After the recent "Manuel-gate" incident, where Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand left some rather offensive and inappropriate remarks on Andrew Sachs' answer phone (and for which both apologised to Sachs, Ross was suspended and Brand quit) people seem to have gone into a complaints frenzy, desperately seeking things to take offence at.
Often they don't even go to the trouble of watching the supposedly offensive thing at all, they just read about how offensive it all was and launch into a bile-spitting fury of righteous indignation, usually in behalf of another person or group who they feel would be very offended by what was said.
Obviously these complaintards don't think the persons or groups they believe would be offended are capable of complaining themselves, so these patronising individuals take offense vicariously, and then complain on behalf of those unfortunates they think would probably have been offended.
If you see something on tv, or hear something on the radio, that offends YOU personally then by all means go ahead and put in a complaint if the offense caused to you is beyond what you can tolerate (and we all have to tolerate a degree of offense - you can't be completely thin-skinned in a society that values freedom of speech - sometimes people are gonna say things you don't like - handle it!). That's fine!
However, if you didn't see the tv show or hear the radio program, then don't be so arrogant and presumptuous as to put in a complaint about it. It didn't offend you. You didn't see / hear it.
If read about it in the paper, and from what the paper says you think you'd have been offended by the programme in question, then it's your lucky day - you avoided watching something that would have offended you - brilliant!
From this situation you may just be able to justify writing in to the paper with your opinion, but you can't justify writing a complaint to the makers of the show, because if you had a shred of honesty you'd have to start that complaint with "I am writing to complain about your recent show, which I did not see....", and a complaint like that serves only to show the writer is an idiot.
It seems that people don't follow basic common sense in such circumstances however - after Jeremy Clarkson's recent joke about truckers murdering prostitutes (the implication that murdering prostitutes is a routine part of a truckers job is obviously a joke - you surely didn't think Clarkson was really suggesting this was actually true did you? Did you? If you really thought he was slandering truck drivers then you need your head checked) the BBC received a few complaints from people who'd seen the show and thought the joke was in poor taste (perhaps it was...but it was on Top Gear....if you're the sort to take offense at arguably poor taste jokes it really would be in your own interest to watch something else instead!). Fair enough, some people didn't like it, and made their feelings known to the BBC.
Over the next few days, when the story had done the rounds in the media, the number of complaints had risen to 500. Now, unless 90% of Top Gear's viewers record the program and watch it a day or two later, this doesn't quite add up. Assuming they don't, this means that hundreds of people have written to complain about a program they did not see and therefore were not offended by. Madness!
While these people have every right to make their (second-hand) opinions known in public discussions, they do not have any grounds to complain to the program makers because they didn't see the program. There may be some among them who having read about the supposed offence in the program decided to watch it for themselves (on Youtube perhaps) to confirm it offended them as much as they imagined it might- fair play for at least watching the source material before complaining about it....but there's a problem here.
These people have deliberately sought out an opportunity to take offense. They thought a particular item on a show may offend them and went out of their way to watch it and take offense at it. If it ended up offending them, so what? They deliberately inflicted that offense upon themselves, so they should write themselves a strongly worded letter complaining about the offense they have bought upon themselves.
Where do I stand on these two incidents?
Well, on the Clarkson one I have no sympathy for the complainers at all - Top Gear is well known for its lack of "PC", and if you watch it you've gotta expect a few inappropriate remarks...they're a key part of the show's appeal!
Comedians around the country regularly use material far more "offensive" than Clarkson's joke - if you think Clarkson should be fired for his joke then by the same token you should be demanding almost every comedian in the country be fired as well (and don't start with the "Clarkson's joke was before the watershed" nonsense - we're talking about how much the JOKE itself offended YOU - scheduling is a seperate issue).
On the Manuel-gate incident I have a little sympathy for those who heard the show and complained. What Ross and Brand did was undeniably out of order, and if you heard the show and felt it was out of order you were well within your rights to complain.
I didn't complain about it because I didn't hear the show, and the offense was not directed at me. If Andrew Sachs was offended (which he was, and quite legitimately) he had the right to make a serious complaint - it was his privacy that was violated, and the offensive comments were targeted at him and his family. I don't have the right to take offense on his behalf and then complain about that offense to the makers of a program I didn't hear. I'm glad Ross was suspended without pay, and I'm glad Brand chose to resign, and I'm glad they admitted their wrongdoing and apologised.
The lesson to be learned here is simple:
Do No Seek Opportunities To Take Offence, Or You Will Likely Be Offended