Imagine, if you will, the field of battle, the Falkland Islands,1982, and a mortar shell falling on a British slit trench occupied by a paratrooper. His plaintive cry of ‘I’ve lost my leg!’ is answered by his mate one hole along; ‘No you haven’t it’s over here!’.
A true story, I am told, and doubtless the Parachute Regiment is yet to be overwhelmed by complaints from limbless ex-servicemen claiming to be ‘offended’.
Amazing then that Brake and Headway, charities apparently devoted to road safety and head injuries respectively, presume to be offended on behalf of their constituency because Jeremy Clarkson cracked a joke at Richard Hammond’s expense about his well-publicised accident in a dragster. Hammond himself appeared to take no offence at all and certainly did not claim to be representative of all people involved in high speed car accidents resulting in head injuries.
Similarly, we are told, Asians in certain parts of Britain are presumed by their local councils to be ‘offended’ by the notion of Christmas. This offence apparently escaped the owners of my local curry house who happily handed me a card and offered me a hearty ‘Happy Christmas’ as I picked up the final take away of 2006.
Now, forgive my cynicism, but there are an awful lot of people out there who apparently take very easy offence. Doubtless some bright spark in Brake’s press office took an opportunistic moment to do a bit of profile raising. But did they really help their organisation’s reputation? Not from where I’m standing.
Similarly, how about all those who allow themselves to be represented as ‘offended’ by over-zealous councils and the entire industry that has grown around rooting out ‘offence’ wherever it may – or more likely may not – lurk. Is their reputation enhanced by allowing it to happen? I think not. Shake off your apathy and say ‘I’m not offended actually – and even if I was, I might just be big enough to get over it.’