Your right to be offended

Greggs, a popular UK bakery, has just had to apologise for it’s Christmas advertisement which depicted a nativity scene in which the baby Jesus was replaced by a sausage roll.  People were up in arms about it, saying that it was sacrilegious, blasphemous, against the spirit of the season, and most of all, that it was generally downright offensive.

The ad certainly makes little sense.  The three wise men appear to have brought gifts for the pastry covered treat, but I suppose they could just be planning to eat it.  There is certainly a bite out of one end.  Honestly, I have no idea what all of this oddness represents, but the fact that the bakery has seen a rise in sales since the ad suggests that it has done its job.

What is most amusing though, is that the ad itself has probably had very little effect on the people who are stuffing themselves with puff pastry.  It is the reaction of all the people who have shouted about how offended they are that has caused the upturn in sales, and I very much doubt that this was what the had in mind when they started shouting. They would have been far better off keeping quiet.

There is a pervading feeling that we all have the right not to be offended.  A feeling that people should think a little more before they act or speak so as not to cause offense to others.  This opinion is so strongly held by some members of the population that they can easily be stirred to action and used to promote causes that oppose their own.  They are, in effect, puppets.

It’s been going on for years.  I remember back in the 90s, a metal band by the name of W.A.S.P. came to visit my hometown.  There was some question over what the letters W.A.S.P. stood for, but White Anglo Saxon Protestants, and We Are Sexual Perverts were common interpretations.  The band themselves were quite happy for the mystery to continue, so offered little more than ‘We Ain’t Sure, Pal’ when asked about it.  Regardless, their singer, Blackie Lawless’ stage antics saw him drinking blood from a human skull, and performing acts which many saw as demonic.  Quite honestly, I was gutted that I didn’t get to see them (I forget why I couldn’t go).

Finger Rebel Provocation Insulting Take Offense

As you can imagine, the band caused sausage roll levels of offence.  As you can also imagine, tickets to their shows sold out in minutes.  Once again, ‘the offended’ shouted so loudly, that they drove hundreds if not thousands of people to buy tickets for the very show that they were suggesting everyone boycott.  Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, and Eminem (among others), did exactly the same thing, and it would be fair to say that none of them are having to look down the back of the sofa for loose change these days.

You see, nobody has the right not to be offended. In fact everyone has the absolute right to be VERY offended if they so choose.  To look at it another way, how would you feel if you were told that you didn’t have the right to be offended?  Quite offended, I shouldn’t wonder.

Taking offense is a perfectly normal human response to things that oppose our beliefs, particularly when we find those beliefs difficult to defend (that’s why religious people spend so much more of their time being offended than the rest of us). Thing’s cannot be categorised as ‘bad’ if they offend us, merely as being different to what we prefer.  In fact, if you are one of those people who finds themselves offended a lot, I would suggest that it could be your beliefs that need editing rather that the behavior of those around you.

So should we go about our day trying to offend people?  Of course not.  What would be the good in that?  We would end up spending out time surrounded by people who were pissed off with us, and that would be more trouble than it’s worth.  Should we try not to cause offense?  Well, I think that would be a reasonable and polite thing to do in most circumstances.  Should we compromise our own lives in an effort to get through them without offending anyone?  Absolutely not.  Do what you feel is right, and if people get upset by it, then they have every right to do so. They also have every right to tell you.

What they have no right to do however, is limit your words, thoughts, and actions on the grounds that it offends them.  It’s only stuff.  Fuck ‘em!


Grantham Montgomery


Minister of Stuff

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