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Samizdata quote of the day

“The irony of Europhiles is that they replace one form of nationalism with another: “country first”, is out, but “Europe first” is in.”

Nathan Pinkoski. He analyses a recent speech by French president Emmanuel Macron that deserves far more scrutiny than it is getting.

47 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Not even the European Union censorship campaign seems to shake the faith of the supporters of the European Union. May the scales of their folly fall from their eyes!

    I do not believe in “my country right and wrong” – not when “country” means GOVERNMENT. I believe in certain fundamental liberties – if need be AGAINST Parliament.

    In short I stand with Americans in relation to 1776 and with Ulstermen in relation to 1912 – the Covenant, an “Old Whig” document that might have been straight from Sir John Holt – Chief Justice from 1689 to 1710, who stood BOTH against the tyranny of any monarch, AND of any Parliament.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul:

    I do not believe in “my country right and wrong” – not when “country” means GOVERNMENT.

    Absolutely correct. Well said.

    . . .

    Which leads me yet again into musing, or Thinking About.

    1. We humans do, necessarily, make it up as we go along. Both as individuals, and as groups. And a lot of trial-and-error goes on in our endeavours.

    1.5. The process seems to involve an awful lot of “2 steps forward, 99 miles back.” And, every once in awhile, there really is a great spurt forward. In the life of each individual and by his own lights, and also for the society or country or culture or “civilization” (as in “Western Civilization”) as a whole, meaning in the shared sense of well-being of most of the members of the group, when thinking about the fortunes of the group.

    2. What might be (whether “will be” or “seems likely to be”) best for most people (by whatever proportion) in the long run is not necessarily, or most likely not ever, what is best for some people in the short run.

    3. And it depends on what one means by “best.”

    4. And on who is judging.

    I’m sure none of this has ever occurred to anyone who has ever visited this parish. Thank you for your indulgence. :>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Johnathan,

    It is interesting to me that the site to which you link is currently presenting a bunch of essays on the case of McCulloch vs. Maryland, which is a crucial decision in creating precedent which the Supreme Court has considered, at least in part, in reaching its Opinions over all of the 200 years of its hearings of cases since then.

    This has made it so convenient for me to read up on the case that I really can’t excuse myself for failing to do so. Thus, I commenced. I decided to begin (almost) at the very beginning, as the song goes, with the actual Opinion of the Court, as written by Chief Justice John Marshall.

    And nearly the first rattle out of the box was this statement in the Opinion:

    No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass.

    This struck me as so directly pertinent to your posting and to the issue presently before the UK in the matter of British (UK) Independence from the EU, that it seemed worth quoting here.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/17/316

    (Scroll down a very few lines and click on “Opinion,” on the left, to read just the Opinion.)

    For further discussion of the places in the hierarchy of authority from Federal to State to the individual — or of the place of the Const,, read the discussion preceding the quote (search for the first few words in your browser) and the fairly lengthy discussion following it.

  • Flubber

    Well Dominic Grieve just got deselected.

    hahhaahahahahahahhaahahhahahahahaha

  • The UK needs a spring clean from the May scene.

    (apologies to Page and Plant)

  • Mr Ed

    It’s not even a country that they prefer, but a supra-national bureaucracy. By way of comparison, to me, the ‘United States’ is not so much a country as a bureaucracy, overlaid on the Several States. However, it does command broad allegiance from and identification with its citizens.

    Re Mr Grieve, AIUI, he is technically not ‘deselcted’ but he has to get re-adopted, and perhaps will be reimposed by the Party apparatus, following orders, we shall see, but a good start, and is he a ditch worth defending?

    And we see the inner Gollums of those who voted, in the end, for Mrs May’s ‘Deal’. Their inner search for their ‘Precious’ came through.

  • pete

    As far as many British EUphiles are concerned they regard being European as a way of assuaging their Britishness, a quality they are ashamed of because they’ve been taught that the British are a particularly vulgar, nasty and guilty people.

    This opinion is strengthened by their inclination to view Europeans, especially the French, as sophisticated, cultured and cosmopolitan.

    They deal in stereotypes, not facts.

  • William Newman

    (https://www.samizdata.net/2019/03/samizdata-quote-of-the-day-1158/)

    “The irony of Europhiles is that they replace one form of nationalism […]”

    Once something has been standard operating procedure for long enough to be business as usual, the sensation of irony tends to be dulled (rather like any remark based on “the irony is that the aristocracy are themselves human beings subject to human limitations” or “the irony is that the people on the Economic Rationalization Board and Truth Enforcement Authority and so forth are themselves human beings”). So let me try to fix that for you: because the left loudly denounces nationalism, naturally we can expect that the left uses a double standard for nationalism.

    Denounce killing birds in industrial quantities as ecologically intolerable, and make it a marvellously photogenic talking point for hammering the oil industry; or redouble support for wind subsidy farms, as the case may be.

    Denounce imperialism, with some exceptions such as that for the hammer and sickle.

    Denounce as Whig history attempts to document the successes enjoyed by a mostly-pre-Marx flavor of policy up through the Industrial Revolution. Too facile! And far, far too convenient as a rationalization by the lickspittle lackeys of the hateful powers that be! The virtuous and sophisticated thing is to demand ridicullously high standards of proof for such hatefacts, and sneer knowingly when those standards are not met, and indeed sneer knowingly even when those standards *are* met. (To pick at random, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Babington_Macaulay and quotes from Speck there. “Macaulay’s reputation as an historian has never fully recovered from the condemnation it implicitly received in Herbert Butterfield’s devastating attack on The Whig Interpretation of History. Though he was never cited by name…” “[Macaulay too often] denies the past has its own validity, treating it as being merely a prelude to his own age. This is especially noticeable in the third chapter of his History of England, when again and again he contrasts the backwardness of 1685 with the advances achieved by 1848.”) And uncritically imagine, and enthusiastically present as simple unquestioned truth, the effect upon their stated goals of Progressive triumphs such as public education, controlling the wild instabilities market economies with central banking and fiat currency (and after that, adding the US New Deal to prescription), mandatory licensing of doctors, the US War on Poverty…

    Denounce racism, suitably redefined to be based upon some quality such as “oppression,” which is in turn suitably grounded in fundamentally arbitrarily political determination of which classes are oppressor classes, which classes are oppressed classes, and which vanguards are to turn the racial animus, discrimination, shit-stirring dishonesty and hoaxes, and so forth up to eleven while they legitimately and caringly operate under the moral authority of their oh-so-sincere concern for the oppressed classes.

