“I don’t mean to offend, but. . .Bless his heart”

June 1, 2015
When we fully intend to offend:
We’ve all heard it. Most of us have said it.
1.  “I don’t mean to offend, but you look hideous in that color.”
2.”I don’t mean to offend, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
3.”You should think before you open your mouth, no offense.”
4.”You’d have to be an idiot to believe that, no offense.”
The most recent one I read was on a Mormon page on Facebook where someone actually wrote:
5. “I just don’t want to be frumpy and (I don’t remember the other adjective) like Mormon women are, no offense.”
I’ve heard each of these types of statements actually drivel (a new verb today!) from intelligent human beings’ mouths. “No offense” is like a hashtag for “I’m about to say the cruelest, most cutting thing you can imagine, but I don’t want you to hold me accountable for being mean and hateful.”

I hereby call for a ban on those words! Let’s substitute instead the honest impulse they imply.

I found this box turtle in my back yard last week. He has hinges on his chest and abdomen that can close. He clams up when he feels threatened. A wise creature, I think! 
1. “I’m a little jealous of your usual beauty, so if I can take you down a notch I’m going to grossly overstate that that color is unbecoming.” Or, “I’m so jealous of you that when I think you look striking in an unusual color, I’m going to insult you in the hope of your not wearing it again and emphasizing how plain I think I am compared to you.”
2. “I’m super insecure in my opinions and know I have little evidence to back up my ideas, so I’ll insult you so openly that you won’t argue with me.”
3. “You should reconsider opening yourself up to my hostility and hate by expressing your ideas in front of me.”
4.”I’m a bully who feels threatened by people who disagree because I don’t think I’m  intelligent enough to explain why I think the way I do.”
5. “I want to insult all women that read this post (since it was a Mormon page) and make them mad at me so that I can then accuse them of judging and therefore justify my own propensity to dress immodestly.”

 Wouldn’t the world be a grand place if people decoded their rude words into simple English? Now who could be insulted if someone walked up to them and said, “I think your intelligence is so formidable that I lose confidence in disagreeing and am tempted to insult you instead.”?

 NOBODY! We’d want to reach out in kindness and encouragement. The world would be a happier place, wouldn’t it?

Is it safe to open up?

There’s a similar implication (especially in the South of the USA) by the term “Bless (your, his, her, their) heart.” The funny thing is that it means almost the opposite of what it says. It’s code for “What a loser”.
1.”She’s just having such a hard time getting her life together, bless her heart.”
Translation: “She’s blowing it big time and I have little hope of her ever succeeding”
2. “He’s on his fourth wife, bless his heart.”
Well you get the idea. No need to wallow through the translations.
So perk up your ears when those words. “Bless his heart”, “no offense”, “I don’t mean to offend” or sometimes even “I’m sorry to say it, but”. You’re about to hear something rude, insulting, gossipy, cruel or hateful from a person who doesn’t want to be thought of in those terms.
If you’re tempted to say/write it, look at what precedes or follows and DON’T say/write it.

Rather than attack the person that’s bothering him, (me, in this case, with my nice, new camera) he flees. I’ll name him Joseph, after Joseph of Egypt.

To give the speaker of those warning phrases the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they have genuine belief that stating a disclaimer of their intention to do harm actually does relieve them of responsibility. . .bless their poor deluded hearts!

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  • Reply Diana Pike June 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    My personal favorite is "Don't take this wrong but…" I always steel myself for the criticism that is coming my way when I hear that from an otherwise lovely friend. I have learned that her opinions are just that, opinions, and while it is always good to have a second one, I give no greater weight to it than my own. If I am truthful, probably less….. but don't take that wrong!

  • Reply Beth Stephenson June 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    That is a good one, Diana. And when I hear it, I think, "I absolutely won't take it wrong, I'll take it exactly the way you intended, which is to hurt my feelings. (Or possibly they think that their opinion is more important than others' feelings).

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