Don’t take of­fence where none is meant

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

IT SEEMS that al­most ev­ery other day some­one is pil­lo­ried for a re­mark, a ges­ture or a look that is per­ceived as a slight. How did we all be­come so quick to take of­fence? Most fair-minded peo­ple don’t like to see oth­ers hu­mil­i­ated, but many are start­ing to feel they must mon­i­tor their thoughts and words very care­fully be­fore speak­ing, for fear of be­ing mis­in­ter­preted. Be­ware Or­well’s Thought Po­lice.

I’m not talk­ing about de­lib­er­ate put-downs in­tended to make some­one feel in­fe­rior be­cause they are a par­tic­u­lar colour or gen­der or don’t ap­pear to fit in, in some way.

The other day I tuned into a show where news of a fun-run for a chil­dren’s hos­pice was be­ing dis­cussed.

To in­ject a bit of hu­mour into the event, the fathers of the young­sters with life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions were go­ing to dress up as women.

Noth­ing to of­fend any­one there? Well, yes, ac­tu­ally.

The fundrais­ers were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice as a hate crime, hav­ing been re­ported by an in­di­vid­ual (not Trans­sex­ual Sup­port group Chrysalis as first re­ported) which said the fathers were ridi­cul­ing peo­ple like them­selves.

Yes, life is com­plex for Trans­sex­u­als, as I dis­cov­ered many years ago af­ter in­ter­view­ing Si­mone who lived in Hayes and wanted to high­light their prob­lems by telling her story.

But dif­fer­ences are now cel­e­brated, so it is par­tic­u­larly sad that slights are some­times be­ing seen where maybe they don’t ex­ist.

Daugh­ters love to see their dads dress up. Some­where I have a pic of Mr F af­ter FJ* passed a rainy af­ter­noon mak­ing him look hideous with a funny hat, lip­stick and a dab of blusher on his beard.

My great-grand­mother sang in the mu­sic hall on the same bill as Vesta Tilley who dressed up as a man, and we all love panto dames at Christ­mas. No of­fence in­tended. None taken.

Per­haps we all need to ditch in­flated pride along with the prej­u­dice. Life’s not one big ‘selfie’. The fathers of these des­per­ately ill chil­dren did not have a lot to laugh about, so it seemed par­tic­u­larly thought­less to have tar­geted them.

In the ad­mirable quest for fair­ness and equal­ity we seem to be los­ing a sense of pro­por­tion; of no longer giv­ing peo­ple the ben­e­fit of the doubt. We think we’ve come a long way. Un­for­tu­nately we still need to grow up. * FJ = Fisher Ju­nior

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