    Denounce sexism, and denounce naive rationalizations for outcomes which correspond to stereotypes because it would require impossibly high standards. So women cannot be differently motivated in prestigious things like various technical specialties even if it’s rather hard to explain patterns (in e.g. free software) otherwise, but women’s motivation has a je ne sais quois which makes them qualitatively better custodial parents than men, but only a hateful homophobe would question that a homosexual male couple is just as good at parenting as a heterosexual couple of man and woman.

    Denounce racism and sexism, so that black lives matter, and so that all lives do not matter, and so that race and photos are a required part of applications to institutions such as universities, and stop and frisk policies (totaly not a violation of some fuddy-duddy hick interpretation of the US Constitution) should have inequality under the law for males because males are disproportionately violent so it would be totally unjust to subject women to it, and must have equality of outcome for blacks because it is unjust for individual blacks to be subject to bad outcomes because of group differences in behavior.

    Denounce privilege, and push a program of talking points aggressively redefining privilege as pretax declared income. Hear no nomenklatura, see no nomenklatura, speak no nomenklatura. (The program of banging on this particular family of talking points well beyond any plausibly sensible innocent explanation crops up all over. E.g., _War and Peace and War_ is an interesting book in several ways, e.g. trying to connect asabiya to a wider history than that familiar to Ibn Khaldun. The author is clearly not a complete idiot across the board. But that doesn’t stop him from beclowning himself with determinedly dumb efforts to narrowly tie asabiya destruction to inequality, and further narrowing it not equality of outcomes, but to inequality defined as wealth (as opposed to other forms of privilege). So we end up with a level of ignorance of even pop history that I associate with famously stupid works such as _Arming America_ or the international-comparisons chapter of Samuelson’s famous _Economics_ textbook: even Benjamin Franklin and Alexis de Tocqueville suffice to alert us to unreasonable claims about guns, even the Berlin Wall suffices to alert us to unreasonable claims about (revealed!) preferences of Soviet subjects, and even David and Bathsheba or Xenophon and Cheirisophus suffice to remind us how asinine it is to try to reduce asabiya-damaging misconduct with inequality of wealth.)

    Denounce the knuckledragging ignoramuses on the right who taboo the determination that pyrsynkind’s genetic heritage has been formed by the operation of natural forces upon xir genes. Taboo even the most screamingly obvious ordinary heritability from pairs of individual human biological parents to individual human offspring. (Carry this so far that sociological studies on the inheritance of “privilege”-as-taxable-income from individual parents to individual don’t even correct for the screamingly obviously uncontroversially true physical inheritance of height, and its nonnegligible impact on income.)

    Denounce the absurdity of the fuddyduddies and sinister Libertarians and Federalist Society types talking about negative rights: a negative right to e.g. liberty does no good if you don’t have the positive right to be supported while you enjoy it. Mysteriously, and incuriously, but confidently rediscover negative rights once you get above the level of individuals. (There are persistent murmurs about how some nations should be entitled to demand positive rights from other nations, but the ordinary mainstream position is still that nations default to broad rights not to be looted, regulated, or otherwise restrained by other nations: the logical impossibility of negative rights is consistently ignored in this arena where it is not already a fait accompli.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    William, above at at 4:20 pm:

    Dammm!!! I am awed and left breathless upon reading your scathing, entertaining, thought-provoking, outraged, highly informed, downright, perceptive, and wonderfully expressive comment.

    “Comment”: Actually an essay in its own right, and one that should be published, read, and read aloud all across the land. Or rather, all across the lands wherein human life is held to be a real value, instantiated in each individual human being and not in some group or “collective,” not even the group consisting of Humanity itself.

    .

    That, sir, is writing. Well said, well done, kudos, and a standing ovation!

    Thank you. 😀

  • William Newman

    Thank you, Julie, for your kind words. Actually, I was conflicted about writing it, because it’s rather too long for many purposes. Arguably better would something like “irony, schmirony — that’s like Winston Smith musing that ‘the irony is, the Ministry of Truth is not about truth at all. While rats are eating his face.'” But as probably comes through, I had some venting to do, and trying craft a one-liner wasn’t gonna get the job done…

  • William Newman (March 30, 2019 at 4:20 pm), like Julie, I thought there was good stuff in that text and have kept the link in case I want to remind myself of some of your choicer examples.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Not too long for me, at any rate! And I doubt I’m the only one.

    😀 😀 😀

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The irony of Europhiles is that they replace one form of nationalism with another: “country first”, is out, but “Europe first” is in.”

    Protectionist societies are all built on the premise of protecting “us” from “them”. The only difference between them is simply which “us” is being protected from which “them”. The categories shift from time to time, the borders are redrawn, but the Protectionist principle is always the same. It’s only ironic if you believe them when they say it’s the Protectionism and intolerance they’re fighting, rather than just whose turn it is to wear the boot.

    William,

    Not too long for me either – I’ve been known to do huuuge comments on occasion too!

    I don’t disagree with anything you say. But I’d add that the point runs both ways. It’s just as ironic that we have all the old style racists and sexists and nationalists and morality police and so on now complaining about society’s persecution and intolerance of minority views! However, I must concede that when venting you can’t cover everything. 🙂

  • Gareth

    The battle in Brussels has long been between europhiles who want a european nation and those who favour building a technocratic empire. The latter have been winning for a long time.

    I recently read some words by Arnold J Toynbee. “The Trend of International Affairs Since the War” (pdf) written in 1931. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Toynbee and his ilk believed that national sovereignty was a half-millenia experiment that deserved to come to an end. The technocratic legions in Brussels want the same thing. The europhiles want a United States of Europe but don’t know how to build one that has any democratic legitimacy.

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m originally from Scotland and so my facebook feed is filled with family and friends posting about how much better Scotland would be independent of the UK. “Decisions for Scotland would be made in Scotland not London” they tell me. But of course it is independence within the EU not actual independence. And decisions would in fact be made in Brussels not Edinburgh. I have pointed out the irony of this many times but somehow it seems utterly lost on them all.

  • It’s just as ironic that we have all the old style racists and sexists and nationalists and morality police and so on now complaining about society’s persecution and intolerance of minority views! (Nullius in Verba, March 31, 2019 at 12:04 am)

    It would be ironic if it were so. But I doubt the dead write blog posts complaining about the living, and today’s adult generation in the UK grew up in the days when the law did not encourage arrest for mere remarks. If the PC had never given themselves the power to arrest us for saying what offends them, whether intended to or not – then I think your argument for comparability would still face challenges but it would start from a better position.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “If the PC had never given themselves the power to arrest us for saying what offends them, whether intended to or not – then I think your argument for comparability would still face challenges but it would start from a better position.”

