A slow-burn bonfire of liberties

Here’s what you get when the state hauls nobodies off to jail for quoting the Bible

Mark Steyn
Macleans.ca
5/13/2010

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Suzanne Plunkett/ Reuters

…As I always point out in retailing the latest idiocy from Canada’s “human rights” fanatics, none of the above are “right-wing” in any sense that Steyn or Rumsfeld or Cheney would recognize the term. Mrs. Duffy is a lifelong Labour voter; Mr. Newman is one of those pox-on-all-their-houses types; the property company that fired Mr. Nicholson is so wretchedly politically correct it employed him as “Head of Sustainability,” a title of near parodic bogusness. Yet all fell afoul of Lord Justice Laws’ “irrational, divisive, capricious, arbitrary” laws. Because it’s hard not to. Because once you establish the principle that the state has the right to police ideas, sooner or later one of yours will catch their eye…

…The statists justify this on the grounds of what Lord Justice Laws calls “public tranquility”—a phrase that rings very hollow in contemporary Britain. In his last years of office, Tony Blair used to fret about “social disintegration.” You can see what he means in the Hogarthian depravity of not just decayed urban centres but leafy villages and prosperous suburbs. His response, of course, was the effete smack of socially progressive authoritarianism: ever more government micro-regulation of public discourse, until we reach the surreal point where the gay outreach officer arrests the Christian for causing distress to the gay outreach officer. In truth, the Big Blairite Brother, like Nanny Lynch in Canada, incentivizes identity-group grievance, frivolous victimhood, and social atomization. Meanwhile, aggressive, confident identities can drive a coach-and-horses through the PC flower beds: the remorseless feasting of Islamic polygamy on the Eurowelfare gravy train is only one example of how feeble “rational” secular statism proves in the face of a minority that has its number.

As for the “balancing act” that Professor McCrudden urges between individual rights and broader responsibilities, only a truly free people have the incentive even to seek it. The more you haul nobodies off to the cells for putting up a poster or quoting the Bible, the more a timid conformist populace will keep its head down, mind its own business, and avoid broader social engagement—or at any rate non-alcohol-fuelled engagement. Big Government is dismantling civic identity, and the slow-burn bonfire of liberties in Europe and North America will eventually consume us all.

The entire article is at Macleans.ca

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