‘Blaming, shaming and humiliating: I’ve had enough of the easily offended’

Dec 04, 2019
Jacqui's had enough of the easily offended eroding the traditions and community she holds dear. Source: Stock Image/Getty Images

I am up to pussy’s bow with offended snowflakes and others! This is a story of traditions and all we are losing due to misdirected sensitive souls. I will start with Christmas …

I love Christmas carols, the tree and all the trappings, and came from a home where whatever our fortunes we had the best (usually lovingly made) gifts. From times after the war when it was always something knitted by my mum or made by my carpenter dad to those clever chocolate treats made by Mum with condensed milk and corn flakes, the stocking would be on our bed, rustling with paper wrapped goodies and the tangerine would be in the bottom of the toe. We had a warm glow thinking of Christmas.

Then the offended brigade started their nonsense. No carols; no trees labelled ‘Christmas’ trees, we had call it the ‘holidays’ as they do in America. The Christian traditions sanitised, despite Australia being, until recently, a mainly Christian country. We can’t offend anyone!

When I arrived in Australia in 1987, I worked in a Jewish day care for the elderly in Melbourne, Victoria and those beautiful people embraced me and the spirit of Christmas. They had similar celebrations and they gave us gifts. They did not seem the least offended by the festivities going on around them. We in our way and in our workplace made the Jewish traditions and ceremonies perfect for them. I took part each Friday in Kiddush. I drank the wine and shared the bread.

It was mutual respect and that is how it should be. Respect what is different, but don’t make people feel excluded. I would have done the same for any member of a different culture I worked for and cared about.

Then the revolution began to get sillier … Now it seems we can’t call anything that identifies as female or male as just that. We may offend some transgender people. Gingerbread men, workmen, even the identity silhouettes on toilets and traffic lights … Whatever happened along the way to common sense? I have many transgender and gay friends; I truly love and admire them, but can’t imagine them ousting me to the Outer Hebrides if I mentioned I liked gingerbread men. Enough is enough!

I paint and have shared my flower and animal paintings with many people online and in exhibitions. I’ve won a few small prizes along the way and have loved the world of other artists. It is usually a very kind environment. That is perhaps until now.

The local social club has been allowing artists to show their work for about 15 years and I’ve had many of my works seen there. My husband, also an artist, has too and so have some of my fellow artist friends. The spaces for paintings has been cut back to around six spots, halved from what it used to be. We still go to the club for meals and other social events. I still show paintings. I put two paintings in recently — a floral one and a portrait, which I had shown at our version of the Archibald Prize.

Arriving at the club recently I was confronted by the manager. “Could you please remove your painting, people have said they are offended by it!”

I was stunned! I looked at the portrait and although I might have an ‘ugly mug’ could not see how anyone would be ‘offended’. The painting had hung in the local gallery for two weeks, it had been seen by hundreds and no one there had ever asked for it to be removed. Here I was, sheepishly removing the offensive item and feeling so dejected and humiliated by this ‘anonymous group of fragile and offended people’.

Jacqui Lee's portrait
The offending portrait before it was removed from the wall. Source: Jacqui Lee

Yes, I really think it is time we stopped with this attitude of being easily offended, ready to put down others. It’s done every day by trolls on social media. I suppose they get their kicks by making others suffer, hiding behind a sense of anonymity.

I replaced my painting with another, a painting of my two children aged four and five playing with snails. What next? Will they rise up about cruelty to snails?!

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