I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended. - Linus Torvalds

Ah Linus, perceived arrogant as always. Is this arrogant though? Let's have a look.

Google, define 'offended' please:

Offended: resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.

Note very carefully the word 'perceived' here. I used to think that there were two prerequisites for a statement to be offensive.

  • The statement has to be meant as an insult.
  • The statement has to be accepted as an insult.

Then again, some people even succeed in being offended by things that aren't meant as an insult at all.

Let's take complimenting a person on their clothes as an example. Suppose I say to someone "Those are really nice jeans, you're wearing!". (I hope you can agree that this is really supposed to be a compliment.)

Now, I think we can equally agree that any person can perceive this as an insult in at least three different ways, for example: depending on where they hear the emphasis in the sentence.

  • That's a really nice pair of jeans, you're wearing!
  • That's a really nice pair of jeans, you're wearing!
  • That's a really nice pair of jeans, you're wearing!

As even a compliment can be perceived as an insult, I have revised my opinion. I now think that there is only one prerequisite for a statement to be insulting:

  • The statement has to be accepted as an insult.

Notice how this means that you alone are responsible for being insulted.

Back to Linus. With "people who get offended", I personally think Linus means "people who have a habit of accepting insults". Is that arrogant?

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