Jim Carver is a libertarian UKIP umbrella-maker from the West Midlands who aims to be elected to the European Parliament in 2014 and then to make himself redundant as soon as possible. ‘If you take liberties with a market trader, you can expect a fight,’ he says, ‘And these buggers aim to take all the liberties we’ve got.’
Nasty things are just nasty. You know where you are with a tetchy shark. It’s the nice ones which give me the heebie-jeebies. Dolls, wide-eyed children, psychopathic blondes and slavering kittens are far scarier than more obviously menacing monsters.
Let me introduce you to a tooth-achingly nice but totally terrifying new document entitled A European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance.
It is intended to be enacted as law in every member state of the European Union. It will probably be enshrined in British law. Shudder at the thought. It is such a sweet document. Its purpose is to ‘Promote tolerance within society… condemn all manifestations of intolerance based on bias, bigotry and prejudice…’
So far, so missionary tract, but these are missionaries with power. They will ‘take concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating racism, colour bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia.’
There is no attempt to define these enemies.
Feminism, just to take one example, can be the radical Dworkinesque wing, which considers sex-workers and the sexually active to be traitors (and victims), and all sexual allure to be demeaning. It can also be ‘riot grrrl’ or ‘lipstick’ feminism which reclaims traditional gender symbols and sexuality and respects the rights of women to win autonomy by these means.
The former – being nutters – are the more politically active. They consider the others to be ‘anti-feminist’. They abuse and deride them in a most intolerant manner, yet I warrant that it will be they who impose tolerance by force on their dissenting sisters once this statute has force of law.
Many nominalists doubt that homosexuality as a state of being rather than as an incidental preference actually exists. Many Britons oppose the open-door immigration policy forced upon them by Brussels. They are immediately therefore branded ‘xenophobes’. Will all such heretics find themselves debarred from expressing their views in the name of tolerance?
Here, however, comes good news: All groups will be guaranteed ‘freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas… to manifest… religion or belief in worship, observance, rituals, rites, practice and teaching…’
Does this mean, then, that devout Catholics who disapprove of homosexuality (and, more consistently, of all non-procreative sex) will be permitted to express their views?
Er, no. ‘There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom of expression is concerned: that freedom must not be abused to defame other groups.’
Defamation is defined. There is to be a new crime called ‘group libel’. It means ‘defamatory comments… aimed against a group – or members thereof – with a view to… slandering the group, holding it to ridicule or subjecting it to false charges.’ Those who believe themselves to be victims of this crime are to be given legal aid…’irrespective of qualification in terms of impecuniosity.’
In effect, then, debate (and jokes) on all such matters is to be illegal.
When I was at school, we were frequently charged in debate with espousing a cause with which we had little sympathy. There were also ‘balloon debates’, in which we had to fight for Joe Stalin’s or Adolf Hitler’s right to stay in the balloon after Saint Francis and Pollyanna had been jettisoned to save weight.
These were useful educational exercises. They will henceforth be prohibited on pain of the most ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment that I have ever heard of: ‘Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme designed to instill (sic) in them a culture of tolerance.’
Oh, and ‘the Government shall encourage all the mass media (public as well as private) to adopt an ethical code of conduct, which will prevent the spreading of intolerance and will be supervised by a mass media complaints commission’.
So now we are to have censorship in the name of tolerance.
This statute is the wide-eyed child who gnaws out the babysitter’s throat. It is the egalitarian diktat which makes magnolia paint obligatory in every home. It is intolerant of ‘totalitarian ideology’ but, as Perry de Havilland has written in these pages:
We are headed for a different kind of totalitarianism than that of Stalin or Hitler or Mao, but a total state really is what a great many people have in mind for us all. They seek a sort of ‘smiley face fascism’ in which all interactions are regulated in the name of preventing sexism, promoting health, and defending the environment. The excuses will not invoke the Glory of the Nation or the Proletariat or the Volk or the King or the Flag or any of those old fashioned tools for tyrants, but rather it will be “for our own good”, “for the Planet”, “for the whales”, “for the children”, “for the disabled” or “for equality”.
But if they get their way it will be quite, quite totalitarian.