Rape ain’t what it used to be

All those end-to-end Harvey Weinstein stories are losing novelty appeal, which is another way of saying I’m fed up with them.

Anyway, I’ve already said everything I could about Harvey’s boorish priapism and his critics’ emetic hypocrisy. Or so I thought.

However, the story of Lysette Anthony is so iconically typical of our time that it positively screams out for a comment.

As the actress tells the story, at first it followed your traditional rape scenario. Harvey perfidiously befriends Lysette in 1992. Harvey stalks Lysette. Harvey arrives at Lysette’s flat unannounced. Lysette naively lets Harvey in. Harvey rapes Lysette against the coat rack.

Lysette tried to fight Harvey off, but “Finally I just gave up.” Lysette then describes (too graphically for my taste) Harvey’s ejaculation, her own revulsion and her subsequent weeping in the bathroom.

So far so good, or rather so horrible. As classic a case of rape as one can imagine. If the crime leaves no hard evidence, it may be hard to prove in court, but it should definitely end up there.

But it didn’t. Lysette didn’t even call the police. “I thought I should just forget the whole incident… I was an idiot to think he and I were friends.”

Well, this is hardly a happy ending. In fact, it’s neither happy nor an ending, for Lysette continued to have consensual sex with Harvey for the next 10 (ten!) years.

Harvey would ring and “No one turned down an opportunity to meet Harvey Weinstein – no one.” Excuse me? This doesn’t sound at all like a rape victim speaking.

As a confirmed feminist with strong lesbian tendencies, I accept the widespread cri de coeur that rape is the worst possible fate a woman can suffer. Worse than being disfigured, having every bone in her body broken and becoming paraplegic as a result – worse even than death itself.

Fine. I understand, although I doubt I’d feel the same way if I were a woman. But hey, de gustibus… and all that.

And yet a victim of the most blood-curdling crime that could possibly be perpetrated against a woman continues to see her rapist voluntarily because she can’t turn down the opportunity. It’s as if someone maliciously swapped the script Lysette had been reading from.

The new script is all too familiar. Lysette would turn up at Harvey’s hotel suite, Harvey would appear in a dressing gown and demand a massage, followed by sex. “By then I’d just given up. I knew I was powerless…”

She wasn’t. Lysette could have gone to the police the first time. She could have avoided Harvey like the plague thereafter. She could have pasted the story of his criminality all over the papers. At the very least, she could have refused to have sex with that animal “until 2002, when he finally let go of me” – whatever the career ramifications.

She wasn’t powerless. She was – and remains – a cynical careerist whose current jumping on the bandwagon of Harvey’s accusers brands her as fully his moral equal. If Lysette’s story is true, Harvey comes out of it as a troglodyte rapist, while she’s a truly modern figure, plugged into the prevalent nauseating ethos.

Another emetic aspect of modernity is medicalising rotten behaviour. What’s that ‘sex addiction’ for which Harvey is getting treatment? If half the stories one hears about him are true, what Harvey needs isn’t therapy but surgery (unlike Lysette, I won’t go into the gory details).

Treating his criminal, or at best barbaric, behaviour as an illness effectively absolves him of personal responsibility. If he suffers from a medical condition, he’s no more guilty of beastliness than a Tourette’s sufferer is guilty of swearing in public.

These days, people are no longer stupidly irresponsible gamblers – they are addicted to gambling. They’re no longer revolting drunks – they suffer from dipsomania. They’re no longer brainless hedonists who use drugs to mask their complete absence of inner resources – they’re drug addicts.

And the most popular plea of innocence in court is “It’s all society’s fault, Your Honour”, closely followed by “The defendant had a tough childhood, he needs help”.

This whole nonsense only goes to prove the extent to which we’ve debauched history’s greatest civilisation based on the notion of free will. We’re free to choose between right and wrong. Some of us choose the former, some the latter, but in neither case do we relinquish our humanity – with all the responsibilities it entails.

 While we’re on the subject of sex, I don’t know about you, but I welcome the NHS diktat that from 2018 all questionnaires in GP surgeries will include a question about the patient’s sexual proclivity.

It’s not immediately clear how my shameful heterosexuality is relevant to the treatment I’m currently getting for a tennis injury, but that’s not the point.

