‘I’M OFFENDED’: It’s The Latest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

Please tell me how being offended means you get paid, or that if someone offends, he or she shouldn’t be able to make a living. What is happening to America?

I wish I were joking:

The owner of an Illinois bed and breakfast who came under fire after refusing to host a gay civil union ceremony on his property has suffered a legal setback after a panel with the Illinois Human Rights Commission declined to hear his appeal.

Jim Walder, owner of TimberCreek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton, Illinois, was forced to pay $30,000 to same-sex couples Todd and Mark Wathen after the agency determined he had discriminated against them with his refusal to host their event, The Christian Post reported.

After the couple filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Human rights, arguing Walder was in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act, the agency forced the owner not only to pay out $30,000 for emotional distress caused to the couple, but also an additional $50,000 for attorney’s fees.

“We do not hate gays. We are not homophobic or bigoted,” Walder told The News-Gazette… “We do not prohibit homosexuals from visiting TimberCreek. Some have. We are respectful and kind to all of our guests.”

Stories like Walder’s dot the US landscape, and show no signs of diminishing. The old phrase, “It’s a free country. Do what you want” has morphed into “Don’t do it. You’ll get sued.” This has to stop. How can we call ourselves a free country when we don’t allow someone to run his business as he wishes?

As Shakespeare said, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Let me add judges and civil juries to this as well, since if these titans of jurisprudence and our alleged “peers” simply booted frivolous cases and the attorneys who bring them out on their ears, we wouldn’t have this problem.

For the record, let me point out my strictly figurative meaning in the above Shakespeare edict about lawyers, judges, and juries; I don’t want to be fired from Clash Daily, or be sued, and I don’t want Clash Daily to be sued.

By the way, if you thought you’re not affected because you don’t own or operate a business, ask Justine Sacco, Lindsey Stone, Alicia Ann Lynch, Adria Richards, and many others what they think. Mere words on a screen – stupid or offensive as they may have been – can make you lose your job or be scared for your life. The wonders and benefits of the Internet – lightning marketing speed, convenience, instant knowledge — are never without risks. You can become instantly famous for giggling uncontrollably behind a Chewbacca mask, or find yourself the scourge of every working man or woman when you let your bad day get the best of you. Tread carefully, my friends.

If you’re gay and a bed and breakfast doesn’t wish to serve you or your ceremony, find another location. If you’re cut off in traffic, breathe and count to five (I really have to work on this one). If you’re offended by a Tweet or FB post, do something rare and remarkable like letting it go without commenting on it.

Lesson: Be kind, and slow to take offense. We all have so much to be grateful for, and also bigger problems to deal with.

photo credit: Dan4th 081214 cash money via photopin (license)

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Michael Cummings

About the author, Michael Cummings: Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns. View all articles by Michael Cummings

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