It’s no fun to be offended. I’m all for being offended if something offensive has been said to you, it’s your right to take issue with what other people say to or about you. However, many people seem to just love being offended and perhaps seek it out (I’ve gone on about this before…).
In this case, it involves another of my favourite least-favourite things; religion. And not just any religion. Catholicism.
During the 2010 Papal visit to the U.K., an exec at The Times shouted “Can anyone tell me what’s happened to the fucking Pope?”. Ok, not the nicest choice of language but hardly something to offend your beliefs or sensibilities you’d have thought, wouldn’t you?
Not in this case. A Catholic sub-editor decided that it was “harassment on the grounds of religious belief”. This was, of course, thrown out by the employment tribunal who oversaw the case. Unperturbed, the complainant took the option to appeal whereupon the decision was upheld.
The decision said, quite rightly, that the complaint was not a case of victimisation on the grounds of being a Catholic. Also, the claims that the remarks were “violating his dignity” or creating a “hostile or offensive environment” were also dismissed.
Fair play, I suppose, to the complainant. To have taken this to two tribunals shows a remarkable belief in what they must have regarded as a massive injustice but it’s clear to see that nothing said was intended to be, or indeed was, offensive to someone on their grounds of being a Catholic.
Swearing is a part of everyday life. It is shown to reduce stress levels and we have words like that for a reason, though quite why the exec felt the need in this case is a bit weird, unless he’d already asked a number of times and wanted to ensure he was heard. (Note: As is the way with these things, swearing is also shown to increase stress. What are we to do?!)
As Roy Greenslade says in his article, good sense has prevailed.