Our linguistic and legal obsession with “insult” and “offense” is nothing new. In 1832, Sydney resident William McLoughlin was given
50 lashes for using the word “damned” against his master.
But what does McLoughlin’s case tell us about today?
Welsh Rabbit and lashes from pretty fellows
The word insult can be traced to the Latin insultāre “to leap upon” or “assail”. It possibly entered English via a Middle French word insulter, meaning “to insult, crow, vaunt, or triumph over; to wrong, reproach, affront”.