Monday, September 10, 2018

So who gets offended in Holmes world?

Sometimes a blogger has to wonder if they're offending people. And sometimes, as I cruise social media, I sometimes have to stop and wonder if I should be more offended at all the stuff laid at the doorstep of my generation or gender on social media. (I'm not . . . having been born into a segment of the populace lets you know them better than anyone, including their offenses.) Humans can offend the heck out of other humans, and what might offend or has offended is always worth a look or two.

After examining my own deficiencies today, however, the topic of taking offense made me want to look back at our Canonical brethren and see what offended them . . . and who it was who was getting offended. And the Canon starts off with a truly choice one:

"I have said all I have to say," said Gregson, in an offended voice.

Good old Gregson! I knew he had it in him, and in A Study in Scarlet, he brings it, as does a certain other group in that novel.

"There was one way and only one in which he offended the susceptibilities of his co-religionists."

Yes, religion is always a reason for people to get offended. And as Jefferson Hope was offended a particular sect because he refused to display hetero-normative behaviors, well, no surprise there. But let's talk about someone who was only truly religious about his profession: Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

"He did not seem offended," Watson reports in The Sign of the Four after Watson complains to Holmes about the detective's drug use. Holmes did worry about Watson being offended by his trick of playing ill in "The Dying Detective," a question Watson does not answer. He also doesn't want to offend Watson's intelligence at the end of "Devil's Foot," but that might have just been a lack of wanting to explain things in dull detail.  Watson was not above faking being offended, however, as he did when dealing with Baron Gruner in "Illustrious Client."

Holmes definitely thinks he would be sorry to offend Holy Peters, the kidnapper of Lady Frances Carfax, but that was surely for a different reason. Peters was one nasty-looking dude. (A regular Danny Trejo of his day!) Holmes suspects women might be more offended by a some little thing than a murder, but Violet DeMerville has him stymied when he says that, so we might forgive him that once. (Up to you, ladies.)

Sherlock Holmes doesn't seem to get offended much, and a woman some suspect of being his sister does likewise. Violet Hunter is not offended by being asked "to sit here or sit there," or by being passed by her employer without him speaking a word.  As far as who does get offended, there are a few folks in the Canon, often for good reason.

Lord St. Simon is "a picture of offended dignity" when he finds his bride was already married. Mr. Blessington is offended to be asked about why he's scared all the time. An American secret society was offended by John Douglas, and then Cecil Barker was offended by the questions Inspector MacDonald asked about John Douglas's wife. (Even though MacDonald admitting meaning no offense.) But then The Valley of Fear has a lot of offensiveness and offenders, probably due to all those Americans being involved.

Perhaps the worst example of someone getting offended, however comes in "The Blanched Solider."

Colonel Emsworth handled getting offended by James Dodd inquiring about his son by saying "Many people, Mr. Dodd, would take offence at your infernal pertinacity and would think that this insistence had reached the point of damned impertinence." That, however, is kind of a haughty way of not even owning up to your own emotions while plainly reacting badly to a situation. In fact, it sounds like a certain loser we hear far too much from these days who likes to use the "many people think this" or "many people didn't know that" instead of admitting his own deficiencies.

In the end, one has to find Sherlock Holmes or Violet Hunter the better role models in terms of not taking offense at honest or irrelevant things, as well as Holmes in caring if something seems it might offend your best friend. Good old Sherlock Holmes.

No comments:

Post a Comment