We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

An architect is struck off

I originally read this story about the striking off of the architect Peter Kellow by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) on page 19 of my paper copy of today’s Times. The headline reads “Architect struck off for Jewish ‘cult’ claim”. However an online search of the Times website yields no such story, and no mention of Peter Kellow. Strange. Fortunately, and embarrassingly for both papers, the Daily Mail version is almost word for word the same:

Award winning architect is struck off after he claimed Judaism is a ‘cult’ and called for ‘restraints’ to be placed on Jews who should be banned from holding public office

An award-winning architect has been struck off for claiming Judaism is not a race but a ‘cult’.

Cambridge-educated Peter Kellow called for ‘restraints’ to be placed on Jewish people including banning them from holding influential public office.

In a public Facebook post, he said there was ‘no such thing as the Jewish race’ and accused them of creating ‘resentment and suspicion’.

As a result of his behaviour, he was hauled before a disciplinary panel, found guilty of misconduct and kicked out of the profession after 47 years.

The Architects Registration Board hearing was told that Mr Kellow made the comments in April 2019, as then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced accusations of anti-Semitism.

He wrote: ‘There is no such thing as the Jewish race. This is one of the many stunts that Judaists have pulled on non-Judaists who have swallowed it whole. There is only the religion/cult of Judaism.

‘There is no doubt that Judaists have suffered from unfair and cruel treatment at many times in history but this was never racially motivated until the late nineteenth century and bloomed in the ideology of Adolf Hitler.

‘It is not far from the truth to say the Judaists were the inventors of European racism for they asserted they were racially different to the rest of us. Judaists have got themselves into a lot of trouble throughout history being subject to pogroms, ghettos and expulsions.

‘I am not saying this was justified, but why do we see this consistent pattern?

‘The problem people have and always have had with Judaism is not about race.. It is because Judaism is a cult.

‘What do I mean by a cult? A cult is a set of people, normally unified by a religion or quasi-religion, who try to create a society within the general society.

Mr Kellow also included freemasonry and Sunni Islam in his definition of cults.

He wrote: ‘Cults work against the interest of the general society as its members, in subscribing to a society within the society favour each other over the rest of us.

‘This naturally creates resentment and suspicion. How can you trust such people?’

‘How should society deal with people who through their cult activity weaken the bonds that the society needs to function well? We must put restraints on their ability to create a society within a society.’

Mr Kellow suggested creating a public register of Jewish people, banning them from public office ‘where they could discriminate’ between Jews and non-Jews and ban from being judges.

He also suggested banning Jewish faith schools and the wearing of religious clothing other than a skull gap.

The Times version really was amazingly similar, although it did say “skull cap” rather than “skull gap”.

You can read the original wording of the offending Facebook post on this archived version of the proceedings of the ARB disciplinary panel.

He began,

This business of “anti-semiticism” [sic] in the Labour party which is held up as racism. What is it all about really?

The Mail and the Times cite the most important points, but I thought it was worthwhile to quote Mr Kellow’s recommended policy towards what he calls “Judaists” and to believers in other religions that he deems to be cults:

First of all there is no question of banning them. I believe in freedom for the individual as a fundamental ideal and so if someone wishes to belong to a cult like Judaism or Freemasonry they must be free to do [sic]. But we must put restraints on their ability to create a society within a society. The main ones should be as follows

1. Registration of the cult in a public register
2. Registration of all adult members in a public register
3. No cult member can hold an important public office where they are in a position to descriminate [sic] between cult members and non-cult members. For instance it is totally unacceptable lo [sic] have a Freemason or Judaist as a judge as their decisions will very like [sic] work in favour of fellow cult members. Their strong bond in their society within the society will ensure this
4. Whereas adults are free to choose to belong to a cult, the same cannot reply [sic] to their children. The assumption that the children of cult members will be “born into” the cult is not acceptable in a civilised society. To this end, no cult can run its own “faith” schools
5. It must be against the law to wear cult clothing in public – except something worn on the top of the head like a hat [eg Sikh turbans or Judaist skull caps]. However, penalties will only be applied when a separate law [such as a driving evidence [sic] or bank robbery] is violated.

