Wednesday 25 November 2015

I'm offended

I'm offended. Lots of people are offended. Some people are offended on behalf of other people; some people are just-in-case offended; offended against the possibility that other people might be offended.

Lots of things offend me. I have a hair trigger for offence. I'm immediately offended by anyone saying that they're offended. Indeed, the very word "offended" offends me.

But there seems to be a growing feeling that people have a right not to be offended, and that offensive speech should be banned. I, of course, feel that this proposition is offensive, and people should not call for offensive speech to be banned, because that offends me. If they think that people have a right not to be offended, then they should stop campaigning for that right, because their campaign offends me.

Pew recently did a survey.  40% of American Millenials (aged 18 to 34) support government censorship for offensive statements about minorities. I, of course, am a minority - I'm the only drsolly in the world. So don't say anything offensive about me, or I'll be offended. 28% of all Americans agree with this.

38% of Brits favour censorship of offensive statements about minorities. I'm appalled. And in Germany, that's 70% - that's the effect of recent history, I guess.

We're already part way there. "Hate speech" is illegal in the UK, and many other countries. The act also says:

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system
So I can criticise a religion. Whew! But in practice, on 20 April 2010, police arrested Dale McAlpine, a Christian preacher, of Workington in Cumbria, for saying that homosexual conduct was a sin. Now I think he's wrong, but I also think that he should be allowed to preach his wrong ideas. Eventually, the police apologised for arresting him, and he got several thousand pounds compensation.

I believe that offensive speech is very important, and should be protected, not censored. Because who decides what is offensive? Any expression of opinion could be shut down, merely by someone calling the police and saying "I'm offended".

And criticism of ideas is important. How can we debate the worthiness of political, religious or cultural ideas, if we cannot criticise them? If all that is allowed is praise?

There should be no censorship of offending speech. There should be no right "not to be offended".

I'm offended at the mere thought that there could be.


  1. I'm offended by the phrase 'No offence but...' which is usually followed by something offensive...

  2. You should interrupt as soon as they say "No offence but" and explain that their introductory phrase has offended you.

  3. Yes, but it's offensive poppycock.