Small Publisher of the Year 2011, 2010, 2008, 2006 

‘One of the books of the year … an intellectual map for our times’

Martin Flanagan, Saturday Age

A lively and passionate defence of reasoned debate

Everyone has taken and given offence; anyone who claims they haven’t is either lying or uniquely tolerant. Yet in recent years, offence has become more than an expression of annoyance — it’s now a form of political currency. Politicians and religious leaders have mastered the art of indignation to motivate their supporters or deflect unwanted attention, and the news cycle has become increasingly dominated by reports on these tiny tempests.

In this provocative account, Richard King explores how the politics of offence is poisoning public debate. With hurt feelings being paraded like union banners, we’ve ushered in a new mood of censoriousness, self-pity, and self-righteousness. Unofficial censorship has even led to official censorship; blowing the dust off old blasphemy laws, we are moving forward into the past. Yet King contends that freedom of speech is meaningless without the freedom to offend, and that the claim to be offended should be the beginning of the argument, not the end of it.

Politeness is a noble quality, and decorum will always have its place. But when respect comes at the cost of honest criticism, it’s time for us to think again.


‘An extended essay of uncommon eloquence and brio.’

Geordie Williamson, The Australian

‘I dare say a great many people will be offended by Richard King’s On Offence. Good. They can take a deep breath, count to ten, pull themselves together, and come to terms with what King convincingly demonstrates is integral to the functioning of civil society. This is a calm, clever, and lucid book.’

Gideon Haigh

‘Richard King is one of the most interesting of the new generation of Australian journalist/critics.’

Clive James
» All reviews for this title

Other Current Affairs:

Blueprint for Revolution

Blueprint for Revolution: how to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other non-violent techniques to galvanise communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world

Srdja Popovic and Matthew Miller

ISBN: 9781925106398
RRP: $27.99
Pub date: February 2015
Category: Current Affairs
Best Australian Political Cartoons 2014

Best Australian Political Cartoons 2014

Russ Radcliffe

ISBN: 9781925106190
RRP: $29.99
Pub date: November 2014
Category: Current Affairs
My Promised Land

My Promised Land: the triumph and tragedy of Israel

Ari Shavit

ISBN: 9781922070593
RRP: $45.00
Pub date: February 2014
Category: History
Company Man

Company Man: 30 years of controversy and crisis in the CIA

John Rizzo

ISBN: 9781922070845
RRP: $29.99
Pub date: January 2014
Category: Memoir

Other Cultural Criticism:

What about Me?

What about Me?: the struggle for identity in a market-based society

Paul Verhaeghe and Jane Hedley-Prole

ISBN: 9781922070906
RRP: $29.99
Pub date:
Category: Cultural Criticism
You Aren't What You Eat

You Aren't What You Eat: fed up with gastroculture

Steven Poole

ISBN: 9781922070050
RRP: $19.95
Pub date: October 2012
Category: Food
We Have Met the Enemy

We Have Met the Enemy: self-control in an age of excess

Daniel Akst

ISBN: 9781921640889
RRP: $32.95
Pub date: February 2011
Category: Popular Psychology
How to Cause a Scandal

How to Cause a Scandal: adventures in bad behaviour

Laura Kipnis

ISBN: 9781921640827
RRP: $29.95
Pub date: October 2010
Category: Cultural criticism