Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guest Blog: Peter Hitchens Responds to My Fisk

A week last Sunday Peter Hitchens wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday, ostensibly about the case of the Edinburgh grandparents who weren't allowed to adopt their daughter's child. In reality, it was an excuse for him to have a go at us gayers, as the headline WE SHOW TOLERANCE TO 'GAYS' AND GET TYRANNY IN RETURN demonstrates. Edinburgh Council had allegedly told the grandparents that the girl was going to be adopted by a gay couple, and if they made a fuss they would never see their granddaughter again. An outrageous thing for the council to threaten.

I responded to Hitchens' article with a fairly strong "fisk" of his comments. This morning he sent me a reply and asked if I would publish it. I am happy to do so. Before you read on, you may wish to read my original article HERE.

FROM PETER HITCHENS

May I respond to Iain's green-ink verbal assault on me last Sunday? I think he let his feelings get the better of his reason and that his charges against me don't actually stand up. I'm accustomed, as I said in the original article, to being pelted with verbal vegetables for my view on this subject, and accept it as part of the job. But I think Iain, and some of those contributors who posted ad hominem attacks on me, have not seriously considered what I said.

I'll take it, more or less, point by point, as Iain did. But first I urge anyone who's really interested to go back to the original article and read it, if necessary taking a deep breath, or a comforting milk drink, first.

Actually I don't want to write about homosexuality or homosexuals, and always do it reluctantly. I'm far more interested in the central front of the morality war - the furious attack on lifelong marriage that has been raging now for 50 years and is close to total victory. The trouble is that homosexuality is used by others (themselves not interested in the subject or in may cases specially sympathetic to the position of homosexuals) to advance the sexual revolution they believe in. By 'others', I mean those who wish to undermine marriage (a weird alliance of militant statists who see the married family as an obstacle to their power, and commercial interests who want to keep women in the paid workforce for as long as possible).

Homosexuality is useful to them for two reasons. Treating homosexual relationships as the equal of marriage enables them to produce a plausible reason for redistributing the previously unique privileges of marriage (I'm not just talking about legal and tax advantages here, but about status and regard). And, by classifying homosexuals as a persecuted (or potentially persecuted) minority, they can easily misrepresent those who object to homosexual equality as bigots who hate homosexuals. The liberal mob usually falls for this, as I can testify.

So from time to time a case comes up where I feel compelled to write about it. This was one. And, as Iain rightly notes once he has calmed down, the real issue was the threat made to the grandparents when they voiced objections to their grandchildren being placed with a homosexual couple. This is what got my goat and decided me to choose this subject.

Now, there's the question of knowing what people do in their bedrooms. Well, here's a question for those who assure me that they don't want to tell me this. What other thing do I learn from a person's public declaration that he or she is homosexual? Surely it is the bigots, who imagine that homosexuals all share a number of non-sexual characteristics, who think that a person's sexuality is the key to that person's whole personality, character and nature? I believe no such thing. I'm also old-fashioned enough to think that someone's sexual tastes and habits, as well as being a private matter, are one of the least interesting things about him. Does Iain disagree? Do my other critics disagree? If they don't, I must ask once again, what else am I told by a public declaration of sexual orientation?

Now, it may be 'immaterial' to Iain whether I approve of his private arrangements or not. I am pleased to hear it. I should hate to fall out with him about such a thing, and he is, after all a member of the 'Conservative' Party (for what that name is worth). But there are others in the homosexual equality movement who plainly do not take this view. For they have successfully campaigned to have 'sexual orientation' given the same significance as 'ethnicity' in the great battery of 'equality' law now in place, especially in workplaces. Increasingly, public employees are obliged to promote such policies, not merely to accept them passively. Note the case of the Christian nurse Caroline Petrie, disciplined for offering to pray for a patient. It now emerges that Mrs Petrie (like all Nurses) is covered by a document called the 'Nursing and Midwifery Council Code'. This actively requires her to 'demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity'. If she doesn't, her employment may be threatened, and her union won't help her. I hope I do not need to translate these terms here. I strongly suspect ( and would be interested in any further evidence) that similar codes of this nature are common in many workplaces, both in the public sector and in some private companies.

I would also cite the Edinburgh case here. Leave aside the merits of the adoption case itself. The threat made to the grandparents was not made because they threatened to prevent the adoption, but because they began to express *opinions* suggesting that they did not approve of adoption by a homosexual couple. This, like the Code quoted above, is a freedom of speech issue.

Readers will also (I hope) be familiar with the problems of Roman Catholic Adoption Societies, which are opposed on religious grounds to adoption by homosexual couples, but can no longer advertise or offer placements on this basis, and have therefore in many cases closed down. This is a freedom of thought issue. Approve of the new rules - or face the majesty of the law. I might also cite the recent case of Lillian Ladele, who eventually lost her case ( as I predicted she would) after declining (on religious grounds) to perform civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples.

Readers of mine will know of the case of the Bournemouth Christian preacher, Harry Hammond, who was successfully prosecuted under Public Order legislation for preaching against homosexuality (his militant pro-homosexuality hecklers, who helped this elderly man with mud and knocked him to the ground, were not prosecuted) . A full account of this extraordinary case is to be found in my book 'The Abolition of Liberty'.

And they may also recall the affair of the Christian activists Lynette Burrows, who was investigated by the police for voicing doubts about homosexual adoption on BBC Radio 4. Not all these cases have yet resulted in actual prosecution or loss of employment (a Glasgow fireman recently won a tribunal case after being required to distribute leaflets at a Homosexual Pride march, when he objected to this on religious grounds, and disciplined when he objected ). But it seems to me that the trend of the law is strongly in this direction, and that even when such cases fail, most employees get the message that they had better button their lips on this subject if they want a quiet life. The moment may come (may in fact have come) when incorrect remarks about homosexuality will lead to secret denunciations by colleagues. Perhaps we will end up with a new 'Blackmailers' Charter' - a horrible mirror image of the pre-1967 sex offence laws - under which those who have let slip 'homophobic opinions' on public premises are blackmailed by those who heard them.

So no, Iain, you may not want my approval. But others definitely do, and they are prepared to use the traditional engines of dogmatic intolerance to get it. I, in a privileged position, can voice opinions which others are increasingly fearful of voicing. But several of those who wrote to me after the publication of this article suggested, without any sense of irony or embarrassment, that I should either be sacked, or investigated by the police, for having expressed my views.

Who has 'peddled a myth' that homosexual parents are better than heterosexual ones? I have no idea. But the Edinburgh social services seem to have concluded in this case that a homosexual couple are better suited to raise the children in this case than their own (heterosexual) grandparents. Which is the same thing, though not a myth.

Then there is this quote from me, and Iain's green-ink response. :Me :"Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show."

Iain:"And just what are these true opinions? That we gayers are some sort of sub form of human life?"

I should hope not, and would disapprove strongly of such an opinion. But many of them would certainly believe that homosexual acts are morally wrong, with everything that flows from that. Many would also think that children are better brought up by a husband and wife than by two homosexuals.

As for this exchange :Me "We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the ‘Gay Pride’ parade passes by." Iain:"Pathetic. If you don't wish to watch a Gay Pride parade, don't. I don't either. Not my thing. So I don't go, or watch. It's a free country."

