February 18, 2015
I don't read newspapers anymore — I just lie to myself and cut out the middleman, but I think it's important to note that the press themselves are not actually outraged by what they report on as being offensive. No tabloid journo — whose life is invariably a shattered kaleidoscope of prostitutes, gambling, cocaine, self-loathing, literally going through a stranger's bins, erectile dysfunction and cocaine — is genuinely offended when some students dress up as the Twin Towers for Halloween.Frankie Boyle, not writing for the Independent.
Outrage just makes good copy. It's easier to write, and simpler to understand. A tabloid hack knows that their average reader can barely read and they're not going to try to communicate anything like ennui in the vocabulary of a ten year old.
Offence is often simply an attempt to deny reality. Avant-garde film makers get attacked for saying things that are avant-garde; comedians get attacked for making jokes and footballers get attacked for being stupid. Nowadays offence is taken symbolically. It even gets translated into symbolic terms. Imagine if I did a joke along the lines of...
"The thing about that paedophile ring at Westminster is that they weren't even the worst MPs. There were people in Parliament who were to the right of MPs that STRANGLED KIDS. And they actually did more harm than paedophiles. I mean, the nonces tried to do harm in their own little way, but Thatcher fucked ALL the kids."
Not my finest work, but it doesn't matter because if it started a shitstorm, the joke itself wouldn't be printed. I would be in trouble because I'd joked about abused children or made a sick joke about a dead pensioner. The joke itself would be translated into these terms so as to maximise offence and minimise its message. I would be adjudged to have transgressed on a symbolic level, like some gibbering 13th Century Heretic.