    What, like obscenity laws? Lady Chatterley’s Lover? Whitehouse vs Lemon?

  • Paul Marks

    I was interested by the way Mr Dominic Grieve BEHAVED after the Vote of No Confidence.

    The English Gentleman mask fell off (one can see who people truly are when they are under pressure) – and he complained like a stuck pig. Nothing was his own fault – it was all a “campaign against me” (oh poor you Dominic).

    Voting is fine according to Dominic – as long as you VOTE THE WAY HE TELLS YOU TO VOTE, if you vote for the independence of this country from the European Union, or you vote “No Confidence” in him as your Member of Parliament – then you must “vote again”, so that you vote “correctly”. Mr Dominic Grieve does not behave like a man (he has still not resigned) – so he should not be treated as a man.

    And this creature is a former Attorney General.

  • Neonsnake

    Clause 28.

    An anti-libertarian law, well within our ligetime, effects of are still being felt.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Clause 28. An anti-libertarian law, well within our li[f]etime, effects of are still being felt.”

    Good example! I should have remembered that one.

    And then there’s the infamous Section 5 Of The Public Order Act 1986, the one the police use on you if you swear in their presence.

  • Neonsnake

    It’s just as ironic that we have all the old style racists and sexists and nationalists and morality police and so on now complaining about society’s persecution and intolerance of minority views! However, I must concede that when venting you can’t cover everything.

    This is correct.

    Kinda.

    The only correction that I would humbly suggest is to remove the qualification “old style”, and leave it as “racists and sexists and nationalists and morality police”, which are the majority. Humbly, I submit to Sir NIV, that these are not “old style”, but the the most common in today’s society.

  • Mr Ed

    Neonsnake,

    What is this ‘Clause 28’? Is it still in force, if so where are you referring to?

  • Nullius in Verba

    Neonsnake, it depends what you mean by “majority”.

    This is a common argument I have – that the sort of 1970s attitude I get from some people (not so much on this blog) is considered by many of them to be the majority British view, and all the new social liberality is held only by a tiny minority and imposed by force on the traditional right-thinking majority.

    However, I think there’s evidence that social attitudes have changed, and that the majority is indeed a lot more liberal about traditional moral rules than it used to be. Most of the public don’t like political correctness and its enforcement, but most of the public don’t like the 1970s attitudes on race, sexuality, and sex equality, either. The ‘traditional’ view on these matters is now a minority, which is why the government has introduced the laws it has.

    Unfortunately, as always, the authoritarian streak in humanity has now become as intolerant about enforcing the new norms as it was the old. I have considerable sympathy with racists, sexists, and homophobes, even while I don’t agree with them. But I really do find this attitude that this is all new and they’re the first to ever suffer under the boot of enforced social norms to be irritating.

    On the other hand, if by “majority” you mean the majority of those complaining, then yes, they’re not all that much different in their attitudes to the way they used to be.

  • Neonsnake

    On the other hand, if by “majority” you mean the majority of those complaining, then yes, they’re not all that much different in their attitudes to the way they used to be.

    Oh, I very much mean the snowflakes that are complaining that they’re being silenced in their homophobic views. Y’know, despite actual critical thinking being applied, which would show otherwise.

  • Neonsnake

    Mr Ed, I’m going to assume a good faith question there.

    It’s this:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28

  • Voting is fine according to Dominic – as long as you VOTE THE WAY HE TELLS YOU TO VOTE, if you vote for the independence of this country from the European Union, or you vote “No Confidence” in him as your Member of Parliament – then you must “vote again”, so that you vote “correctly”. Mr Dominic Grieve does not behave like a man (he has still not resigned) – so he should not be treated as a man.

    And this creature is a former Attorney General.

    Unfortunately, this creature is so shameless that he is going to get them to “Vote Again” in traditional EU fashion in the form of an adoption vote / run-off.

    If that doesn’t work, then I suspect that “Conservative” Party Central Office will send them an updated list from whom they may choose their MP. Said list consisting of Mr Dominic Grieve and no other living persons.

    “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”John Harrington 1590 (after Seneca)

  • Julie near Chicago

    I followed the link to Clause 28. To my admittedly less-than-expert eyes, it seems to say that government schools are not to “promote” homosexuality. Depending on how broadly or narrowly “promote” is defined, I don’t see anything in the slightest un-libertarian about that. Government schools shouldn’t be promoting book-burning or book-banning, either, though a private school of some flavor might do so if the parents think it appropriate. Not that I would send my kid there.

    The Clause doesn’t seem to me to be saying that the government schools should be actively discouraging homosexuality.

    But if I’ve misunderstood the Clause, please correct me.

  • (Julie near Chicago, April 1, 2019 at 3:18 am), you are absolutely correct in your understanding (and in your assuming that it long ago ceased to be law). The fight against clause 28 was as anti-libertarian as it would have been if objecting to a clause saying “state-funded schools with attendance laws should not promote the Labour party.” A private school can of course have a prospectus promising a PC take on all it teaches, but we on this blog – because we are libertarians – say that a school you are forced to pay for, and to send your kids to (if you then have not the money left to send them elsewhere, nor spare time for home education) should be apolitical. Surely we have seen enough blog posts and comments about the PC bias of the education sector to know that! Would neonsnake and nullius be horrified by a clause 29 that made it hard for schools to punish any pupil overheard describing the trans ‘winner of the girl’s 100-yard dash’ as a boy?

    The PC opposition to clause 28 was always about viciously misrepresenting a defensive measure against PC indoctrination as an aggressive measure, and the schools’ aggressive indoctrination as defensive. I recall the ‘Question Time’ and ‘News Report’ programmes back in the 80s in which teachers who were blatant radical propagandists pushed the lying line that it somehow inhibited them from punishing unPC bullying and other insolently dishonest stuff. It appears Neonsnake and Nullius swallowed that line when they were younger and have yet to reconsider it in the light of what has happened since.