It is clear that Mr Kellow adheres to most of the usual tenets of twenty-first century Corbynite anti-semitism, given the customary veneer of progressive respectability by being anti several other religions as well – though he would have done better on that score to include Christianity in the list of “cults” to be restricted by law. To advocate that faith schools be banned is now fairly mainstream in left wing circles, and not only among them. The way he presented laws against Jews holding public office as being an anti-discrimination measure was clever. He only really slipped up by advocating that a register of Jews be compiled. That bright idea carried an overtone of Nazism too strong to ignore.

Peter Kellow has some nasty opinions. But should they stop him practising as an architect?

The choir

“For centuries, the cherubic faces of choirboys in white ruffs have been part of church culture”, said the Guardian. Whenever a news report begins by saying that a tradition has endured for centuries you know that tradition is about to die. Sure enough the story which I quote tells of the ending of that aspect of historical Anglican culture in one cathedral at least:

Decision to disband Sheffield cathedral choir strikes discordant note

But is this change progressive or not? The next line of the story lets the hard pressed Guardian reader know what attitude to take:

Choristers usually came from privileged backgrounds, were coached by expert music masters at fee-paying schools attached to cathedrals and churches, and performed exquisite choral music, often in Latin.

Some of that has changed. The first girls were admitted, at Salisbury cathedral, almost 30 years ago and choirs have become more diverse.

Now Sheffield cathedral is going a step further, disbanding its choir in order to make a “completely fresh start” with a new team of choristers that reflects and engages with a changing city.

The cathedral would pursue “a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion”, said a statement on its website.

The population of Sheffield and the surrounding area was growing, getting younger and becoming more diverse. In recent years, the cathedral had welcomed refugees and supported people living on the streets, Bradley said.

“We need to be engaging with people who are part of this changing city. We believe strongly in equality and giving as many children as possible the opportunity to sing at the highest level.”

The appeal of church music was wide but was sometimes “presented in a way that can be seen as elitist”, Bradley said.

That was in late July. Since then this apparently obscure local story about the disbandment of one cathedral choir has been widely reported. These are just a few of many examples:

  • Why is Sheffield Cathedral’s choir being disbanded for ‘inclusivity’? – the Spectator
  • Sheffield Cathedral Choir disbanded in “complete fresh start” for music and diversity – the website of the radio station Classic FM
  • Dean defends disbanding of Sheffield Cathedral ChoirChurch Times
  • Sheffield Cathedral closes choir and looks for new one to reflect urban diversity – the Times
  • Diversity is no reason to scrap Sheffield’s cathedral choir – the Telegraph

    As some of those titles indicate, the decision to close down the Sheffield cathedral choir has angered people who have not been to church for years and would not normally much care for church music. Why has it resonated so widely? I think I know why, and the knowledge depresses me. Until a few months ago I would have said that the UK had done relatively well in promoting an inclusive, non-racial sense of patriotism in which immigrants were seen as “joining the team” and adding their culture to the indigenous culture rather than displacing it. The maiden speech of Kemi Badenoch, my MP, expressed this idea well. “I chose to make the United Kingdom my home”, she says, and speaks of the British Dream: “It is a land where a girl from Nigeria can move here aged sixteen, be accepted as British, and have the great honour of representing Saffron Walden”.

    But that ideal of inclusive patriotism is being eroded by decisions like this one. It is scarcely surprising that white British people begin to see diversity as a threat to their culture when they are told that a part of their culture that has gone on for centuries is to be abolished in the name of diversity.

  • The return of the Test Acts

    The (Glasgow) Herald reports,

    Mandatory climate change classes plan for Scottish leaders

    MSPs, business leaders and newly enrolled university students may be asked to take mandatory climate change studies if plans currently under consideration are adopted.

    The studies would help arm them with facts and knowledge to make urgent changes to society as it emerges from COVID-19 lockdown. The Scottish Government has already committed to enrolling at least 100 senior officials to the Climate Solutions course.

    The news comes just days before Tuesday’s one-year anniversary of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declaring a climate emergency.

