There’s currently a lot of hubbub in the media about comedians offending people. BBC Four reminded us with a patchy drama about the outrage back in 79 surrounding the release of Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, while Ricky Gervais has caused a Twitter storm over use of the word ‘mong’.
But does anyone ever take a moment to think about what it actually means to be offended? Really, it just means someone says or does something you don’t like.
I hate to break it to you but that’s not going to go away, no matter how much you protest, scream and shout. And I guarantee something you hold dear and true will offend someone else and vice versa.
It’s just how the world works. You can’t police this, because different people are offended by different things. If you want to be really offensive in the Middle East, throw a shoe. If you want to be really shocking in Japan, blow your nose in public.
In the past we Brits were offended by a woman showing her ankle. Ridiculous. Bottom line, being offended is the price we pay for freedom of speech.
People can be cruel, vicious and downright nasty, but that same licence to say what you want has allowed some of the greatest acts of creativity, innovation and discovery.
Besides, if someone offends you, you have the right to be offensive back. If someone insults your god, insult their wife. Someone pokes fun at your ethnicity, give them a bunch of fives. Someone sexually harasses you, express your gratitude. And if you find that offensive, that’s the point.
In other news, there’s a new coffee machine in the kitchen where I work. It really is a marvel of the modern world. It has three settings, none of which result in any coffee.
Setting one offers a feeble dribble of dark brown mud into the cup, followed by an equally pathetic splash of cold water. Setting two is very similar to setting one, except without the water. But the real triumph is setting three. Whoever factored this one in should be awarded the Nobel Prize.
It begins with the machine vibrating and thrashing like a blackbird trapped in a shoebox. This is followed by a sound akin to pig being aggressively guided through a rusty mincer.
Then, once this whole production has died down, comes the grand finale. Molten coffee cascades all over the table while a pyroclastic cloud of scalding steam is jettisoned into the unsuspecting face of anyone within a ten-foot radius.
Three members of the accounts department perished at the mechanised hands of this infernal contraption in one week and while this may not be a bad thing in itself, morale is beginning to wane.