Talking Trash Or Appealing To The State

If someone offends you by speech, wrote Camille Paglia, you must learn to defend yourself by speech. This is of course highly obnoxious to all right-thinking people, for whom any kind of symmetry in behaviour is anathema. There can be no general principles of conduct, as everything must depend on the actor’s identity, with the consequence that a proportion of the human race never has to be called on its actions. For example, if a woman offends a man in speech, his remedy must lie in speech rather than violence – symmetry – whereas if a man offends a woman in speech, her remedy must lie in state coercion rather than in speech – asymmetry. If the symmetry of the first example makes women uncomfortable, why, they can easily break it by denying that it is even theoretically possible for a Victim Category to give offence to an Oppressor Category. That obviates the whole discussion, at the price of creating a new privileged caste.

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