Monday, 20 September 2010
Tatchell at the door
Last week’s Spectator was a ‘thought crime’ special, drawing attention to the new forms of moral policing that govern the lives of people in England, a consequence of swathes of nannying and politically correct legislation passed by the last government, a large part of which, thankfully, is to be swept away. I read one article, that by Melanie Philips (I think, therefore I am guilty) with an increasing sense of frustration and anger.
Let me make a confession straight off, something that at least some people who read this blog know already – I’m bisexual, I have been ever since I was at school in my mid teens; indeed there was a point when I thought that I might actually be a lesbian – amorous stirrings for a new dishy history master cured me of that delusion! I’m not at all uncomfortable with this admission, though it’s not something I generally talk about, simply because there is no need to talk about it.
So, yes, I’m bisexual, so almost by definition I’m in favour of sexual freedom and gay rights. The problem is I’m beginning to feel a growing sense of contempt for the whole ‘gay pride’ movement, which is not about ‘pride’ at all but relentless and distasteful self-promotion; about forcing people to confront people that they would quite frankly rather ignore. People have the right to be whatever they wish- within reasonable and lawful limits – but when that right is used to begin new forms of persecution and prosecution that’s where I take my leave.
Last summer I wrote a piece elsewhere drawing attention to the plight of an American Baptist preacher in Glasgow, arrested for ‘anti-gay’ comments at an open air meeting in the city. He was asked by people in the audience, obvious provocateurs, what is view of homosexuality was, giving a response based on the Bible. He was immediately reported to two nearby police officers, who arrested him. He was later charged with ‘hate crime.’ Not having the means to await a trial, a lengthy process, he pled guilty and was fined £1000, approximately $1800. Yes, that’s right, $1800 simply for expressing a view outlined in the Bible.
Similar legislation in England allows a ‘Christian opt-out’ clause. But even so, as Phillips points out, pensioners have had police officers visiting their homes, accusing them of ‘hate crimes,’ either because they wrote to their local council complaining about a gay pride march or simply asked if they could distribute Christian literature when such a march was in progress.
Yes, this is how police resources are used in modern England, to intimidate pensioners. But there is a bigger principle here, one centring on the whole area of free expression. A new atmosphere of intimidation is being built up where it’s virtually impossible to make any controversial statement without coming into conflict with the Blairite ‘Respect’ agenda, without coming into conflict with the law, or without coming into conflict with an outrage mob, headed by the likes of Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell, the grand ayatollahs of homosexual opinion.
Last summer Jan Moir of the Daily Mail wrote some distasteful remarks in her column following the death of Stephen Gately, the gay singer of the Boyzone band. A campaign of mass Twitter and Facebook hysteria was mounted against her, headed by Stephen Fry, all round talentless fat man and miserable gay. Responding to this appalling mob the Metropolitan Police sent Moir’s article to the Crown Prosecution service, who later said that she would not be prosecuted.
Prosecuted! This is the emphasis as it appears in Philips article, an expression of her astonishment and disbelief. It’s also an expression of mine. This is what we have come to; that a journalist is in danger of prosecution over remarks that happen to be in questionable taste. But the whole basis of press and personal freedom stands or falls on being allowed to make distasteful remarks. Otherwise it’s to hell with Voltaire. From now on it’s I may disapprove of everything you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it, unless it’s about homosexuals, single-mothers, one-legged lesbians and on and on and on.
You think this is a joke, you think that I’m exaggerating? Well, then, take the case of Robin Page, mentioned by Philips. Page, Chairman of the Countryside Restoration trust, was arrested in 2002 after a rally against the proposed anti-hunting laws in which he said “If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver I want the same rights as you.” It’s silly, yes, it’s over the top, yes, but so what? I simply can’t see any mature adult taking this seriously or finding it ‘hateful’, even if they are black vegetarian Muslim asylum seeking one-legged lesbian lorry drivers! But it took Page five years to clear his name. No joke.
In the same issue Matthew Parris, a gay voice I can respect, defends the right to insult (Let’s hear it for contempt), otherwise only bullies will prevail; they will prevail by intimidation and by silence. Scorn, as Parris puts it, has always been a sharp and prominent weapon in the battle of ideas. Take out scorn, take out invective, then one might as well discard much of our great polemical literature. Where, I have to ask myself, would the divine Jonathan Swift be without his acidy pen? Who would have believed that we are entering a world less free than that known by Swift?
In Nineteen Eighty Four George Orwell wrote that freedom is the freedom to say that two and two make four. If that is granted all else follows. This is no longer true. Freedom is the freedom to stand up to political correctness, to offend some prat or other, to say that Stephen Fry’s hairstyle looks like some small distressed animal. If that is granted all else follows. Oh, I don’t hate gay pride marches; I don’t object to gay pride marches, I just think they are embarrassing spectacle, a march of prancing losers and silly pink poseurs, pathetic dweebs that everyone I know finds endlessly amusing. Will someone please come and get Queen Peter Tatchell away from my door? :-)