looking for attention or not, the question of having a “right” to be offended is pertinent to our world. My take on it is that you have every right in the world to be offended by anything you like. What you do not have a right to do is insist that others be offended too. You are welcome, of course, to look for others who are offended, and you can converse with others about your offense, but you don’t get to go up to others and order them to agree with you and be offended on your behalf, just as you cannot order others not to be offended.

So I go into a store and there’s some really offensive imagery of a woman. I get offended. I leave the store and never come back. I write to the store and tell them they’ve lost a customer. All good. I can even try to organize a boycott of this store with like-minded people. Still fine.

Where I cross the line is insisting that they remove this product (which we’re all just going to assume is legal) because I am offended. Nope. I can ask, but I should not throw a hissy fit or otherwise be rude because they don’t do as I say.

So someone, we’re just going to play along here, sees something decorative and it offends them. They have every right to be offended. They do not have the right to try to force me to take up their cause.

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NostalgicGal September 19, 2017 at 3:08 pm

So I wonder what she’d say if I grew a couple of cotton plants in my yard, let them go to dried out, then picked the stems and made arrangements to sell at holiday craft bazaars? I grew, I picked it, is it still slave related then?

I once had someone tell me a small favorite unicorn head pendant (silver with a few turquoise chips) was a sign of the devil. They refused to talk to me about it further though I expressed a genuine interest in knowing why and how they got to this. They asked my MANAGER to force me to take it off, not ask me themselves. They were agitated enough they were told the restaurant didn’t need their patronage.

You have a right to be offended, but by the same token you do not have the right to demand the universe goes your way either. The entitled snowflake mentality is hitting our mainstream and it’s not pretty, is it?

I recently had a staff meeting for a forum I moderate, and the site owner was marveling at several recent adult tossed toddler tantrums and diktats and the subsequent meltdown because he refused to do something just because this other person thought it should be done THIS WAY/THEIR WAY and no room for discussion. My Way NOW! He asked if he missed something and have people changed, and I told him yes, explained briefly about Speshul Snowflakes and how these are not understanding as they’ve had everything their way to now and they’re finally meeting someone that won’t give into their narcissic and co-dependent ways. Get four of the same type in the room together and it quickly degenerates. So no, he’s not imagining, and it’ll only get worse. Oh. (Thank you fellow e-hellions, at least I have a clue of what’s going on)

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Emmy September 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm

She has the right to be offended, however everybody else has the right to their opinion and I feel she is just making herself look ridiculous. It’s like the boy who cried ‘wolf’. When people cry ‘racism’ at a cotton display in a store, it just makes people roll their eyes and not take racism seriously. Which is a shame because there are really times when people are being racist and should be called out on it. If she is willing to be upset by her very interesting assumption that cotton represents slavery, is she sure that everything she owns is ethically made? If she is so offended by cotton, it would make her a big hypocrite to be wearing clothes made in sweatshops – unless she only cares about the slavery in the US in the past by whites and not about oppressed people who are not African American.

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Rebecca September 19, 2017 at 11:17 pm

I think this is someone being satirical, or perhaps deliberately trying to create an internet tempest in a teapot. Remember the bright red Starbucks “holiday” cups with no decorative snowflakes, that there was supposedly “outrage” over, ie “They are removing all references to Christmas just to be PC!!” (Ignoring, of course, that there is nothing particularly Christmassy about snowflakes). Well someone dug deeper, and discovered there was no real outrage over this at all. It was just someone who was bored and deliberately started a fake “controversy” over the whole ridiculous matter.

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essie September 20, 2017 at 5:59 am

So, Ms. Rider sees cotton bolls and it reminds her of slavery. That reminds me of the scene in “What About Bob?” where Bob is telling a joke to the hospital staff:

The doctor draws two circles and says “What do you see?” the guy says “Sex.” So the doctor draws trees, “What do you see?” the guy says “sex”. The doctor draws a car, owl, “Sex, sex, sex”. The doctor says to him “You are obsessed with sex”, he replies “Well you’re the one drawing all the dirty pictures!”

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Barreleh September 20, 2017 at 9:38 am

I think for a lot of people loudly complaining about something that offends them is their ticket to 15 minutes of fame.

In Philly, there was a cheesesteak shop called ‘Chink’s Steaks’ The original owner’s nickname was Chink. (I’ve heard old-time Philly peeps give Charleses the nicknames ‘Chink’ or ‘Chike’ rather than ‘Chuck’ or ‘Charlie’) There’s also a kid’s ball game called chink.

Eight or so years ago an Asian student at Univ. of PA complained loud and long about the name of this shop. Oddly, it’s the complete opposite side of the city from U of P, in a dumpy-ish neighborhood, that more than likely she never set one of her Ivy League toes into. She got her 15 minutes, got her name in the local paper, and for no reason I can come up with, other than perhaps the threat of a lawsuit, the store changed its name to ‘Joe’s Steaks.’

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L September 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

I am laughing hysterically. So glad my co-worker is out momentarily because I cannot stop laughing. This is so far beyond unreasonable that I think the crazy has gone crazy.

I can’t wait to share this! And if I lived in the area, I’d run in and buy every single one then stand outside the store and offer them for free so I could buy more and more and more. I’d love to drive that complainer out of her mind.

Okay, so it’s not overly nice. But at least we’d all get a laugh.

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Nancy Hesler Fuchs September 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

Love this. Going to repost to Facebook when I get home.

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HelenB September 20, 2017 at 4:22 pm

I was challenged about how I thought of this by a friend. It’s not offensive to me — I’m totally neutral about it. But I was asked to put myself in the other’s place. Can I imagine how it might feel to someone else? She described it as an arrow to the chest, a sudden involuntary shock upon seeing it. I can never understand that feeling, but I can acknowledge that she is not wrong to feel as she did.

Does most of my head still think it’s ridiculous for someone to ask HL to remove it — you bet. Am I not saying that out loud but continuing to contemplate — you bet.

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Ashley September 20, 2017 at 11:40 pm

I don’t know what to make of this story.

I’ve read it now on several sources, and the only conclusion I can come to is if she wants to be offended, she can be. I don’t know her, I can’t speak for her. But she also can’t speak for anyone else. She speaks for herself, and that’s it.

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Cheryl September 20, 2017 at 11:51 pm

My feeling is if you find it offensive for a cotton centerpiece to be shown in a store, you should leave and not spend money there. Ever. There is a company whose food products I have not knowingly eaten in decades because they sponsored a show I found offensive. Not that I carry a grudge LOL. Too bad I didn’t make more of a fuss all those years ago; maybe I would have gotten my fifteen minutes of special snowflakeness.

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