    The course was devised by experts at the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the Institute of Directors, Stirling University’s Business School and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Carbon Innovation.

    Among the main areas the course looks at are issues around transport, energy use, supply chains, social behaviours, mitigation and planning for the future.

    Former UN executive secretary on climate change Christiana Figueres who brokered the Paris Agreement, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney who is now UN special envoy on climate action and finance and ex Irish President Mary Robinson who set up a climate justice foundation, are among heavyweight names lending their support.

    The Test Acts, in case you had forgotten,”were a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and nonconformists.”

    Mr Robinson, said: “What we’re really hoping is we can make it universal.

    “The conversations I’ve had are with six universities is about making it mandatory for students as a matriculation course. Stirling and Edinburgh universities are already further down the line on that than others.

    “I’m also talking to others about making it as mandatory as we can in all other sectors – including business – because we need everybody to wake up a bit to their responsibilities.

    “The Scottish Government are already committed through their programme of government to put through 100 senior staff on it.”

    As I mention every time this subject comes up, I am more of a believer in anthropogenic climate change than many here. But the Scottish Government is working on that. If profession of a certain belief becomes a test of office, then soon enough every office holder will profess that belief. But why should anyone believe them? Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

    Right, you heathens, us Christians are going to make you observe Lent.

    True to its promise to leave no strategy untried that might help alleviate the coronavirus epidemic, Her Majesty’s Government, in accordance with the advice of the Lords Spiritual, has decreed that in penance for the sins that brought this plague upon us, all persons will now strictly observe the Lenten fast. Effective immediately, all confectionery, sweetmeats, and similar indulgent and luxurious foods will therefore be removed from sale in shops upon penalty of law. In particular the pagan custom of consumption of so-called “Easter eggs”, being a false admixture to the strictures of true religion, is henceforth prohibited.

    It will be good for your souls.

    OK, in case you were worried, what I just said was not true. Neither I nor the Bishops seek to use the law to deny the British public their choccy eggs. That’s the job of your local council.

    Convenience stores are wrongly being told to limit the items they sell to just “essentials”, a trade body has warned.

    Local newsagents, which are allowed to remain open under the Government’s guidelines, are facing interference from officials that are trying to restrict the range of goods they sell under lockdown measures.

    Some shops have been told by police and local councils that Easter eggs are considered non-essential goods and must therefore be removed from shelves.

    The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) blamed “overzealous enforcement and a misreading of the rules”.

    Ridiculous as it was, with the drone-assisted “lockdown shaming” of walkers in Derbyshire, I could at least see what the police thought they were trying to achieve. But I really can see no motive other than reflex puritanism for trying to prohibit the sale of “nonessential goods”, particularly as they were on the shelves anyway. What good would it do anyone to make the shopkeepers lose a packet by being forbidden to sell stock they had purchased in happier times? This isn’t World War II. Britain’s food is not coming in by convoys subject to torpedo attack. In fact, if you can afford luxury foods, should you not buy them in preference to plainer things in order to leave more staple foods available for those who cannot afford anything else?

    If women own their bodies they can choose to modify them

    The BBC reports,

    Calls for ‘virginity repair’ surgery to be banned

    Campaigners are urging the government to outlaw “virginity repair” surgery.

    Many Muslim women risk being outcast, or in extreme cases killed, if their spouses or families discover they have had sex before marriage.

    And some are opting for a medical procedure in which doctors restore a layer of membrane at the entrance to the vagina.

    But there are concerns a ban would increase the dangers to Muslim women by driving the procedure underground.

    Guidelines from the General Medical Council (GMC) state a patient’s consent to undergo a procedure should come into question if it is suspected of being “given under pressure or duress exerted by another person”.

    Those GMC guidelines are correct. Forcing a woman to have her hymen repaired is a serious crime, as is threatening her with violence because she had sex outside marriage to get it broken in the first place. That violent threats so often go unpunished is a national scandal.

