"I Find That Offensive"
When you hear that now ubiquitous phrase, “I find that offensive”, you know you’re being told to shut up. While the terrible murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists demonstrated that those who offend can face the most brutal form of censorship, there’s a broader threatening climate where we all have to walk on eggshells to avoid saying anything offensive – or else. So, while Islamists and feminists may seem to have little in common, they are both united in demanding retribution in the form of bans, penalties and censorship of those who hurt their feelings.
But how did we become so thin-skinned? This book blames three culprits: official multiculturalism’s relativistic conflation of tolerance with positive “recognition”; narcissistic identity politics that proclaims the personal is political; and, finally, therapeutic educational interventions such as anti-bullying campaigns, through which the young are taught that psychological harm is interchangeable with physical violence.
About the author
Claire Fox is director of the Institute of Ideas, which she established in 2000 to create a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint. She convenes the yearly Battle of Ideas festival, and co-organises the Institute of Ideas’ residential summer school, The Academy: “University as it should be”.
A panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, Claire is regularly invited to comment on developments in culture, education and the media on television and radio programs such as Question Time and Any Questions? She is also a columnist for the Times Educational Supplement and Municipal Journal.