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Walt Whitman

A guide to living a decent life today, courtesy of Walt Whitman

A guide to living a decent life today, courtesy of Walt Whitman

Everyone is afraid of being sexist or racist, or being branded as such. No one wants to offend members of the LGBT community. It almost seems to be the goal of many people's lives now not to offend anyone, ever.

I see the point. I'm on board. But I think the usual motives behind "do not offend" injunctions are almost entirely backward. Worse, the more we emphasize not giving offense, the more likely we are to miss bad behavior that is a lot more serious than a vulgar word or a painful joke.

The problem is, we are approaching questions of race and gender and sexuality by way of the negative: words we are not supposed to say, gestures we are not supposed to make. Don't...

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