Alexis Draut mug

Alexis Draut is a recent Berry College graduate and staff writer for the Calhoun Times. 

In today’s world, it’s so easy to offend someone. And it’s even easier to get offended.

The other day when I was at my family’s house, my sister Hannah brought up the fact that the Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is now viewed as an inappropriate “date rape” song that encourages sexual harassment. As someone who loves Christmas and loves that song, I didn’t want to believe her. But when I later logged onto my Facebook account, my news feed was blown up with evidence supporting Hannah’s claim. Contrary to my initial belief, this idea wasn’t supported just by her, but also by a huge portion of the online community on many different social media outlets.

This new movement sparked conversations among my family and my group of friends, and after I had thought about it a while, I could appreciate both perspectives. I understood the approach that the songwriters intended the song to be an innocent, fun holiday song. But then again, since the #MeToo movement began, I fully support how serious sexual assault has become, especially the small signs of disrespect which are unfortunately present and apparently unintentional in this song.

When I was in Louisville over the holidays visiting family, I read an article in the local newspaper saying a Kentucky radio station was going to be playing the controversial song on repeat in spite of the complainers. And yet those who have been assaulted are triggered by the song’s very existence and want it to never be played again. These two very extreme responses to the outbreak of this song’s dilemma are on opposite sides of the spectrum, and personally, I’m not sure what the best response is, if there is one.

I love “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” specifically the humorous version sung in “Elf” by Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. And while, I understand both perspectives, I think with this issue, like with many others, there is really no clear cut right and wrong. But, this topic of conversation is not the only one of its kind.

It’s been brought up that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is racist, ablest and bigoted. The thousands of historic statues that depict racist slave-owners have been removed from cities and towns. It’s been declared that white women wearing hoop earrings is cultural appropriation, and expecting people to be on time has been identified as cultural insensitivity. And a British student union recently tried to ban clapping and cheering at a conference because it wasn’t inclusive to deaf people. There are an endless list of things that have been protested, spoken against and boycotted as a result of not only the #MeToo movement, but also a rising generation that is not afraid of sensitivity and speaking problematic opinions.

And all of these changes are because people are getting more offended (or they’re being more vocal about being offended). It might seem a little ridiculous, changing everything, even history and tradition, for the feelings of one group of people. These days, we have to be careful about what we say, do, act, how we treat others, gestures, people we consider friends …  and it goes on and on. And altering ourselves because someone else is too sensitive seems to be a lot to ask.

But if there is one good thing that this new surge of fresh voices has provided, despite the fights and arguments, it’s allowed us to become more aware of the potential we have for hurting other people, even when we’re least expecting to. It’s allowed us to recognize the fragility of humans and the true impact of our words as well as giving us an opportunity to develop ourselves into kinder, more open-minded people. And though many debates have broke out about topics like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” I hope that we have become better listeners who don’t fight with anger and hatred as weapons.

The other day, I was talking with Jim Lay, a Calhoun native who knows just about everyone in town. He said there’s rarely a situation that purely boils down to black and white sides. And with people getting more offended and more vocal about hot topics, with most situations, it’s difficult to claim that one side is entirely good or right and the other is entirely evil. Jim said everything is complicated, and I agree with him. Even with seemingly horrible people, there are a chain of events, individuals, experiences and circumstances that have all contributed to make that person who they are. It’s easier to point the blame at one person, but it’s hardly ever accurate or effective.

The next time someone (your sister) tells you a song is offensive and you don’t believe it (her), take the time to realize the truth that could be found in that claim instead of brushing it off. The next time someone is offended at something you do or say, instead of thinking “why don’t you think like what I do?” or getting angry, take the time to think about it. As evolving and constantly growing human beings, it’s important that we try to have compassion for others even when we don’t agree with them, and realize that every human is a complex compilation of experiences, emotions and events.

Alexis Draut is a recent graduate of Berry College and a staff writer for the Calhoun Times.