I look forward to having some nice, clean fun filling those forms in. The possibilities for amusing myself (if no one else) are endless: “livestock and domestic pets”, “potted plants, Harvey-style”, “goslings, snapping their necks at the moment of truth to produce most satisfying internal contractions”, “corpses, provided they are female (I’m no pervert)”.

If anyone still thinks the NHS is about treating people, this idiocy proves that’s only its secondary purpose. Like all gigantic socialist Leviathans, whatever their pronounced purpose, the NHS is mainly dedicated to increasing state control all the way to absolute.

If the state does a lot for you, it’ll do a lot to you – to this law of nature there are no known exceptions.

Junk goes Dutch

As a lifetime student of language, I pay attention to how people use figures of speech, such as similes or analogies.

My observation is that, when they search for a telling comparison by way of illustration, the first thing that springs to their mind is something from their areas of expertise.

Thus, speaking of someone making a mistake, a musician is likely to say “he struck a false note”. A football coach, on the other hand, would probably opt for “he missed a sitter from five yards”, whereas a physician would probably prefer “he misdiagnosed the condition”.

The upshot of it is that the language people use gives a clue to their personality, experience and the kind of things they hold dear.

That’s why I find so elucidating what Jean-Claude Juncker (Junk to his friends) said about Brexit the other day. Fair’s fair, he explained. You’ve got to pay the bill before leaving.

That was the message, and it’s straightforward enough. But the way Junk worded this perfectly sound idea caught my eye:

“If you are sitting in a bar and ordering 28 beers and then suddenly one of your colleagues is leaving and is not paying, that is not feasible. They have to pay.”

Now, having drunk enough booze with Junk to float an aircraft carrier, I know he likes his jar. Usually his tipple of choice is single malt whisky, but he often perpetrates an indignity on that noble beverage by chasing it with a stein or two.

However, he doesn’t seem to be familiar with bar etiquette, which isn’t surprising. After all, Junk has spent most of his life on an expense account, so I don’t think he has ever been out of pocket when sinking toxic amounts of booze.

As a close friend, I don’t mind plugging this hole in his education.

Junk is referring to the situation of every drinker paying his share of the bill, or going Dutch as we say. That’s a fairly widespread arrangement, but not the only one.

For example, when I was a board director, I’d occasionally take my whole department out for a drink or lunch and pick up the whole tab afterwards. I’d then claim the amount on expenses, which is an arrangement Junk knows only too well.

On other occasions, I or a generous friend would buy a round of drinks for everybody present. The implicit understanding under such circumstances is that what goes around comes around: you pay today, I’ll pay next time, that sort of thing.

Now, true enough, sometimes people do go Dutch. If they all have drunk roughly the same amount, they divide the bill by the number of people, and each pays his share. If, on the other hand, one of the drinkers is Junk, his fair share would be more than all the others’ combined, for obvious reasons.

Now the analogy Junk used involves 28 drinkers sinking beers in a bar and going Dutch. For the analogy to work, each should pay 1/28th of the bill.

However, Britain has been paying at least twice her fair share since the EU was formed in 1992 (having retroactively prevented every European war that could have broken out before).

That means the drinks of one of the 28 are on us. But hey, we’re wealthier than, say, Romania, so we can afford it. By all means, let’s tell Romania to keep her wallet in her pocket.

But Junk isn’t just talking about Britain paying 1/14th of the bill today. He seems to want us to keep paying for the drinks the others will be consuming without us long after we’re gone.

In other words, he isn’t talking about going Dutch. We must coin another term to describe what he has in mind. May I suggest going EU?

‘Going EU’ isn’t at all like going Dutch – Junk’s analogy doesn’t work. ‘Going EU’ is more akin to a slave buying himself out of servitude. This is such a rare event that no going rate exists, and each slave pays for his freedom whatever price the master sets.

Or perhaps even that analogy is wanting. For the EU is demanding that the slave pay large amounts before the master even agrees to talk about the terms of his release.

“I’m not in a revenge mood. I’m not hating the British,” explained Junk. In fact, he quite likes us: “The Europeans have to be grateful for so many things Britain has brought to Europe, during war, after war, before war, everywhere and every time.”