    On this blog, we are not fans of how government does things even when what it does might on balance be right. I would have preferred a general clause declaring that compulsory schools must not engage in politically one-sided teaching. Even more, I thought Margaret Thatcher missed a trick when she did not make the reaction to this earlier get-them-while-they’re-young activity a chance to make a far broader freedom point, or a chance to push the far superior solutions of sacking the entire education department and giving parents school vouchers, or simply following Milton Friedman’s advice to end compulsory attendance laws. But in the very imperfect state of freedom (and Tory party interest in it) in the UK even in the 80s, clause 28 was a band-aid against PC indoctrination. The PC therefore hated it, campaigned against it, and, as the very predictable consequence of their victory, these days, get to punish pupils for ‘misgendering’ – unless of course their pupils are moslem.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Quite, Niall, and I thank you.

    Your example is much better than mine, by the way. Yes, the taxpayer-funded schools should indeed be a-political, meaning that they should certainly not be promoting any political party.

    And thanks for the further detail.

    Excellent comment altogether. (Why am I not surprised. 😀 )

  • Mr Ed

    Neonsnake,

    Sorry that was a genuine question. the reason being that it was repealed so long ago (2001 in Scotland, 2003 in England and Wales) that I was not sure if it could be the same point. Furthermore, ‘clause’ is not a term used for legislation but ‘Section’ and I was wondering if there had been something else with that name in the meantime. The original section was in the Local Government Act 1988 and it amended the Local Government Act 1986 to expand a prohibition on local authorities spending money for political purposes to include promoting homosexuality or funding others who might do so, but carving out an exception for spending on sex education where homosexuality was incidental.

    From what I recall of the time, the section was a reaction to what were then colloquially termed ‘Loony Left’ Councils who were portrayed by some as deliberately spending money on this as a way of advancing what was in effect political propaganda. It should be noted that there was not a ‘Section 28’ but rather a ‘Section 2A’ inserted in the Local Government Act 1986, which followed the section barring local authorities from spending money on publishing for political purposes.

    So section 2 provided:

    Prohibition of political publicity.

    (1) A local authority shall not publish[F1, or arrange for the publication of,] any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.

    (2) In determining whether material falls within the prohibition regard shall be had to the content and style of the material, the time and other circumstances of publication and the likely effect on those to whom it is directed and, in particular, to the following matters—

    (a)whether the material refers to a political party or to persons identified with a political party or promotes or opposes a point of view on a question of political controversy which is identifiable as the view of one political party and not of another;

    (b) where the material is part of a campaign, the effect which the campaign appears to be designed to achieve.]

    (3) A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.

    And Section S2A (i.e. what was termed ‘clause 28’ or ‘section 28’), came about from this:

    28.—( 1) The following section shall be inserted after section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986 (prohibition of political publicity)—
    “2A.—(l) A local authority shall not—
    (a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish
    material with the intention of promoting
    homosexuality;
    (b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of
    the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.
    (2) Nothing in subsection (1) above shall be taken to prohibit the doing of anything for the purpose of treating or preventing the spread of disease.
    (3) In any proceedings in connection with the application of this section a court shall draw such inferences as to the intention ofthe local authority as may reasonably be drawn from the evidence before it.
    (4) In subsection (l)(b) above “maintained school” means,——
    (a) in England and Wales, a county school, voluntary school, nursery school or special school, within the meaning of the Education Act 1944; and
    (b) in Scotland, a public school, nursery school or special school, within the meaning of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.”

    (2) This section shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.

    And as for the rest, Niall nails it.

    Indeed, I would put this on a level with the High Court ruling that local authorities cannot hold prayer meetings as a formal part of Council meetings, not because prayer is oppressive etc., but because the Statutes giving them powers do not extend to enabling them to do that, a judgment of Mr Justice Ouseley IIRC, the law restricting what the State may do by only allowing that which is permitted by Parliament, a judgment often portrayed as the opposite.

  • Mr Ed (April 1, 2019 at 11:08 am), thank you for the detailed quotes from the original legislation which show me that I, not just (maybe, I speculated) Nullius and Neonsnake, suffer from remembering PC-misrepresentation from the days before the web. While I stand by my final paragraph (in April 1, 2019 at 8:04 am) overall, it qualifies one sentence in it to be reminded that Margaret Thatcher’s government was in fact attempting to offer a broader resistance to educational indoctrination. I sort of knew that at the time, but the immense disproportion in what the news covered, and the even more immense disproportion in how it covered it and whom it flattered, affected what I remembered at the moment of writing. The web makes a difference.

    One could doubtless make many a just quibble over phrasing in all these laws. I called it a band-aid, with all the implied inadequacy of that term.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The fight against clause 28 was as anti-libertarian as it would have been if objecting to a clause saying “state-funded schools with attendance laws should not promote the Labour party.””

    The comparison I would use would be the First Amendment to the US Constitution, starting: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” However, Clause 28 differs in that it leaves out the second clause, as do many of the people using the First Amendment to ban praying in schools and public ceremonies.

    The following from a guide for schools on how to negotiate this cultural minefield:

    “School-Sponsored Prayer: Prayer and Bible-reading have long been excluded from the public schools. Engel v. Vitale (1962) and School Dist. V. Schempp (1963). Even a moment of silence for “meditation or voluntary prayer,” is impermissible if its purpose is to promote prayer. Wallace v. Jaffree (1985).

    Student-Led Prayer: In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe (2000) the Court held that student-led prayer at school-sponsored football games was unconstitutional, because the circumstances implied official endorsement of religion.”

    A law that was ostensibly there to prevent the state bullying people about their religious practices is frequently used through the courts to bully people about their religious practices. It’s not always what the words say, but often about how they’re interpreted in use.

    “The PC opposition to clause 28 was always about viciously misrepresenting a defensive measure against PC indoctrination as an aggressive measure, and the schools’ aggressive indoctrination as defensive.”

    It is a truism of war in general that *both* sides are convinced they are only defending themselves from a vicious and unprovoked attack by the other!

    If the clause had also made clear that it was not the state’s role to “promote” heterosexuality either, it might have been clearer. From the point of view of any schoolchild who was gay, or even suspected of being gay, there was absolutely no doubt about which standard they were supposed to conform to. Society clearly ‘promoted’ heterosexuality in everything, and anyone who didn’t conform could expect bullying, contempt, exclusion, insults, assaults, threats, and near-universal aggression. Gay kids went to great lengths to hide it, and there were many suicides and attempted suicides among those for who it was discovered. Teachers, especially of the older generation, were often unsympathetic (although to be fair they usually stopped the worst of it). For some, the accusation of being ‘gay’ was a matter for terror and frantic denial, as much as an accusation of being ‘un-Soviet’ might be in another context.