This comment was a metaphorical one influenced by the fact that I'd just come back from Prague, where people were once indeed compelled to wave little (red) flags as the Stalinist parade went by, and would suffer all sorts of privations and career damage and petty persecution if they failed to comply. They still have bitter memories of such impositions, which we in this country are only just beginning to experience. I am strongly influenced in my opposition to this sort of stuff by my extensive experience of life in Communist countries, which teaches you how such things are done and what they look and feel like. In my case it also teaches you to loathe them, and feel the need to warn against them when you see them growing up in your own country.

However, the instances I cite above (plus the recent flying of a Rainbow flag by a London police station) make my point, that increasingly we are not permitted to remain neutrally silent on this subject but required to make active public obeisance to the new post-Christian morality. The increasingly obligatory use of the word 'Gay' is a powerful example of this. By declining to use this essentially approving term, I now expose myself to criticism, though the word I use instead is chosen for its unemotional neutrality. I think the existence of this process, in life and language, undeniable and I think that Iain, as a conservative, (if not as a 'Conservative') should be as vocal as I am in his objections to this creeping totalitarianism.

I haven't responded to some of Iain's more intemperate remarks and accusations against me because I'm sure ( or perhaps I should say I hope) he didn't mean them, and was just fired up at the time.

I was indeed fired up. I want to respond to some of the points Peter makes in this articel because there is, you will find difficult to believe, a little common ground. However, my response will have to wait as I have an afternoon of work ahead of me. But in the meantime, what are your views? Did I overreact? Is Peter Hitchens right? Please keep the language temperate.

91 comments:

tom catesby said...

Peter Hitchens is right in every particular.

Can't see there is anything you should take issue with.

Neil said...

In general, yes you did overreact, and yes, Peter Hitchens is basically right. I can't really find much in that article to disagree very widely with, I don't see your objections to his point of view.

I'm sorry Iain, I think you are a very good blogger, and I usually agree with you, but on this issue, I am afraid Peter is right about the creeping totalitarianism - and he gives several real life examples - and I have to say you seem to be supporting that totalitarianism.

Curbishlyauto said...

Not often I agree with Peter Hitchen but here I do. The freedom of speech is being eroded and a culture of informing being developed.

Shamik said...

This is what got my goat and decided me to choose this subject.

Decided me? Decided me?

My, my, standards at the 'newspaper' Mr Hitchens 'writes' for sure are slipping.

Btw, why does this 'journalist' choose to place words like racism, gay and equality in apostrophes all the time?

Shocking. Positively shocking.

Graham said...

No matter what you believe on the issue of homesexuality, surely the main concern here is that once again, our freedom of speech in this country is being curtailed.

Why do people have a right not to be offended? As an Evangelical Christian, I am quite offended by many things that people say. I think of all the times during my day that I hear the name of God or Jesus being taken in vain with the most disgusting language. Does it bother me or offend me? Yes, greatly. Do I then complain to the police or my boss that people in the pub or the office don't hold the same beliefs as me and therefore they offended me? No, that is their right in our free society.

We all hold different views on so many things, why then should one group have their views placed above the views of everyone else?

Freedom of speech includes the right to offend. Deal with it like most other people do.

Colin said...

I read a lot of Peter's writing. My main impression is that his powers of observation are formidible and as a result he is able to articulate the suspicions and feelings of many people. For example his belief in the total uselessness of the modern Tory party.

That said, I do think that on occasion he has a tendency to "fire for effect".

Rush-is-Right said...

Hitchens is quite right about this.

And to the person writing under the name 'Shamik' the expression 'decided me to' is perfectly reasonable and established usage. And PH's use of inverted commas around words like 'racism' is a perfectly understandable shorthand for 'so-called'.

basementcat said...

I'm not so sure. While I get the point about freedom of speech and the invasive, insidious effect of New Labour's "Thought Police" mentality, the headline Peter ran with in his orginal article says it all. It implies that it is the gays who are tyrannical, and that I fear sets the tone for the article.

On the point of erosion of marriage, or the sanctity thereof, I would ask why that matters - or is even a bad thing. Just as we evolve biologically, so too do we evolve politically and socially. Relationships should be defined by the individuals who enter in to them, not necessarily by the state. Involvement by the state protecting/promoting one form of relationship over another is how we arrived in this situation.

Use of the Roman Catholic Adoption Societies is a tricky example. To discriminate against potential parents on anything other than their ability to raise a child in a stable environment is unacceptable. That is what they were attempting to do and it was wrong to do so - simply because you disagree with someone or you dislike their way of life does not make them any less capable or, indeed, suitable for bringing up a child. Personally, I would be loathe to allow an overtly religious family to adopt a child because I don't think it is fair to indoctrinate a child in religious belief - but I accept that would be discriminating to do so, and that - as I say - is wrong.

On the whole, Peter has a point: I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it - as the old adage goes.

It's a fine line. The problem is that laws designed to protect groups against discrimination and allow them to live in liberty and freedom actively supress the liberty and freedoms of others. It's almost a Catch-22, but for a free society to exist we must all accept the freedom and liberty of others, regardless of their sexuality, creed and colour - whether or not we agree with it - but unless everyone does, are we left with no choice but to have the laws?

Guthrum said...

Yes, I think you have over reacted, we cannot be defined by just our sexuality alone, and to be persecuted by Labour's intolerance is unjustifiable

Paul said...

Peter Hitchens is right - you are about the most reasonable voice that I've come across from the gay perspective on these kind of issues. You'll surely know that many gay pressure groups/individuals are attempting exactly what Peter describes.

canvas said...

QUOTE> "The trouble is that homosexuality is used by others (themselves not interested in the subject or in may cases specially sympathetic to the position of homosexuals) to advance the sexual revolution they believe in. By 'others', I mean those who wish to undermine marriage (a weird alliance of militant statists who see the married family as an obstacle to their power, and commercial interests who want to keep women in the paid workforce for as long as possible).

Homosexuality is useful to them for two reasons. Treating homosexual relationships as the equal of marriage enables them to produce a plausible reason for redistributing the previously unique privileges of marriage (I'm not just talking about legal and tax advantages here, but about status and regard). And, by classifying homosexuals as a persecuted (or potentially persecuted) minority, they can easily misrepresent those who object to homosexual equality as bigots who hate homosexuals. The liberal mob usually falls for this, as I can testify."

---------------

On man! another right wing loony banging on about bloody 'marriage' again?! OMG please - will you all give it a rest with this damn marriage thing? I am happily married and I don't have anything against marriage. But I do not want a tax break because of it. I do not want to be judged by my marital status either.

Why should I remotely care about the marital status or sexual preference of another human being? Why is it your business or my business? What difference does it make?

Love sex companionship friendship relationship celibacy comrade marriage partner stranger colleague...whatever! None of my business and none of your business.

> > > Peter Hitchens> There is no right or wrong. Just be true to yourself.

You are you are - go live your life to the full and try to make this world a better place. But please stop trying to make other people feel bad just because you might have psychological flaws or hang-up. Take it out on yourself - not others. Seek counseling if necessary.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Yes Iain, I'm afraid you did over react.

The thrust of Hitchens' argument was directed to the threat allegedly made by the social workers; 'If you object you will never see your grandchildren again.' That threat, if indeed it was made, was disgraceful. (And, of course, unlawful.)

canvas said...

also > you are who you are.

Man in a Shed said...

Have to say I'm with Peter Hitchens on this.

However I'm glad we have the freedom, for the moment, to debate this.

My assumption is you responded Iain, as you saw it, which is the point of blogs, discourse and free speech.

