Sunday, October 24, 2021

About offence

Yesterday afternoon, two things occurred that got me thinking back to my Religious Studies O-level. On Radio 4’s Any Answers programme, the subject under discussion was the Assisted Dying bill currently in the House of Lords, and a woman called in to describe the last, horrible, cancer-ridden days of her mother. It was a grim but entirely necessary lesson, even as she relived the end-stage faecal vomiting; but it was her utterance of the dread word “shit” that prompted Anita Anand to apologise to listeners for any offence caused.

No blame lies with Anand, who was just following Corporation guidelines. My issue is with the people who make those guidelines necessary, who are more agitated by a slang term for bodily wastes than hearing about an old woman’s pain and humiliation, something that might have been relieved had more enlightened legislation been in place.

Minutes later, at the Crystal Palace-Newcastle match, fans of the south London club wielded a banner detailing the moral failings of the Saudi Arabian government, the effective owners of the visiting team. And inevitably the police response was to deal with the “offensive” material.

Motes and beams, anyone?

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