    That sort of environment breeds a lot of anger. It’s like an emotional pressure cooker. My trans friends have likened the emotional effect to the life of spies living behind enemy lines in occupied Europe. You have to hide who you are from eveyone. You have nobody to trust. Nobody to talk to. You are utterly alone. You live in constant terror of being discovered. You have to lie all the time. To your enemies. To your friends. To your family. And then worry yourself sick about whether you’re doing so convincingly enough, and whether you’ve covered all your tracks.

    One of my trans friends tells me that when she was eight or nine years old she had planned out her routes home from school based on whether there were sufficient escape routes and clear lines of sight, to be able to avoid the bullies. No child should have to live like that!

    That’s the world those kids grew up in, and yes, it affected them. They can get quite angry and emotional about the debate, especially when people tell them that it was all about aggressive gays trying to force their views on everyone else!

    A law to outlaw promotion of the Labour party in schools (and only the Labour party), in a nation where the Conservative party rules, is presented everywhere as the norm, and where it is well known that any kid who shows any sign of dissent from the Conservative Party line is due a good kicking in the playground, has a somewhat different flavour to it than a grand impartial declaration of absolute political neutrality. In such a context, a law banning promotion of one side and not the other would be easy to ‘misinterpret’.

    But like I said, it is a truism of war in general that *both* sides are convinced they are only defending themselves from a vicious and unprovoked attack by the other. I’ve no doubt the other side saw it very differently.

  • Neonsnake

    I was 11 at the time, just started senior school. Whilst clearly I didn’t know at the time, there were already acts in place which restricted local authorities from publishing apolitical materials; clause 28 (or section 28, if you prefer), was an addendum specifically and only directed at homosexuality. The word “promote” is misleading, in this case – the intent, Julie, was to remove all reference to homosexuality (and bisexuality), because it was considered an unacceptable practice. The key part is:

    (b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of
    the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.

    Imagine that – it was legal and victimless, but the government forbid teaching that it is acceptable to form a life-long relationship with someone of your own sex.

    That is not the place of the government to say.

  • It is a truism of war in general that *both* sides are convinced they are only defending themselves from a vicious and unprovoked attack by the other! (Nullius in Verba, April 1, 2019 at 12:31 pm)

    That is true. Hitler said Churchill was a liar – and since Churchill said wartime truth was so important that it needed a bodyguard of lies, Hitler was obviously not 100% wrong. Hitler said the Jews were wronging the Germans – and in the 1920s, you can find a Jewish financier defrauding Germans, a German Jew loyal to Stalin, not Germany, etc. The question is, what are the relative statistics? Happily, in most cases, the two sides are less far apart – more like the difference between my “band-aid, with all the implied inadequacy of that term” and your harsher take.

    as much as an accusation of being ‘un-Soviet’ might be in another context.

    Bit OTT there – unless your ‘another context’ is not the obvious one (no doubt some current UK adults were raised in progressive schools in the UK where not being fashionably communist got you mocked right up until the late 80s).

    That sort of environment breeds a lot of anger. It’s like an emotional pressure cooker.

    I know that, in private life, the anger is often real. Although, in the public power domain, I see only only too clearly how much of it is

    The loud uneasy virtue, the anger feigned at will,
    To overbear a witness, and make the court keep still.

    (as Kipling put it), I know that in private life there may be no PC-phoney whatever about the anger. I know privately of a Glasgow man who, at age 40, decided that being gay was no longer for him. One evening, an old acquaintance from down south arrived at his door, seeking a bed for the night in both senses. He offered it in one sense but began to explain that he had changed his views and lifestyle. The situation became very ugly and he had to retreat to his safe room, lock it, and wait a long time till the other guy left – there was no audience and nothing merely-for-public-effect about the latter’s fury at this “traitor to his identity group”. I’ve heard a gay characterise people who don’t hold affirming opinions by using every possible synonym (word and phrase) for ‘perverts’ except that word itself, while unmistakably not conscious that he was avoiding that one word that so accurately expressed what he was calling them, in a manner that left the reality of his rage beyond all doubt. Just as my liberal friends tolerate me, and so cannot answer some questions, likewise my few gay friends tolerate me and (perhaps not coincidentally) do not themselves have the anger, but I know it is common enough. However

    My trans friends have likened the emotional effect to the life of spies living behind enemy lines in occupied Europe.

    is again very OTT for the current adult UK generation. Being angry and being accurate are not synonyms. They are usually closer to being antonyms.

    One of my trans friends tells me that when she was eight or nine years old she had planned out her routes home from school based on whether there were sufficient escape routes and clear lines of sight, to be able to avoid the bullies

    I have two remarks.

    1) The first is a quote from Dianna Wynne Jones (autobiographical essay).

    “As children of intellectuals we ranked above village kids and below farmers and anybody rich but sort of sideways. That meant we were fair game for all. … Being fair game for all meant that the school bullies chased you home. One winter’s day, in snow, a bully chased me, pelting me with ice. It cut. Terrified, I raced away down the alley between the blacksmith’s and the barber’s and shot into the glassy white road ahead. Too late, I saw a car driving past. I think I hurtled clean over its bonnet, getting knocked out on the way.”

    I’m very glad Dianna Wynne Jones survived (her books are great). I admire her for saying, of her feelings when she came round a minute later,

    I was quite impressed at the effect I had had.

    I’m sure the PC intellectuals of the 1930s/40s would have jumped at any excuse to make the schools teach more respect for them (indeed, as far as they could, they did). And I’m just as sure Orwell was right when he wrote in 1941 that

    For the last 20 years, the main object of English intellectuals has been to break this feeling [patriotism] down, and if they had succeeded, we might be watching the SS men patrol the streets of London at this moment.

    It’s as well the schools of the day were unable to teach the ideology Orwell condemns as much as they wished.

    2) You say,

    No child should have to live like that!

    A school should have a strong anti-bullying policy. As part of this, it should be aware of the incredibly rare pupil who, at age 8, has such noticeable male+female features as to stand out and be noticed by other 8-year-olds. But no school was ever inhibited in the least from having a strong anti-bullying policy by clause 28. The utter falsity of the pretence that the educational establishment was cringing before it was very evident in their campaign against it.