That’s very good of him: if there’s one thing I hate, it’s ingratitude. But then came the clincher: “BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY!!!” Junk positively sounds like a tricky boozer who always claims to have left his wallet at home when the bill arrives.

Okay, forget drinking (Junk never does). Let’s go back to another analogy he favours, that of a divorce settlement.

I don’t know how many divorces Junk has been through, and on what grounds (him coming home every night pissed as a skunk?), but they don’t work that way either.

The two parties, or rather their lawyers, sit down and hold talks. As a result, one party (usually the husband) agrees to part with some part of his estate. Junk, on the other hand, is demanding a vast amount as a precondition for even opening the talks.

Otherwise, he says, “We cannot find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the UK are concerned.”

I’m eager to help, as I always am every time Junk can’t get home under his own steam after a night out. The real compromise is that we exit, bang the door and leave Junk stuck with the bill.

Or rather we’ve already paid, by financing Junk’s wicked employer disproportionately for decades. Londoners pronounce this word like ‘dickheads’.

And Junk? Don’t mention the war, there’s a good lad. Your German masters don’t like it.

Our lot should learn from Trump

The political establishment, both home and abroad, hates Trump, and the feeling seems to be mutual.

The president seems to reject modern pieties. He may be unaware of some, and those he knows he doesn’t like.

They are indeed unlikable, but perhaps it takes a look from the outside to see that. And Trump is an outsider to the establishment.

Consequently he’s attacked by all and sundry with unrelenting vehemence. Even if I didn’t know anything about him, I’d be well-disposed towards Trump simply on the strength of the kind of people who sputter saliva at the very mention of his name.

There are more substantive reasons too, but, before I go into those, my requisite disclaimers first.

Trump exhibits many traits I dislike. He’s vulgar, narcissistic, brash, tasteless, too prone to look at complex issues strictly in mercantile terms. He thus wouldn’t be my choice of a dinner guest, but I probably wouldn’t be his choice of a host either.

Then of course there’s the Russian connection, the role it might have played in Trump’s election, and the possible quid pro quo Putin expects. Nothing criminal has been proved, but even the facts we know make me uneasy. Blowing through my mind like a wind through a draughty room are words like ‘smoke’, ‘fire’ and ‘Manchurian candidate’.

Trump doesn’t go out of his way to allay such fears. It took resolute action on the part of Congress to stop him from lifting richly merited sanctions against Russia, and so far he hasn’t said one word against Putin. Since the president is hardly taciturn, such silence may not speak louder than words, but it does speak.

Having thus absolved myself of any suspicion of favourable bias, I admit I like most things Trump does. I also like the inspiration behind his policies: unconcealed contempt for everything held dear by the kind of people who in Britain would be Guardian readers.

His refusal to accept at face value the UN hoax of anthropogenic global warming is commendable, and his consequent pulling of America out of the Paris Agreement even more so.

Currently in the news, as targets of the establishment’s venomous diatribes, are two other policies: his refusal to countenance the Iran nuclear deal (without, alas, cancelling it altogether) and his withdrawal from UNESCO.

During his campaign, Trump described Obama’s Iran deal as America’s worst in history. The 1945 one in Yalta is right up there too, but the Iran deal is indeed rotten.

It opens the way for the mullahs to acquire nuclear weapons and, in a country where ‘Death to America!!!’ and ‘Death to Israel!!!’ have replaced ‘Hello’ and ‘Good morning’, this has to be prevented at all cost.

Trump is way too soft on one evil state, Putin’s Russia, but at least he’s reasonably firm on two others: North Korea and Iran. Yet displaying such firmness punches a hole through the sanctimonious fog of virtual reality emitted by the ‘liberal’ establishment.

And then Trump pulled America out of UNESCO. Again, I like not only the act, but also the motivation behind it. Trump doesn’t bother to conceal his contempt for multi-purpose international organisations, and they are indeed contemptible.

His gross mistake was to extend the same animus to NATO, which is neither multi-purpose nor really international. It’s purely a military bloc confined to Western countries or those aspiring to become Western.

Trump has said some silly things about NATO, although he had a point when complaining about America’s paying a disproportionate part of its budget. That’s a legitimate concern, although one could argue that pursuing ambitions of global leadership always tends to cost.

