The right to both cause and take offence is one which has been gradually eroded by Statist forces over the last three decades or so. Of course this is both an unjustified and unreasonable restriction on personal liberty and a desparately counter-productive move for society in the long run. Extremism of any form is best dealt with by taking on the warped and deeply flawed arguments peddled by those concerned, unravelling them in a rational discussion of the issue and being seen to have openly won the argument.
The 'protection' of individuals or sections of society from thoughts, words or opinions only serves to create the impression that a sort of 'muzzling operation' is being carried out by some higher authority. I'm sure many of you will remember the BNP candidate who turned up on election night wearing a T-shirt that carried the words, "gagged for telling the truth". Of course he wasn't, but then the manner in which PC dogma enabled him to be portrayed as a victim played right into his hands. In the era of hate and thought crime, one of the unintended consequences is the exposure that has been given to idiots who would not otherwise merit it.
There is a more healthy reason for wishing that society could be more adult in the way that it handled 'offensive material'. Without those lines of argument that sit comfortably outside the bounds of conventional wisdom, sacred cows emerge, with the end result the type of dishwater social and political discourse that we see and read in the mainstream media. Political Correctness has now become so absurd that not only are we all to be wary of those who may be genuinely offended by our words, but also of those who will choose to take that offence on behalf of others. It's a social and cultural phenomenon that has grown in the last decade and was on this bunny's radar anyway - then Dr David Starkey's appearance on 'Newsnight' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14513517 catapulted it some way up the 'to do' list.
Anyone who has seen one of Starkey's many appearances on 'Question Time' will know that he is something of a controversialist. While never doubting the sincerity of the man's conviction, one gets the feeling that he both knows that his answer is likely to upset a large section of the audience and positively revels in that sense of awareness. He can also be rude, waspish and bereft on occasion of anything resembling manners, so when hearing what Britain's most well-known historian has to contribute on any subject, it perhaps makes sense to consider all of this background beforehand.
His observations about the invasion of 'gangsta culture' into Britain's social fabric certainly make for interesting and colourful viewing. The wording is insensitive and clumsy, with the continued use of the words 'black culture' as if those of dark skin colour are little more than a single homogenous block. Of course, Dr Starkey was not referring to black people in general, but the "violent, destructive, nihilistic gangsta culture" that "has become the fashion". This would be the culture of rap music and MTV Cribs, which stresses the importance of being a 'somebody' by any means possible, attaining respect through fear and the glorification of possessions, money and 'bling'.
His argument follows that this 'movement', which certainly started life as a black sub-culture, has now crossed over to the extent that "the chavs have become black" and "white has become black", with the "Jamaican patois" synonymous with Yardies now universal amongst white chavs as well. Is this racist? On reflection, I don't see how it could be. Starkey certainly opens up with something of a curveball when he states that "Enoch Powell was right...in one sense", but then he (eventually) makes it clear that it is 'a form of black culture' as opposed to all black people that he is referring to (I'm sure a man as versed in our history as Dr Starkey is will be aware of an entirely separate 'black culture' of fearing God, showing respect and working damn hard). Badly worded? Absolutely. Racist? No.
Perhaps a more interesting question - does this observation have at least a ring of truth to it? This bunny is certainly not unfamiliar with the concept of 'wiggers', young white males in particular who either wish that they had been born a different colour or have adopted some of the 'streetspeak' of hip-hop in their everyday vocabulary - a mate and I regularly used to break into this 'patois' as Starkey would put it, strictly for a laugh ('yo blud - you best show some respec to da bruvas' - ok I guess you had to be there). Most just grow out of it, as the majority of mods, rockers and punks beforehand did, but then it is certainly more prevalent amongst the 'chav' section of society and their gangs than anywhere else.
But I suppose the killer issue is this - who was offended by it? Was I personally offended or would I like to take offence on behalf of some poor black person who is apparently incapable of expressing that sense of disgust themselves? Given that I'm white and this was hardly some foul-mouthed tirade littered with blatantly racist language or threats to harm, I wouldn't consider it to be my place to be offended by it. Whether one takes offence or not is entirely a personal matter, and I'd be interested solely in the thoughts of those of a different colour, who perhaps have no more time for gangs, chavs and hip-hop than most of us. If some of these individuals have been 'lost' then Dr Starkey might have something to worry about, at least in terms of his future career and earnings potential.
However, judging by the coverage this got on Twitter last night, there still appear to be a great many white people who see it as their job to express a contrived sense of angst on behalf of some poor, oppressed minority who need someone else to stand up for them. Am I alone in thinking that this is a deeply patronising and insulting line of thought? Who the hell is anyone to decide that someone else 'ought to be offended' by something? Of course it's nothing new. Did anyone else notice during the demonstration/riot/tantrum over 'student poverty' how all the self-appointed spokespeople and ringleaders were distinctly middle class and curiously dialect-free? Presumably the genuinely hard-up were out working on a till or cleaning a lavatory somewhere? You could say the same about the original tuition fees protest of a decade ago as well.
Meanwhile, one of the more interesting stories of the last week was the news that the daughter of a millionaire and a postman were amongst those arrested for looting. Was this some warped and deeply misguided show of 'solidarity' with hard-up friends, or just sheer stupidity carried out for the hell of it? I guess only they would know the answer to that, but the mind boggles as to why people who are not gang members, do not make a habit of roaming the streets and have no need to indulge in theft, would make a conscious decision to endanger what they have. Were they taken in by the phoney cause of fighting the 'deprivation' that apparently left some with no choice but to riot, steal and terrorise? I'd be utterly astonished if none were, and just hope it was worth it.
I can tell it's the end of the summer, because I'm hearing the first noises along the lines of 'Christmas will soon be upon us'. This bunny can take or leave the festivities, but isn't remotely interested in raining on the parade of others. If you want to celebrate then go nuts, while those who are a bit less wild about the idea will hopefully not have to endure too many people getting in their face on the subject. Fortunately, it seemed that last year saw a downturn in the numbers of bans on life-threatening Carol singing sessions and what have you, and I hope this continues. Sure, some of the stories of 'Christmas is Banned' turn out to be half-truth when you drill down, but there remain an awful lot that aren't and I'm yet to meet a single member of one ethnic minority or another who takes the offence that they are supposed to if the official line is to be believed.
I do wish that council taxpayers' money would not be used in connection with any religious festival, but that might well be a separate post of its own. If a few people want to get together and put something up privately, then it should be allowed to happen unless a real person makes a genuine objection to the local authority. If you're an atheist, agnostic or believer in another faith then simply say as much and the carol singers who knock on your door will leave. Have you ever known them to break into someone's home and take them hostage? Had it happened I'm pretty certain we would have heard about it by now.
The irony is that occasionally you'll hear of these white, middle class PC types lamenting the lack of parliamentary representation amongst minority groups (for whatever reason, women also appear to be categorized as such). I sincerely hope that the make-up of both houses more accurately reflects that of society one day soon, not by some form of positive discrimination, but as a result of the patronising statist left getting well out of the way and letting their 'clients' decide for themselves what offends them and what does not.
Then they might discover that many women are not obsessed simply with how much maternity leave they can take, some gay people have an interest in politics that stretches beyond whether or not they can marry and that ethnic minorities are not homogeneous blocks of drones, but individuals with deeper concerns than looking for things to take offence to. If the Statist myth that suggests the opposite dies as a result, then this really is no bad thing, since it is deeply unpleasant, maybe even offensive. I'll leave you to make that call for yourselves and express your thoughts far more succinctly than I ever could on your behalf. Take care and I'll catch you soon.