    But the fact remains that most women who go to have their hymens repaired want it done. In less drastic cases they want the procedure for such reasons as to get and keep a husband, to avoid letting their parents know that they no longer adhere to traditional Muslim mores, or to avoid a breach with their husband’s family. You may say that it is a bad thing that such crushing social pressure for a bride to be a virgin remains prevalent in some communities in the UK. But the principle that an adult human being owns their own body does not cease to apply because he or she gives in to social pressure. Plenty of women get boob jobs and bum lifts because of social pressure, too. Are these bad decisions? Possibly. Cosmetic surgery has risks. But good or bad, the decision is theirs to make.

    In more drastic cases women want their hymens repaired because it is the only way to protect themselves from the twisted “honour” of their fathers and husbands. Of course no woman should have to resort to such desperate measures in order to be safe from murder. But what sort of idiocy is it to see a person taking extreme measures to protect themselves from murder and then to think the course of action that best serves justice is to prosecute the victim – or the surgeon who is helping her keep safe?

    The usual sort, unfortunately.

    There is a much simpler way to do this, you know

    Like someone who comes out blinking from having seen a crime movie in the cinema only to find a crime scene in real life, I have emerged from being obsessed with the most important British election campaign of my lifetime to find that while I wasn’t looking politics has only gone and happened in other countries too.

    Apparently the Australian government is trying to bring forward a bill banning religious discrimination. The Australian edition of the Guardian has an informative article about it:

    Religious discrimination bill: what will Australians be allowed to say and do if it passes?

    Statements of religious belief

    Protection received: statements of religious belief will not be found to breach other federal, state and territory discrimination laws.

    Examples:

  • A Christian may say that unrepentant sinners will go to hell, an example cited in the EM which mirrors the facts of Israel Folau’s case
  • A doctor may tell a transgender patient of their religious belief that God made men and women in his image and that gender is therefore binary (EM)
  • I can see why the coalition between the Liberal and National Parties that is currently in power in Australia wants to pass this bill. In the Anglosphere the politically correct Establishment continues its left wing course even when a vaguely right wing government is in power, as is the case in Australia now. It is common for this Establishment to try to suppress the freedom of speech of religious people, particularly Christians. If it became law this bill would redress the balance somewhat. It also does related things like give religious doctors the right to “conscientiously object to providing what the Guardian calls “a health service”, meaning contraception and abortion, and allows religious institutions to require their employees to hold the relevant religion.

    This will help some individuals who are being bullied by the Australian State, but only at the cost of cementing yet more firmly the idea that the only way to escape such bullying is to get your particular group defined as a “protected category”.

    I have an idea. Let’s put everyone into one big protected category.

    The importance of keeping good company

    Jeremy Corbyn is in trouble over the Labour party’s anti-semitism problem. This clip from his interview earlier this evening with Andrew Neil is painful to watch. The UK’s Orthodox Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has done a thing without precedent: publicly denounced the leader of one of the major parties during an election campaign. He wrote,

    How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.

    How did it come to this? When I was growing up the Labour party was full of Jewish intellectuals. Maureen Lipman’s line “If you’re Jewish, they gave you your Labour Party badge the day after your circumcision” might be a slight exaggeration, but it seemed that way.

    I first saw that now famous video clip to which Rabbi Mirvis refers, in which Corbyn repeatedly called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends”, in this post from the “Harry’s Place” blog dated 7 April 2009. In those days Jeremy Corbyn was merely the deservedly obscure MP for Islington.

    That clip shows us the vector by which the poison entered Labour’s body. I can believe Corbyn is genuinely bewildered as to why people call him an anti-semite. He looks into his own heart and sees no hatred there. Of course he doesn’t hate Jews. He doesn’t hate anybody. He extends the hand of friendship to the whole world. Including those who hate Jews? No, of course not; he has fought Nazis and fascists and white supremacists his whole life. But what about brown skinned, oppressed people who h-

    And there it ends. That thought cannot be completed.

    Let us pray for our bishop, Mug

    ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels: Send down upon our Bishops, and Curates, and all Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ.

