Monday, September 21, 2009

Can We Sue for Being Offended?

A quick one for today. A Christian hotel-owning couple is being sued for offending a Muslim patron. Now, the actual elements of the conversation are not reportable due to the court proceedings, so I don't know exactly what happened. What appears to have happened, however, is that a Muslim patron became involved in a conversation about religion. The Muslim patron became offended at the conversation, and went to the police, and complained that she had been offended by the conversation, and felt there were "threatening or oppressive" elements to it.

Where do I stand on this? At this stage, I stand completely behind the Christian couple. If the same thing had happened at a Muslim hotel, believe me, I would stand completely behind the Muslim couple. This has nothing to do with the religious beliefs of either party. It's a basic element of free speech. You do not, or at least should not, have the right to not be offended. If a conversation is offending you, walk away, don't sue the people. I don't care if it offends your deeply held religious beliefs any more than I would care if it offends your deeply held political leanings. Trust me, if this is all it takes, I'm sueing the pants off of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, to name just a few. I am almost daily offended by the things they say. But does that make any sense? No. They have a right to their freedom of expression, just as I do, and I freely exercise that right and call them idiots and then list my reasons for doing so. That's the point.

Now, granted, this all took place in England, where the laws and the courts are a bit different, but even a commentator on the article brings up that the police are also charged with protecting freedom of expression, and that the Public Order Act has been used and is being used probably too aggressively, especially in cases where people's feelings are hurt.

Man, maybe I should change career paths and sue people for a living for a while. Then I can retire and drink away all my conscience concerns. On a remote island, or on top of some mountain.'s not sounding so bad after all...

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