It is hard to say who expends the most energy on Offence: the kleptomaniacs who, whenever they see an offence that isn’t nailed down, proceed to take it; or those who expect to be warned in advance of everything that might possibly offend them, lest they encounter (the horror! the horror!) a new idea.

For Offence may cover anything that the skilful player of the game does not wish to hear. What I do not like thus becomes what may not be said. Whatever offends me violates my civil rights: that is, my right to have the world precisely after my own desire. Nothing, therefore, need be “put up with”, since every utterance is either correct and progressive, or else it is offensive, oppressive and thus triggering of pecuniary damages.

Indeed, the mental distress caused by Offence can be turned into a medical condition as objective as the loss of limbs, and subject to diagnosis, certification and financial compensation on the same basis. Another aspect is the generation of public employment in heresy-hunting for those otherwise unfitted for any. Finding things Offensive is thus a form of what economists call “rent-seeking”. Therapists with big mortgages have an economic interest in identifying and treating the traumas generated by the offensive language – but never of course in curing them. At the same time, the Offendee is the final arbiter, and it is impossible to tell anyone that they have not in fact been truly Offended. Neither the content of what is said, nor the intent of the person who says it, is deemed relevant. Anyone who feels Offended (subjective), is Offended (objective) and so requires to be compensated – with folding money.

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