If it turns out to be a discussion that has progressed understanding - all the better.

merrsh1 said...

Hitchens is right.

Unfortunately he usually is on most things.

Peter Hitchens said...

Whoops. Harry Hammond was not 'helped' with mudby heclers, as I somehwo managed to type, but pelted with it. Just thought i should clear that up

Shamik said...

Rush-is-Right: So Hitchens is talking about so-called homosexuals? What exactly does he mean by that?

Or so-called minorities... They are so called because they are exactly that!

Unless he believes them to be the majority?!

It's lazy, shrill and hysterical journalism at its worst.

Peter Hitchens said...

Whoops again. I meant "pelted with mud by hecklers". Can't seem to type anything right today.

Plato said...

I think Mr Hitchens' response is pretty measured and I can see where he's coming from.

I worked for the plod for a while and the thought-control was suffocating, and the politically movitated snitch-culture endemic.

It was very powerful and any suggestion that one wasn't enthralled by the Diversity Unit's tribal dancing events or LBGT poetry readings would have been taken as damning self-incrimination. I don't like Billy Bragg either but that doesn't mean I have jack-boots in the wardrobe.

Iain - can I just say that I think this exchange of views with Mr Hitchins is very refreshing and to be applauded for its openess, transparency and grown-up debate.

jamesburdett said...

I can see where Peter Hitchens thinks he is going, but personally wouldn't want to end up there. I think there is a problem with vicarious victimisation complex. He argues about the erosion of Christian morality, but neglects to notice that membership and attendance at churches has declined so people would seem to be voting with their feet against Christian morality.

I personally on the grounds of sexuality it is difficult to think yourself into a situation that is different to the one that you are in. Women in the workplace don't want to be bombarded by misogynistic banter from male colleagues and in the same way Homosexual men and women do not want to be bombarded with the equivalent. Laws need to be balanced and proportionate and by and large I think that our laws are. If you are determined to find extremes you will and of course it is sad when the law is pushed beyond where it is intended, but the law needs to protect. It needs to protect people from outright opposition and also casual indifference and what flows from it.

Philipa said...

Peter Hitchens is, of course, correct in his argument here. There are two things you must realise about Peter Hitchens; his obsession with language and the fact that he is very far from stupid. Peter understands the power of language and can use it with devastating results. A blow can yeild a bruise that lasts for days, but words can last a lifetime and burn forever in your memory. Ask anyone who has ever been bullied. I'm confident that Peter knew exactly what results his article would bring. As I said, he's not stupid.

You must admit his point - that freedom of thought and expression and even deed (remember feb 16th?) even when within 'reasonable' constraints are now outlawed. I put 'reasonable' in inverted commas as the question must surely be 'what is reasonable'? I don't know if Peter would think that the sign 'no blacks, gays or dogs' on a B&B is acceptable as banning that compromises freedom of choice in one's own home, but I think he would NOT think such signs are acceptable for the reasons stated here. I'm guessing he would prefer a quiet unstated old-fashioned freedom of choice in the matter. A return to a quiet freedom where we all went about our business with the minimum of fuss and maximum of good manners and polite effort. I don't know.

What I do know is that the question he raises is incredibly important. INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT. We are losing our freedom. Bit by litte bit we are losing our freedom. And it needs NEEDS all of Peters skill and effort to wake you lot up. I can't. Iain won't. Westminster don't care.

Ask Old Holborn on the subject of employment. Consider the threat of the SS to family who simply want to care for their own. Consider the guidelines of government agents who can judge a family on the contents of their fridge at any given moment not on the contents of their heart and love for their children. One Essex family had their children removed because they were not smart enough. And yet Baby P was left to die horribly. However we are told to believe in Big Brother and the Nanny State. The state who has never made a GOOD parent substitute.

And I think this should not be about Peter Hitchens or his prejudices, many of which I disagree with. It should be about the point he makes, which I take to be not just: what is 'reasonable' ? But: 'WHAT SHOULD THE STATE FORCE US TO DO'?

We should consider this question while we still can. And don't shoot the messenger.

Savonarola said...

Canvas 254

I am waiting for you to respond to my 218 post re J Smith bet which you accpeted but are now backpedalling from.

Perhaps you should just get back in your cot, take a swig of Calpol and put the dummy back in that gob of yours.

Blouse.

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Mr Burdet,

If I buy you a dummy, will you promise to stop dribbling?

Rarely have I read such disjointed garbage. Only a true moron could think that because people do not attend church they must be assumed to repudiate Christian morality.

PhilC said...

Blimey Iain, if these are your supporters what do your enemies think of you!
Hitchens mixture of fear, loathing and paranoia leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. I thought you did a good fisk and the debate is been pretty civil.
Bu totalitarianism?
A survey from Stonewall (admittedly dated 1995) found that one in three gay men and one in four lesbians had experienced at least one violent attack during 1990-1995. Because of fear of becoming the victim of homophobic violence, 65% of respondents always or sometimes avoided telling people they were gay, and 59% of respondents always or sometimes tried to avoid looking obviously gay.
Thought police?
David Morley was murdered on London's South Bank in 2004 because he was gay. The Admiral Duncan pub was bombed because it was used by gay people.
Number of people murdered or bombed for believing gays should not have the same rights as straight people: big fat zero.

p smith said...

Iain, hold your ground. While Hitchens has belatedly sought to shroud his hate speech in reason and thoughtful debate, it is obvious to any objective reader what the import of his message is. Yes, there is a legitimate and serious part to his article but he engages in the lowest form of political journalism with not so subtle nods and winks to the ignorant centre of the Mail readership.

It's the age old weapon of the far right. Set up a paper tiger that does not in fact exist (eg gays want us all to know about what they do in bed, immigrants want to impose Sharia law in our schools etc) and then tear it down in a fit of faux patriotic tradionalist rage.

I understand entirely why you say straight through his article and found it offensive. Bear that in mind, the next time your fellow right wing bloggers engage in similar polemic.

Zeddy said...

Peter lets slip his less than neutral views on gayers when he asserts that gay "marriage" is an assault on traditional marriage because it demeans the institution.

But one could equally argue that gays wanting to get "married" is a boost for marriage. It's such a wonderful thing that even the gayers want a piece of it.

So why does Peter choose the bottle-half-empty approach? In the absence of other evidence one must suspect that he believes gayers to be inferior people.

Peter says he's not interested in the tax advantages of traditional marriage. Another possible advantage is the abilty to raise children in a stable environment. But we know that many married couples are incapable of having children and some just choose not to have children.

If Peter believed that the great virtue of marriage is the children issue, he'd surely be arguing that extending the benefits of marriage to infertile couples is a diminution of marriage?

So, if it's not tax and it's not kids, what are the great advantages of marriage that Peter is so keen to deny to the gayers? The ability to make a long term commitment to each other? The social stability arising from couples having a long term stake in building a household and holding down jobs? Why should such advantages be reserved only for those Peter approves of?

Peter also asserts that preferring a homosexual couple over a heterosexual couple in adoption is the same as saying that homosexual parents are better than heterosexual parents. That's as wilfully blind as saying that placing a child with white parents instead of black parents is the same as saying that white parents are better than black parents. In this case it was decided to place the child with this couple instead of that couple. As far as I'm aware, no-one in Edinburgh social services said that it was being done on the grounds of the sexual orientation of the two couples.