    Sadly, the Book of Common Prayer is rarely heard in Anglican churches these days. The Book of Common Sense likewise. I have spoken to one or two bishops, and know people who regularly meet with those crozier-wielding smiters of the infidel over Earl Grey and custard creams. They are usually nice people. Learned. Well-meaning. Really, really nice. But, oh dear, their poor brains are sorely in need of those great marvels that the Lord alone workest:

    Church leaders urge government to ban pointed kitchen knives

    Church leaders in the Diocese of Rochester have called for the government to enforce stricter rules on the sale of domestic knives.

    They’ve written an open letter asking for a ban on the sale of pointed kitchen knives. The letter was also signed by leading crime experts, as well as MPs, and community leaders.

    “Historically we needed a point on the end of our knife to pick up food because forks weren’t invented. Now we only need the point to open packets when we can’t be bothered to find the scissors,” the letter reads.

    It continues: “A five-year study in Edinburgh found that of the sharp instruments used in homicides, 94 per cent were kitchen knives. Research demonstrates kitchen knives are used in a large percentage of homicides due to their availability and lethal nature.

    “Criminologists have demonstrated that reducing availability in turn reduces crime.

    “The UK has worked for the public good by restricting handguns, paracetamol, smoking in public and plastic bags – now it is time to say ‘no bloody point’.”

    The letter and conference are part of a month of awareness-raising activities about the dangers of knife crime in September, supported by the Diocese of Rochester, the Church of England in Medway, and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.

    President Bush will soon bring Gilead to America!

    Some time ago a striking article by Fiona Maddocks appeared in the London Evening Standard. The link that Google gives you to the Evening Standard’s own site is dead, but I found a working one on Questia. Here it is:

    A Twist in the Tale; Margaret Atwood Is Dreading the UK Premiere of the Opera of Her Novel the Handmaid’s Tale – It Will Be a Shocking Theatrical Experience

    THE question all readers of The Handmaid’s Tale want to ask its Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, is: “How did you know?” Her 1986 best seller, set in a futuristic totalitarian regime called the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, has chilling prescience: Christian fundamentalists have seized control and imposed repressive laws, brainwashing women and depriving them of all the rights they have spent the past 1,000 years securing – education, property, freedom to give birth when and via whom they choose.

    (I commented at the time, “I don’t know why poor old Dubya does hold off from imprisoning all the women and depriving them of their names so that the top men’s personal concubines are called “ofdonald”, “ofjohn” and “ofdubya”, according to the system described in the book. That’s obviously what he wants, as proven by the fact that he sometimes goes to breakfast prayer meetings, and it’s not like he gets any credit for restraint.”)

    The book, already translated into 35 languages and a regular A-level and university set text, was turned into a film starring Natasha Richardson, with a script by Harold Pinter. Tonight an operatic version of this dark fable, by the Danish composer Poul Ruders and British librettist Paul Bentley, receives its first UK performance at the Coliseum, having been premiered to rapturous reviews in Copenhagen three years ago.

    […]

    To underline contemporary parallels, English National Opera’s publicity material shows a woman, naked and heavily pregnant, prone on an unfurled Stars and Stripes, observed by a helmeted soldier.

    “There’s nothing new in The Handmaid’s Tale,” Atwood says. “One of my rules was that I couldn’t put anything into the novel that human beings hadn’t actually done. Stories exist within the world. They’re not on some other planet called literature or the moon.” Small, droll, benignly austere, Atwood hardly strikes you as a Cassandrine figure. Only her startling eyes, clear blue, slightly exotic and almond shaped, hint at some farseeing otherness.

    […]

    The general critical response was ‘what a jolly good yarn’, and that was the end of the matter. You’d had Oliver Cromwell and religious war. You wouldn’t expect it to happen again. In Canada, instead, people asked, ‘Could it happen here?’

    “Well, no, probably not, because of Canada’s history and its disparate elements. Only in America did people ask, in utter seriousness, ‘How long have we got?’ They realised that they were closest of all to the real thing, especially compared to Europe, which is now so much more secular a place than the States.

    “How long did they have?” asks the narrator, in an epilogue written long after the events described. Since that article was dated April 3rd 2003 and the Gileadification of America is not yet upon us we can safely answer “a minimum of 16 years, 5 months and 8 days”. But do not be deceived. Gilead is coming. Real soon now.

