I’m Offended – In Defense of “Forest Scout reader”

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I’m Offended – In Defense of “Forest Scout reader”

Sparked by recent comments about the athletic study hall, Eddie Scheidler worries we have become too easily offended.

Sparked by recent comments about the athletic study hall, Eddie Scheidler worries we have become too easily offended.

Graphic created by Eddie Scheidler

Sparked by recent comments about the athletic study hall, Eddie Scheidler worries we have become too easily offended.

Graphic created by Eddie Scheidler

Graphic created by Eddie Scheidler

Sparked by recent comments about the athletic study hall, Eddie Scheidler worries we have become too easily offended.

Eddie Scheidler, Editor

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As of late, The Forest Scout has found itself in the spotlight. Not so much because of a particular article that was written but more so for one comment that was posted below it — oh, well, and the 36 responses that followed.

In short, senior Kenleigh Theis compiled a “quote story” on April 8 pertaining to how many involved in the theatrical side of things here at Lake Forest feel as if they are deserving of an Athletic Study Hall. Several active members of the LFHS Theater Department voiced their reasoning, and almost all resonated a similar message: Those participating in the fine arts should share in such a privilege just as any other Varsity athlete.

However, a reader, using anonymity to his advantage, thought otherwise. Donning the username “Forest Scout reader,” the undisclosed individual seamlessly disagreed with the article in its entirety, doing so in a rather demeaning manner that belittled the students who freely choose to participate in theater. Claiming that the time, effort, and strain involved in performing on stage to be nowhere near to the extent of that required for any given Varsity sport, “Forest Scout reader” took offense to the contents of the article and the fact that these students felt that they were cheated of a study hall.

A whirlwind of comments defending the targeted demographic ensued, claiming the original remark to be offensive, uninformed, ignorant, and above all, blatantly rude — and don’t get me wrong, they have every right to feel as such.

Nonetheless, if you take a closer look at the 36 responses, you’ll notice one phrase tossed around several times:

“I am grossly offended by your comment.”

And let me make something clear: By no means do I personally condone what was said. There’s no doubt in my mind that if someone described my time on the football field with words like “frolicking” or insisted that the only viewership the team received was from parents “basically forced into coming,” I’d be just as mad. I’ll be the first to admit, some of the things mentioned were just unnecessary: plain and simple.

Though in a way — call me crazy — I applaud the anonymous user.

Now, hear me out. Do I necessarily agree with what was said by “Forest Scout reader”? Absolutely not. The comment could’ve gone without the downplaying of all that goes into pulling off the many great performances our school has to offer.

We as a society are too easily offended.”

But at the same time, “Forest Scout reader” did something that has become a rarity in society today and that is gradually fading away from the limelight and into the distance: They got people talking.

And when I say talking, I mean talking. Not the sort of chatter you’d expect to hear from the mothers of Varsity baseball players on Facebook in response to a well-written post-game recap debriefing their sons’ triumphant efforts out there on the diamond Friday night.

No. This was different.

It was one against many, and both sides clearly made their stance on the matter known. Moreover, there was debate. There was controversy. There were mixed opinions. And, dare I say, there was excitement.

From our end, as the staff of TFS, we were faced with the decision to let the comment be or get rid of it altogether. Some made the case to remove the controversial statement because it is — in a way — negatively singling out a particular demographic.

Others, like myself, argued the opposite.

Again, not everything mentioned in the original comment was worth putting out there in the first place. I think we can all agree on that. But with that said, look at what those unconventional words spiraled into. Amassing roughly 1,300 views and prompting what has the makings to be the most active, response-provoking comment section TFS has ever witnessed, the anonymous user’s attempt at ruffling feathers did just that and then some.

Though in that attempt to stir the pot — whether intentional or not — “Forest Scout reader” highlighted an ever-growing issue plaguing high schools, corporate businesses, college campuses, political party rallies, and everything in between: We as a society are too easily offended.

You hear about it all the time. Speakers are chased off college campuses by those who disagree with them. Hecklers dismantle town hall meetings in districts throughout the country due to an unwillingness to listen to the viewpoints of the opposing party. Social media forums — Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — have become platforms where insults are the norm and outright threats are not uncommon, simply because we as a society have lost all ability to consider the other side of a story.

That is to say, because of the constraints imposed by the baselines of political correctness*, we suffer a sort of tyranny of the offended. We live in an America today where we must walk on eggshells wherever we go for even the mildest of things can ultimately “trigger” someone. Hence, young adults and teens like myself fall into the most highly venerated social grouping of them all: the beloved “Snowflake Generation.”

We have lost all ability to consider the other side of a story.”

As far as political correctness goes, I understand the premise behind this restrictive type of dialect. The rationale is there. I get that there’s always going to be a need for boundaries and lines that must not be crossed. But far too often, those lines become both blurred and exaggerated, ultimately stifling the honest assessment and the propensity for civil discourse of matters unfolding right before our very eyes.

I mean, go back to some of the original comments that got the ball rolling. Hell, even the person who started this whole fiasco claimed they were offended. Somehow, we’ve come to develop this aforementioned culture rooted in a single-minded way of thinking. Basically, “it’s my way or the highway,” and if I don’t agree with exactly what you’re saying, you’re wrong.

Oh, and now I’m offended.

That, in a nutshell, is why I tip my cap to “Forest Scout reader,” but also shake my head in discontent for him initially taking offense.

Ironically, the anonymous user depicted the true power encased in differentiated opinions. Again, as we all saw, debate transpired. Questions were asked. Everyone seemed to have thoughts of their own to bring to the table.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds oddly enough like the recipe required for any sort of innovation or change. I’m even willing to go so far as to say that those are the basic fabrics upon which this country and democracy were built, and the same that keep us propelling forward in this ever-modernizing world.

So, for some reading this article, we might not completely see eye-to-eye on the subject at hand. And to those people, I say, “so what?” Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. There’s never going to be a definitive “right” or “wrong” answer. But as long as we can learn to take others’ opposing points of view with a grain of salt and grow some thick skin while we’re at it, who’s to say where we’ll go.

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*In theory, political correctness is sought out to avoid any form of expression or action that puts another person or group of people at a disadvantage or offends them in some shape or form. It’s the conforming belief that suggests all language which could potentially offend political sensibilities — race, sex, ethnicity — should be eliminated.

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