Anyway, either Trump has revised his views on NATO or at least he has been refraining from saying silly things about it. But his feelings about UNESCO – and no doubt the UN in general – are amply justified.

Actually, Trump’s decision simply puts an official stamp on the status quo. For the US and UNESCO have been going their separate ways since 2011, when Trump was still hustling Putin for property development contracts.

According to a US law, there can be no American funding for any organisation that accepts Palestinian territories as an independent member state. UNESCO did just that in 2011, thereby triggering the aforementioned law.

In 2013 the US lost its voting rights after missing several rounds of payments, and is now held to be in arrears. Hence Trump simply turned de facto into de jure.

On a broader issue, the US still pays 22 per cent of the UN’s budget, and plays host to that organisation’s headquarters. Unfortunately, even Trump isn’t brave enough to pull America out of the UN and expel it from New York.

But that would be a good idea. As a child of the League of Nations, the UN’s DNA includes an urge to create a world government, which is an old socialist dream. That’s why it consistently opposes the West, which isn’t yet completely socialist, if moving that way.

The inner sanctum of the UN, the Security Council, has five members, two of which are communist China and Putin’s kleptofascist Russia (née the Soviet Union). Its 10 non-permanent members currently include Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Senegal – a certain bias is evident, wouldn’t you say?

Essentially, all international organisations are useless and some are wicked, which is why our political establishments have a warm feeling of kinship for all of them.

The EU straddles both categories, useless and wicked, and hence it’s instructive to observe how our own establishment clings to it. Even those who are supposed to be institutionally committed to Brexit are trying to undermine it, and they don’t care how underhand their tactics are, or how idiotic the words.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond said the other day that we must prepare for ‘the worst case scenario’, such as that after Brexit there would be no more flights between Britain and the continent. He then generously allowed that such a development was unlikely.

Following the ensuing outcry, he swung to the other extreme by, inadvertently yet correctly, referring to the EU as an ‘enemy’. That’s like Hassan Rouhani describing Hezbollah the same way.

The political establishment is internationalist because it strives to increase the distance between itself and the people. This is both immoral and destructive, running as it does against the grain of traditional Western polity.

Knee-jerk internationalism is a virus Trump hasn’t caught specifically because he has never ventured into the infected area of the political establishment.

That’s why he has some healthy instincts, and our own politicians have much to learn from him. Not that they will, of course.

Bob, where is your brother Harvey?

If Hollywood is the distillate of modernity, Harvey Weinstein is the distillate of Hollywood. His whole affair is enough for anyone to fill a sick bag.

Harvey is the star of the unfolding sex scandal, taking up more column inches than the very distinct possibility of nuclear war. This stands to reason: bombs can only kill people, while the Harvey brouhaha exposes the evil of the modern ethos for what it is.

For make no mistake about it: Harvey comes out looking less vile than his accusers – or indeed his brother Bob.

This isn’t to say that I doubt for a second that Harvey is a scumbag. Even before we talk about his sexual indiscretions, the very fact that he’s a lifetime supporter of the Democratic Party is a sufficient qualification for that epithet.

But, as far as I’m concerned, he’s squeaky clean compared to his righteous, or rather self-righteous, accusers. Suddenly it appears that one letter has fallen out of the megalomaniac Hollywood sign to turn it into Holywood. This is about as emetic as hypocrisy can possibly get.

Consider the facts, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The defendant is a vulgar, oversexed upstart obsessed with power and money, who has made it to the top of one of the world’s most competitive industries.

His one word can turn into a major star an aspiring actress who supplements her income by serving drinks or, as is often the case, accepting gifts from gentlemen friends. Or, to take a less extreme situation, he can push an established but strictly B-movie actress over the cusp of stardom.

I’d suggest that any man fitting Harvey’s description above would behave in exactly the same manner, if perhaps favouring less direct methods of courtship.

But, as the cliché goes, it takes two to tango. For every Hollywood mogul dangling a role as bait, there have to be countless beauties gasping “I’ll do anything to get this part…” A swap of a roll in the hay for a role in a movie is par for the Hollywood course.

