`The offender never pardons'. George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651).

`Pardon one offence, and you encourage the commission of many'. Publilius Syrus, Moral Sayings (1st C. B.C.), 750, tr. Darius Lyman.


An image which causes people to be upset or embarrassed affronting, insulting, disrespectful, intolerable, nauseating, distasteful, disgusting, obnoxious, repulsive,

Something that is offensive upsets or embarrasses people because it is rude or insulting.

`Generating disagreeable emotions or sensations, as the advance of an army against its enemy' The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, 1886.

differentiate from squeamishness.

The tactlessness of interviewing people shortly after a loved one has been killed or murdered. Most images aim to communicate to people and therefore the creator of an image has a responsibility to the viewer. The extent to which certain images reach people - Televisual images reach millions

Blasphemy, pornography, obscenity, permissiveness,
suggested sexual situations
the irreverent treatment of sacred subjects

Thomas Bowdler and `bowdlerisation'

In a publication of 1818 he got rid of the bawdy bits of Shakespeare

Offence = a strong military attack

people displayed as sexual objects in advertising, or macho car drivers


Is our materialistic society paying for a high spiritual price for its plenty.
seduction, alluring
breaking the law (Are there any rules?)
sexually explicit scenes
untruthful (mistaken images)


in the bad sense it manipulates, misinforms and keeps minds closed `Advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half truths'. Edgar A. Shoaff `Advertising is legalised lying' H.G.Wells lead astray


Freedom and Choice of looking or not looking by shutting our eyes or blocking our ears or turning the switch off. An image would certainly be offensive if we didn't have the choice. However what do we think about the bombardment of images?

hurtful & humiliating

to a cultural or ethnic, group, religious organisation, children, men, women, gays, colour of skin

cruelty and violence

film clips and photographs of the German concentration camps What use does violence have to the viewer?


TV - chewing gum for the eyes'. Frank Lloyd Wright.

`Children will watch anything, and when a broadcaster uses crime and violence and other shoddy devices to monopolise a child's attention it's worse than taking candy from a baby. It is taking precious time from the process of growing up'. Newton Minow.

Are we drowning our children in gratuitous rubbish, violence, cynicism and sadism?

Offensive words

`Let us swear while we may, for in heaven it will not be allowed'. Mark Twain, Notebook (1935).

Words are only sounds or a group of letters but they are symbols of meaning - written and spoken words

tone of voice; contextual/associated words in sentence; if expletives are personally directed aimed at people or things accompanied by a facial grimace, physical posture or gesture

The shock of the vicar in a pulpit uttering an expletive compared to a navvy on a building site.

Words in common use among a group may give no offence; words related to human parts