    In various schools in various places, teachers were and are found wanting when it comes to the courage, effort, regard and simple noticing of bullying. At my school, decades ago, homoeroticism was tolerated, not victimised. It was tolerated on summer afternoons between consenting non-adults in the pleasant un-overlooked trees-and-grass area behind the school, and it was, sadly, tolerated in the gang who liked to seize boys at random and carry them to throw in the swimming pool, the point being the fun had on the way. The single bravest thing I have yet done in my life was to attack a gang of six to free a seventh boy they were carrying (not a friend, though we became so afterwards). Luckily, gangs of six do not expect to be attacked by a single individual, so I had thrown three of them down a convenient concrete stairwell before the other three were organised to attack me. Luckier still, I stayed on my feet till I experienced the thing that explorer Ranulph Fiennes expressed thus:

    When you decide to do something, God moves also, and you get help you never would have expected.

    (Later, I had trouble from the leader of the gang, but the humiliation of being beaten in a gang by just me forced him into a one-on-one fight. Having a somewhat inexpressive face that can look OK when 90% knocked out was a great asset.)

    So I could say, I should not have to live like that. Or I could say, Dianna Wynne Jones should not have to live like that. I could say it was all because my school’s teachers were PC but that, though true enough, would be spinning it. Their idleness (and, in some, not all, cowardice) was more relevant. That they had the attitudes of the times had not much to do with their being no use against the gang – not quite as little as clause 28 ever did with your friend’s teachers being no use against the bullies, but not much.

    Or I could say, “So what? So what about my anecdote and so what about yours?”

    We are looking here at the alternate realities of Scott Adams. “Trump is a fascist.” “Uh, no, actually, he isn’t.” “The clause 28 1980s were a nightmare of homophobic bullying in schools.” “Uh, no, actually, statistically they were anything but. The PCing of education proceeded, little slowed by clause 28, but less oppressive than today – and happily, most children experienced little bullying for any cause by the standard of most other cultures and times.”

    Feel free to have the last word if you wish, and then I suggest we let the readers of this thread make up their own minds.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Feel free to have the last word if you wish, and then I suggest we let the readers of this thread make up their own minds.”

    Thanks, but I’m unsure of what your argument actually is there. Can you summarise?

  • Neonsnake

    The clause 28 1980s were a nightmare of homophobic bullying in schools.” “Uh, no, actually, statistically they were anything but. The PCing of education proceeded, little slowed by clause 28, but less oppressive than today – and happily, most children experienced little bullying for any cause by the standard of most other cultures and times.”

    I think the summary is that your trans friends and us poofs should man the fuck up, since we didn’t actually experience the bullying that we say that we experienced; also, being anti-PC is the most important thing in the world.

    Also something about being well ‘ard because of a concrete stairwell.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Neonsnake,

    Possibly. It’s a bit garbled. Or he might be reporting that he was horribly abused as a child himself. Even today, the published statistics on trans bullying are horrific, and I know it was much worse in the past. What kind of hell hole did he come from where he thinks that’s normal/typical?!

    The stuff about the stairwell looks a lot like a standard male threat display ritual, which tends to support the hypothesis. When animals feel under threat, they often engage in ritualised displays of aggression and physical prowess designed to intimidate or scare off an intruder or rival, without actually fighting. (David Attenborough did many beautiful examples.) “I’m so hard I fought off a gang of six single-handed”? It can’t possibly be because he thinks that’ll work on me over the internet! I’m thinking that maybe my mentioning the bullying at school of boys suspected of being gay has triggered some horrible, horrible PTSD flashbacks, and he’s somehow regressed to the ‘tough-guy I’m-totally-not-gay’ front a lot of boys instinctively used to survive. I’ve seen a few people try to disguise what they are that way – although never to a good end. The nervousness shows. Man, if that’s the case, I’m so sorry!

    Sadly, we’ll never know where he gets his statistics on LGBT bullying in the 1970s from (I’m really curious, now!), because he’s decided not to stick around to defend his assertions. Oh well.

    I’m not going to push.

  • bobby b

    Nullius in Verba
    April 1, 2019 at 11:01 pm
    .

    push . . .

    push, push, push . . .

    push . . .

    “I’m not going to push.”

    You have the sophist’s gift of taking words, stripping them of context and meaning, and then agilely attacking those words that remain.

    You’d be much more effective making points than scoring them.

  • Nullius in Verba

    bobby b,

    Viewpoint: “Sophistry… Sophistry… Sophistry… Sophistry… Sophistry…”

    Another viewpoint: “Sophistry…”

    Viewpoint: “How dare you use sophistry on us!”

    Ironic, yes?

  • Nullius in Verba (April 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm), since you ask, I will therefore not yet fall silent on this as I planned, but instead try to summarise. 🙂 (Feel free to make your last word that you don’t think summarising is my skill. 🙂 )

    1) In our period, bullying – bullying of gays, bullying by gays and bullying that has nothing to do with gays – occurred before, during and after the clause-28 years. It is not the case that bullying of gays statistically increased during the clause-28 years. The opposite is the case.

    2) Clause-28 was brought in (IIRC, hastily rushed in) after parts of the education establishment began teaching gay marriage, gay adoption, etc., to young children and taking a “your kids are ours” attitude to objecting parents. In theory, clause-28 prevented such teaching. In practice, it prevented spending tax money on teaching materials specific to those ideas, and gave parents some ability to push back if they learned they were being advocated in class.

    3) At the time clause-28 was brought in, “We will teach your tots the sexual morality we believe; you bigots will send them to school, pay taxes and shut up.”, was not a battle the education establishment was going to win. Much helped by all the usual suspects, they therefore pretended that clause-28 would prevent them from opposing the bullying of gays. This was a simple lie. Many a teacher at many a time in many a school failed to prevent many an instance of many a kind of bullying – but not because of clause 28.

    4) The Dianna Wynne Jones quote about “class discussions of important modern subjects” that heads this post, covers the clause-28 years. They know nothing of that time who do not know that those class discussions included discussing the evils of unaffirming prejudice. As the BBC’s charter of impartiality was and is a joke to some who work there, so some in the education establishment then and now see more honour in breaching any similar duty. It is not statistically the case that after clause-28 was passed, this ceased or significantly slowed in the heart of the distribution. What clause-28 did was to flatten the tail, to maintain the age range at which these discussions were held, and to keep the format somewhat more of a discussion, albeit one in which the teacher’s PoV could seem dominant, than a lecture stating the ‘right’ answers.

