In reply to GW0DSP:
You’re right about definitions of offensive. But the easiest thing is to consider how the law defines things. Take the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. It defines harassment very losely, it was really designed as a piece of anti-stalking law. But the words used are interesting as it says
“(1) A person must not pursue a course of conduct—
(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and
(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.”
It’s the wording in section (b) “ought to know” that I think is relevant. Being offensive is no different to harassment in that we ought to know what is offensive. Is Frankie Boyle’s humour offensive? Yes, he has no limits to how low he will go and he knows it. (It’s painfully funny too). Is Billy Conolly’s humour offensive? No. It’s usually foul-mouthed and based on sex or bodily functions. But it’s observation of what people do. Both are crude yet one has a deliberate aim to offend.
You say you’re broad shouldered. But would you like some of the things said of the MT to be said about you? Or about your mother or children? “Mike’s wife treats us like mushrooms… keep us in the dark and feed us on …”, “I wouldn’t trust Mike’s mother to accurately count the emails in a survey”. Would you be happy for that to be published and available for 1.1billion people on the net to read? If the answer is no then there’s a strong chance it’s offensive.
Adults ought to know what is offensive. Likewise claiming you didn’t know it was offensive is not really an execuse. If you disagree with someone, attack the premise of their argument and don’t attack the man.
Yes, it’s sometimes difficult to decide. So err on the side of caution. We’re rational adults capable of thought and reasoning. So perhaps we should demonstrate that at all times?