'Offensive' drink slogan is just political correctness gone mad
There are times when you fear that our world is being smothered by political correctness gone mad, and also by a lack of plain common sense. A recent story in this newspaper revealed that a French-owned soft drinks company is not promoting one of its new products in Northern Ireland, the Republic or Scotland because the slogan 'Orange and Proud' might offend some people.
This shows you how daft some decisions are, but one could argue that we live in a province where people take offence much too easily.
The late David Irvine, with typical panache, told former US Senator George Mitchell that people in Northern Ireland would drive 100 miles out of their way to be offended.
This is still partly true and I still marvel at how many people here work themselves into a lather about something that is relatively unimportant.
If people were to catch themselves on, however, this would deal huge blows to Nolan and Talkback on Radio Ulster who live on controversy, and on keeping it up.
However, it is difficult to imagine that even the most hardened bigots would be offended by a soft drinks slogan, especially as the Orange mobile phone company has thousands of customers on both sides here, and nobody has played a blind bit of notice to that.
For once I agree with leading Orange Order figures who have condemned the latest developments as "absolute nonsense" and "political correctness gone mad".
One hopes that the naive decision over the slogan 'Orange and Proud' will not put ideas in other people's heads to complain about the marketing of other 'orange' or 'green' products.
What lies at the heart of this is the current fear of people taking offence at the slightest excuse.
For example, Nottinghamshire Police have announced that wolf-whistling will be treated as a 'hate crime'.
This decision is absolutely bonkers.
Wolf-whistling can be cheeky or momentarily annoying, but many regard it secretly as a compliment.
After all the definition of wolf-whistling is 'a loud whistle made by men to indicate that a woman is attractive'. This is not only confined to a woman.
One winter evening on my way to an Ulster Orchestra concert in Belfast I was wearing my long black coat and large-brimmed hat.
I took a short-cut to the Ulster Hall and passed two ladies of the night who gave me a wolf-whistle. I didn't know whether to be annoyed or flattered by this unexpected development.
As they say in Belfast: "It was a good laugh."
It seems, sadly, that old-fashioned good sense is disappearing from our society.
Take, for example, that dreadful story recently of an Englishman who was dragged to his death by a dog that had recently been returned by police to its owners.
As the man lay crying out for help, a neighbour claimed that the police had refused to Taser the animal for fear of killing it.
This was later denied by the police, yet only this week a former Premier League footballer died after he was Tasered by police.
Since when was a dog's life more important than a man's?
It's now often difficult to trace a sensible path through the moral maze that bewilders our society, and our extreme sensitivity to taking offence and the prevailing political correctness everywhere does not help.
Instead of bothering ourselves needlessly about an 'Orange' slogan for soft drinks, we should be much more worried about the spate of attacks on Orange and GAA property as well as those on Protestant and Catholic churches.
People have a human right to freedom of religion, and any organisations perceived to have a special connection to one or other of the main denominations should not be targeted because of that connection.
It is all too easy for some half-wit to set fire to what is seen as being a symbol of 'the other side', but it is much harder to introduce common sense and tolerance into someone's head that is filled with sectarian sawdust.