If you want to read up on offense and offensiveness in one or more permutations of the topic, I will be fleshing out a list of books and articles I’ve been looking at, puzzling over, arguing with, and seeking enlightenment from. The list will grow, so come back.
On the psychology of giving and taking offense
- Roy F. Baumeister, The Self in Social Psychology (Psychology Press, 1999).
- William B. Irvine, A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt — And Why They Shouldn’t (Oxford University Press, 2013).
- Matthew D. Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect (Crown, 2013). By the way, we’re not related (not that I wouldn’t tout a relative’s book, if it’s as good as this one).
On the culture and sociology of offense
- Stefan Collini, That’s Offensive! Criticism, Identity, Respect (Seagull Books, 2010).
- Charles P. Flynn, Insult and Society: Patterns of Comparative Interaction (Kennikat Press, 1977).
- Geoffrey Hughes, Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths, and Profanity in English (Penguin, 1998).
- Leonard W. Levy, Blasphemy: Verbal Offense against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie (Knopf, 1993).
- Jerome Neu, Sticks and Stones: The Philosophy of Insult (Oxford University Press, 2008).
- Frank Henderson Stewart, Honor (University of Chicago Press, 1994).
- Derald Wing Sue, Microaggressions in Everyday Life (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
On the Offense Principle
- Joel Feinberg, Offense to Others (Oxford University Press, 1985)
On what to do about it (if anything)
- J. M. Coetzee, Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship (University of Chicago Press, 1996).
- Saul Levmore and Martha C. Nussbaum, The Offensive Internet (Harvard University Press, 2012).
- Gregg Lukianoff, Freedom from Speech (Encounter Books, 2014).
- Mari J. Matsuda, Charles R. Lawrence, et al., Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment (Westview, 1993).
- Laura Beth Nielson, License to Harass: Law, Hierarchy, and Offensive Public Speech (Princeton University Press, 2004).
- Andrew von Hirsch and A. P. Simester, Incivilities: Regulating Offensive Behavior (Hart Publishing, 2006).