Outrage culture

I get the sense that as this century progresses, more and more we suffer from outrage culture. Did someone say something offensive? Outrageous! Was something not politically correct enough? Outrageous! Did a politician in the other party not wear a sufficiently large America flag pin? Outrageous!

Most often, though, this outrage seems to be premised in one particular group’s opportunity to be the only one at the table that gets to express how uniquely oppressed it is. For example, Jimmy Kimmel aired a bit last month where he asked children what we should do about our debt to China. One kid, no more than 6, suggested killing everyone in China. Kimmel then asked how many of the (4) kids thought that was a good idea. It wasn’t AT&T commercial cute, but it sufficed for a late night talk show bit. However, now many Chinese-Americans are outraged.

It’s not an issue that people would be mildly offended at the bit. The issue is in the calls for Kimmel to be fired and the sustained picketing outside his show and online. It’s an overreaction, a mountain from a mole hill. This is outrage culture. A group sees the opportunity to portray itself as particularly oppressed, as particularly harmed. The reason why they’re being oppressed isn’t really what’s important. What’s important is that they’re oppressed and hurt and offended and you aren’t. It doesn’t matter which race, ethnicity, or other type of group it is. It only matters that the opportunity is there to demonstrate outrage that only this group is allowed to have.

This type of culture, this outrage culture, only serves to set up artificial segregation between minority groups (of any kind, whether racial or otherwise) and everyone else. Yes, get upset over major issues. Express outrage at racial slurs. Get up in arms over discrimination. But don’t make mountains out of mole hills because you want your group to own the right to be outraged to the exclusion of everyone else. That explicitly sets up walls and barriers, and these are the very things we should want to do away with.