    (Flatten the tail – a clarifying example: in the same period, there were occasions when politically-appointed new head teachers imposed aggressive anti-racism policies. For example, in one school, a new head imposed a policy with a strong “whites are guilty, blacks are owed” flavour that caused a steady drop in racial amity in that school. Eventually, a couple of racial murders of pupils by pupils on school grounds in the school day dragged the situation out of educational establishment control into the public domain, as the former seemed more interested in whether to classify murders as racially-motivated or not than to prevent them. Statistically, the pro-gay-propaganda education movement should have had a similar extremist tail, but clause-28 flattened it, both directly and by giving concerned subordinate teachers a means to pressure any such head if they became concerned.)

    That ends the summary (or perhaps I should say ‘summary’ 🙂 ) of my on-clause-28-topic content. My comment also remarked some things I thought irrelevant to that in your prior comment (to be fair, this is all very OT for the original post).

    a) Few conflicts have sides as morally contrasting as Hitler-Churchill and even that can be qualified, but few are statistically identical or even close. Everyone can tell an anecdote on their side of the case. Everyone knows there are grimmer anecdotes out there on both sides of the case.

    b) The PC narrative is that anger in their client groups is caused by society, and should be indulged. Your comment seemed to reproduce this narrative for the particular case. Statistically, comparatively, psychologically and morally, I critique the PC narrative.

    c) PC public domain anger is often feigned or indulged. Private anger can be very real. It can be both real and indulged. Anger is not an aid to understanding. Often, it is the reverse.

    I believe the above to be statistically true. There were many schools and many teachers and many pupils with their own particular experiences – or, as the saying goes, YMMV.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Niall,

    Thanks very much for the summary. That’s much clearer, and easier to answer.

    1) Clause 28 wasn’t brought up to talk about its role in preventing the bullying of gays. It was brought up as an example of people being arrestable for expressing views society considered heretical. I don’t know why you think we were trying to make the former point.

    2) Schools teach *lots* of things to kids without consulting the parents. The point in this case was that parents didn’t want their kids exposed to certain ideas or points of view. You can read (re-read, I hope) JS Mill’s “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” for my views on that.

    3) The point they were making was *not* that removing Clause 28 would allow schools to directly forbid or prevent the bullying of gays, but that it would allow advocacy for a change of social attitudes to homosexuality that would – eventually – result in gays being accepted in society rather than bullied. I’m not sure if you just misunderstood their argument, or if it was deliberately misrepresented somewhere. But whatever campaigners at the time may have argued, it’s not an argument I’ve made here.

    4) I agree with Dianna, fantasy has plenty of interesting examples to talk about. Much fantasy writing takes universal aspects of the human experience and abstracts away the superfluities by setting them in a different culture and context. This can enable the reader to see their own cultural assumptions and norms in a new light. I fully support that, and often aim to do it myself in what I write. The teachers seem to be complaining that they want a more concrete presentation. It’s easier to teach, I grant you, but less educational. The result seems to be that people still have extreme difficulty breaking out of their parochial cultural mindset and seeing things in the abstract.

    It’s the same sort of problem we’re addressing here. The Europhiles are unable to see that “Country first” is the same sort of nationalism as “Europe first”. They’re both cases of the abstract concept of Portectionism. Protectionist societies are all built on the premise of protecting “us” from “them”. The only difference between them is simply which “us” is being protected from which “them”.

    Great! But having raised ourselves to this lofty abstract vantage point, we cannot help but notice that the same principle applies more generally. Other people divide the world into different “us” and “them” groups too, and completely fail to comprehend that those they are in conflict with are applying the same abstract moral principle they are, just with different definitions of “us” and “them”!

    Thus, when William Newman gives a long list of examples, including denouncers of racism, sexism, privilege, and “the knuckledragging ignoramuses on the right who taboo the determination that pyrsynkind’s genetic heritage has been formed by the operation of natural forces upon xir genes” (which I assume is a reference to transphobes), I agree, but I see also the converse point. Racists etc. are also Protectionists drawing “us” and “them” lines, just in a different place.

    And frankly, I wouldn’t have thought that would be so controversial among libertarians. It was after all exactly what JS Mill said all those years ago:

    Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall.

    Your comments throughout this discussion have been clear, cogent, and unexceptionable. (And certainly not “Garbled”!) Well up to your usual standard.

    Including your last comment, which was a welcome, though unnecessary, addition to your commentary.

    Thanks for your efforts. :>)

    . . .

    Nullius.

    In your last, just above, you write:

    1) Clause 28 wasn’t brought up to talk about its role in preventing the bullying of gays. It was brought up as an example of people being arrestable for expressing views society considered heretical. I don’t know why you think we were trying to make the former point.

    But in fact, here is the comment in which “Clause 28” was first brought up:

    Neonsnake
    March 31, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Clause 28.

    An anti-libertarian law, well within our ligetime, effects of are still being felt.

    Further down, Mr Ed inquired, “What is Clause 28?”

    Answering, Neonsnake himself posted this link to info on “Clause 28”:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28

    I note that he preceded the link by calling into question Mr Ed’s good faith in asking for clarification on what he meant by “Clause 28.” (“Mr Ed, I’m going to assume a good faith question there.”)

    Indeed it was Mr Ed himself who linked to the actual Act.

    Mr Ed does not have form for displaying disapproval of any of the forms of sexuality or sexual behaviour currently the subject of public attention, at least not on Samizdata; nor am I aware of Mr Ed’s ever posting anything here except in good faith.

    If you two “N’s” aren’t happy with the description that Neon himself linked to, then Neon would better have linked to the actual source text evoking his displeasure, and argued on that basis … taking for granted the good faith of the other commenters here, which has been pretty abundantly evident over the 16+ years that Samizdata has been in existence.

  • neonsnake

    Julie near Chicago – my uncertainty on good faith was based on the phrasing – Mr Ed didn’t ask “What is clause 28?”, he asked “What is this clause 28? And is it still in force?”

    The “this” changes the tone, and the second question made me think that he knew what it was after all (since it has indeed been legally repealed).

    After some thought, I made an expressed assumption of good faith (ie. That he didn’t know what it was, and that he had asked about the “still in force” element based on my “still being felt”, which he had correctly assumed meant it was no longer legally enforced).

    I expressed the good faith, in order to give him an out if I was incorrect, and indeed he knew what it was, and so that I wouldn’t appear patronising if he did know. That may have been unclear.

    My uncertainty over which of the two it was came from not knowing his nationality – if he was from outside the UK, then he wouldn’t necessarily have heard of it.

    I linked to Wiki for ease, it’s a fairly (albeit not perfect) good overview, which includes some context behind the act and the state of legal and social acceptability in the UK of homo- and bi-sexuality in the relevant time period.