Peter asks why must the gayers always keep telling him what their sexual orientation is. But does he similarly complain when he hears a man talking of some woman he's dating? Does he complain when his colleagues talk openly about their wives and husbands? I doubt it? Yet saying: "I promised the wife I'd be home early tonight" is just as much trumpetting your sexual orientation as is saying: "I'm homosexual".

The reason that heterosexuals never have to say to anyone: "I'm heterosexual", Peter, is because society is built on the assumption that everyone is heterosexual unless they say otherwise. So, if someone says to a gayer: "Have you got a girlfriend?", one suspects that Peter would prefer him to lie rather than be honest. And all on the grounds that saying: "I'm gay" is forcing the intimate details of one's bedroom on Peter whereas saying: "my wife" or "my husband" isn't.

Curiously, Peter, if a man tells me that he has a wife or a woman tells me that she has a husband, I don't immediately start imagining what positions they prefer in the bedroom. If being told that someone is gay does make you start imagining such intimate details, maybe you've just got a morbid fascination with the idea.

In which case, you'd fit in well with Norman Tebbit. Because, judging by his speeches in the Lords, you could trawl right through Sodom and Gomorrah and fail to find a gay man as obsessed with the act of sodomy as Tebbit appears to be.

canvas said...

savonarola, calling a woman a blouse is a pretty amusing insult. haha ;)
See you on betfair! maybe.

PS> Peter Hitchens is so far up his own bottom that he doesn't even realise that most people don't really care about what he has to say. Not in 2009. The dude is a dinosaur. mentally and physically...

Alceste said...

To Shamik 2.18.

That's an entirely proper use of the word "decided", albeit not the most common.

If you're going to get on your linguistic high horse it's probably advisable to have your facts right. Otherwise I'm afraid you risk looking rather foolish.

eddie said...

Well done Iain for opening up your blog for real debate. Once again you demonstrate why you are head and shoulders above most political bloggers in this country.

I disagree with many of your opinions (and, worryingly, I'm with Hitchins on this one) but your willingness to debate is outstanding. Kudos to you!

Rush-is-Right said...

Shamik, to be frank, you are coming over as a bit of a pillock. Not a 24-carat, Polly Toynbee, gold standard, V-8 Bentley type pillock but a pillock none the less.

You said 2.18pm Btw, why does this 'journalist' choose to place words like racism, gay and equality in apostrophes all the time?

To which I replied that it was shorthand for 'so-called'. This is a long established usage encountered in Private Eye every fortnight.

And then you said; Rush-is-Right: So Hitchens is talking about so-called homosexuals? What exactly does he mean by that? Or so-called minorities... They are so called because they are exactly that!

No. Now listen carefully. PH did not use the word 'homosexual' in quotes. He put the quotes around the word 'gay'. (As do I whenever I use it in that sense.) This is because PH, like me, resents it that a word that used to have a proper meaning more or less equal to 'jolly' or 'fun' has been hijacked by a vocal and bossy special interest group. Same with 'racism'. It's a word that is used to silence argument, it is fired at people to shut them up. It has become a weasel word with no meaning at all.

Glad to be of help.

Zeddy said...

***Why do people have a right not to be offended?***

I think you're right, Graham. And I don't think that there should be legal sanctions against being offensive.

But one could equally ask why do people imagine that they have a right to cause offence without incurring any consequences?

People keep bringing up suppression of free speech in the workplace as that's probably where loose talk can hurt you most if someone objects. But why should anyone have to work with someone who treats them badly.

If a committed Christian or Muslim put up a poster in my office which invited people to come to a "Why Gays Are Immoral" meeting at their local church, I'd expect that person to get their arse kicked by management and, if they persisted, I'd expect them to be kicked out.

Why would anyone expect otherwise? People are employed by their employer to do a job, not to proselytize in the workplace. If people want to rage against gayers in their church it's fine by me because no-one is forced to attend.

Lola said...

Mr Hitchens. Very well argued.

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Ms Canvas,

Your petty, immature, petulant insults betray both the weakness of your argument and your innate bigotry.
Why do you feel it right to begin a debate by referring to your opponent as a "right wing loony"? I realise right-wing is your personal code for those you disagree with, but are the debating skills of the infant playground really all you have?

Zeddy said...

***I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it - as the old adage goes.***

Actually, basementcat, it's an invented adage because contrary to popular belief, Voltaire never said that.

canvas said...

Zeddy, good point. That's why that silly moo Carol Thatcher got the chop. For using racist and offensive language on work premises deeply offending her colleagues. Zero tolerance for racism.

Being 'offensive' can often be a subjective thing. Like for example > Iain's weird Loden coat - a crime against fashion. so offensive.

canvas said...

ex-apprentice "Why do you feel it right to begin a debate by referring to your opponent as a "right wing loony"?"

Answer> because they usually are!

Freedom of speech is only OK when it suits ex-apprentice? He is now instructing me on what I can cannot say...?! ha! hypocrites. loony right wing hypocrites.

;)

HarveyR said...

I think you could criticise Peter's original article on a number of counts.

I am not compelled to wave a little flag any parade, and AFAIK nobody has been compelled to do so.

I am not forced to say that I think homosexuality is a good thing.

If I choose, I can in fact keep my thoughts to myself.

So Peter was wrong to state the contrary. I know he was on occasion employing far fetched examples to make his points, but it's over the top to describe the article as bigoted. It certainly doesn't seem, to me, to be "an outright attack on anyone who is gay".

There is a thread in the original article which I would certainly agree with, though; which is that a disapproval of some sexual behaviour is too often being equated with discrimination on the basis of orientation, and treated in the same way.

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Ms Canvas

I made no attempt to limit your freedom of speech, rather I was trying to raise its level from the gutter.

canvas said...

dear ex-apprentice,

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Don't be such a bore.
I know your type - freedom of speech you cry, personal liberty you cry ! until somebody says something that you dislike. then you try to shout them down or break their spirit.

Well I have news for all you right wing loonies...times have changed, embrace the change or get left behind.

North Briton Hunter said...

Peter Hitchens is a lunatic

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Mr Dale,

Peter Hitchin comes across as an eminently reasonable, level-headed sort of chap with very moderate opinions.
I think you owe him a grovelling apology for your shameful attack.



PS I feel confident I am supported in this view by Mrs Canvas, who is very big on freedoms.

Oliver Drew said...

Canvas - you can be rather agressive yourself sometimes on this blog - and you did your fair bit of "shouting down" when we had the Carol Thatcher debate on here last week.

canvas said...

Actually, ex-apprentice, if Iain Dale owes anyone an apology it most certainly is not Peter Hitchens.

Iain still owes an apology to his web community for defending Carol Thatcher's right to use racist language.

We're all still waiting patiently...although I fear that apology may never be forthcoming. That was such a low point for Iain.

However, I think Iain called it right on this one...
Hitchens is away with the fairies.

canvas said...

oliver, that was for you ;)

Zeddy said...

***I am not forced to say that I think homosexuality is a good thing.

If I choose, I can in fact keep my thoughts to myself.***

Rem acu tetigisti, as my old Latin Teacher would say before touching me up behind the bike sheds and turning a 100% heterosexual into a 100% homosexual.

an ex-apprentice said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lepsis said...

i think i said it at the time, but ill say it again.

what he said last time ( i so cant be bother to read all of his response) was abit OTT.

his point is well taken and i agree with it, Hitchens point that is.

but i do think that on occasion he hits a tone that is not easy on the ear and can give the impression that his target is bufties at large not just the militant ones i like to disown and shout at.

