Dave, leader of the ‘Heather has two Mommies’ Party…

As Alone in the Dark was on hiatus for a couple of months I thought I’d trawl back through some of columns and articles written in The Mail during that time to see if there was anything worthy of note. Well, there’s quite a bit and as we’re still fighting our way through the silly season, it seems as good a time as any to bring one of these up and have a chat about it. Who better then to start with than Mr. Peter Hitchens who, back at the beginning of July brought his this little joyful piece regarding his views on the Conservative Party and its new relationship with the LGBTQ community.

Peter begins by listing all the things he thinks the Conservative Party should apologise for. Let’s have a look shall we?

  • Privatising the railways
  • Joining the Common Market
  • Loading the police with paperwork
  • Devastating the Armed Forces with cuts
  • Introducing the GCSE
  • Flattening half of British industry by accident in the early Eighties
  • Failing to oppose the Iraq War
  • Sacking the brave miners of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire who defied Arthur Scargill’s bullying mobs
  • I could go on….

So could I Peter and I shall… I’d actually agree that we could use apologies for some of these things from the Tories. The privatisation of the railways has been a disaster although I’d be intrigued to see how Peter would respond to a government take over, especially if it upped his tax rate. The Conservatives have never been anti-war so why Iraq should have been any different is beyond me. The treatment of the miners from the removal of their jobs to the brutal attacks by police is horrific especially as the government failed to create any viable alternative employment.

However, for some reason, Peter has missed a few other things off this list for which personally, I’d like to hear the word sorry uttered by someone on the blue benches.

  • Being drawn into a war in the Falklands over land we neither needed nor used in any particular way.
  • The stigmatisation of single mothers, working class persons, teachers and immigrants throughout the 1980s.
  • The removal of funding from classrooms across the country.
  • The cutting of funding for the NHS.
  • The constant harping on about moral and family values whilst many Tory MPs got involved in sex, money and drug scandals.
  • Allowing public hysteria to stamp on freedom of speech in the video nasty debacle.

Oh… and Section 28. Surely that piece of hateful prejudicial legislation is something that definitely deserves an apology isn’t it Peter?

Peter?

David Cameron journeyed specially to a ‘Gay Pride’ event to kowtow to the sexual revolution and simper: ‘We got it wrong. It was an emotional issue. I hope you can forgive us.’

Forgive them for what? Section 28 resulted from a fuss over the appearance of books aimed at children, intended to spread the view that single-sex couples could bring up children without any disadvantage to those children.

I still remember the titles: ‘Jenny Lives With Eric And Martin’ and ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’.”

A fuss. Well, that is one word for how it came about. The original catalyst came from a well know newspaper (guess which) that published an article in 1983 regarding the two books Peter so helpfully named. The paper claimed that these books were promoting homosexuality as the ‘new’ lifestyle and were part of a campaign for the abolition of the family. Within a matter of years, thanks to the hard work and dedication of MP, Jill Knight plus other prominent Conservative party members, Section 28 was introduced in parliament and after a few attempts was included as an amendment for the 1988 Local Government Bill and became law on 24th May 1988.

Using this clause it was now technically possible to make sure councils, teachers and public figures could not attempt to promote homosexuality or (as they were referred to) ‘alternative sexual lifestyles’. At one point the National Union or Teachers tried to claim that it only impacted on councils and not on the schools themselves (in what I assume was a bid to remove themselves from the murky prejudicial waters the law had gotten them into) but this was quickly overruled, once again by Jill Knight who said.

“This has got to be a mistake. The major point of it was to protect children in schools from having homosexuality thrust upon them.”

So the UK which had openly gay and lesbian figures on TV and several openly gay men in the higher echelons of the political arena was suddenly in a position of wondering what it could and couldn’t say about sexuality to children.

Peter however, didn’t and still doesn’t see this as much of a problem.

“Less than 25 years ago, only revolutionaries such as Ken Livingstone endorsed this sort of thing.”

I.E. Talking to children about sexuality.

“Mainstream politicians and newspapers alike were as doubtful about it as most people still are in their private thoughts.