    “The Handmaid’s Tale increasingly rings true”, writes Alice Thomson in today’s Times.

    They walked, heads bowed under their white bonnets, red capes trailing along Piccadilly, past men in Lycra ogling on their bikes and into Waterstones. “Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” women shouted at the fertile handmaids as they joined the midnight celebrations for the publication of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. There were green drinks and talks on how to embroider feminist wall hangings. Then the 79-year-old prophet spoke, warning that her characters had a new resonance in her dystopian sequel because of threats to women’s rights.

    She wasn’t just talking about President Trump boasting of grabbing women “by the pussy” and curtailing their reproductive rights but about any country trying to force women back into the “unnaturally cramped spaces” from which they had so recently emerged.

    […]

    We pretend that women’s rights are still progressing, with more jobs for the girls and in some areas more equal pay, but in many ways Britain feels increasingly like Atwood’s theocracy of Gilead where women are expected to know how to cook a quiche, the man is master and only the sisterhood saves them. #Silenced, which started trending yesterday, seems to be about so much more than the proroguing of parliament: it’s about vulnerable groups, women, gays and ethnic minorities once more feeling excluded from the hierarchy. “Are we to be silenced like little mice,” as the handmaid Offred says in Atwood’s novel.

    The prime minister thinks nothing of using femininity as an insult, calling Jeremy Corbyn “a great big girl’s blouse”, associating masculinity with power. The journalist William Cash wrote an article this week about having a relationship with a former girlfriend of Boris Johnson as though she were some vassal, and volunteering to bring his illegitimate child up for him. David Cameron’s “calm down dear” now seems relatively benign.

    Good, so you won’t mind if I say “Calm down dear” to you.

    If you want Pride you must allow the cry of “Shame!”

    The Daily Mail shows a video in which

    Muslim woman wearing a niqab shouts ‘shame on all of you despicable people’ in shocking homophobic rant at Pride march in London

    This is the shocking moment a Muslim woman spits homophobic abuse at a reveller on a Pride march in east London.

    The niqab-wearing woman was filmed screaming ‘shame on you’ to a woman draped in the LGBT rainbow flag during the rally on Hoe Street, Walthamstow, yesterday.

    She screeches ‘God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ while a marshal in a high-vis jacket moves in to shield the clearly shaken Pride marcher.

    The video was shared on Twitter by Yusuf Patel who wrote: ‘Disgusting homophobic abuse at those on Waltham Forest Pride today.

    The report continues,

    The Walthamstow arm of the Metropolitan Police said officers are investigating and branded the abuse a hate crime.

    The force tweeted: ‘We are aware of footage circulating on social media of abuse directed at those taking part in the Waltham Forest Pride event and enquiries are underway.

    ‘Abusing someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is a hate crime.

    Put aside the question of the direction in which your first impulse of sympathy might fall, and consider whether there is any objective reason to say that the Muslim woman is aggressing against the Pride marcher rather than vice versa – or neither. The Mail writer says that the Muslim woman “spits homophobic abuse” at the Pride marcher, but she does not literally spit. It cannot have been pleasant to have been on the receiving end of that tirade, but all she ultimately did was vehemently tell the marcher that she thought they ought to be ashamed of their sexuality. The very purpose of the Pride parades, as the name indicates, is for the participants to declare that they are not ashamed of their sexuality. To that end the Pride marchers went – proudly wrapped in their rainbow flags – down Hoe Street, Walthamstow, where they knew full well that many of the inhabitants would deeply disapprove of them. (I used to live in Walthamstow, just off Hoe Street. It is not a “Muslim area” as such, but there are many Muslims there.) The law allows Pride parades to do this, just as the law allows Orange Order parades in Northern Ireland to carry their flags through Catholic areas.

    The current Establishment would like to ban the Orange Order march and arrest the Muslim woman for protesting against the LGBT Pride march. In my childhood it would have been the other way round. I would not be surprised to see the cycle return to something like its starting point (although perhaps with the roles of the protected national causes and religions played by different actors) before I die. Or, just a thought, we could let everyone speak.

