The Human Right Not To Be “Offended”

by Mark Steyn

. . . now trumps all throughout the Western world.

In Australia, the columnist Andrew Bolt is on trial for the crime of “offending” prominent members of the taxpayer-remunerated “professional Aborigine” elite. One of the complainants simultaneously “offended” a fellow Aborigine by comparing her recent appearance on TV unfavorably to an act of equine bestiality, but that’s not actionable because no formally designated white people were involved — which was kind of Bolt’s point in the first place: Collective rights based on race, sex, orientation, and ideology (ie, religion) destroy the concept of equality before the law.

In Denmark, despite an earlier acquittal, Lars Hedegaard of the Danish Free Press Society is to be re-tried by the State for the crime of “offending” Muslims by discussing Islam’s treatment of women in a private conversation.

And in Canada the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal has just fined a stand-up comic, Guy Earle, $15,000 for the crime of “offending” lesbians at a comedy club. They were drunk and were heckling him, and he unburdened himself of some putdowns. But they were homophobic putdowns, and so he must be punished. Earle was working for a fifty-buck bar tab and doesn’t have 15 grand, and no comedy club in Vancouver will hire him ever again. He donated money to a gay charity in atonement, but his fellow liberals abandoned him anyway.

In all the above “human rights” cases, the traditional protections of Common Law do not apply — whether the notion that truth is a defense or the principle of equality before the law. For the crime of giving offense is in the eye of the offended. A “multicultural” society needs not sensitivity training but insensitivity training — that’s to say, thicker skins. The alternative is what is happening in some of the oldest free societies on earth: a state ever more comfortable in regulating the citizenry’s speech, thoughts, and jokes. There’s a word for that, and it isn’t “diversity”.