Genuinely talented actresses may or may not join this queue by way of a shortcut. But for every one of those, there are hundreds of pretty girls who are much of a muchness. They’re interchangeable for most parts available, and suggesting they wouldn’t use sex as an extra inducement would be presuming too much on human virtue.

So far we’ve heard from dozens of actresses who supposedly rejected Harvey’s heavy-handed advances. Only one admits to having had consensual sex with him months after the alleged rape attempt.

I’d like every one of the others to put her hand on her left breast (suitably bulging as per Hollywood’s job requirements) and swear that she has never advanced her career by sleeping with either Harvey or some other producer (agent, director, studio executive, co-star).

And even if they haven’t used sex in such a straightforward fashion, how many of them have done naked erotic scenes for the sheer purpose of indulging men’s onanistic fantasies?

A few years ago, a prankster asked Demi Moore: “If it wasn’t gratuitous in any way, and it was tastefully done, would you consider keeping your clothes on in a movie?” The same question could be addressed to many of Harvey’s accusers.

Harvey is 65 now, and he has been a powerful producer for at least 30 years. Since it’s a lamentable fact of nature that a man’s libido is stronger at 30 than at 60, one can safely assume that Harvey has been requesting massages all this time.

Now, Hollywood isn’t only one of the most competitive places in the world, but also one of the most scrutinised. It thrives on gossip and exposition, and it’s absolutely impossible that Harvey’s amorous pursuits haven’t been common knowledge for decades.

How come they’ve only now come to light? In fact, all those fighters for women’s rights stabbing fingers at Harvey have until now been avidly kissing his backside, even if they supposedly refused to kiss another part of his anatomy.

The papers are full of photographs of his beaming, half-naked would-be accusers wrapped around Harvey at various award shows. Why didn’t they denounce him then?

For the same reason they’ve cultivated their pouting sex appeal: career. When Harvey’s hold on power was secure, these sanctimonious hypocrites eagerly indulged in paying him labiogluteal tributes.

But then something happened to turn Harvey into a soft mark, giving his accusers an opening to establish themselves as fearless upholders of every ‘liberal’ value in the eyes of TV cameras.

That something was, according to unanimous reports, a signal from Harvey’s brother and Miramax partner Bob.

Harvey and Bob had their business disagreements. Both wanted to produce films that made profits, but Harvey was also interested in those that won Oscars.

When there was the slightest conflict between the two desiderata, Harvey was ready to sacrifice some of the profits, while Bob wasn’t. The arguments weren’t always peaceful: Harvey, the alpha male in the family, once publicly knocked Bob down.

Bob decided to get his own back and did a Cain – all purely selflessly of course. I suspect that, in addition to leaking the saga of Harvey’s satyriasis, he also reassured the potential accusers that they had nothing to lose and much to gain by speaking out.

Thus emboldened, they pounced on Harvey like a pack of she-wolves defending their pups. Except that they were defending the same vulgar, voyeuristic ethos that has turned them into stars – the same ethos that has replaced real culture.

Now they’re seen as courageous defenders of ‘liberal’ values, an image that rivals large breasts as a sine qua non of their profession. And Harvey has been thrown to the she-wolves. He has lost his job, his wife, much of his family and possibly his sanity.

Now I’m congenitally incapable of feeling pity for Lefty vulgarians, and Harvey deserves all he gets – especially if those stories of attempted rapes are true.

But, as he screamed at the braying mob, “We all make mistakes! Second chance!”. He’s not going to get it. The mob’s trumped-up rage isn’t leavened with mercy, and Harvey isn’t a woman taken in adultery.

Censorship and moral equivalence

“Balliol blacklisters are only following Christian tradition”, writes Catherine Nixey in The Times, referring to Oxford students who banned the Christian Union from their freshers’ fair.

I wrote about that outrage yesterday, so I won’t repeat myself. But Miss Nixey invokes broader issues than the shenanigans of some post-pubescent youngsters, and these merit a comment.

The tradition she refers to is that of censorship, and she co-opts St Augustine to support her argument. Accusing those Balliol youths of suppressing freedom of speech, she writes, is dishonest because Christians did it too.

I haven’t read Miss Nixey’s book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, but the title is self-explanatory. Now she says that what was sauce for the Christian goose should be sauce for the atheist gander.

