To Be Offended or Not?

First published 15 December 2021


This is a post where I would be interested in hearing reader's opinions, in a nice way of course. It also raises a question of how we approach life here, in one aspect, that interested me.


I was asked to take some photos of my daughter Peng yesterday, which I am happy to do because as you can see the subject is well worth capturing. I had a few people contact me pointing out the words on the shirt, which honestly I hadn't noticed, being more focussed on the stunning subject. A few just mentioned it without stated judgement, and a couple felt more strongly about it, which is entirely fine.


I have a mixed response to this subject. On a more superficial level, I personally wouldn't have supported Peng buying the shirt, had I been involved at that time because of the wording. Thais, as most of you know, or should do, buy for looks and colour (red being popular in Isaan) and most have no ability to read what's written on them. I am not an easily offended type of guy, and having said that, it makes no difference to my day if Peng wears a shirt saying that or not, but if I had a strong opinion, I would prefer not.


This raises the deeper question of whether something is offending if you don't know that it is? The vast majority of people in the street here, seeing that shirt, wouldn't know what is says, so does that still make it unacceptable? It is far more likely that westerners would take offence, firstly because we can read English, and secondly because we have been indoctrinated that a word like that is bad and shouldn't be seen on a shirt in public (used in language all the time in some circles, of course). I went to an English boarding school aged eight, and there you got the cane for saying "bloody' or "shut up" (or for putting hands in pockets - ah, the good old days!) How things have changed.


This version comes in kid sizes! Not too late for under the Christmas tree. A gift to remember.


The dilemma I have, in a theoretical way, is what right do we have to impose our English/Christian standards (because that's the basis of this) onto another culture that just doesn't see this as a problem. When I told Gaun and Peng, they weren't worried at all. Although they know of the word in question, it has no emotional or ethical meaning to them. What right do I have to impose a restriction on Peng because of something that might offend me (not) or other westerners but not her? Hmmmm.


My personal solution, is that she can buy what she wants, but if I am there I will point out the significance of a 'Porn Hub' T-shirt, but having done, so she can wear what she wants. If, however, we go to a western venue, like Noi's Kitchen, then I think because of the viewing audience, it would be more appropriate to have something less potentially controversial.


What are your thoughts?This is a post where I would be interested in hearing reader's opinions, in a nice way of course. It also raises a question of how we approach life here, in one aspect, that interested me.


Tony

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