What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

Salman Rushdie

This and the following chapter discuss the issue of offense to sensibilities as possible grounds for limiting freedom of expression. This issue is constantly brought to the public agenda as, for example, in the recent limitation imposed in Israel on the playing of Richard Wagner’s music by Israeli orchestras. The proposed thesis is as follows: the Offense to Sensibilities Argument will take precedence over free expression only in cases where profound and direct damage is inflicted upon the sensibilities of individuals or a target group under circumstances in which the individuals or target group cannot avoid being subject to the offensive expression. In every case, it is incumbent upon us to examine the content of the expression, the manner of the expression, the speaker’s intentions, and the circumstances. Psychologists should be consulted concerning the severity of each offense.