Does Non PC Offend You? Then Phone Somebody That Cares!
Another week and another opportunity for the professionally upset to wet themselves in offended excitement. The Republic of Ireland football manager makes some quip involving the word ‘queer’ while TV personality Noel Edmonds announces that people who contract cancer do so because of their negative attitude. I have to say that both instances made me smile but then I knew what was coming and one thing you can always say about the professionally offended is that they never let you down. They’re like rats in as much as you’re never more than ten feet away from one of them! So here’s the thing. I insist upon the right to be offended but at this moment I just need a few moments to decide what’s currently offending me. Don’t ask me what, I just want to take offence because nowadays everyone is queueing up to take umbrage against something or someone and I’m determined not to miss out.
Only recently I was reminded that it’s been over twenty five years since Salman Rushdie was forced to apologise for the offence he gave to Muslims for something that a fictional character said in his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ which he had made up? Sadly this episode proved conclusively that the sword, or at least the very threat of it, is now much mightier than the pen. Unfortunately this is especially true in large parts of the Muslim world where it might be said that they are at a bit of a disadvantage because they do not share the same understanding and appreciation of free speech that we in Western cultures take for granted. Moreover there appears to be no Muslim term for satire as they plainly do not accept that religion can ever be funny.
But in the intervening years since that episode societies constant predisposition to get offended has carried on apace. And not just in the field of religion I might add, but across almost any subject where an opinion or indeed a certain word is uttered in jest, in ignorance or in error and which subsequently brings the social media brain donors out in droves like wasps at a picnic. Unfortunately because so many of them hide behind their on-line identities it’s hard to track them all down and shoot them in the face. And so twenty five years on as we live our daily lives, it almost seems like we have no control over our feelings. Indeed, we are just as vulnerable to the words and actions of others as we are to a headache because at any given moment all it takes is one comment or a cartoon about our weight, our dress, our religion, our sexual preference or a certain word employed in jest by a national football manager or the misguided opinion of a TV presenter and suddenly, we are clutching our heads to ease the migraine before the now de-riguer demand for a full apology swings into action. Personally I find this constant clamour for an apology offensive and so I demand a full apology!
Each and every day newspapers are issued, television and radio programmes are aired and of course social media is alive with debate and comment. And yet while all of this is going on, the swelling ranks of the professional affrontees sweep the content like the sonar of a nuclear submarine sweeping the bottom of the ocean, looking for the slightest excuse to vent their insincere moral outrage. And sadly the apology has now long since become the defining gesture of the age.
Now I don’t know about you but I find un-PC comedy the funniest of all. Frankie Boyle is brilliant and so is Jimmy Carr even though those who would agree would never admit it in case they’re called-out as a racist pig. Of course the PC brigade might not like it but as far as I’m concerned nothing is off limits when it comes to comedy. And I wouldn’t believe anyone who said that they had never laughed at sexist or a racist joke. And so if you are offended by my like of offensive comedy then please write to me because one thing that I always seem to be short of nowadays is toilet paper!
But then you wonder at just who are these people who decide that we are all to be offended and outraged at something we haven’t even seen or heard? I’m sick to my back wisdom teeth of being lectured by this special interest group and that one who seem to feel everyone else must constantly watch what they say lest some offence, inadvertent or otherwise, is committed. And yet, even when the perceived offence has occurred have you noticed how a simple apology is never enough to satisfy these cranks who have somehow become the self-appointed ethical arbiters for our entire culture? No, there has to be some kind of fatwa or a pound of flesh sliced from the offender usually in the form of baying for him or her to be at least sacked though they might be persuaded to accept that if he gets down on his knees and begs forgiveness. But in essence what we have is a call-out culture that has become much less about the actual issue at hand and much more about who can most deftly eviscerate the person we are all collectively supposed to hate at any given moment.
The overwhelming range of opinion that exists today surely makes it nigh on impossible to remain inoffensive unless you have your tongue removed or you become a misanthrope or a recluse. Anyway who wants to live in a completely inoffensive world? Where is the fun in not provoking uncomfortable conversations and debate through comedy or any other medium? Thank God we still live in a society where nobody has the right not to be offended but since I’ve just decided to become offended I’ve suddenly come over all ‘queer’ and I’m having these rushes of righteousness coming on and so please forgive me as I need to get off and consult with my PC doctor.
8th June 2016.