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Salman Rushdie: “Everyone is upset all the time.”

If you’re easily offended, and if you’ve never read Salman Rushdie’s work, then you might want to stay away from it.

Rushdie has a dark sense of humor and doesn’t mind poking at different aspects of culture and religion. After publishing Satanic Verses in 1988, Rushdie routinely received death threats. In 1989, Ayatolla Khomeini–Iran’s spiritual leader at the time–pronounced a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s execution. I’m guessing Rushdie doesn’t vacation in Iran. He’s still on the hit list of Islamic extremists, like Al Qaeda, to this day.

I’ll talk more about this next week…but, for now, let’s just say Rushdie probably doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for easily offended people.

NPR interviewed Rushdie about his latest novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, and I thought this bit was insightful:

It’s Rushdie’s first novel for adults in seven years, and the book might ruffle some feathers, but Rushdie’s not concerned. “Everything I write upsets somebody …” he tells NPR’s Scott Simon. “It’s an age in which everyone is upset all the time. All you have to do is look at the Internet. It’s full of people screaming at other people for saying things they don’t like.”

The best-selling author was the subject of death threats — and a fatwa calling for his assassination — after the publication of his 1988 Satanic Verses. He was knighted in 2007, and, at this point, doesn’t have a lot of time or patience for Internet outrage.

“I think we have to just turn that sound off and turn away from that unpleasant noise and just get on with doing what we do,” he says. “I think this is a funny book. A sense of humor is a useful tool when reading my work.”

The internet is an easy offended place. Even I’m shocked at how the most light-hearted of comments I make on this blog can completely set someone off. The Christian guy on the internet goes off about something an atheist said. The atheist guy on the internet goes off about something the Christian guy said. It’s just so much noise.

Do you agree with Rushdie? Why are we so easily offended these days?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. pamgibbs #

    I’m offended by your blog post. 🙂 Actually, you’re spot on.


    September 17, 2015
  2. I think that some people who surf the internet looking for discussions on a certain topic that they’re passionate about and then they quickly get offended or upset when they find something they don’t agree with. Personally, I think getting offended by something on the internet is a waste of energy but there seem to be people who thrive on it. To each their own, I guess :/


    September 17, 2015
  3. Stephen McDaniel #

    Before the era of mass communications, most people lived in small communities. If you exploded every time you got upset about something someone said or did, you could be out in the fatal cold very quickly. So they had two concepts to keep the problem under control: Tolerance and Consideration. They didn’t work every time, but they mostly kept the social wheels oiled. The internet unfortunately allows everyone to vent their spleens anonymously. So it becomes all too easy to blow off Tolerance and Consideration. But I’ll bet you anything you like the people who vent online don’t practice the same lack of humanity with their friends and families.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 17, 2015
  4. How ironic that in my daily reading of “The Imitation of Christ” (Thomas a Kempis) the topics were about keeping a watchful eye on ourselves and not paying so much attention to the actions and outbursts of others. We so easily find fault with what others express and so easily dismiss our own actions/words.

    Another daily reading today said, “We live in a culture of personal rights…while that’s a wonderful ideal, it will never be realized in a fallen world…children of God don’t need to enforce their rights.”

    Thanks for your regular posts. I find they often challenge my thinking. And since my thinking can be faulty, this is quite welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 17, 2015
  5. Simran Brijwani #

    Lovely post, liked it a lot 😀


    September 17, 2015
  6. klevy11 #

    I agree with Rushdie. You asked why our society is so easily offended. I think the key to the answer here is the word “easily”. Being offended is easy. It’s often a choice.
    The Internet has given all of us the opportunity to share our voice to the world. Before the Internet, in order to share your message infront of a large group was a difficult task that required a lot of hard work.
    Being “offended” doesn’t solve problems or create solutions. Ultimately I think it creates problems for the “offended” more than anyone else. Over time they start to believe that they have accomplished something, meanwhile their lives aren’t actually any better and they get stuck there, never moving forward.
    I am truly perplexed when people are offended by what others think or say about their religion. Religion is based off faith. The second someone comes out, in the name of religion, shouting about being offended, they lose credibility in my mind.
    I do not believe that a person who truly has faith, knowledge or a deep spiritual understanding, can be offended.
    Knowledge and Faith are not generally characteristics of the offended.
    If we are always looking outside of ourselves to solve problems or for recognition, we will never find find it. We have to give recognition to ourselves first. Faith, knowledge and confidence come from the strength to continue on your journey despite who tries to offend you along the way. You can’t stop at the scene of the offense, sit down and take up residence there for life, believing that your journey will only continue when the offenders leave and move out of your way. Because, now the offenders are in charge of you. They are now in control of your life.
    And I guess that’s the choice right there. We can walk past them and keep going or we can sit down with them and end our journey.


    September 17, 2015
  7. I think a lot of essays published online explore ways that people are wronged, and while these types of essays that explore culture/gender/race/sexuality aren’t bad, some readers are being exposed to new concepts to be upset about.

    Since we have the internet, we not only get new things that upset us, but we have platforms where we can yell about being upset. These platforms work as curtains behind which users hide. It’s easy to respond quickly when not looking someone in the face.

    Finally, there is a backlash that involves the offenders telling the offended that they are “too sensitive” or “butthurt” (a phrase I could live 1,000 years without ever hearing again and it would be too soon when I heard it again). Telling someone he/she is too sensitive dismisses a person’s feelings/concerns simply because the offensive person doesn’t care or agree.


    September 17, 2015
  8. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Khomeini put Salman Rushdie’s head on the block after the publication of his 1988 Satanic Verses. That didn’t stop Rushdie from speaking his mind about highly sensitive subjects…nor does he have much patience for Internet outrage. “I think we have to just turn that sound off and turn away from that unpleasant noise and just get on with doing what we do,” he says.

    Which leads to the question: why are we so easily offended by the opinions of others expressed via cyberspace? My personal stand is that when we are not truly confident of our own views, we are more easily outraged….what’s yours? Thank you 101 Books for yet another thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 17, 2015
  9. Not sure why so many spend so much energy ranting and raving about things others comment on. A good rule of thumb applies to both tv and the internet: If you don’t like it, change channels. Works for me.


    September 17, 2015
  10. I wrote a couple of blog posts a few weeks back that I got ragey comments about. I did think they’d annoy someone, but the level of upset was insane, way out of proportion. Some more reasonable comments showing their disdain for my post I let go through, but not the worst ones. Who knew that colouring in books and Anne Rice would make people pop a coronary? Other ones that I was actually expecting hell for went down without a peep! The internet is a fickle place.


    September 18, 2015
  11. I guess the internet and the world in general bring people of different ideologies together whereas perhaps that wasn’t the case earlier? There’s bound to be some ruffled feathers especially in discussions about God, and religion, and such heavy-duty topics.


    September 22, 2015
  12. You inspire me in this post to read Salman Rushdie…


    September 25, 2015
  13. We live in painfully earnest times. It’s a bad age to be a satirist. Increasingly people are unable to detect sarcasm, unable to parse out nuance, irony, context. I see this a lot in progressive circles- they’re coming from a place of wanting to make the world more kind, more fair, which is good- but their methodology and bed side manner is lacking.


    September 30, 2015
  14. Nice blog. really helpful. good work.


    May 4, 2017

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