One day Stagecoach were sponsoring the Turner Prize, the next day they weren’t. Why did the prestigious arts award eschew the generous offer of money from the transport company? Because the chairman of Stagecoach’s parent company, Sir Brian Souter, is a conservative who has recently been active in opposing LGBT teaching in schools. He also once opposed the repeal of Section 28 (a 1988 law which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools).
Our cultural elites are becoming less and less tolerant of socially conservative views, especially on sexuality. Anyone suspected of ‘homophobic’ views – by which they mean any kind of disapproval of same-sex relationships – is being hunted down and purged from public life.
Homophobia was one of the main charges against Roger Scruton. In celebrating his part in getting him sacked George Eaton tweeted that Scruton was a ‘racist and homophobe’ – though Scruton in fact is clear that he does not regard homosexuality as a ‘perversion’. Tim Farron was hounded for possibly holding conservative views on gay sex. Rugby Union England player Billy Vunipola was punished in April for tweeting support for Australian rugby player Israel Folau, himself sacked for tweeting Christian views on sexuality.
The message is unmistakable: don’t expect to hold conservative views on sexuality, even less to voice them, and expect to hold onto a job in the public eye. You are not welcome here.
The same goes for other conservative views, as Noah Carl discovered this week when the University of Cambridge terminated his fellowship for daring to question progressive orthodoxy on the role of genetics in human diversity.
This is a new orthodoxy, a new Test Act typically expressed in statements of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ to which all public figures and academics must express allegiance. Dissent will not be tolerated.
What happened to tolerance? The answer is that tolerance for many post-1960s progressives was only ever really a demand for conservatives to loosen their moral standards and be more permissive in things which supposedly didn’t affect them personally. It was a left-liberal idea with built-in left-liberal bias: tolerance for things which liberals wanted permitting, intolerance for the ‘hate’ of conservatives who still held on to reservations or objections to them.
Tolerance for the Left is typically a one-way street. That’s why the mobs mobilise to skewer Scruton for uttering the word ‘tribes’ when describing how a country might feel about mass immigration. Yet no such outrage is found for, say, Peter Tatchell, who is well-known to be an apologist for sex with children – yet is wheeled out by the BBC to express how ‘disappointed’ he is at Stagecoach’s involvement in the Turner Prize. Philanthropist conservative called out by apologist for child abuse – that’s our society’s idea of progress.
Meanwhile, Facebook has continued its war on its conservative users, banning a number of well-known personalities. In justifying its latest purge it explained: ‘We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate’.
Not just violence, note, but hate. Where, though, does reasonable disagreement (albeit strongly expressed) end and ‘hate’ begin? Wherever the Social Justice Warriors at Facebook decide it does, of course. Got a problem with that? Then expect a call from PC Plod – PC in more ways than one.
The progressives are tightening their grip on power and chasing conservatives from the public square. They regard conservatives as a big part of what’s wrong with our society. In the House of Lords recently, Labour peer Lord Liddle commended the government for standing up to the ‘forces of social conservatism,’ which he says are ‘still far too strong in our society.’
Such people appear to think that the only reason their crazy schemes of social engineering don’t work is because conservatives are there, convincing people there are problems that don’t exist. If only the conservatives can be silenced, they think, then multiculturalism will work like a dream, children will thrive whatever their family background, and no one will ever be bullied or suffer with emotional or mental problems. Conservatives aren’t raising problems, they believe, they’re creating them.
This progressive delusion is perhaps the single biggest threat to our society, because it is an internal rot that cripples it and prevents it properly recognising and addressing all its other problems. If our civilisation is not to enter terminal decline there needs to be a turnaround, and soon.
The first step must be to restore our basic freedoms of speech and association and protect them from the censorious mob. Sadly, there seems little chance of that under the current government, which is most frequently to be found at the head of the crowd, pitchfork in hand.