Although these often superfluous, theatrical, and overindulgent displays have been the source of much ridicule, outrage and offence are not intrinsically bad intuitions.
A propensity for outrage and offence is usually associated with the most fanatical proponents of intersectional progressive ideology. Glancing over the last few years of public outrage, it’s fair to say this association has been earned. Some of the most amusing pictures to come out of the 2016 election cycle were of President Trump’s most die-hard critics screaming at the sky as the president-elect uttered the final words, “So help me God.”
Although these often superfluous, theatrical, and overindulgent displays have been the source of much ridicule, outrage and offence are not intrinsically bad intuitions. On the contrary, it seems that when properly applied they are useful instincts. Anti-social behavior, be it racism, sexism, or bigotry, should be condemned, and social alienation, when deployed correctly, is both an appropriate and effective penalty against such behavior.
There is in principle nothing wrong with a corrective mechanism powered by social disapproval. Rather, we have presently allowed this valuable and important societal check to be overrun by an attitude that places disapproval as commensurate to virtue.
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⏩ Sam Angell is an undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh pursuing a degree in history.