Ophelia Benson: the right to believe doesn’t mean the right not to be offended
Harry Taylor left some cartoons or leaflets in a ‘prayer room’ at a municipal airport, and for this non-crime he was convicted of ‘causing religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.’ He was sentenced to six months in jail suspended for two years, 100 hours of unpaid work, £250 in court costs, and an anti-social behaviour order banning him from carrying religiously offensive material in a public place.
To me this sounds like a thought experiment or a joke intended to illustrate what happens when people get so neurotically obsessed with ‘communities’ and ‘identity’ and ‘faith’ and ‘respect’ that they lose all sense of the difference between mere offense and real harm.
It is not difficult to see why some people would find what Taylor did ‘offensive’; it is even possible to see why they might find it very, very, very, offensive. But the problem there is that no matter how many ‘verys’ you add to ‘of...
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