CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For those who missed it, I was taken to task last Sunday in a letter to the editor.
"I resent Fuller's degrading and disrespectful comments concerning Ohio drivers," wrote one of my fellow South Charleston residents. "I think Fuller should recognize these utterances for what they are: stupid, tasteless, erroneous and prejudicial."
Consider the lesson learned. I hereby recognize that Ohio has more to offer than its bad drivers. It's apparently also keeping pace with the rest of the country in churning out those who are easily offended.
Before I'm further accused of not liking Ohio, let me clarify that while I might not passionately love Ohio, I'm quite fond of the state. My brother, nieces and nephew live in Ohio, and it's home to one of my favorite places in the world (Hocking Hills). Seriously - what's not to like about a place that would adopt "Hang On Sloopy" as its official state rock song?
But what I really don't like has nothing at all to do with Ohio other than that the letter from its peeved defender started my wheels turning, causing me to marvel over people who are so rapidly outraged.
I was recently told about a father who was sitting quietly on the bus while his three small sons ran wild, annoying the other passengers with their loud voices and squeals. The passengers kept shooting annoyed looks at the dad, but he did nothing to rein in his boys. Finally, one snapped, harshly scolding the dad for the wildness of his children.
"I'm sorry," said the father. "We're on our way home from the hospital. Their mother just died."
It's easy to jump to conclusions and think the worst of someone without pausing to consider what might be behind their words or behavior. There are more positive things to do with our time than spend it scouring the world for signs that someone has breached the boundaries of our sensitive sensibilities. By being the first to find and cry foul, do we get to claim victim status? And does choosing to feel offended somehow obligate the "transgressor" to grant some form of compensation?