If I were making the same argument, I’d cite an even earlier source than St Augustine: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

Miss Nixey uses an old trick. She holds something she finds distasteful, in this case Christianity, to some nonexistent absolute standard. Then she uses non-compliance to argue the moral equivalence of all creeds (provided they don’t impinge on liberal orthodoxies).

Christians had censorship, so did Soviets, so did Nazis – what’s the difference?

She clearly dislikes Christianity and adores the classical world that Christianity supposedly destroyed. That’s fair enough: she’s entitled to hold that view, much as I find it dubious.

What shouldn’t be an automatic entitlement is the crepuscular thinking she deploys, nor the selective treatment of history she favours. Both are typical of the Left, which Miss Nixey’s article demonstrates yet again.

For, contrary to the liberal cliché, freedom of speech can’t possibly be absolute. It has to be a matter of consensus, which by definition makes it relative. Every civilisation is justified in censoring speech it finds deleterious to its survival.

Hence freedom of speech isn’t always good, nor is censorship always bad. It depends on how we feel about the civilisation using it.

Specifically in culture there are two types of censorship: proscriptive and prescriptive. The former tells artists what they can’t do; the latter tells them what they must do.

While the latter kills art stone dead, there’s no evidence that the former unduly inhibits self-expression. In fact, one could argue that the greatest masterpieces of art and literature were created in the conditions of some censorship, while its absence seems to have a stifling effect.

Comparing, say, the Russian literature created in the nineteenth century under conditions of strict censorship to contemporaneous American literature free of such constraints, it’s hard to insist on the stifling effect of any censorship – and the liberating effect of its absence.

The argument in favour of free speech über alles doesn’t work in politics either.

Free speech can’t be allowed to act as a weapon in the hands of those who wish to destroy free speech. A group promoting fascist, jihadist or communist propaganda thereby relinquishes its right either to defend free speech or to claim its protection.

It’s civilised people who should do so, and at times they may also have to limit free speech within the law. However, they must be careful not to overstep the line beyond which justifiable social self-defence ends and tyranny begins. Yet they’re unlikely to confuse the two – for otherwise they wouldn’t be civilised.

Using Augustine as a witness to Christianity’s oppressive tendencies is disingenuous, to put it mildly. When Augustine wrote, in the fourth and fifth centuries, Christianity was struggling for survival, and it was touch and go.

Advocating unbridled freedom of speech then was tantamount to letting any heresy run unopposed, thereby destroying the religion. Expecting Augustine to cling to liberal abstractions some 1,500 years before they became fashionable is expecting him to sign up to a suicide pact.

However, even then debate certainly wasn’t nonexistent within the ranks of the Church, as anyone who knows anything about the great Councils will tell you. And when Christianity gathered strength, debate became common currency.

Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, great Christian thinkers, from Anselm to Aquinas, not only conducted the liveliest of debates with their adversaries within or without Christianity, but also used the tools of Greek philosophy to do so.

Accusing Christianity of destroying the classical world is wrong on many counts, historical, intellectual and moral. In fact, Christendom always was an asset-stripping civilisation: it took from other civilisations what it found useful and dumped the rest.

Miss Nixey obviously wishes Christianity had kept such practices of Hellenic antiquity as killing feeble children (Sparta) or leaving unwanted baby girls by the roadside to be devoured by wild animals (Rome). She’d probably also welcome a return to paganism, with its false metaphysical premises that made real science impossible.

But to say that Christianity destroyed the classical world means ignoring the very nature of Christian thought, formed as it was by Jerusalem and Athens coming together.

It would also take a myopic eye not to notice the classical antecedents of Christian architectural styles, such as Byzantine (VI to early XV centuries), Romanesque (XI-XII), Renaissance (XV-XIV) and Neo-Classical (XVII-early XIX).

And it would take a Van Gogh ear for music not to discern the debt Christian music owes to classical modes. That would be a useful accompaniment to the ignorance of not realising that Christian poetry owes so much to Virgil, Horace and Ovid as to owe them practically everything.

Christianity has always relied on discernment, and therefore some discrimination and censorship, to create the greatest civilisation the world has ever known. That was based on a tradition of free thought unmatched by any other creed – including liberalism, which is the modern term for illiberalism.