Zeddy said...

***There is a thread in the original article which I would certainly agree with, though; which is that a disapproval of some sexual behaviour is too often being equated with discrimination on the basis of orientation, and treated in the same way.***

So, what are Peter and his supporters saying? That they'd embrace homosexuals with open arms if they would only stop doing each other up the shitter?

I might disapprove of straight people having unsafe sex and getting pregnant at the age of 12 and I don't think anyone would deduce that that I was railing against heterosexuality per se. But I disapprove of unsafe sex because it spreads disease and of teenage pregnancy because it buggers up the mother's life, disadvantages the child and costs money out of my taxes.

Why do Peter and his supporters disapprove of homosexual sex? They're not saying that they disapprove of unsafe homosexual sex or underage homosexual sex but of the act itself.

Do we ever hear them railing against anal sex in a traditional male/female partnership? No, though it's widespread (ouch, unfortunate choice of word).

When you continually experience this logical gap between, on the one hand, the insistence that it's not the gays they hate (sorry, disapprove of) but the act and, on the other hand, the double standards, you can't help but deduce bigotry and a yearning need to feel better about themselves by latching onto someone to hate (sorry, disapprove of).

Hasn't that been one of the foundations of the great religions down the ages - find groups to isolate and condemn and it makes the elect more virtuous?

Even when Christ comes along and founds a faith based on love and forgiveness, we still find that the most fervent believers secretly prefer the angry god of the Old Testament to the laissez-faire hippy (get that hair cut, Jesus) of the New.

Mr Grymme Harbinger said...

I think Hitchens is right - official curbs on our speach very swiftly become 'thought crimes' - as in the current crime of not actively promoting/celebrating a government sanctioned 'difference'. Free speech involves the truly hard work of defending the right of those people who's views we may find abhorent to speak their mind.
Mick Hume on spiked has written a good articleon this

bryboy said...

Peter Hitchens is a voice in a wilderness in the mainstream media. He is nearly always correct and writes with insight and vigour. The Gay Rights issue is being used to promote a much wider and more invidious campaign to reduce personal freedom. Inadvertently Iain you opened up a can of worms but the measured response from the majority of your readers is a credit to the blog.

Philipa said...

Zeddy said: "Even when Christ comes along and founds a faith based on love and forgiveness, we still find that the most fervent believers secretly prefer the angry god of the Old Testament to the laissez-faire hippy (get that hair cut, Jesus) of the New."

I agree. But old or new I find many 'religious' people cherry-pick religion to support their prejudices. When I countered PH's argument for lifelong marriage based on scripture and cited scripture that positively commanded divorce in some circumstances, my verse didn't matter. So my bit of the Bible didn't matter and his bit did. Fine.

Which is why I suggested ignoring PH's prejudices, and in fact PH, and concentrate on debating the issue of losing our freedoms.

* Should the family lose contact with the child because they disagreed with the homosexual adoption?

* Should anyone be asked their sexuality in a job interview?

* Should a couple be visited by police and warned they may be prosecuted because their Christian poster in the window might offend non-Christans?

* Should Christmas be called 'Winterval'?

* Should a parent taking pictures of their child be reported to police?

* Should sex-ed continue in schools when it obviously does not reduce underage sex?

* Should church wardens, who may come into contact with children, be forced to attend training courses that teach them 'how to recognise child abuse' when those who are abused can't get help from the establishment if they shoved a little flag up their nose?

* Should charities who are little more than lobby groups retain charitable status?

* Should we have ID cards?

OK the list is too long now but doesn't that say something? The Tories are not advocating any significant change. Most of you are saying 'yeah yeah we're losing our freedoms' like you're agreeing there's a recession. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO ABOUT THAT? Vote Lib-dem?

Bishop Hill said...

I think it is incumbent on minorities to take a stand against the creeping authoritarianism that has been unleashed in their name.

People need to recognise that freedom of speech includes the right to offend. It's only the offensive views that need protection. Freedom of association includes the right to discriminate. It's worth nothing without it.

This needs to be shouted out loud. If we do not address these difficult issues of the civil liberties agenda, then we might as well give it up now.

Say it now, before both these freedoms are gone for good.

JuliaM said...

Agree totally with Peter Hitchens - a very measurd response. His original column suffered from an unfortunatel-chosen headline, but the gist of it was quite correct.

The hysterical responses of his detractors shows how accurately he hit the target!

JuliaM said...

canvas"Iain still owes an apology to his web community for defending Carol Thatcher's right to use racist language."

*guffaw*

Keep flogging that dead horse...

RobertEve said...

Peter is right.

Savonarola said...

Canvas 338

I withdraw 'Blouse'

Substitute with:

Time waster, cut and runner, all mouth no trousers, all hat no cattle.

Be honest. You could not put your money where your mouth is depite all this BetFair cop out nonsense.

martin day said...

Peter Hitchens should be the Tory Candidate in Sheffield Hallam!

He would take Clegg and his Liberal (Crypto-Socialist) hurbis apart!

LD LD LD - Out Out Out!

Grim Reaper said...

Peter Hitchens is a very divisive person, I feel. When I first started reading the Mail on Sunday, I honestly got the impression this man was a few olives short of a pizza. However, as time has gone on, I've found myself in agreement with him more and more. He's right on this issue - what a shame that it wasn't this piece he published in the MoS instead.

Now all he needs to do is stop describing the Tories as "useless". Can we please have a new word to describe them, Mr Hitchens? I don't think Iain would approve of some of the things I'd call them instead, but... ;-)

Canvas = Dollybot. Back to the LabourList failtrain with you.

JPT said...

Peter Hitchens is spot on.

Philipa said...

I meant to say let's ignore the personal characteristics of the messenger and concentrate on the issue. Peter Hitchens often says something like: I may be offensive, but am I right?

Forlornehope said...

The concern with Peter Hitchins's article is that the original issue, the child being removed from her grandparents, has got lost in his comments about freedom of speech and sexual orientation.

We are already in a position where to criticise Israel is to be anti-semitic, criticise Islam and it's islamophobic and object to anything about gays and it's homophobic. We have gone so far in giving people rights that these are clashing all over the place. A little generosity and good will all round might help.

dmc said...

zeddys post at 3 35 is spot on.
Im always being asked if Im gay,why?,I don't ask if your het.
As for what we get up to behind closed doors well,if you heard my workmates comments and innueno they must think of it non stop.
Myself and most of my mates just want to be left alone to get on with our lives but like other minorities we are being used.It's gay and straight left wingers causing the problem but us getting all the resentment.
I would hate to be the gay couple that innocently adopted those kids,think of all the abuse and hate they are going to get now for trying to do some good.

Zeddy said...

***object to anything about gays and it's homophobic***

It usually is though, Forlornehope.

By all means object to something about a particular gay man - that's not necessarily homophobic (awful word, let's call it bigotry). Peter Tatchell sometimes infuriates me.

By all means object to something about a gay pressure group - that's not bigoted.

But objecting to something about gays??? How can that NOT be bigoted?

It would be no different to objecting to the French because they smell. Objecting to blacks because they're drug dealers. Objecting to jews because they're misers. Objecting to Asians because they run corner shops. Objecting to Muslims because they blow up tube trains. Objecting to the English because they're emotionless snobs. Objecting to miners because they're communists.

If one's objection to a particular social grouping is so scattergun that one uses it to define every member of that group, it's almost impossible for it not to be bigotry.

