Saturday, October 01, 2005

The right to cause offense

The Religious Policeman gives us this story in the Sun (of all places to link to, I like his description of it though) about a ban on pig related imagery in a council workplace, "in case it might offend". Why? A muslim council worker objected to being given a pig-shaped stress releiver in the run up to Ramadan.

There's a huge difference between objecting to being given a gift and objecting to the interests and preferences of others. I object to being given Nestlé products by those who know of my longstanding boycot, I object to being given meat by anyone if they don't first check my dieatary requirements. I don't object to others eating things I dislike, but I reserve the right to persuade them of my position.

I do not understand why people do this sort of thing and submit to or issue blanket bans. I do not have the right to not be offended. Britain is a country that prides itself on its longstanding tradition of tolerance, respect and understanding. We respect and tolerate the beliefs of others, and fight to uphold their rights to believe and explain them. But we do not allow ourselves to be dictated to, and we should not seek to avoid causing offense to those who take themselves too seriously. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet are British institutions (ignoring the Disney sell out thing) and to ban them because of a complaint about something else entirely?

It was insensitive and insulting to issue a stress reliever to personell that would offend some of them based on their religious beliefs. It is even more insulting to issue a blanket ban on innoffensive childrens characters being displayed at all.

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