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Tolerance… or else!

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.

18 comments to Tolerance… or else!

  • Paul Marks

    This is an international ideology – spread via the education system and the media. And it is very old – going back to Rousseau and so on (yes I am going to make my “the French Revolution was a bad thing” point).

    And this country has no First Amendment upon which to make a stand against it.

    Of course we should leave the European Union – but that is not enough on its own.

    The government regulated media and the government financed education system is the heart of the problem.

  • Alex

    Of course we should leave the European Union – but that is not enough on its own.

    I am a member of UKIP but I think it is a shame that many in UKIP don’t seem to get this vital point – the EU and British membership of the EU is just a symptom of a deeper problem.

  • Janet Maclachlan

    Articles like this are exactly why I started voting UKIP. The MSM would have you believe UKIP and BNP are interchangeable, the Big Lie in action, just like describing Geert Wilders as “Far Right”. And it distracts from the nasty truth that the two most similar political groups in Britain today are actually the BNP and the Greens.

  • razorbacker

    “‘Ve hav vays uf makeing you tolerant.”

  • RickC

    It just occurred to me that we are witnessing Tolkien’s Ring Saga coming to life.

  • AndrewWS

    This has been proposed by an NGO rather than from within the European Parliament or the Council of Europe, so there’s a chance it will be ignored.


    But it’s still an ominous indicator of the way people think.

    @Alex: I’m a UKIP member too. I suspect that the reason why many in the party don’t get this vital point is that too many of them (at grass roots level) don’t actually read or think very much.

  • Molly

    RickC, it’s appropriate that you should make that observation on Samizdata 😉

  • Laird

    Molly, thank you for that link. It’s from 2002, long before I was even aware of Samizdata, so I’d never read it before. A brilliant, well-written piece. (I only wish that the comments were there, too.) Thanks, Perry!

  • RickC

    Thanks Molly. Like Laird, I was unaware of that post. Very insightful. That story has always resonated very deeply with me and Perry’s view matches my own, although better articulated than my own.

  • The People Republic of Boulder periodically toys with the idea of passing a municipal ordinance along those lines. I always hope they’ll do it so I can watch the fun when a Protestant, a Catholic, and a Jew file a suit demanding that the practice of Islam be banned in its entirety from the city/county as being inherently overly intolerant.

    Alas, the bill never gets past a second reading at which point it’s referred to the committee on unmarked burials and is never heard from again.

  • Trofim

    It astonishes me how rarely articulated is one basic principle of reality as
    pertains to human beings: that feelings cannot be prescribed or proscribed, or
    using the terminology of speech act theory – to order someone to feel, or not to
    feel certain feelings, is infelicitous. Yet stipulating by all sorts of
    explicit, implicit, indirect means that someone has an obligation to feel
    certain feelings is the essence of much social engineering. It just staggers me
    that the perpetrators cannot comprehend this tranparently obvious principle.

    Totalitarian coercion is already well under way.


  • Rich Rostrom

    This is reminiscent of the classic SF novel With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson.

    It is about “the Humanoids”, powerful and clever robots who are programmed to obey a Prime Directive: “to serve and obey and guard men from harm”. They relieve humans of all unpleasant labor, establishing universal prosperity and comfort.

    They also carry out the final clause in the Prime Directive by removing all risk of injury from human existence. They do this by eliminating all activity which might injure a human: no skiing, swimming, knitting… In the end, the “benevolent” robots reduce humanity to lobotomized slugs.

    Excessive benevolence leads to totalitarianism.

    But the deeper ailment is the totalitarian impulse. The proposed law would empower and encourage those who want to be “benevolent dictators”. It’s that mindset which must be defeated.

  • Paul Marks

    These regulations and “policies” are also selectively enforced.

    The msm (including my dear friends the Economist magazine) often say that Mr Wilders wants to “ban the Koran” – what he actually points out is that under existing Dutch law a book with the contents of the Koran is already banned. But for some odd reason it is still on sale…

    Mr Wilders is pointing at the hypocrisy of this “anti intolerance” stuff – but the msm do not report that way.

    And it would be the same in Boulder Colorado – they would ban what they want to ban, and “victim groups” of the “exploited” (such as Islam) would not be banned at all.

    “But what if they said dreadful things about women and gays”

    It would not matter – the left would be “flexible” – if the people saying X, Y, Z were a potential ally against “capitalism”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Frankly, i don’t think that this manifesto, if implemented, would necessarily make any difference for British residents. That freedom of speech is dead in the UK, should have been evident at the time of the cartoon jihad, and not much later i seem to remember cases of schoolchildren arrested for speech crimes. And now there is

    WRT the meaning of “totalitarian” i prefer the Longman Dictionary:
    “based on a political system in which ordinary people have no power and are completely controlled by the government”.

    Note the important distinction between totalitarian and absolutist:
    a totalitarian regime is one without substantive constraints on the power of government, an absolutist regime is one without procedural constraints. (I learnt this concept from the Conceptual Preface to Samuel Finer’s magnus opus, A History of Government from the Earliest Times.)
    Ancient Sparta was totalitarian, but not absolutist. The UK is not totalitarian, but has got closer to absolutist as the power of the Commons has become increasingly unchecked.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Andrew: thank you for the link. There is a pitch black irony (so dark i don’t even smirk) in an Israeli professor championing a manifesto which paves the way to another Holocaust.

    While we are on the subject of black humor I am going to take a cheap shot at Paul Marks:
    “… going back to Rousseau and so on (yes I am going to make my “the French Revolution was a bad thing” point).”

    Paul, contrary to what you might have heard, Rousseau was not a product of the French Revolution!

    OK, maybe Paul’s point was that without the French Rev. Rousseau would have been forgotten. Maybe that’s right, but it seems to me that the Revolution was not started with the express purpose to make Rousseau famous.

  • veryretired

    This is another example of the type of inversion that the collectivist mentality uses to justify and disguise its purposes and desired ends.

    Tolerance as intolerant for anything but the approved ideas.

    Speech as actions, and actions as speech, but only acceptable if aimed in the “correct” directions.

    Self-defense as violence, and aggressive actions by the darlings of the moment as only justifiable force.

    Private desires for wealth and power acquired by trade as evil, but public desires for wealth and power derived from state action as moral.

    The list of upside-down and inside-out could go on for quite a bit longer, but for once I will say enough.

    I do not bother debating and arguing with collectivists. They are from Wonderland, a fantasy land where words mean whatever they want them to mean, and if they seem to be losing, they just call out the jabberwocky du jour, whatever the accusation of the moment seems most effective to short-circuit the discussion, and go off on a huff.

    The solution to the collective is action, not endless debate. Rational discussion only applies to those who are capable of rationality.

    The borg are only disguised in the form of conscious entities.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Snorri Godhi, I’ve only just followed your link in your post of Nov 23, 6:37 pm. A little while ago I saw the same story independently and posted about it in a fury. Utterly chilling.