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“….The willingness to take loud and public offence manifests that peculiar modern imperative to be aggrieved and disport oneself in the mantle of no-risk victimhood. More than that, it affirms that one cares deeply about something in the absence of any other transcendent purpose in life.

One always hesitates to say the obvious, but as George Orwell remarked, it is the obvious that intellectuals are most inclined to ignore. There is a good …reason for this: there is hardly any point in being an intellectual if you see only what is obvious. An intellectual, almost by definition, is a person who sees, or claims to see, what others do not see, an alternative to which is to be blind to what others do see. It is true that appearances are sometimes deceptive, but more often than not they are very instructive.

The supposed right of people to have their attitudes, beliefs, opinions “respected”, that is to say not questioned, reprehended, derided or mocked, merely because of their strength of conviction, will no doubt put most people in mind of Muslims who claim it and want to impose it on the whole world. In the wake of the Salman Rushdie affair, which in my view was a turning point in world history, a book was published in England with the title Be Careful with Muhammad! It implied that those who were disrespectful towards the Prophet had only themselves to blame if their disrespect was met with violence. This, of course, is the logic of the protection racket and the gangster: we will leave you in (relative) peace, but on our conditions.

A willingness to take offence has become a desire to take offence; and as we know, appetite grows with the feeding. No propitiation of the offended, therefore, is ever enough; on the contrary, it leads merely to the next demand and cause for offence if not met. Taking offence acts as a kind of guarantee that one cares deeply about something in the absence of any other transcendent purpose in life….” READ ON