…and do it a number of times before uttering your views on any of the following: race, sexual orientation, religion, disability status, and transgender identity! Below is an official summary of the our government’s good intentions from the Equality and Human Rights commission.
As Britain’s national equality body, our work is driven by a simple belief: if everyone gets a fair chance in life, we all thrive.
That statement is a myth and its enforcement leads to absurdities and injustices. There was in the past another prescription given for a good and fair society, it goes something like this:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Equality is a myth in human society, and Jesus whose quote is above, understood it very well. There will always be the haves and the have not’s, and there were many factors which determined who fell into which category. The rich were supposed to care for the poor and not centre their lives on feathering their nests. They were to ensure that justice was upheld regardless of a persons position in society. The advantaged were to help the disadvantaged, and there was a hope set before the poor: a kingdom to come. We have largely lost sight of and faith in that consoling vision. A place where there would be no injustice, no tears, no suffering; but this paradise would never be found or established on earth. A true and lasting utopia would never arise through legislation or social gerrymandering or even good intentions, because systems ordering society at the micro level always ends badly, with its objectives enforced by bureaucracies exercising penal consequences to maximum effect: which is exactly what is happening. When it comes to real social justice, all that can be done is establish a rough guide when it comes to equalising the inherent advantages given by nature or genetics to the strong; the practical, the conscientious, the intelligent, the healthy and the talented. Before any of these advantages are seen or established in the new born, the fact is that given normal circumstances these will flourish both in childhood and adulthood. The truth is that whatever commandment is set, whether it be an individual’s decision, a government decree or those written on tablets of stone by God, we humans will find ways of circumventing their effects. The only way to put into full effect the objectives of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is through enforcement; hence hate crime legislation. This is true in many areas where very different worldviews collide. The management of these difficulties have historically formed the basis of a free society. Speech must be freely spoken in the public arena without fear of police action, unless it is so inflammatory it endangers the stability of a society.
Britain had a proud heritage of managing these pressures, while only rarely invoking the police or the law. Give and take and speak your mind were once an admired characteristic of our union of nations. As was a sense of humour and a sense of proportion. No-one in my experience of growing up ever sieved through a remark made by someone else, however demeaning or insulting for any signs of a hate crime. You toughened up and learned from the playground experience up, that bearing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune was a great way to grow up. The wounds, both physical and mental picked up on the way could be worked through, and would in time build what was once described as, character. The very opposite of the Snowflake generation, who seem to require nursing through life on a feathered rug of affirmation and the avoidance of anything that was challenging: such as an opposing opinion. Sadly the status of self perceived victim has risen from the bottom to the top of the pile. Which is why so many pressure groups have presented themselves as victimised and applied for special status and protection.
Police action and being taken to court was normally a last and not an immediate resort to any perceived slur. Opinions and convictions were argued out both in private and in public without having recourse to law courts. That was our way, and it was admired. What has replaced that old fashioned debating style which has become close to outlawed, is a mean spirited, knit picking, overbearing authoritarian nanny state with penal consequences. Hate crime potential hovers in the air like an unseen drone picking up the tiniest infringement, elevating it into a thoroughly threatening device which makes us all think twice and thrice about making our opinion heard. Hate crime has put the power in the hands of the self proclaimed victim. I have been upset. I have been more than upset, I feel victimised, my very identity threatened. I will make you a pariah and see you in court. The motives and attitudes of the accuser in a hate crime seem not to be questioned. The real hate crime may well reside in the heart, manner and attitude of the accuser. But these are not questioned as to any hidden hatreds for those they may accuse. As the police’s hate crime operational guidance makes clear: ‘Evidence of… hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime or hate incident… the victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief’
The victim’s word is accepted as gospel. How do you become a victim? By feeling like one, by interpreting a remark as malicious or derogatory of your identified group. You cannot defend yourself against another person’s interpretation of your body language, your manner or your words. A Feminist, heavily laden with shopping bags may hate a man who offers her a seat on a crowded train and accuse him of demeaning her sense of herself or sexuality. That in his mind the accused was trying to be kind and considerate may well prove an insufficient defence.To repeat and underline the above; ‘Evidence of… hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime or hate incident… the victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief.’
It is sometimes the role of the state to punish people for what they do to other people or to property, but it should never be the role of the state to punish for what a person may think. We can all agree that many beliefs are false, foul or depraved, but so what? A million people may have between them a hundred thousand different beliefs. Can the State decide and judge between them as to what status should be accorded each one? Is Christ true God and Allah an invention? Maybe one day the State, which is turning against its historic faith will favour the newcomer. The legal protections are piling up in favour of Islam, so who knows? The modern State has become a welcoming filter which channels the best interests of extreme pressure groups promoting the causes of climate change warriors, to LGBT activists, from feminists, to apologists for the protected status of Islam. While those are advanced others are eroded. An ideology once implanted into the state machinery will continue to grind inexorably onwards. It sees a piece of untilled land and wants nothing less than to carve a deep furrow across it, which is why the Law Commission is exploring the possibility of going further. Making misogyny, misandry and even hatred for groups like goths and punks into aggravating factors that can make a crime a hate crime and lead to tougher penalties. This is wrong!
How did we get here? Hate crime is extending into Orwellian thought crime. Hate crime brings in belief-policing by the backdoor. Thought crime should terrify anyone who thinks about it, because with it comes a shadow of things to come that have been seen and experienced before in totalitarian regimes. Dictatorships are not a remote possibility, when you see the first signs of thought crime watch out: a Stalin or a Hitler or a Mao Tse Tung may be waiting in the wings. These things happen when our institutions, hierarchies, bureaucracies etc take powers to themselves which cause every tier of oversight and governance to become corrupt and ultimately self serving. At that point Christian values, like loving your neighbour as you love yourself, and forgiving your enemies, and doing good to those who use you badly are abandoned in favour of rigid laws aimed at designated targets.
Isaiah 59 v 14
“So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, and honesty cannot enter.”