Try naming one thing that you object to about gays, not this gay or that gay or gays who do this or gays who behave like that but just gays and let's see how unbigoted it is.

I don't think Peter goes around hating people (though he seems a very angry man when he's not rhapsodising about cold weather) but what I suspect he objects to is not people being gay or people getting divorced or gays adopting children but the end of a society of reassuring certainties.

I think most of us hark back wistfully to a more reassuring time. The problem is that many of those reassuring certainties were built on society telling people who were different to hide away in shame and not presume to be treated on a par with normal people. A society where gay men, for the sake of not disturbing the comfortable certainties of people like Peter, entered a pretence of unhappy marriages and secret lives. A society where some men and women had to live in loveless and abusive marriages because divorce was practically taboo.

Summer said...

Ex Apprentice.

I believe Ms Canvas is one of 'those' people who believe in the equation

Left = right and Right = wrong.

Of course if they really though about it that would actually mean Left = wrong.

I think Peter Hitches is correct Iain. I really don't care what peoples sexuality is, but I think children are better brought up by a man and a woman who can give them relevant role models from both sexes.

People, who are Gay are being used by people (like the frequently offensive Ms Canvas), to further their own fascist ideology , as dmc and Peter Hitchens suggest. Maybe you don't agree with all Peter Hitchens says, or the way he says it (nor do I), but he is quite right to point out the ways being used to destory our freedoms.

Philipa said...

Zeddy - PH does object to divorce; marriage is for life. Hence "lifelong marriage".

"I think most of us hark back wistfully to a more reassuring time. The problem is that many of those reassuring certainties were built on society telling people who were different to hide away in shame and not presume to be treated on a par with normal people. A society where [single mothers], for the sake of not disturbing the comfortable certainties of people like Peter, [had the baby forcibly taken away or endured] unhappy marriages and [subservient] lives. A society where some men and women [and children] had to live in loveless and abusive marriages because divorce was practically taboo."

Mark B said...

Peter Hitchens is right.
Children are produced by heterosexual sex. Homosexual sex is an adult choice but will never produce children.
Homosexuality is condemned by the mainstream of all the world's religions. You may not like that fact, and indeed consider all religions delusions, but this unanimity is the case. Religious belief is also central to the conservative vision, while hostility to religion is central to Marxism: 'The criticism of religion is the foundation of all criticism.' Of course this doesn't mean religions agree with each other - they don't, any more than secularists agree with religion. But the major religions do agree that man-woman marriage is foundational to the family and to society.
Libertarianism is not conservatism, it's just egocentricism.
Children should have the opportunity to have a mother and a father.
Sexual revisionism is indeed central to the secular socialist vision (as it was for the early Bolshevists).

metabourke said...

Bigotry is bigotry. Discrimination is discrimination. Bigotry and discrimination cloaked in superstition is still bigotry and discrimination.

Peter Hitchens says: "Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show."

Those that serve the people are expected to serve all the people, not to discriminate against people
even if their bigotry is based upon spurious superstitious beliefs.

However, I am concerned that the focus of anti-discrimination training is too often about 'awareness' of discrimination against particular groups, when it should be about dispassionate decision making. This 'awareness' training seems to be designed to instill a belief in the trainees that they are subconsciously discriminating against minorities and should therefore compensate by giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Some in the social services field seem to be infected with the reverse of Peter Hitchens bigotry. A social worker faced with a decision between a middle class heterosexual Caucasian couple and a poor black lesbian may believe that they are less likely to face criticism from their management (if not from Peter Hitchens) if they choose the minority candidate. The decision should be based upon objective criteria, not bigotry, and not on the basis of compensating for others' bigotry either.

Paul Lockett said...

"Treating homosexual relationships as the equal of marriage enables them to produce a plausible reason for redistributing the previously unique privileges of marriage (I'm not just talking about legal and tax advantages here, but about status and regard)."

And why should status and regard be the preserve of groups that Hitchens deems worthy? They are things which should be given freely by the individual, not directed by the state or those who think they are morally superior.

"I'm also old-fashioned enough to think that someone's sexual tastes and habits, as well as being a private matter, are one of the least interesting things about him. Does Iain disagree? Do my other critics disagree? If they don't, I must ask once again, what else am I told by a public declaration of sexual orientation?"

Isn't a wedding a public declaration of sexual orientation? Does Hitchens have a sense of distaste about weddings which aren't performed quietly and discretely?

Hitchens makes some reasonable points about freedom of speech, but in the context of the whole article, I just don't find them sincere.

Hitchen is a man whole claims to dislike tyranny, but only, it appears, because the tyranny on offer isn't the one he'd like to see.

Zeddy said...

***Religious belief is also central to the conservative vision, while hostility to religion is central to Marxism.***

Oh purleeeeease! God forbid that we ever end up like America with religion playing ANY part in our politics.

And, as for the rubbish about Marxism, hostility to religious belief is just as likely to stem from those whose lives have been crapped on by religion.

I have boundless respect for faith but religion is not faith. Religion is the hierarchical administration and control of faith. It's someone telling you how you're allowed to believe. I'd have thought that, as one of the central tenets of a conservative approach is small government and the elevation of the individual, organised religion ought to anathema to conservatives.

And, if you're THAT bothered with sticking to the nonsense that the major religions agree on, you'd have had no Margaret Thatcher as PM. Women would know their place, wouldn't they?

Thatsnews said...

May I respond to Iain's green-ink verbal assault...

A verbal assault? In print?

Green-ink?

If any of the freelance journalists I edit in my day job had submitted an article like Peter's original and the reply (whine whine, not fair, cont. 94) it would have been red ink I'd have used, not green on the damn thing.

Thatsnews said...

The point that seems to have been lost in all this is that it could probably be wrong to have the children adopted by any couple other than the grandparents.

Or was the use of a gay couple used as a device to cloud the issue of the incompetence of the Social Services department and the social workers? After all, it has now been allowed to degenerate into a gay rights v morality v the end of civilisation as we know it, and so on and so forth.

Which ain't helping the family, nor the poor couple who only wanted to adopt some kids. "Here. You are gay men, Have a girl who is fearful of men to live with you 24/7."

Benedict White said...

Iain, I have to say in many ways you are both right.

In your origininal "green ink" article you pointed out the key issue, which is in part why were the grandparents being threatened and indeed why were they not the natural choice which Peter seemed to have lost by devoting so much time to the homosexuality issue.

Fair points.

However, Peter now expands his point to the wider debate over the "equality agenda". As another example the of this equality agenda gone mad it appears Kent police are encouraging children around the 14 year old mark to write about homosexuality. This is bizzarre in the extreame as I thought they were supposed to be upholding law and order not running literay compettions.

People have different views on these subjects. They should be allowed to do so.

Zeddy said...

***"Here. You are gay men, Have a girl who is fearful of men to live with you 24/7."***

Hmmm, so your preference in this case would be to place her with a lesbian couple?

Benedict White said...

Zeddy "Hmmm, so your preference in this case would be to place her with a lesbian couple?"

Not mine, my prefference would be the grandparents. In times gone by this would have just happened without state intervention and no adoption required.

The question we ought to ask, is wht grand parents are allowed/required to addopt when they have in the past (along with aunts and unlces) been the back stop for a failing family?

Zeddy said...

***my prefference would be the grandparents. ***

So would mine but I thought you said she was scared of men. Isn't her grandfather a man?

