Two stories relating to so-called hate crimes have cropped up recently. The first came from The Guardian on Saturday in which they reported that Police in England and Wales Consider Making Misogyny a Hate Crime. Just as racial, religious, disability and LGBT+ motivated assaults and the like have all been categorised as hate crimes, so now gender motivated crime (or, at least, that committed against women) is to be added to the list.
The issue here is quite basic: why should an assault motivated by any of these things be treated differently to an assault for any other reason? Call me old fashioned, or naive if you will, but is not being violently battered in the street or aggressively abused just as unpleasant to those who perceive no underlying reason nor who fit the categories apparently deemed hateful (even though such action surely always is)? In short, why should a punch in the face be deemed more palatable if it is delivered into the face of a white, heterosexual male who believes they were attacked for no apparent reason?
What is rather worse is that this new categorisation means ‘women can report incidents that might not be considered a crime and the police will investigate’. The same applies to all categorised under the “hate” banner. But this begs the question why something otherwise not considered a crime becomes worthy of investigation simply because the person reporting it perceived they were targeted because of something about their inherent person for which the perpetrator didn’t care? Thus a perception that a man making derogatory comments about a women – unpleasant and unkind as that may be – is deemed a hate crime even though no non-verbal behaviour was involved, no threat took place and the man may have had a grievance that bore no relevance to gender.
The categorisation of hate crimes means that which is otherwise not criminal may be treated as though it is. It means the perception of the one reporting to the police takes precedent over the intention of the one being reported. Once again, if one is subjectively offended and truly believes an individual was addressing them based on who they are (whether true or not), a hate crime has been committed. It means mere words, even if there is clearly no inherent threat of violence and no perceived danger to the individual, can be investigated as a criminal matter. It particularly makes a mockery of the principle that all are equal before the law, for some will receive greater punitive recourse simply because they perceived some hateful words against their person.
Would it not make more sense to simply return to assault simply meaning assault (which does include language by which a genuine fear of physical harm is conveyed)? This way the reason for assault is deemed irrelevant, that assault actually took place is the main issue. Likewise, unless genuine fear of physical harm is at hand, words – no matter how unpleasant, unkind and unwholesome – should not be criminalised. Certainly criminality should not be determined by the subjective perception of the one taking exception to the words. It all just feels one step further down the road to the unilaterally imposed cultural orthodoxy of thought and speech by the ruling liberal elites.
A case in point is the second story that arose over the weekend. Last Monday, Vicky Beeching wrote an article in The Guardian in response to Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, openly stating that he is gay. This is well within Beeching’s wheelhouse, who has made it her personal mission to convince all that practising homosexuality and active Christianity are entirely biblically compatible. Of course, she is perfectly entitled to make the case whether we agree or not. What seems unfortunate is that the alternative view seems to be verboten.
The Archbishop Cranmer blog wrote a perfectly reasonable, quite credible, rebuttal to Beeching’s piece in The Guardian. He queried Beeching’s assumptions about calling to pastoral ministry and offered a slightly more nuanced view about the Bishop of Grantham on this basis. As you would expect from a theological conservative, he did not exactly affirm with gusto the the ordination of practising homosexuals (maintaining the orthodox teaching of the church and The Church). It was an alternate view that, though daring to swim against the tide of the cultural zeitgeist, is both orthodox and in line with the vast majority of British public attitudes right up to the last 30 years.
Step forward Jayne Ozanne:
His Grace has written an erudite and reasoned reply which you can read here. Particularly, he comments:
According to Jayne Ozanne, the post on Vicky Beeching and vocation was ‘hate’, pure and simple. Vicky Beeching herself called it an “attack“, which is odd, because reasoned argument about an issue isn’t personal attack at all. But perhaps even that observation constitutes an attack? Maybe to disagree with a deeply-held view is to attack? So all must now agree, or else it’s ‘hate’?
“It took a lot of vulnerability to talk about why I’ve never become a priest,” Vicky Beeching explained. To be clear, then, she was feeling fragile and vulnerable, so she wrote an op-ed piece for the Guardian? So a few hundred quid mitigated her fragility and vulnerability? Is it ‘hate’ to ask these questions? Do they constitute an “attack”?
Why should a provocative piece purposely placed in the Guardian – in which the Church of England is maligned as damaging to people’s well-being, and the Archbishop of Canterbury smeared with duplicity – be considered immune from critique? Is it that Good Disagreement can only happen when “attack” is not perceived? Whose threshold of feeling should then obtain? What if no personal attack was intended, but one is felt?
Why should Vicky Beeching feel free to attack the Church of England, which is people, but feel “sad” when her attack on them is met with counter defence? Why should she feel free to attack Justin Welby for issuing a statement which is “less progressive than it first sounds”, but object to a counter affirmation of moral orthodoxy, or the mere questioning of why the Archbishop should need to be progressive on this matter at all? Or is it that not to be progressive is to ‘hate’? So all conservative/traditionalists become “abusive and vile“?
And thus it seems to be. Hate is subjective and a matter for criminal investigation. Indeed, even those matters which might otherwise not be considered criminal may be investigated by police. Apparently, it is now truly subversive – even hateful – to assent to that which the church has deemed true and proper for some 2000 years. Save for the last 50 years, even the cultural majority was with the church. It is only in the last 30 years, the church has considered it necessary to even discuss the issue such was the conclusion drawn deemed self-evident.
If it is now unacceptable to even voice alternative views, how can rational discussion ever take place? What is the point of the Church of England “shared conversations” if, indeed, only one view within the conversation is permitted? It sounds rather less like a discussion and more like a diktat. It is the irony of the so-called progressive liberals who refuse to tolerate that which does not conform to their narrow view of the way things ought to be.
Let’s be clear: hate cannot be criminalised without a determined desire to criminalise thoughts and the expression of alternate point of view does not amount to hate, even if it does not accord with cultural mores. If discussion is ever to thrive, we really really ought to stop this nonsense.
Very well said. The principles of freedom of speech and equality before the law have been eroded to a truly alarming degree. We must stand up for the voices of those we disagree with, as Noam Chomsky put it:
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
Thanks for your comment – naturally, I agree.
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