Here’s a funny joke about stoning. In the Life of Brian Terry Jones (who plays Brian’s mother) and Graham Chapman (who plays Brian) go to a stoning. At the site of the stoning there is a wayside vendor selling stones to throw at the person to be killed. Terry Jones goes up to the vendor and says “Two small rocks and a packet of gravel, please”. (Think about it).
On 11 November 2010 a Birmingham Tory councillor Gareth Compton ventured a joke about stoning. Having heard the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown pouring out her usual poison against Britain on the BBC R5 9.00 am phone-in programme – she placed Britain and the West in general on a moral par with the likes of Iran and China when it comes to human rights by saying they had no right to lecture countries such as Iran and China because of the West’s own breaches of such rights – Mr Compton used twitter to share this with the world: “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing , really.” Not a very good joke I must admit, although I suspect that a sizeable number of Britons suddenly conjured up a pleasant fantasy of a world untroubled by the ubiquitous public utterings of the woman.
Ms Brown-Alibi, as I cannot help myself thinking of her because of her incessant excuses for all the ethnic mayhem to which we are treated these days, then decided her life was in danger and made a complaint to the police alleging that it was not only an incitement to kill her but a racially incited one, something guaranteed to get the modern British policeman decidedly over excited. She need not have bothered because Her Majesty’s Finest were already on the case for someone else had complained. Mr Compton was then arrested for having breached the Communications Act, doubtless had his DNA and fingerprints taken, before being bailed.
To any normal person, which of course excludes Ms Brown-Alibi, Mr Compton’s tweet would be seen for what it was, a joke. Brown-Alibi was morally equating Britain with Iran, a state which uses stoning, a comparison which even after 13 years of NuLabour ‘s depredations on civil liberties will strike most as a trifle strong. Mr Compton clearly made a joke which suggested that Ms Brown-Alibi might care to experience the tender mercies of such a state.
Mr Compton’s case is both sinister and absurd, but it is simply a high profile example of what has become a common occurrence in Britain: the use of the police to intimidate anyone who breaches the narrow range of opinion allowed by political correctness. Frequently no charges are brought, quite often because the police are acting without legal authority because no crime has been committed, but the desired effect on the general public is achieved by creating an atmosphere of fear that nothing is safe to say if it is deemed to be politically incorrect. Worse, like all totalitarian ideologies, political correctness is constantly expanding its remit so no one can ever be certain that what was accepted yesterday is still permissible today.
I dare say there will be readers who cavil at the idea that political correctness is a totalitarian ideology. Let them consider this: the ideology intrudes into every aspect of life because the discrimination mania can be applied to anything; the ideology claims there is only one permissible view, that of the ideology and those who do not subscribe to the ideology leave themselves open to punishment both by the law and non-legal punishments such as media harassment and the loss of employment.
The extent to which it has a grip on British life can be seen on the case of Phil Woolas, until recently the minister responsible for immigration in the Brown Government. Not only did a court find that an election result should be put aside because another candidate in the election claimed Woolas had defamed him, but the Labour Party summarily expelled him even though he was attempting to mount an appeal against the court judgement, the expulsion being motivated most plausibly because the defamation concerned claims that the other candidate was soft on Islamic extremism. Can anyone honestly imagine a court deciding in favour of, say, a BNP candidate who challenged the election of a Labour candidate on the grounds that he had been falsely accused of Holocaust denial or the Labour Party expelling the person if the court, miraculously, found for the BNP complainant?
The police, like all of British public service, has had political correctness legally built into its structure. This began with the Macpherson Report on the investigation of the death of Stephen Lawrence in the 1990s which not only labelled the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”, but also resulted in a crime being labelled as racist if the alleged victim deemed it to be racist, a most dangerous development in itself made much more potent because the Blair Government brought in a law which caused any crime deemed to be racially motivated by a court to attract a more severe sentence than if the crime had been undertaken for any other motive. This also introduced a new concept into English law, namely, that motive had relevance to a sentence.
The upshot of this is that police in the UK became desperately anxious to show how politically correct they were. This was not simply a question of worshipping the prime god of political correctness, “racial equality”, but also the rest of the pc canon, especially sexual orientation and gender issues. The extent to which this has impacted on police efficiency can be seen from a Daily Mail report that the Metropolitan Police (the London police) spent 6 per cent of their budget on equality and diversity issues. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-412948/Outrage-police-spend-450m-equality-diversity.html#ixzz14o254LHk).
This use of the police to intimidate dissenters from political correctness is censorship pure and simple. That is damaging enough. But there is a second issue to worry about, namely the equal application of the law. Try getting a crime listed as racially motivated if it concerns those outside the protection of political correctness. Try getting any incitement to racial hatred against the native population of Britain prosecuted. I did the latter to see what would happen by making formal complaints of racial incitement against a Welsh Nationalist politician who described the English in Wales as “a virus” and Greg Dyke who when BBC Director-General described the BBC as “hideously white”. The Metropolitan police refused to even record then complaints let alone investigate them. The police and courts have also been very eager to classify crimes committed by whites on non-whites as racist and extraordinarily reluctant to do the same with crimes committed by non-whites against whites. A good example of this reluctance concerns Chris Yates, a white man murdered by Asians in Essex 2002. Despite evidence that one of the attackers had been unambiguously racist in a post-killing shout of triumph – The court heard that after the attack Zulfiqar shouted, in Urdu: “We have killed the white man. That will teach an Englishman to interfere in Paki business.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4460778.stm) – the judge ruled there was no racial motivation.
Free expression is like being pregnant, all or nothing. You can’t be a bit pregnant and you can’t have a bit of free expression. You either have free expression or a range of permitted opinion. In Britain, we have the latter and an ever narrowing range it is. Free expression is essential to democracy. Remove it and democracy dies. The point at which people begin to think political violence is legitimate is the point at which people are excluded from democratic action. Censorship does just that in the most profound way.
Milton had the answer to censors: “ ‘And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose upon the earth, so truth be in the field [and] we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting is to doubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter…’ [Milton - Areogapitica].