In this dialogue two famous people argue about Offense and Harm.
Vincent: “Sorrow” is so beautiful. I don’t understand how such a depiction of beauty can offend my co-worker.
Marcus: Truly, you must understand, you have drawn a picture of a pregnant nude woman and displayed it in a public place, your office space, your work office. Your co-worker, a woman, needs you to take down this piece of work, unless you comply with this request, you will be relieved of your job.
V: The sense is that my office has my drawing displayed for the pleasure of myself and others. I can no more take offense to its truth or beauty, than I can take offense to breathing.
M: I am the supervisor. Under the new laws for sexual harassment, it is my job to state the facts and make sure you decide weather to comply or I will be forced to fire you.
V: If you were not such a bore, you would see my situation. I am suffering from a sense of injustice.
M: I only see too well that the root of your problem. You believe you are unjustly being forced to remove your artwork.
V: I do not want to feel angry and so self-betrayed, but you give me little choice in this matter.
M: You are at a cross road. You can look at your situation in a philosophical manner. The matter at hand demands you pay attention and seek to understand yourself. You obviously take some offense. Have you been harmed? Have you been injured physically? Against your will? If so, you can not be helped.
V: No, I retain no physical harm. I am offended.
M: Good. Because in Rome, we understand the difference. But here we no longer have sayings that help us keep a balance with such problems. You took offense to this women and this office, and me. Because our system rewards such behaviors. Even if you had sued the company and the woman, you still could loose your job. Society is protecting herself, not the individual. You need not take offense to her.
V: How? I am the creator of this art. I am the guilty party.
M: I want to help you contemplate this situation. This could just as easily been a centerfold from playboy. Although, a picture of this nature is clearly provocative. Some, still consider it art. What do you say?
V: Justices is blind. And yes, I see the subtleties in the playboy image Vs. art. I see my co-worker has a different taste in art than I do.
M: Yes, she definitely does. Do you want to loose this job to maintain your sense of pride?
V: My taste in art, is a sense of pride? Of course, it is, but how can you expect me to be so sensitive?
M: I believe we approach the crux of the situation. I wish you to go speak with your artist friend this weekend and attempt to understand.
As Vincent talks things over with his fellow artist (Paul Gauguin)-he becomes acutely aware how their own obsession with the form-a nude woman, might be offensive to another woman.
V: Paul tells me we are both guilty of offending women with our art work. That is to say, in this specific circumstance I am more aware of my co-workers point of view. After much contemplation, I realize my pride is not worth loosing a good job.
M: I am glad you are willing to change your painting. Would you try another suggestion which may help you and the office avoid other similar problems.
V: You want me to stop painting women?
M: No, of course not. But I would like you to consider making a top ten list of your work. Talk it over with your co-worker . Try to come to some agreement on a less offensive choice.
V: That I can do. I have many subjects.
M: Starry Starry Night?