Certain phrases imply different things about the universe.
***warning, rant ahead****
“Please don’t be offended, but [XYZ].”
Look, the word “offensive” is a lame un-word. It is fine when people use it as a synonym for “arrogantly insulting” or “intentionally hurtful”, though they could just say that instead. But it is a tad vague, and this is exploited precisely for that reason, as in the bolded statement above.
See, if [XYZ] is hurtful, than there is more of a hint of responsibility to it. “Please don’t be hurt, but…”
If it is insulting, maybe you shouldn’t say it.
If it is true and urgent, then say it.
But none of this, “Please don’t be offended” stuff. Be honest. Are you attacking them? Ok, then treat them as a decent enemy, attack them without the patronizing faux pity. And if you are hurting them, then acknowledge it.
But this whole deal with the word “offended” is that it could mean you are personally wounded…but it can also just mean you merely disagree. There is fault there, but maybe it is the sayer’s, maybe it is the listener’s. So the blame is vague. It leads to this weird in between zone where you can be sorry-without-being-sorry. Not sorry enough to actually apologize or change, but just sorry enough to be off the hook. Small dosages of amorphous guilt or censure, and on we go our merry way.
Because now that our words “offended” and “offensive” blur the line between actual hurt with mere disagreement, then people always have a right to feel wronged/aggrieved (for believing something different than you)…because it is all personal now, it’s all construed as an attack on your person. And because it’s inevitable….we will also kinda have to accept personal attacks too. It’s all subjective anyway. Its an incipient acceptance of character assassinations and all that. Giving up on the dream of “we can agree to respectfully disagree” and now resorting to a world where everyone is thin-skinned and everything is a pique, which you can feel vaguely guilty for but continue doing.
Language should have clarity. With clarity comes action–wrongs addressed or pardoned, or positions firmly held, good old honest disagreement.
Intentionally vague buzzwords are a misuse of language.
***end of rant***