Tuesday, 21 October 2014

On Being Offended



Which of the following statements do you agree with, and why ......

1) Everyone has a right to be offended

2) Everyone has a right not to be offended

3) No one has a right to be offended

4) No one has a right not to be offended

If you have the patience and are in no rush to read on, stop for a moment and have a think about it, and decide which (if any) of the four statements you think is correct.


When you're ready to read on…..

My conclusion
After hearing much talk of 'offence' recently, including debates about online abuse and whether Internet trolls should be punished by the State, I posted the above question in a few debating forums and got a much more mixed response than I would have expected, with each of the four options being chosen quite frequently. It seems clear to me that the results should not be as evenly weighted as feedback indicated.

For me statement 4 is a strong 'yes' - 'no one has a right not to be offended' means to me that there is no right that protects you from hearing something that offends you. Things are bound to crop up that will offend.

So the statement 'everyone has a right to be offended' (statement 1) has concomitance with statement 4 'no one has a right not to be offended' - as both seem to involve the environment of free expression, frankness, and probability of being challenged or affronted.

Which leaves statements 2 and 3. Given the foregoing, it would seem to me that statement 2 'everyone has a right not to be offended' is manifestly false - as such a right would be to insist on being quarantined from any contra-views that might affront you. In fact, I can't even imagine the statement 'some people have a right not to be offended' is true, as I can't think of anyone to whom that should apply. As for statement 3 'no one has a right to be offended' - that would seem to be false if we agree that free expression, frankness, and being challenged are qualities bound up in our having a right to be offended and no right not to be offended.

* Photo courtesy of toomanyposts.wordpress.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

/>