I’m convinced there are those who can find a reason anywhere to be offended. It’s almost like “the right to be offended” has become our most cherished right. Heaven forbid anyone should ever lighten up.
It manifests itself mostly on social media, that beast that has given everyone with a keyboard a delightful sense of entitlement to be offended on the daily.
For just one case in point — and at the acknowledged risk of further offending people — let’s look at a story we published July 3 about a 12-year-old who thought it would be nice to bring pizza to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. You know. The same station that was roundly praised for its response to the Saugus High School shooting less than a year ago, but is now popularly referred to as home to a bunch of murderous thugs in uniform, because that’s what’s in vogue, since the existence of any bad cops, apparently, must mean all cops are bad.
Said the kid, Oren Tikosky, who again, is 12 years old: “We just wanted to bring some pizza to our police station because we noticed that police aren’t getting as much support as they should be right now when they protect us and they help us. I thought maybe we should show our gratitude.”
So, Oren and his family, including several adults, two of his siblings and four of his cousins, collected donations and ventured to Topper’s Pizza, where they picked up some pies and walked them across the street to the station.
There, they delivered the pizzas to some deputies who, I’m sure, were grateful for the support — and the pepperoni.
That’s it. The story was a simple one, about a kid who wanted to let the deputies know they are appreciated, at least by some.
Then, once the story got posted on Facebook, the comments came pouring in: 241 of them, admittedly including many that simply noted, aw shucks, that was a nice thing for the kid to do. It was.
But then there were the other comments. Let’s see. How do I say this without violating my own newspaper’s rule against name-calling? I can’t call them imbeciles, morons, pinheads or idiots, and in this enlightened era I certainly can’t say what Dan Aykroyd used to say about Jane Curtin on “Saturday Night Live.”
Nope. Can’t do that. So we’ll skip the name-calling.
But the people who took offense lined up, and there was no shortage of ignorance. I’m not using their names here, primarily because my boss asked me not to, and he owns the place. But let’s start with this comment:
“Funny, didn’t see any pics like this of them feeding the hospital workers lol,️ that keep them healthy.”
When another poster responded that there have been numerous instances of people donating food to the frontline workers at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, she made it clear she was NOT kidding, and doubled down:
“Sounds good. The question was, where are the photos? Why is it only for law enforcement?”
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
You can’t swing a dead cat through our back issues from the past few months without stumbling across numerous stories about people bringing food to hospital workers. The support for hospital employees has been consistent, repeated, and consistently and repeatedly covered as news.
Disclaimer: The above paragraph was in no way meant to offend cat owners, cat lovers, or actual cats. I regret saying it.
Then there was this comment: “And a photographer just happened to be there at that same intersection at that same time to get this perfectly staged photo?!”
Little hint about the news business: Sure. Sometimes we happen to be wandering around aimlessly and stumble across a story. I found a story about a dead body dumped in Sand Canyon that way when I was a cub reporter in the early-1990s. Good times.
But often, when people are engaging in an activity — whether it’s a protest or an act of kindness — they CALL us. Then we meet them where the thing is happening, and we cover it.
Speaking of protests, you knew the reactions to this story would go there, right? There were multiple comments criticizing 12-year-old Oren for showing appreciation for cops, because, after all, they are just a bunch of murderers.
Further, as it happens, Oren — who, again, did I mention, is 12 YEARS OLD — happens to be white. And the other kids in the photo delivering pizza were his siblings and his cousins, who, natch, are also white.
It drew this response: “Where are the POC?? (People of color.) Are they helping peaceful protesters this way?? My guess is no…”
And another: “AND NOTICE. EVERYONE in this photo is noticeably WHITE. Wonder why…”
Well. For starters, they’re all RELATED. But damn them for being white. They should know better, I guess.
Never mind the fact that one of the deputies in another photo that ran with the story happened to be Black. No one noticed. But he’s a cop, so maybe he doesn’t Matter?
Guys. Of course police brutality should not be tolerated, Black lives DO matter and racism should be condemned at every turn. But really? It was a story about a 12-year-old kid. Taking up a collection to bring some pizzas to the sheriff’s station.
You grumps on social media: You are the reason why we can’t have nice things.
And last but not least, there was this post:
“Where are the doughnuts?️ You forgot the damn doughnuts.”
OK, that’s just straight-up funny. This guy won the internet that day.
Of course, it might be offensive — if you’re a cop who’s bothered by the cops-eating-doughnuts stereotype.
If so, go ahead. Be offended.
It’s our new national pastime.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.