Nowadays, opinion formers and MPs have been scared into conformity, and the unhappy majority have learned to keep quiet about their concerns, for fear of the Thought Police.”

Oh those pesky Thought Police, they do cause Peter problems don’t they getting into his brain and mooching through his private thoughts about what we should really do with immigrants and the political party he’d really like to see running the country. Except I would like to believe that people aren’t supportive and open about LGBTQ issues now because they have been forced to be. I’d like to believe it’s because they’ve realised it’s something that affects millions upon millions of peoples lives, it’s something that is part of people from the day they are born and to try and oppress others because of their sexuality is just the same as any other form of bigotry and hatred even when wrapped up in a nice numbered clause.

Who a person does and doesn’t sleep with providing it is consensual has nothing to do with the government or restricting the rights of that person. I wonder how blasé Peter would be regarding Section 28 had he had a gay or lesbian child during the 80s or 90s in the UK.

“This supposedly wicked law was little more than an expression of opinion by Parliament.”

Well this is an interesting point because it seems whenever Parliament now pass laws based on their ‘opinion’… banning fox hunting, banning smoking indoors, allowing a dying man to return to his country before his sentence, Peter get’s very upset about it. Why then should this opinion be allowed to impact on peoples lives and the others not? Personally, I don’t think parliament should have opinions per se. It’s there to reflect and respect the will of the people and I would hope by 2009, the will of the people would not be to ignore sexuality and LGBTQ issues and prevent children from learning about them to help create a culture of understanding and respect. Anyway, back to Peter…

“Nobody was ever prosecuted under its provisions. Try as they may, the homosexual liberation movement have never produced evidence of any martyrdoms resulting from it.

What they still hate about it is that it was the last stand of those in British politics who were not cowed into silence or acquiescence by the sexual revolution.”

Was there a sexual revolution? History suggests that there have always been a myriad of sexualities in cultures for thousands of years and it’s just depended on how liberal and open that society is as to which of them can be expressed. This so-called ‘sexual revolution’ didn’t make more gay men and lesbian women, it just allowed them to come forward and express themselves for who they were. People don’t hate section 28 because it was about non-conformity, they hate it because it was about prejudice, fear and bigotry.

Oh and whilst Peter is correct in saying no-one was ever prosecuted. There were a few trials brought to court under the legislation and, had the law not eventually been repealed, it’s possible someone could have been prosecuted because of it. Here’s my favorite line of the article.

“That way, there is no chance that the stable married family, or the society it supported, can ever come back.”

Yes, that’s right, that’s what all the gays want isn’t it Peter. When they’re not on telly and in movies, Ian McKellan and Stephen Fry and Graham Norton and Sue Perkins and Sandi Toksvig are all sat in a room working out how best to destroy the ‘traditional’ nuclear family. Believe me Peter, when us queer folk get together (I myself am bisexual) we talk of nothing else than making sure all Fathers are shot as soon as they’ve procreated and all children are brought up as screaming queens. It’s ever so much fun!

Sorry, where were we? What Peter and many of his colleagues at the Mail don’t seem to understand at all is that Stonewall and it’s members are not out to take something away from straight people. This is a tired argument and the same that is brought up against gay marriage:

“But it’s destroying the concept of marriage…”, people say. Well, no it isn’t. It’s just allowing MORE people to get married. Surely that is actually building up the concept of marriage? If more people are doing it? It’s actually more popular? Is this a bad thing? Am I talking to myself again?

Section 28 was there to appease the homophobia and bigotry that was institutional in many MPs in the Conservative Party (and, let’s be honest other political parties too). Through apologising, David Cameron is putting that piece of the party’s past behind them and moving forward without the prejudicial undercurrent. Whether this is a genuine move or one to get votes is another matter but I think the sentiment is important. Peter seems so terrified of this ‘other’ world that appears to be encroaching on the ‘nice’, ‘safe’ one he’s built for himself.

He is sort of right though, the days of a society which believed that “one man-one woman” married families could be the only path to stability is long behind us and I sincerely hope it never, ever comes back. We are past it and Peter needs to get past it too.

