Many millions of years ago in warm and pleasant valley there lived a terribly civilised society of dinosaurs.
The leader of this society was called Offendasaurus. Being an odd and sensitive sort, he was constantly aware of anything that anyone did that might upset the peaceful balance of their surroundings. He was constantly scolding the local inhabitants and because they were all such good and thoughtful neighbours, they would always try their best to meet his demands.
When he told the velociraptors that their screeching was oppressive, they tried to keep the noise down to a minimum and avoid it altogether on the weekends and mornings.
When he told the Pterodactyls that their soaring and swooping was belittling, they kept to the ground and waddled from place to place as often as they could.
But when he told the Diplodocus that the way that she chewed was a clear attempt to bully and intimidate the smaller dinosaurs, she wasn’t sure what to do (as a Diplodocus does little else than chew on all that they can find).
This led to an extraordinary meeting and the dinosaurs of the valley gathered round to discuss what must be done.
As the wisest and most trusted dinosaur of all the valley, Triceratops tried to voice the concerns of his fellow reptiles:
“I believe it’s fair to say,” she began “that the reason we are all here is to decide what we should do when one of us…”
All the dinosaurs stared at Offendasaurus.
“…is offended by something that someone else has done.”
Offendasaurus enthusiastically nodded.
“but who of us here has not felt what it is like to be accused of deliberately harming the feelings of others when it was never our intention to do so?”
No one spoke up.
“And who amongst us has not been the victim of someone else’s insensitivity?”
Again, the crowd remained silent.
“But anyone with a younger sibling knows that dinosaurs are capable of feigning injury in order to get attention or see their enemy punished…”
Many of the dinosaurs nodded.
“And anyone with an older sibling knows that dinosaurs are capable of pretending that their cruelty was an accident in order to get away with their selfishness and insensitivity…”
Again, the onlookers signalled their agreement.
“So, my first suggestion is that someone not involved in the dispute should be the one to decide.”
The Offendasaurus scoffed and rolled his eyes.
“But who can I trust to decide when I should be upset?!”
The crowd murmured and Triceratops tried again.
“Then perhaps we should all just agree to police ourselves.”
“But who can I trust to decide when others should be upset?!”
The crowd groaned in unison. Triceratops stopped and thought for a moment.
“Then perhaps if we accept that sometimes we’ll be offensive and sometimes we’ll be offended and that we’ll only put it to a dinosaur meeting if we really really think it’s so over the top that almost everyone will agree…”
Offendasaurus laughed out loud.
“And what if we do? Who will make them apologise?!”
The dinosaurs watching paused as the wisdom in his words dawned on them. One by one they went back to their lives. The velociraptors screeched, the Pterodactyls soared, and the Diplodocus chewed away to her heart’s content.
And though the Offendasaurus was more offended than ever, from that day forward the other dinosaurs paid no more attention to him.