The Mail is a contrary beast. Some days it mourns the decline of civility, the next it opens our minds to the dark tyranny that civility truly is:
“We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the ‘Gay Pride’ parade passes by.”
Quite. It’s like Ceauşescu all over again, only this time he likes same-sex couples, not statist command economics. I must say though, I missed that memo (I assume I was out binging and stabbing the elderly). I thought the most that was ever demanded of me was not to be rude. And, to be fair, that was never really a demand, that was an upbringing supported by the idea that I’d be happier if people got on with me.
This is not a thought that is alien to ‘Peter’¹ – he doesn’t like rudeness either:
“You think I exaggerate the power and fury of these forces? The totalitarian rage on this subject is quite astonishing. I have had several brushes with it, and been called rude names by its militants.”
Now name calling is almost always wrong. At best, it’s an unwelcome mirror (and we should consider whether ‘unwelcome’ is wrong on a case by case basis). Presumably ‘Peter’ would prefer the basic respect owed to him as an individual – the consideration of treating him as an equal. At the very least, this would involve extending the courtesy he would expect for himself, or a reason why such courtesy should not be extended. In short, civility and civil rights.
We couldn’t say, for example, Daily Mail writers are just not as good as the writers for other newspapers merely by virtue of their set membership, therefore ‘Peter’ shouldn’t be allowed to wear cuff-links. That would be a non sequitur following on from an initial unfounded belief². While we’re talking about unfounded belief, ‘Peter’ might rightly accuse me of prejudice, given that I’m adducing no evidence for disliking Mail journos apart from a general gut feeling. Whether ‘Peter’ would want to call me on that would depend on whether he wanted to wave the mirror at me, and whether he thought I’d see myself in it if he did.
For ‘Peter’ to hop up and down, as so many have in the Mail recently, over the grandparents at the center of this story is to obfuscate and avoid the issue. We can imagine the scenario involving a straight couple and the story not existing. We would have no complaints about “this demand, that they mouth approval of the new regime like the defendants at some show trial” as their grandchildren are brought up by strangers because they are considered too old and too infirm to be entrusted with the care of a vulnerable child. The problem they have is not that grandparents are always better than strangers. It’s that gay couples are never as good as grandparents, even if those grandparents wouldn’t be as good as a straight couple according to the rules for adoption as they presently stand. Unfortunately for ‘Peter’, either he’s going to have to justify that belief, or live with me being rude and calling him a bigot. It’s not totalitarian, he doesn’t have to like it, he just has to accept that until he’s justified his position, I’m going to assume it’s mere prejudice and ignore it for practical purposes.
¹ I assume that ‘Peter’ wants us to call him by a name he’s comfortable with, which is why I’m putting it in inverted commas.
² Or, at best, no non sequitur and two unfounded beliefs, but I think the belief that lesser writers can’t do justice to cuff-links, even if they have help dressing from better writers, is one that is generally accepted. At least, by anyone not aware of the evidence to the contrary. Which is all lies anyway. But I digress.