Jimmy said...

Easy to see who got the brains in that family.

"Actually I don't want to write about homosexuality or homosexuals, and always do it reluctantly."

Of course when he finally does come out, I'll laugh like a drain.

Benedict White said...

Zeddy "So would mine but I thought you said she was scared of men. Isn't her grandfather a man?"

No, I did not.

The original reports did. One presumes that does not include men whom she has a close family relationship with, assuming the report is correct.

Whilst I do appreaciate the debate on homosexualilty/totalitarianism and so on, we do have to actually cut to the chase, and ask the question; why has the state interferred at all?

Were the grandparents so bad that anyone else needed to be considered? Why does the state feel that the grandparents need to adopt? Afterall with a bit of luck and a following wind the mother may get her act together (with her parents support) and form a stable relationship or home where the grandparents could hand the children back (which would be ideal). The moment the state gets involved it has to stamp its paper work. Why?

Mark B said...

Zeddy writes: "I have boundless respect for faith but religion is not faith. Religion is the hierarchical administration and control of faith. It's someone telling you how you're allowed to believe."

I rather doubt you do 'have boundless respect for faith'; religions are the *expression of 'faith', which can have many forms. But as a minimum I meant the textbook definition of 'engagement with God or spiritual beings'. There are ersatz religions, like Americanism, Communism, Blut und Boden etc, which are ideology rather than theology.
As a Christian, there are religions I have little liking for, especially Islam, which I consider a messianic parody of Judeo-Christianity. But there is no getting away from the fact that conservative political philosophy, as articulated by Burke and his successors, has a Christian vision at the heart of it. Banish the Christian faith and you will cut off the bough Europe rests upon.
The corrosion of Christian faith is the fundamental reason why conservative politics have failed to revitalize Europe in the past generation and more, after something of a rally in the 1950s. The indigenous Europeans lost their traditional faith, while the immigrants are rediscovering theirs. Meanwhile, the Gramscians in control of education, social services and the media have continued their century-long campaign against Christianity, even using Islam as an ally, in a new version of the von Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.

Matthew said...

No, you did not overreact.

Peter Hitchens's article deliberately exploited and inflamed prejudices against gay people. He portrayed gay people as part of a sinister plot to undermine the fabric of society - but then, in his response to you, hid behind the studied ambiguity in what he wrote to deny any such intention. As if.

Peter Hitchens claims he is actually defending freedom of speech, yet he shelters behind the concept to discredit anyone who disagrees with him. Well tough, freedom of speech means the right to robustly challenge the views of others.

Peter Hitchens's views are pernicious and perpetuate prejudice about gay people. If that were not his intention, he should have been much more careful about how he articulated his argument.

People like Peter Hitchens should be taken on and exposed for peddling hatred. If he doesn't like his views being characterised in this way, he should change the way he expresses them.

old and angry said...

Peter Hitchens is right.
Just take time out to reflect fully on what he says without getting all fired up.
And, like it or not, he expresses his views far more eloquently than i, or millions like me ever could.

Zeddy said...

*** But there is no getting away from the fact that conservative political philosophy, as articulated by Burke and his successors, has a Christian vision at the heart of it.***

OK then. Define the conservative political philosophy as you see it.

Zeddy said...

***And, like it or not, he expresses his views far more eloquently than i, or millions like me ever could.***

Like it or not, Tony Blair makes speeches more fluently than you or millions like you ever could. Their fluency is their only virtue though.

You'll be telling us next that, like it or not, Mein Kampf was printed in a lovely typeface.

canvas said...

Yes, Zeddy - Peter Hitchens is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

He is stuck in a moment that happened about 60 years ago.

Wake up and smell the coffee , Peter Hitchens !

Your chain of thought is fossilised.

Mark B said...

Zeddy writes: "OK then. Define the conservative political philosophy as you see it."

I doubt I'm up to that task. I'm a (would be) theologian, not a political philosopher. But from the little I know of Edmund Burke, I find myself often in agreement. Conservatism entails a critical belief in the inherited wisdom of the past, a suspicion of ideology (which is really debased or secularized theology, such as Marxism or political Islam), a commitment to human freedom, dignity and personal responsibility, and a preference for the 'small platoons' of life (family, church, schools, voluntary associations) as the primary locus for human fellowship and development, rather than an overweening State that regulates, controls us and ultimately owns its citizenry. It's an outlook more than a philosophy, grounded on a suspicion and fear of people who believe in either the inherent perfection of human beings (the Rousseauist romantics) or their perfectibility through 'the right sort of education' (Gramscian Marxists).
There are positive aspects too: opportunity for all, rewarding merit, encouraging self-reliance, extolling loyalty, hard work, personal integrity, public service, thrift - all of these as counterpoints to the destructive individualism of libertarianism.
The people who express this outlook most pungently are Mark Steyn and Theodore Dalrymple - who is not himself a religious believer but often sounds like one descanting on the fallenness of human nature.
I also believe in the perfection of human nature, but only through the divine grace of the gospel, not the edicts of the State. The rights of individuals, children and the family must be respected because these are *Natural Rights - not the gifts of an Almighty State. So if I have a 'conservative poliitical philosophy', it is something like a combination of Christian faith and stoic virtues.
But the Gramscian state can't tolerate that.
Is Andrew Sullivan a 'conservative'? I wonder if his homosexuality has not become the organizing principle in his life.

Zeddy said...

(a) A suspicion of ideology? How can any conventional religious belief be suspicious of ideology?
(b) A commitment to human dignity? Unless you’re homosexual in which case your humanity is barely tolerated on the understanding that you hide away and don’t frighten the PHs of this world.
(c) Enouraging self-reliance and hard work? Where does that appear in Christ’s teachings? I don’t recall him telling the five thousand not to come to him for a free handout but to get a job and earn their own fish and loaves. In fact, when Christ turns fishermen into fishers of men, isn’t that the same as converting productive jobs into outreach workers and diversity monitors?
(d) Far from destroying loyalty and hard work, libertarianism allows people to decide for themselves what they work hard at and to whom they’re loyal. There’s no virtue in hard work and loyalty per se, only in the directions in which these are applied.
(e) As for Theodore Dalrymple, if he values loyalty, he might try putting it into practice by not earning a bit of cash on the side by writing about how vile he thinks his patients are.
(f) Claiming a higher calling of divine grace than the edicts of the State sounds very high-minded but is there any real difference? In civic society, the state dictates to you the path to human perfection. In religion, scripture dictates it to you. In both cases you’re choosing to place an unquestioning faith in the superior wisdom of other people (whether it be the agents of the state or the authors of the gospels). At least in a civic state you get a say in how the state in comprised. In religion, the calling of divine grace through the gospels surely requires an unquestioning faith in what has been dictated by others.
(g) If the rights of the individual are natural rights rather than rights dictated by society, then don’t homosexuals have equal rights to heterosexuals? What natural law is it which dictates that marriage must be reserved for the latter? It’s the law of man which so dictates, based on man’s interpretation of what is right.
(h) It’s all very well claiming to place trust in the family unit rather than the state as a parent but the trouble with religion is that it wants to define the family unit according to its own convenience as much as a secular state likes to define and pigeon-hole its citizens. So religion dictates that you can marry but you can’t, you can adopt or foster a child but you can’t, just as the state does.

Philipa said...