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And if you thought WPCs in burqas were ridiculous

If you’re going to start somewhere, it may as well be with the big guns. Richard Littlejohn has decided to explore gender identity in the police force. Let’s see what he found out.

From the title onwards, this article makes two basic and intrinsically incorrect assumptions.

Firstly, it assumes that “You”, as in “Me” or rather as in “Everyone” thought the idea of WPCs in burquas was ridiculous. I will be honest and say I’ve never really considered the matter but if I were to make a personal (and totally impulsive) judgment call, I’d say as long as the dress wear doesn’t interfere with the job, then it’s all fine by me but obviously there is a police uniform for a reason. Interestingly, when I went back to look at the article in question, it had nothing whatsoever to do with Muslim women in the police force wanting to wear burquas while on duty. It was, as Richard himself states in his opening paragraph:

“three soppy policewomen in Sheffield had kitted themselves out in full burqas and gone shopping, so they could empathise with fundamentalist Muslims.”

Now, he makes sure to get his opinion across whilst stating this fact with the words “soppy” and “fundamentalist” because, as we are all aware, only someone with the bleeding heart of Jesus himself would ever dream of trying to understand another culture by adopting their style of dress and, more importantly, it is only fundamentalist Muslims who wear the burquas. You know, the ones who want to kill us all. This statement alone could fill a column by itself but we are here on other matters, so…

Secondly, it makes the assumption that transgendered persons are totally accepted in society with no issue and that their being in the police force is so common place that they have no need for a special interest group to support that. Of course, this argument wouldn’t matter either way to Richard as he makes it clear:

“As I wrote at the time, police officers should be defined by the uniform they wear, not the colour of their skin, their sexual inclination or their religious beliefs.”

You know what? Fine. Absolutely fine. Being in the police is a vocation, choosing to devote your time in the service of the law and the protection of society. When you’re doing your job, those features that are used to define you should not impact on that job to any significant degree or bias could easily slip in, a trait police officers must try to quell. That said, just because you’re out there, doing your job and not thinking about your race, religion, gender or sexuality does not mean that others aren’t thinking about it including the people you work with.

What Richard appears to miss time and again (or possibly just gloss over) is that interest and support groups aren’t there to champion one section of society over another. They’re not their to stage a coup or make everyone’s life harder or separate us into more boxes than we already have separated ourselves. They are certainly not there:

“serving only to foster a culture of division, grievance, permanent unrest and opportunism.”

They are there to make sure that those who ARE in a minority, whatever that may be are treated with the same respect and understanding as the majority treat one another.

Let’s step back for a minute and let Richard do some talking shall we?

“Every time I bring you one of these stories, I wonder where it will all end. Now I discover that there’s a National Trans Police Association, too.”

He goes on to repeat the mission statement from the NTPA website and then displays some high levels of ignorance, especially as he is writing an article on the topic. In response to the fact that whilst they list many types of gender identities, they do not go as far as to assume they have infinite knowledge and have added a caveat, somewhat like “and many more” but with much more tact, a trait Richard fails to emulate.”

“Note the ‘but not exclusively’. You might have thought that any outfit encompassing transgendered, androgyny and intersexuals (whatever the hell they are) had pretty much covered the waterfront.”

“The criteria is so widely drawn that, theoretically, it could also include centaurs, who are currently under-represented in the ranks of the Old Bill.”

“There appears to be no limit to the number of obscure subcategories the police can split themselves into.”

He says more along these lines but you can read that in the article yourself if you so wish. In these three statements alone Richard has shown his lack of knowledge regarding sexuality, mocked those with gender identity issues by comparing them with a mythical being and once again made the assumption that this is all about splitting the police into different groups, rather than supporting those people in the police who do not fit the ‘traditional’ majority mould.

This it would seem though is not his main problem. All the above has merely been leading up to the point were Richard could stand it no longer and just had to write of this new case of liberalism gone made

“An application for Home Office funding is sure to follow and is almost certain to be granted.

It can be only a matter of time before a transsexual officer sues for discrimination after being turned down for promotion or demands that the police funds his gender reassignment surgery.”

