BY FRANK HAVILAND
If the left had their way, civilisation would be an endless reality show to find the world’s most offended person: X Factor Whingers’ Edition perhaps. Winners could then simply be elected for a term as supreme leader, and employ their virtue to solve society’s ills.
Indeed, any aliens unfortunate enough to make it to Earth could well be forgiven for believing that system of government to be already firmly in situ. The zeal with which anyone with a platform professes how offended they are by the latest non-event, is a fresh hell unimagined even by Dante.
Notwithstanding the monumental irritation one suffers being constantly sold drivel in virtuous packaging, there is something sinister about a zeitgeist which defines truth by how easy it is on the ear.
As with science, full and frank public debate is essential for testing out new ideas, or re-examining old ones which we may have got wrong. Can you imagine science where you were only allowed to conduct inoffensive experiments? In terms of discourse, it is only at the offensive margins where a genuine exchange of ideas takes place, which is why a thick skin is so essential.
Would that the left were as inclusive as their bromides, but thick skins are increasingly in short supply. Megyn Kelly was recently ousted from her NBC ‘Today’ show for her defence of blackface. Waitrose food magazine editor, William Sitwell suffered a similar fate for his joke about killing vegans in a private email. Meanwhile, the philosopher and current Tory ‘Housing Tsar’, Roger Scruton, is under intense pressure to resign for offensive comments he made on Eugenics back in 2012. Comments. Jokes. Opinions.
Where once cogent counterarguments would have been deployed, we now seem content to signal how morally-outraged we are about things, as though that were an argument in and of itself. How did we get to this stage?
The latest scandal to hit the news is the burning of a Grenfell Tower effigy at a private bonfire party in a South London back garden. The denouncement was swift, the great and the good jostling like old women at a Cliff Richard concert: ‘Utterly unacceptable’ tweeted the PM, ‘disgusting’ echoed Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Even Mayor Khan tore himself away from the selfies and Brexit stitch-ups long enough to add his ‘utter condemnation’.
The Commander of Scotland Yard himself felt the need to add how ‘appalled’ he was by the ‘callous nature’ of the video, so much so that the police even searched a property in connection with the incident, flailing around desperately in search of an actual breach of the law.
All of which is nice, until you consider what the Old Bill don’t do anymore– real crime. As of 2017, Met police deputy assistant commissioner, Mark Simmons, confirmed that ‘low-level’ crimes such as burglary, shoplifting and assaults would no longer be investigated.
Instead, the police now prefer ‘hate crimes’, or better still ‘hate incidents’ – the definition of which is ‘any non-crime perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate’. So that’s the deal – safe spaces for everyone’s feelings, but not for their possessions, bodies or even lives.
The private citizen is running out of safe spaces actually. There are none to be found on the streets of Khan’s London, and precious few online thanks to the Mayor’s 900-strong hate speech crack team. There are none left for private conversations, nor for jokes, nor even the contents of emails (unless you’re Hilary Clinton, and can lose 30,000 in one go). Now, even our back gardens are under surveillance.
Progressive offence however is a mercurial thing. It was wholly absent as crude models of Theresa May and Boris Johnson were burnt in Lewes on the same night. It failed to make an appearance on Manchester bridge last year as a ‘hang the Tories’ banner was draped, nor could it muster an appearance when John McDonnell called for the lynching of Esther McVey.
The left is more than happy to use offence as a cudgel to beat those on the right, but pisses its pants when the perpetrators don’t fit their narrative – which is why they are silent and so utterly useless when it comes to real crime.
They prefer FGM to the task of policing it, acquiesce to gang rape rather than allow Tommy Robinson to expose it, and vilify free speech, unless of course it’s a terrorist group making use of it. If the benchmark of crime is merely being an arsehole, then lock us all up and have done with it.
The Grenfell five (as they will no doubt soon be called), made a fatal mistake. If they’d been selling class A drugs at Bestival, they’d be Kate Osamor’s chief of staff. Flying Hezbollah flags in London, they’d simply be Labour voters. Convicted of urging support for ISIS, they’d have been released early with £2Million a year security, on top of their jihadi seeker’s allowance. Being as they are, white and working-class to boot, they haven’t got a prayer. Next time, perhaps they’ll remember to self-identify as minorities?