Did I offend you?

If a black comedian tells jokes about black people is it okay? If a disabled comedian tells jokes about disabled people is it okay? If a white able-bodied comedian tells a joke about a black disabled person, is it racist? If a gay comedian tells jokes about gays does that make them a homophobe? Why is this socially acceptable? Does their colour, disability or sexual orientation allow them to joke or make fun of the same people, whilst being wrong if they are not one of those things? Where is the line drawn?

Years ago I used to work with an African guy. He used the n-word a lot. Not in the way you may think. He rapped. He was quite good. He used the n-word whilst rapping. One day me and him got chatting and he seemed to think that because he was black, he was entitled to use the word. I explained that his parents and their parents maybe had that right, but not him. They fought for their entitlement. He did not. He was part of what came after. If I used the word I would be prosecuted. Therefore if I could not and should not, neither should he. And that, I tried to explain, is part of the problem with the n-word. Some people, much younger than me, think they have some sort of entitlement to use the word. If they continue to use the word when talking about each other, how can they expect others to not use it when referring to them?

Just because you ‘wear a badge’ does not give you a right to speak on behalf those that also wear that badge. (I use the ‘wear a badge’ phrase in a figurative manner to mean you are one of those people affected or being spoken about).

I recall an incident in the UK some time ago when a famous comedian made a joke about ex-servicemen who had lost limbs during war-time service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some ex-servicemen were present when the joke was told. They laughed, they shared in the joke. They saw the comedic value in the joke and did not take offence. However, others in the room thought the joke was offensive to those ex-servicemen and much media coverage ensued. People became offended on behalf of other people. The ex-servicemen present said it was no big deal. But still people who were unaffected were offended by the joke.

Where do we draw the line? Do we have to be offended by everything that we don’t agree with? Anything that doesn’t affect us personally? If I ‘wear the badge’ am I more entitled to be offended?

For example, if a comedian told a joke about cancer sufferers and you happened to have a relative affected by this, would you be offended? Or would you see the comedy for what it is? Would you be more or less offended if your relative had died recently? Although you may find the immediacy of the joke hurtful, it wasn’t a poke at you personally. I’ve known cancer sufferers, as have many of us. They also see comedy in their illness too!
I’m undecided on the matter, but I do not care for people who get offended by every little thing. It’s their right I know.


It’s like that one individual that reports an advert because they found something offensive. One advert that springs to mind is the Paddy Power advert where blind people where kicking a football with a bell in it when a cat, with a bell on its collar, crossed their paths. It was comedic, pure and simple. But some people sought to complain about animal cruelty.

The Advertising Standards Authority said that the most complained about advert during 2010 was one broadcast by Paddy Power, the betting company, which showed a cat being kicked across a pitch by a blind football player. Consumers complained that it was offensive to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty. It received 1,313 complaints.

The ASA said it was clearly a surreal advert and unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. But it was one of many advents featuring alleged animal cruelty, which appeared to be – along with overtly sexual imagery – the topic that most upset British consumers.

John Lewis’ Christmas advert, which briefly showed a dog in a snow-covered kennel attracted 316 complaints from viewers worried about the animal suffering in the cold, while an advert by the drinks company AG Barr, which showed cartoon animals being led to a butcher’s shop, prompted 204 complaints.

Quoted from The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8507143/Paddy-Power-cat-kicking-advert-most-complained-about.html)


The worrying thing about this quote is that people complained about the John Lewis advert worried that the dog was suffering in the cold. Do they not know it’s an advert? It’s not real life. Get a grip people! Cartoon animals going to a butcher’s shop, 204 complaints? What the actual fuck! I wonder if these same people are as forthcoming if someone is doing something untoward or illegal near them? Just saying.


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