Taking Offence – A Dangerous Plague

One of the latest in a series of attempts to interfere with people’s customs and traditional rights comes, not from an ignorant lefty London council, but from the parish council of leafy Brockenhurst which includes parts of the New Forest no less.

As reported in the local newspaper and the Times of Saturday 29th September, a proposal to display aluminium silhouettes of British First World War soldiers carrying rifles and packs was to be banned by the council on the grounds that the rifles “might” cause offence.

A photo of British soldiers going up to the front line each carrying their rifle and pack is virtually a First World War icon. Rose Coombs’s classic photographic guide to the Western Front War Cemeteries[1] has on its cover a photo of the 41st Division memorial at Flers, which is a statue of exactly such an infantry soldier.

Offence to whom or for what was not specified by the objectors, but a thousand-signature petition was needed to get the council to withdraw its objection.

In similar bossy vein Bridgend town council in South Wales has taken to banning children under 11 from attending a Remembrance Day parade, though how they can stop children quietly walking in public places is a mystery.

The Doctrine of Offence has entered the mainstream

That there have always been plenty of nutters around is clear, but two recent developments have combined to give their utterances real power to disrupt events, pastimes, and the expression of opinions, especially traditional ones, all entirely lawful of course.

The first development is undoubtedly social media, particularly tweeting, where views, however nutty, can be transmitted across the world in an instant.

The second development is mainstream acceptance of the alleged rights of every self-defining group to have their opinions seriously considered however little supported by any evidence, by lawful authority, and by mainstream organisations like councils and charities.

In the Brockenhurst case, reportedly two only parish councillors objected to the soldiers’ silhouettes, citing possible offence taken by unnamed and uncounted people – probably two – namely themselves. Yet the rest of the council let this through.

Likewise, one may ask in the Bridgend council case, whether the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had actually been consulted about 10-year-old Cub-Scouts and Brownies attending a Remembrance Day parade. One rather thinks not, given the thousands of parades by Cub-Scouts and Guides.

The former Chair of the HSE – Dame Judith Hackitt – once complained that organisations were using supposed HSE rules relating to a procedure or course of action as cover for objecting to people doing perfectly lawful things which they, the objectors, didn’t happen to like.

Traditional Activities and Views most likely to be targets of the offence-takers

An extraordinary example of what may be termed managerial pandering to a miniscule[2] self-defining pressure group is the decision of the Girl Guides Association to allow males claiming to be changing into females to go into the showers and loos with their girls.

Managerial staff are mesmerised by claims of male transgenderites to be treated as females to the extent that they suspend the evidence of their own eyes, and the wishes of literally tens of thousands of their own members and their parents. None of the Guides’ management seems to have the simple guts to say to the supporters of the transgenderites that “this is the Girl Guides Association and those who are not biologically girls will not be allowed to join” however much proxy-offence is whipped up on Facebook and elsewhere. If necessary, take a vote of the Girl Guides’ parents on the issue. Don’t be what has been neatly termed a “Silent Bystander” of a transparently wrong thing.


[1] Published by Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd, 6th Ed, 1990, ISBN 0900913 61 4.

[2] About one in ten thousand of the population apparently, mostly in London.

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