That’s offensive! So what?

There seem to have been a number of incidents recently where one person has said something that others took offence to which have made it into the news. Some of these cases involve people expressing their opinion but most concern inappropriate jokes. I have some concerns that, given the ability of social media to find things to take offence to and the amount of pressure that can be levied with it, we are heading towards a dangerous situation where it will be safe only to voice the most popular opinions or tell the most politically correct jokes.

At times, the apparent need to get offended gets justified in the most ridiculous ways, as shown here in South Africa. I would encourage everyone to read the Broacasting Complaints Commission of South Africa’s (BCCSA) findings with regards to “jou ma se paw paw” that was said on Heart 104.9FM. A complaint was made after a DJ said “jou ma se paw paw,” which translates to “your mother’s paw paw.” Fairly inoffensive. The problem is that “jou ma se poes,” which translates to “your mother’s cunt” is a common insult. The complainant said that by using something similar it is an attack on women’s dignity and encourages sexism.

Against all common sense the complaint was upheld! Although the BCCSA only reprimanded the broadcaster and found the words did not amount to advocacy of hatred, they , somehow, concluded that:

The words “Jou ma se paw-paw” are grossly offensive within the South African context. They strongly remind of the seriously derogatory original phrase, which need not be repeated here. The words are also, within the same context of children, harmful to children in terms of clause 6(1)

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BCCSA gets its theology wrong

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) was recently called on to make a judgement on the second season of the award-winning documentary Shoreline. When discussing cannibalism, one of the presenters said the following:

In other cases, eating people might be a way of gaining access to some special element, some special essence of the victims. Christians for example eat the blood and the body of Christ so they can absorb some of his purity and godliness.

This evoked a number of complaints with complainants saying that the show was factually incorrect as the ritual of Communion was a purely symbolic act. When the broadcaster responded it agreed that communion was purely symbolic, even in the case of Catholic transubstantiation (the only time it was mentioned) and said that the offending sentence will be removed from future rebroadcasts. The BCCSA accepted this as a genuine error and, with future broadcasts being edited, saw no reason for an apology or further measures to be taken. (Full judgement available here.) Unfortunately this judgement is incorrect as, for many Christians, Communion is not merely symbolic. Continue reading