Melanie Phillips

12 December 2005

Orwellian Britain

Published in: Daily Mail

Share |

During the programme, Ms Burrows said she did not believe that homosexuals should be allowed to adopt. Placing boys with two homosexuals for adoption, she said, was as obvious a risk as placing a girl with two heterosexual men who offered themselves as parents.

To her astonishment, the following day she was contacted by the police who said a 'homophobic incident' had been reported against her. She had committed no crime but, said the police, it was policy to investigate homophobic, racist and domestic incidents because these were 'priority crimes'. Such action was 'all about reassuring the community'. Far from being thus reassured, it is difficult adequately to express one's shock and abhorrence - not at Ms Burrows, but at the actions and attitudes of the police. What kind of a society has this become where, if someone expresses an opinion which falls foul of the politically approved doctrines of the day, the police start feeling their collar?

Freedom of speech is supposed to be the bedrock value of a liberal society. It should only be constrained in extreme circumstances where a crime may be committed, such as incitement to violence or encouraging terrorism.

In the case of Ms Burrows, no crime had been committed. It was simply that her views fell foul of the doctrine that to criticise the behaviour of self-designated victim groups is to be pronounced guilty of prejudice.

But Ms Burrows' views are shared by many people, maybe even the majority. While most are - thankfully - tolerant of gay people, they draw the line at gay adoption because they do not think it is in the best interests of children to be brought up by two partners of the same sex.

Ms Burrows, however, was raising the incendiary issue of the risk of paedophilia. She was careful to say that this was a risk among heterosexuals as well as among gay men.

But the issue of paedophilia is a troubling one in the context of gay adoption. The vast majority of homosexuals are not paedophiles, any more than are the vast majority of heterosexual men. But a small minority of both groups are.

Within those small numbers, however, academic studies show that paedophilia is proportionately more common among gay men. What's more, a number of gay activists talk it up - redefining it en route as 'inter-generational sex' - arguing that it is acceptable and even central to male homosexual life.

Clearly, it is a factor to be considered when it comes to adoption. It is simply outrageous if such entirely legitimate and necessary discussion is now to be made impossible. But then, the gay rights agenda is all about projecting gay lifestyles as no different from those of heterosexuals, so that any difference in the way gay people are treated can be ascribed to discrimination.

Consequently, it is not enough for gay people not to be stigmatised on account of sexual preferences which deviate from the norm. Instead, the very idea of moral norms has to be destroyed, and anyone who tries to uphold them can be vilified as a bigot and intimidated into silence.

That has now happened. To disapprove of gay lifestyles is to invite certain ostracism as a 'homophobe'. But if this isn't bad enough, we now find that voicing such opinions has become - incredibly -a matter for the police, who are putting state power behind such intimidation.

Although no offence has been committed, the police now believe they should investigate the giving of offence. In any sane moral universe, a person making such a complaint would be accused of wasting police time. But now - and remember, this is in the absence of any crime-it seems the police response is to make a menacing approach to the person who has voiced that opinion, to warn them off from voicing it again.

How have we descended to this, that while crime and disorder rage unattended in our streets the police are making a priority of harassing people because of the lawful opinions they hold?

The reason is that the police are now in helpless thrall to the 'victim culture' agenda in which self-designated victim groups cannot ever be deemed to have done anything wrong, and so anyone who disapproves of them is by definition prejudiced.

This is nothing less than a tool for destroying the fundamental values of this society by replacing its moral norms with values which transgress those norms. This is being achieved by portraying transgressive behaviour as normal, and anyone who dares say that it is transgressive is therefore by definition a bigot.

Such bullying is bad enough in the informal sphere where reputations are made and lost. When the police get involved, however, it becomes something very much more sinister.

We have already seen worrying evidence of this in the case of the evangelical preacher, Harry Hammond. After he held up a poster calling for an end to homosexuality, lesbianism and immorality, a crowd threw water and soil over him. Even though he was attacked, it was he who was prosecuted and convicted of a public order offence on the grounds that his behaviour 'went beyond legitimate protest'. Yet the only thing that seemed to be illegitimate was his opinion.

The term 'police state' is much abused. But when the police start intimidating people simply because their opinions don't fit the prevailing orthodoxy, that begins to look uncomfortably like a drift towards just such a situation.

The police are supposed to be the thin blue line that protects our society. But when they enforce an agenda which directly undermines our basic values, they turn from society's defenders into the agents of its nemesis.

The views expressed by Ms Burrows are commonplace among mainstream Christians and other faiths. We appear to have reached a situation where the expression of such mainstream religious views will now get the police breathing down one's neck.

What is even more astounding is that attempts by the Government to criminalise utterances which 'glorify terrorism' - and thus threaten our security - are being shouted down on the grounds that free speech has to be protected.

But not, it seems, when it comes to Ms Burrows. Look, for example, at the craven reaction of the BBC to the aftermath of its interview. Was it outraged by the fact that one of its contributors had been thus intimidated? It was not. Instead, it described her views as 'challenging and unpleasant' and distanced itself from her as fast as it could.

Some of us would defend to the death the rights of gay people to live their lives free of oppression and harm. But some of us would also defend to the hilt the fundamental values of our society against those who wish to destroy them to further an agenda of licence, gross irresponsibility and nihilism.

Those values to be defended include the freedom to voice an opinion and the freedom to tell the truth. If the police are now to be employed in denying such freedoms, we have reached George Orwell's nightmare of the boot stamping on the human face - and we can kiss goodbye to our liberal society.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography

Books

  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

Contact Melanie

Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie