Wednesday, January 30

The Rise of Mordor: Archbishop of Canterbury calls for criminalizing of inadvertently thoughtless speech

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for new laws to protect religious sensibilities that would punish “thoughtless and cruel” styles of speaking. ... The Archbishop ... said it should not just be a few forms of extreme behaviour that were deemed unacceptable, leaving everything else as fair game.

“The legal provision should keep before our eyes the general risks of debasing public controversy by thoughtless and, even if unintentionally, cruel styles of speaking and acting,” he said.
The response from Terry Sanderson, President of Britain's National Secular Society, evoked that of a sane, law-abiding man tossed in a prison for the criminally insane. See the article for his full statement but to get you in the ballpark:
“The Archbishop’s speech is, at base, self-serving and dangerously illiberal,” Mr Sanderson said. “We certainly hope that the Government is not now going to bring forward something even more extreme as a quid pro quo for abolishing blasphemy.”
For readers who have followed my posts on Section 13, I swear to you I did not make up the Archbishop of Canterbury just to pound home a point.

But yes, the kind of thinking that created Section 13 is not limited to Canada. And no, Rowan Williams doesn't care how many democratic rights have to be sacrificed in order to prosecute the kind of law he's proposing. And he doesn't care how many years in prison a citizen would have to serve for uttering thoughtless words in public, and hang what this does to a humane justice system.

Why doesn't Williams care? Because he belongs to a secret society -- well, it won't be secret after I publish this post -- dedicated to promoting a movement among the world's governments. The movement intends to vastly improve on multiculturalism policy in the area of maintaining social harmony.

The movement arose in response to many causes and conditions, several of which Mark Steyn addressed in the except from his book that Maclean's magazine published in 2006.

The upshot is that many governments are overwhelmed with the task of educating and assimilating vast numbers of immigrants or educating masses of the poor in their own country. As Steyn pointed out, multiculturalism and its appeal for tolerance are not strong enough glue to bind immigrants to their destination country.

Also, when officials instituted multiculturalism policy, in many cases they overlooked that it takes a certain level of education and intellectual development to appreciate it, as well as long exposure to the feedback loop. All of that is what many poverty-stricken immigrants don't have. Ditto for tribes in places like Kenya that are ripping each other apart.

As to how the secret society came about, one day two wonks were sitting around chewing peyote. I won't tell you their nationality because I've ragged on the British enough this month. Eventually, they turned to hashing over the many failures of multiculturalism policy to achieve desired levels of social harmony. From there, they fell into brooding about looming anarchy.

Finally one wonk exclaimed, "If appeals to tolerance won't work, why don't we just get everyone to shut up?"

Thus, the birth of the neo-Neanderthal movement. The working philosophy is the essence of simplicity: Five grunts in a row, okay, but closing in on ten you may be facing a prison term.

The truth about the archbishop is not as fun as my version. Williams is a hard-left Leftist who clearly has little patience with the complexities of democracy. Reportedly Williams was elevated to archbishop on the hope that a hard-core Leftist leader of the Anglican church would attract to the church people like himself, of which there seem to be many in Britain and around the world.

Yet it would be wrong to consider Williams mere window dressing. His position gives him a big public platform in Britain and globally, and access to the highest levels of government around the world.

Williams's ideas for how to head off social unrest, at the expense of many human rights, are indeed part of a growing way of thinking in many governments. However, there is nothing secret about it. Factions in many democratic governments are seeking to impose laws that greatly circumscribe what the citizen can communicate in public, and especially via mass media platforms.

But just how would the state go about investigating, charging and prosecuting for the crime of inadvertently saying something thoughtless or cruel? The same way any police state does things. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, behind every Rowan Williams is a thug in a cheap leather coat holding a gun on you.

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