Safe Spaces and 'Offence Tents'
Originally published in The Spectator, December 2017
We hear a lot about the need for safe spaces these days. Universities are but one example of institutions that are catering to the need of snowflakes who feel that they are in need of special attention and TLC. In this article I discuss another type of space for which I believe there is a huge
market. I’m talking about the need for ‘offence spaces.’ Or if you want something that sounds more catchy and rhymes, then how about ‘offence tents’? An offence tent would not be a literal tent, but simply a place where someone in need of their daily offence fix could get it. And there are people who do need to feel offended each day.
In fact, there are many people out there who make it their mission to be offended every day. They thrive on offence; it is their oxygen. “To be offended, is to feel important” and that is exactly why the snowflakes, offendarati (a term I borrowed from my mate Bill Leak), whinja ninjas, and victim brigade are forever looking to be offended – it helps them feel important.
The details are yet to be worked out, but I envisage that offence tents would contain a computer screen with a set of menu options for the various types of triggers for the offence one may like. So for example, if race is your preferred trigger for offence, then there would be a menu option for race which would provide access to images that could be interpreted as racist. It could be something as simple as the nursery rhyme, ‘Ba Ba black sheep’ or the image of an adorable golliwog doll. The opportunities for offence are endless. There could even be a Benny Hill menu option. The beauty about using a computerised system, is that it can be updated regularly, as the believed causes for offence are increasing exponentially daily.
Now you might be thinking that offence tents only encourage people to play the victim role. Well it does, but there is an upside. First, consider having offence tents in the workplace, universities, major shopping centres, or even at rest spots on highways, enabling drivers to pull over for their offence fix. Within each offence tent, users could pay $5 for 5 minutes of offence time. After $20 mins, there could be a 50% discount. The money generated (and I predict that it would be millions each month) could then be used to help people who are experiencing real problems, like the homeless, unemployed, or the sick.
Another advantage of the offence tents idea (at this rate, if I think of one more advantage, I’ll be using offence tents regularly myself J) is that it could save time and money in the workplace. So for example, consider the case where someone in the office claims that he has been offended (that is, emotionally damaged) because someone told a joke on a ‘sensitive’ topic. A complaint is made, mediators are called in, the local current affairs TV crew shows up, there is lost productivity, and more. With an offence tent, all this could be avoided. The snowflake (and most workplaces have snowflakes) could easily use the offence tent to get his daily offence fix, spend say, maybe an hour sulking, then return to work. He would do this instead having to misconstrue a colleague’s action and given it an offensive spin.
I think that offence tents would be ideally suited to urban settings, as it is more common for people who have access to modern services, fresh food, and clean water (in other words, people with a good standard of living) who are most likely to want to take offence. Those with real needs, typically don’t look for excuses to be offended, as they are often busy enough with just getting on with life.
Now there is a problem with the concept of offence tents, but I’ve thought of a solution for it. Taking offence (and offence is always taken, never given) is pointless unless you have someone to see that you are offended. The offended need an audience. So maybe, those who have taken their dose of offence, could wear a sign around their heads which says: “I’m been offended”? Then all would see that they have been offended and offer their pity.
There is one problem however, which I do not have a solution for at this stage. In addition to needing an audience, the offence takers also need to have someone feel guilty. That’s the whole point of taking offence. Those who are quick to routinely take offence do so in response to their own insecurity and sense of guilt. By eliciting guilt in others, it temporarily alleviates their own guilt. It also gives them a sense of power, which temporarily helps their insecurity subside.