Look, we're a bunch of primates on a rock; third rock from the sun. We live in family groups. Human children are not fish and are not born ready to live independant of parental care. We're mammals that live in family groups, like elephants. The Social Services does not recognise this and treats us as if we are fish; shoals of people to move around the political chess board.

Sometimes a childs parents are not the best carers. But to discriminate against grandparents on age, an age where, incidentally they could still have children naturally (she's only 46), is stupid and wrong. The laws of adoption should be changed. The Conservative party should offer an alternative to current legislation. Please see Iain's post about adoption in a newer thread.

Mark B said...

Zeddy, I'd love to stay & debate but I must go & do some hard work & self-reliance. Just some quick remarks.
a. ideology is debased theology (i.e. religion without an afterlife or deity)
b. Homosexuals are human beings first. Their humanity is not defined by their sexual behavior. If you give homosexuality legal patronage ('rights'), then logically you must do the same for consensual polygamy (& consensual adult incest). Think about it. The argument is perfectly consistent.
c. 'He who does not work shall not eat' etc (Apostle Paul). Trust me on this one, at least. I don't know any political philosophy but I have a doctorate in theology.
d. If I was not loyal to my birth family & my children, I would deserve only contempt. Loyalty here is not a 'choice' - it's a given. One of life's 'small platoons'.
e. I never said Dalrymple was a Christian. That doesn't stop him getting a few things right. (See how broadminded I am!)
f. Nonsense. My Christian faith never tells me not to use my mind; quite the reverse. 'In understanding be men' (St Paul again).
g. If 'man' decides what 'marriage' is - rather than God's Son Jesus Christ (Matthew 19.4)- then 'marriage' will be anything a contemporary political state says it is (Islamic-polygamous, hippie-group, Islamic man-child etc - see revolutionary Iran for details). If marriage is from creation (a difficult concept for atheists, I admit), then it precedes the State - just like human rights.
h. Being a Christian has rarely been 'convenient' for me. When I'm serious about it (as I try to be most of the time) it means dying to myself.

Chalcedon said...

He's right when he talks about the freedom of speech being eroded. Someone questions an adoption point and they are investigated by the police? Outrageous. We are moving to a police state, as no doubt a certain Mr Green MP might corroborate. However, this rainbow flag stuff is lost on me, living out in the fens. It's much more for the metropolitans than we country yokels I reckon.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I always wondered what motivated the poster called "canvas"

he or she says

"There is no right or wrong. Just be true to yourself"

OK then Canvas, let me come over to your house and pee in your sink. After all, there is no right or wrong about it, and I would be being true to myself, since I think you deserve to be pissed on, and I apparently have a right to that opinion. Also, in your world view, morally, there is no difference between a pedophile and a librarian.

I could write pages about your vaccuous twaddle, and how you infest this blog with empty liberal newspeak, but you aren't worth it.

wild said...

Mark B

Insomnia alert!

“Homosexual sex is an adult choice”

True, but homosexual desire is not a choice. What is at issue is if homosexual desire ought to be condemned.

“Homosexuality is condemned by the mainstream of all the world's religions”

True – at least as far as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (branches from the same intolerant tree) are concerned, but given that homosexual behaviour is a minority activity the majority of any mainstream religion is by definition not going to be homosexual. That there is hostility to homosexuality amongst the mainstream is hardly in dispute.

“Religious belief is central to the conservative vision”

True, but only if you interpret the phrase “religious belief” so widely that it (almost) ceases to have any meaning.
Most adherents to the “conservative vision” in the UK for example are not Christians. Nor does it follow that they are not conservatives because they do not adhere to your justification of conservatism.

“Hostility to religion is central to Marxism”

True, but it is no accident that Marx was Jewish. Marxism is eschatological and redemptive. By the way nearly every Marxist inspired regime that has come to power has persecuted homosexuals. Kruschov for example wanted them to be all executed.

“Libertarianism is not conservatism, it's just egocentricism”

True (if by Libertarianism you mean that freedom is the supreme end) but it is also true that belief in the importance of having a free society is central to conservatism.

“Sexual revisionism is…central to the secular socialist vision”

True, but it does not follow that secularism is tolerant of homosexual behaviour.

“conservative political philosophy, as articulated by Burke…has a Christian vision at the heart of it.”

True, but Burke is only one articulation of conservatism. Indeed the assumption that you can only be a conservative if you are a Christian is sheer bigotry!

“Banish the Christian faith and you will cut off the bough Europe rests upon. The corrosion of Christian faith is the fundamental reason why conservative politics have failed to revitalise Europe in the past generation and more”

True, but Europe has only been Christian for two thousand years. If you are seeking to build the future of Europe on that clapped out creed you are doomed to disappointment.

“The Gramscians in control of education, social services and the media have continued their century-long campaign against Christianity, even using Islam as an ally, in a new version of the von Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.”

True, but it does not mean that we should aspire to return to the Christian Middle Ages either.

“Conservatism entails a critical belief in the inherited wisdom of the past”

True, note the word “critical”. My critical faculties tell me that belief in a risen Christ is a load of old cobblers.

“Suspicion of ideology (which is really…secularised theology…)

True, but it does not follow that your theology is the right theology. They fought wars of religion over this sort of thing, so thank God (so to speak!) for secular politics.

“preference for the 'small platoons' of life (family, church, schools, voluntary associations) as the primary locus for human fellowship and development, rather than an overweening State that regulates, controls us and ultimately owns its citizenry.”

True, but the sort of freedoms protected by the legal framework of a civil society is also an important part of the mix.

“grounded on a suspicion and fear of people who believe in.. the inherent perfection of human beings”

True, but I would include those who claim to have (believe that they have) a hotline to the will of God.

“rewarding merit, encouraging self-reliance, extolling loyalty, hard work, personal integrity, public service, thrift”

all of which are nurtured by the free market extolled by those wicked libertarians.

“Is Andrew Sullivan a 'conservative'? I wonder if his homosexuality has not become the organising principle in his life.”

Along with his Christian beliefs of course.

“If you give homosexuality legal patronage ('rights'), then logically you must do the same for consensual polygamy (& consensual adult incest).”

Balderdash! It depends on the reasons why the State is awarding those rights. As you pointed out homosexuality is sterile. Both polygamy and incest may result in children. You may judge that polygamy and incest are not in the best interests of the child. There is therefore a logical difference.

“I never said Dalrymple was a Christian. That doesn't stop him getting a few things right. (See how broadminded I am!)”

If you think that is broad minded you reveal yourself as a bigot. To condemn homosexual behaviour because some writings you hold sacred (writings which also condemn all sorts of other behaviour which I am sure even you would find it absurd to condemn is (in my eyes) truly pathetic.

In a free society however I am content to let you express and practice your beliefs so long as they do not seek to undermine my liberty to express (for example) my the belief that Jesus (who the gospels tell us never had a girlfriend and was very fond of Mark) had (but admittedly does not seemed to have acted upon) homosexual desires, or my belief that if he had acted upon those desires he would probably have been a much happier man, although probably not the founder of a world religion. These liberties have been hard fought for, and so have the liberties of homosexuals. I appreciate that burning homosexuals at the stake (or whatever is thought to be the appropriately pious action) is not what is being discussed here, but I do not regard the fact that there has been a long history of persecution of homosexuals as evidence in SUPPORT of Peter Hitchens.

Twig said...

It's the liberal elite that are the "wolves in sheep's clothing". They use political correctness as a weapon against their detractors. They create victim groups in order to divide us, don't fall for it Iain.