There was a time when one could get one’s self quite literally killed for saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, in the wrong company. As High Priest John son-of-Cleese found, quite painfully, in the historical drama ‘Life of Brian.’ In that re-enactment of real life events from the time of Jesus, John Cleese gets stoned, in a painful, rather than pleasurable, way, simply for uttering the word “Jehovah.”
The period of history to which this documentary refers is that time known to us as “ancient.” This was an historical epoch in which the mob ruled, offenders against the state were impaled on cross beams, and people really were put to death simply for saying things that were deemed to be highly offensive to someone’s sensitivities… Oh, and what did the Romans ever do for us anyway? Apart from the roads, the aqueducts, law and order, and you know how the rest goes…
One might reasonably have thought we had moved on from all of that in the early 21st century, and indeed we have. The public stoning one receives these days for offending some over delicate type of non Anglo-Saxon appearance is, in these enlighthened times, only metaphorical, and carried out by an unseen mob using Twitter, and other forms of social media.
Once the offence taking starts, it’s unlikely to stop there, not until some form of punishment is exacted for the social sin of uttering a word, a phrase, or even a tongue in cheek throw away line, that offends the politically correct wowser brigade. Egged on by socialist students with metaphorical rocks in their hands, and Greens politicians pulling faces like a patient undergoing a colonoscopy, the Twitterati will not stop until the offender’s reputation and livelihood has been crushed. Like the religious fanatics of the past, the present day heresies of homophobia, islamophobia, alleged misogyny, climate change scepticism, racism, ageism, and on it goes, are never tolerated by the ‘enlightened’ zealots of Generation Z(ombie). In the good old days, there were appropriate physical punishments like flaying alive, the rack, and burning at the stake, but today’s zealots have to make do with public shaming, hashtag campaigns, and unlimited access to public broadcasters.
But things may be looking up for the new Puritans. The excellent online magazine Spiked has recently drawn attention to the case of British opinion-giver Katie Hopkins who, as Spiked delightfully puts it, was recently detained by British police for having an opinion.
So be careful what you say. The thought police are on the beat. Someone is listening. Someone is watching. The keyboard warriors and enemies of personal freedoms and free speech are poised at their smart phones and ipads and laptops, just waiting to take offence. And, increasingly, the resources of the State, fuelled by the legislative stupidity of the rights industry, are being invoked and used to enforce the politically correct orthodoxy that so chokes us, both as individuals and society. Whereas the police once walked beats, arrested those who would do us actual and physical harm, and investigated tangible crimes, now they are apparently interested in what we say, the opinions we express, and especially the words we might use.
What was it Voltaire, (or perhaps his biographer,) once famously said, at the height of a now distant epoch that was once called the Enlightenment ? – ‘I don’t agree with what you said but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ Something like that anyway. Yeah, right, you silly French geezer! The Twitter educated guardians of public order and decency today know so much better than some middle aged boozer wearing a horse hair wig. The cry of today’s keyboard warrior is – ‘I don’t agree with what you said and I’m going to persecute the hell out of you until you can’t say it anymore.’
Even so, we’re sure it’s still safe to say “Jehovah” after a satisfying evening meal accompanied by a pleasing shiraz – for now, anyway. So go ahead citizens, say “Jehovah” as much as you like, while you still can.