It’s not about gender, it’s not even about special interest groups or support teams. It’s about money. How much will it cost? Will he have to foot the bill? As Richard lives happily and permanently in Florida, I think that even if the police started offering gender reassignment surgery to the whole populace, it wouldn’t impact too much on his bank balance. He continues:

“No doubt I’ll be accused of stirring up ‘transphobic’ hatred. For the record, I have no more objection to transvestites forming a club than I do to philatelic societies. But it should be done in their own time and not at public expense.”

Well, I won’t be accusing Richard of anything today. What he is and isn’t guilty of is up to you. However, after demeaning most gender identities, he goes on here to ignore all transgendered people and just focus on transvestites. Actually, rethinking, what he’s really doing is LUMPING all transgendered people together and calling them transvestites. He seems to be under the impression that the desire to dress in clothing which is not traditionally assigned to your gender and to have the physical and mental issues that come with being born a sex you are unhappy with, to feel no attachment to either sex or to feel you inhabit several genders are the same thing. I’m sorry Richard, as years of research from institutes around the world will show you, they are not even remotely the same thing and some would say they are not even connected in any way other than both can sometimes influence the choice of clothing and of course, come under the umbrella heading of “Gender Issues”.

Oh and he also makes sure to mention the money thing again.

He tries to recover with some sense of understanding:

“I acknowledge that some people have gender ishoos and are entitled to understanding.”

Sorry, just a quick aside, I have never understood Richard’s prediliction for misspelling words he seems to have personal problems with. Perhaps it would be worth keeping a tally of how often he does this. Anyway, back on topic, he also tries to show how much he embraces equality:

“Recruitment and promotion should be solely on the basis of ability, not race, religion, gender or sexual proclivity. Everyone ought to be treated equally.”

But is quickly returned to his real point, you know, the money one…

“The time, money and effort wasted pandering to minorities with an exaggerated sense of entitlement is scandalous – especially when chief constables are whining they haven’t got the resources to keep police stations open and put bobbies on the beat.”

I’ve done a bit of reading around and can find very little terms of chief constables “whining” about resources. There has been the occasional closure of small police stations over the last few years and some articles on the shift of focus to patrolling in cars rather than by foot but nothing to suggest that the force is trying to eke out a meager existence to the point where it can’t finance the same support groups you will find in almost every business in the country. Perhaps I am misunderstanding him. Once again, he is assuming that this group has formed because transgendered people are trying to get one over on him rather than just making sure they are treated correctly.

As Richard rounds up, he can’t help but confuse transvestites with transgendered persons once more as well as purporting the idea that this is all a ploy to overthrow the police uniform as with his opening statement about burquas.

“…at this rate it won’t be long before a cross- dressing copper complains that his stockings and suspenders are chafing under his blue serge uniform and insists on being allowed to go on patrol in a leather mini-skirt and an Amy Winehouse wig.”

It’s unlikely that ANY officer would be allowed to wear the above items of clothing, no matter what their gender identity or religion. Richard cannot let go of his belief that special interest groups are somehow there to change physical things when mostly the only thing they ever change is peoples perceptions, usually for the better.

I am left wondering how many times in his life that Richard has felt like the outsider. How many times has he been in the minority and felt that he was being oppressed, ignored, bullied or negated? As a white, wealthy, middle class male I would hazard a guess that the feeling of loneliness and alienation is not one which often crosses Richard’s mind. I could be wrong of course, this is pure conjecture. Perhaps he is very lonely indeed.

Addendum:

Apologies but I realised I forgot to pass any comment on the lovely little cartoon that adorns Richard’s column this week. Actually, I forgot to comment on the hideously offensive massive cartoon that uses half the writing space. In and of itself, it’s a pretty standard and slightly inane newspaper drawing. When brought into context with the article however, once again, it is stereotyping all transgendered persons into one tired old cliché. I don’t know much about the eponomous “Gary” but I suggest that he, much like Richard, should catch up on some reading from Gender Matters before continuing to deconstruct this exact vein of sexuality.