    There is nothing new under the sun

    “What has been will be again,” as it says in Ecclesiastes, “what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

    Yesterday – to my shame I did not spot it until today – the Times reprinted a letter to the editor that was a century old to the day. I wish I could say that it was merely of historical interest.

    From The Times July 15, 1919

    To the Editor of The Times

    Sir, Will you permit an elderly man, who is not a politician nor a public character, but merely an individual among millions of honest, sober persons whose liberty is attacked by a moral tyranny, to state an opinion with regard to the crusade against moderate drinkers? It is not needed even in the cause of morality. When I was a child excess in drinking was patent in every class of society. Now, in my wide circle, I do not know of one man or woman who is ever seen “under the influence of liquor”. Why not leave the process of moderation, so marked within 60 years, to pursue its normal course? It is untrue to say that a reasonable use of alcohol is injurious to mind, body or morality. My father, whose life was one of intense intellectual application, and who died from an accident in his 79th year, was the most rigidly conscientious evangelical I have ever known. He would have been astonished to learn that his claret and water at his midday meal, and his glass of Constantia at bedtime, were either sinful in themselves or provocative to sin in others.

    There is no blessing upon those who invent offences for the pleasure of giving pain and who lay burdens on the liberty of others. We have seen attempts by the fantastically righteous to condemn those who eat meat, who go to see plays, who take walks on Sundays. The campaign against the sober use of wine and beer is on a footing with these efforts, and should be treated as they have been. Already tobacco is being forbidden to the clergy! The fact that Americans are leading the campaign should be regarded with alarm. We do not express an opinion, much less organize propaganda, against “dryness” in the United States. It is not for us to interfere in their domestic business. If Englishmen went round America urging Americans to defy their own laws and revolt against their customs, we should be very properly indignant. Let crusading Americans be taught the same reticence.

    The propagandist teetotaler is active and unscrupulous. He fights with all weapons, whether they are clean or no. We must resist, without fear of consequences, the cruel and ignorant fanaticism of these apostles.

    I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

    EDMUND GOSSE

    The fall of the Temple of Reason

    Terrible news from Paris of the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral. As I write, I understand that not all is lost of this masterpiece. The collapsed spire was a 19th Century addition, but the damage must be immense.

    When I was last in Paris, over a decade ago, I recall looking at Notre-Dame and shuddering as I thought of it as ‘destroyed’ (not that I believe that there are ‘holy’ places), as, during the French Revolution, it was closed as a cathedral and was declared a Temple of Reason. When egalitarians appeal to reason, you know heads will roll.

    There followed years of neglect, before, AIUI, in 1905, the French State (which had assumed ownership), effectively provided the cathedral to the Catholic Church as a permanent ‘tenant’. The cause of the fire may well be nothing more sinister than incompetence, perhaps we will never know. I would like to think that commercial aviation levels of caution would go into fire precautions in such a building, (perhaps they did) which, whatever your view of the use or purpose of it, is surely one of the great buildings on Earth. However, the neglect under State ownership has continued, and yesterday’s cathedral was a revived corpse of the pre-Revolutionary building.

    It is pretty shameful that neither Hitler nor the Kaiser managed to do as much damage to Notre Dame as the fire. It had survived them, and rioting Hugenots. In WW2, it was relatively unscathed. Some lost mediaeval glass was, I understand, replaced by abstract crap in the post-War period, so the scoundrels were already circling.

    Perhaps the fire is a Randian moment, wasn’t there a train crash in a tunnel for which ‘no one is responsible’? Is the burning down of a ‘temple of reason’ an allegory for France after its great economists are all-but forgotten?

    Does it matter if, in rebuilding Notre-Dame, stone that is geologically ancient is replaced by other just as ancient stone, carved a few mere centuries later? Should, as with the Campanile in Venice, the order be: ‘Com’era, Dov’era.‘. ‘How it was, where it was.‘?

    Or will something more ‘inclusive’ replace it or be grated on to it?