    I’m unclear what was wrong with doing so?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But in fact, here is the comment in which “Clause 28” was first brought up”

    Which was in response to Niall’s comment:

    “It would be ironic if it were so. But I doubt the dead write blog posts complaining about the living, and today’s adult generation in the UK grew up in the days when the law did not encourage arrest for mere remarks. If the PC had never given themselves the power to arrest us for saying what offends them, whether intended to or not – then I think your argument for comparability would still face challenges but it would start from a better position.”

    To which I had responded by pointing out the obscenity and blasphemy laws, which Neonsnake added to by pointing to Clause 28, and to which I later added Section 5 Of The Public Order Act 1986.

    The law has encouraged arrest for ‘mere remarks’ for a very long time on grounds more rooted in what we might call traditional morality than the modern conception of Political Correctness. Obscenity laws restricting the theatre and publishing certainly dates back to before 1727, blasphemy laws date back into antiquity, and both continued on well into the period that adults of today grew up in.

    “taking for granted the good faith of the other commenters here”

    Did you take it for granted that when I said “Clause 28 wasn’t brought up to talk about its role in preventing the bullying of gays. It was brought up as an example of people being arrestable for expressing views society considered heretical.” that I was telling the truth?

    It’s easy – in the midst of “the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat” – to misunderstand and misinterpret what people intend.

  • Mr Ed

    neonsnake,

    I was aware of clause 28, I remember it from the time it was a legislative proposal, but there are so many agitprop campaigns, be it Proposition this, Section that, clause the other, and this blog covers many countries and jurisdictions, that I could not sure that I was not at cross-purposes. Bear in mind that my friend Paul Marks may come out with any number of matters such as a legislative proposal from any one of the Several States, or perhaps an Australian State, or elsewhere, from any point in history, at any moment, I remember the repeal of Section 28 from 2001/2003 and the original ‘controversy’ (i.e. the Leftist agitprop misrepresenting what it was about) was so long ago, that I could not be sure that you were not referring to something else from somewhere else. It struck me as something that was more a chance to see how the Left lie than anything else. The rule is simple, he who pays, says. The gist of what the Lieutenant of the Tower said to Gandalf, ‘He who deals with Sauron does so on Sauron’s terms‘.

    Have you noticed how in recent weeks, certain ‘teachings’ in schools in the West Midlands have been suspended after parental protests? The beliefs of the parents involved is mentioned in some media reports, but not all. From a libertarian point of view, it is bad enough that State schools, tax-funded, exist, then you have compulsory attendance once you are in the system, then you have no say over what your children are taught, unless the school (unlawfully, they seem to think) do not teach a view point that the State decides to push. The proper place of a school is to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, languages if possible and enough knowledge to know how to progress in life, but they are part of the smothering State. Once you give them a function, they will take it and run with it as they see fit, and once the horse bolts, it kicks out, who knows where?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The proper place of a school is to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, languages if possible and enough knowledge to know how to progress in life”

    Yes. The argument is all about that last point. What knowledge do people need to know to progress in life? Do people need to know what the law is, on discrimination in the workplace for example? Do people need to know how to start relationships without getting themselves into trouble? (Teenage pregnancy, rape or sexual assault accusations, etc.) Do people need to know how to work with and get along with people of different creeds to progress in life?

    It’s the old question about integration or multiculturalism. Does everyone have to integrate into the new way society is now? Or do we all have to tolerate people retaining their differences?

    Parents don’t always know everything their kids need to know to survive regarding such subjects, just as they don’t always know all the mathematics or science or other subjects their kids will need. Schools will always teach things far beyond what many of their parents can. Which variety of calculus should their children learn first? When should special relativity be introduced in physics – early or late? Should parents be given a say?

    I think what the libertarian view ought to be is well-expressed by Mill’s essay ‘On Liberty of Thought and Discussion‘.

    “But on every subject on which difference of opinion is possible, the truth depends on a balance to be struck between two sets of conflicting reasons. Even in natural philosophy, there is always some other explanation possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory instead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the true one: and until this is shown, and until we know how it is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion. But when we turn to subjects infinitely more complicated, to morals, religion, politics, social relations, and the business of life, three-fourths of the arguments for every disputed opinion consist in dispelling the appearances which favour some opinion different from it.”

    So it is perfectly valid for a libertarian to complain if objections and counterarguments to the current PC consensus are not presented, or worse, not allowed. Children need to learn about *all* viewpoints, and the arguments for them, to develop an informed opinion. And they should not be penalised if they come to the ‘wrong’ conclusion, only if they don’t know the arguments for and against it.

    But the loudest objections are more commonly around topics on which parents specifically *don’t* want their children to be taught competing information and viewpoints. It’s not about getting their own viewpoint in, it’s about keeping the others out. It’s not that parents don’t think their kids need to know about such subjects. They obviously do. But some parents want them to be taught only what they themselves believe – even (especially?) if what they believe is authoritarian. That, I suggest, is not a libertarian viewpoint.

    “Have you noticed how in recent weeks, certain ‘teachings’ in schools in the West Midlands have been suspended after parental protests? The beliefs of the parents involved is mentioned in some media reports, but not all.”

    Yes. Do you think these particular parents beliefs are ‘libertarian’ in regard to this topic?

  • neonsnake

    Mr Ed – yes, I saw your earlier note to the effect that yes, you knew what it was, but my choice of the popular “clause 28” vs “Section 28” had led you to seek clarification.

    It struck me as something that was more a chance to see how the Left lie than anything else.

    Can you clarify what you mean by this?

    In addition to NIV’s comments above, I’ll add a little more.

    I’m a “first principles” libertarian. That means, that I believe in liberty and autonomy for all human beings as the highest ideal.

    Derived from autonomy is this: I am free to make rational and informed choices, to my own ends, free from coercion.

    It’s important that “informed” is included, otherwise it’s not truly “autonomous”.

    You say that it’s “bad enough” that schools are state run – but, the problem is, we don’t live in a perfect world. So, whilst the state DOES run our schools, I consider it to be anti-libertarian when they remove information from me. This hinders my ability to be autonomous.

    (whether it is PC or non-PC is of no relevance to me. Something is not “wrong” just because it aligns with the thinking of the left, it is “wrong” because it is “wrong”. There are many things on which the left and right agree, and I don’t buy into the anti-PC dogma of some libertarians)

    As to the schools, yes, I’ve seen it. I echo NIV’s thoughts. I don’t believe that the parents in question are good role models for libertarians.

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