In Defence of Offence…

Assuming that fact claims that offend you must be false is wrong. Assuming that laws should spare you from offence is wrong. Seeking out that which offends you to indulge your psychic status as a victim is stupid, pathetic and wrong. Nonetheless, being offended is not itself wrong, and the sort of “cultural libertarian” who thinks that being above offence is virtuous is fooling themselves or so free from personal and cultural attachments as to become poignant. Offence is a mark of the strength of our loyalties, and an antibody against that which is perverse, malignant or malicious. Thus, it unites us as friends, families and citizens, and affirms our opposition to demagogues and degenerates. There are further qualifications to be made here. Transcending these responses can be virtuous, whether you are attorney representing a serial killer or a scientist testing an unpleasant yet plausible theory. But the response itself can be healthy.

About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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2 Responses to In Defence of Offence…

  1. Whyaxye says:

    Agreed, but I think that being offended is far less common than many would have us believe. If someone claims to be offended, I look carefully at what triggers their claim. Sometimes their claim is obviously genuine. Personal abuse, for example. But all too often, it is not even a case of them seeking out what offends them. It is a case of them seeking out what they disagree with, and then using feigned offence in order to add weight to their case. Or even for the brief hormonal squirt of sounding off about it.

    Guardian CIF and the Daily Mail are good examples of this. There simply isn’t enough psychic space and energy in the world for that much offence.


    • bsixsmith says:

      I agree with that. Also, it’s important to distinguish (which I didn’t and perhaps should have done) between feeling offended and believing something is offensive. The line between disgust and offence would also be interesting to explore.


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