Sunday, 1 November 2015


When it comes to being offended the quote that I see most often (Apart from 'I'm offended!') is this gem, from Stephen Fry....

I'm pretty much on board with Stephen here. Why should *I* care that *you're* offended? 

Well....because you're my friend would be a good starting point. For example I have friends who are creative, whether it be music, writing, or painting. If they were to show me some of their work and I said it was shit and never wanted to see any of their work again, they'd be offended, and rightly so. 

There's also the situation of having a conversation with someone about a topic where you disagree. Obviously for me that would be atheism/theism. If I want to have a good dialogue with someone and I begin with 'so, you believe God is real? You must be some kind of fucking moron' they're going to be offended, and any hope of reasonable conversation is gone. 

But, I'm not sure that's what Stephen is getting at here. Without the benefit of being able to ask him directly, I think Stephen is talking more about being offended by things that, essentially, have nothing to do with you. I don't think he's talking about personal insults such as being called a disgusting pig, or talking about insulting one's work or effort. 

I would suggest that Stephen is talking about things such as the controversial art work, by Andres Serrano, titled Piss Christ...

The title being an obvious give-away, this is a plastic Jesus on the Crucifix submerged in urine (Serrano's own). 

As stated in the photo's Wikipedia article, when this photo was to be exhibited in Melbourne in 1997, the then Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, tried to prevent it from going on public display. The Supreme Court refused his request. Someone tried to steal it, and then it was attacked by a teenager with a hammer (some irony there). 

The problem? The Archbishop, the attempted thief, and the vandal, were offended, and wanted it off display. 

I'm definitely with Stephen here.

If the photo was to be displayed in their house or their superstition building (I think they call it a 'church'), then I could completely understand their objection to it. One should certainly have the right to decide what is and is not displayed on their own property. 

But Piss Christ wasn't set to be displayed in a church or someone's home. Piss Christ was put on display in an art gallery - independent of any religion. There's no reason that a church representative should have any say over what an art gallery can display. What right does an archbishop have to decide what other people can and can't see in an art gallery? I can't see that they have any. 

An individual decides what they put on twitter or what they post to Facebook. A writer decides what they write about. A podcaster decides what they talk about. Likewise, the art gallery decides what exhibitions it puts on. People decide for themselves whether  to follow on social media, whether to listen to a podcast, or whether to go and see an exhibition. I shouldn't be denied the right to see art just because George Pell, or anyone else is offended. 

You're offended George? 

So fucking what? 

1 comment:

  1. Same happened with Norman Lindsay's 'Crucifixion of Venus' a hundred years ago ... you'd think they'd have got the message by now!

    But it's funny, ol' George really picks his topics about which to be offended, doesn't he -- Paedophilia in the Church doesn't seem to bother him at all...