That Balliol lot are driven by the urge not to create a new civilisation but to destroy the old one. Hence their censorship proceeds not from love, as Miss Nixey claims, but from hate – not from a desire to protect, but from the itch to dominate.

As I said earlier, our view of censorship can’t be absolute. It all depends on how we feel about the agents, purposes, nature and scope of censorship.

Deploying it in defence of a great civilisation is no vice; using it to put a tyrannical foot down is no virtue. Miss Nixey and those pimply Balliol youths obviously feel differently. One just wishes they could make their case in an intellectually sound manner.

The joys of sex, and other joys

Reading newspapers these days provides all the entertainment I can handle within a whisker of apoplexy.

Who needs satire, stand-up comedy, erotica or studies of human pathology when we have The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and so forth.

Satire in particular can never keep pace with reports on everyday life. To wit:

For decades now, Harvey Weinstein has been one of Hollywood’s top producers. He has made more Oscar-winning films than many producers have made films.

Now the boom has come down on his head: hundreds of actresses have accused him of using his position to try to coerce them into sex.

Alas, it’s a widely known fact that most Hollywood actresses have had to bonk their way to the top. This tradition is doubtless demeaning to women, but also to the men who have to rely on such tricks to get sex.

By the looks of Harvey, he would be hard-pressed to get women into bed if he produced not international blockbusters but, say, loo seats. So those accusations ring both true and, for anyone who knows anything about the cinema business, almost superfluous.

What I do find astounding is that none of those indignant accounts features a woman who actually succumbed to Harvey’s unsolicited advances. Surely there must have been some? Over the past 30 years?

Or perhaps not: today’s aspiring Hollywood starlets are too robust of morals and too committed to women’s rights to gratify a chap whose one word can make the difference between stardom and waiting on tables.

So much more damning it is that, after being contemptuously dismissed hundreds of times, the frisky mogul kept trying. Some people just never learn their lesson.

Russell Fuller, the BBC tennis correspondent, defends equal prize money for women players. The gap between them and the men used to exist, he writes, but it doesn’t any longer: the women have as much athleticism and weight of shot.

On reading this I heaved a sigh of relief. Now we could stop the offensive, sexist discrimination of men and women playing in separate tournaments. Let them all play together – the women will win their fair share of prize money, weight of shot and all. Mr Fuller and I have no doubt about that. I wonder if the women players share our confidence.

At least Russell stayed within his area of expertise, such as it is. Martin Samuels, probably our best football writer, ventured outside – with the same pathetic results such forays by sports hacks always produce. This is what he wrote:

“Brexit, Catalan nationalism, Scottish nationalism, I see it all pretty much as flips of the same coin. This desperate, misguided belief to see us all as different, when we are largely the same. Differences in culture. Yes, sure. But the day after the Brexit vote I sat in my Paris hotel and looked out of the window at the junction below and saw thousands of people who looked exactly like us…

“The differences are historic, cultural, the similarities are human… Why do tiny regions wish to break away and live in isolation wrapped around a flag? Who becomes stronger by getting smaller?”

If Martin, who’s rather corpulent, believes that bigger equates stronger, he should challenge a professional middleweight to a fight and see how he gets on.

Applying the same principle, he must also believe that the Ukraine is stronger than Switzerland; Nepal, than Singapore; and Ethiopia, than Israel.

Though it’s true that people in different countries tend to have the same number of limbs and similar internal organs, sovereign statehood springs precisely from “historic and cultural” differences.

To use the former as an argument against the latter is, well, ignorant, to put it kindly. And equating Brexit with Catalan separatism isn’t something that can be described kindly. Is Martin aware that Britain isn’t technically a province of the EU, the way Catalonia is a province of Spain?

Really he ought to stick to wingbacks and holding midfielders. But he won’t, will he? And Martin? Do look up the difference between ‘historic’ and ‘historical’.

Students at Oxford University banned the Christian Union from attending a freshers’ fair to protect new undergraduates from “harm”. Christianity, they explained, is “an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism”. The implication is that it’s all Christianity is.

On that basis they should have banned all Muslims as well. Christians regard homosexuality as a sin, but at least they don’t toss homosexuals off tall buildings. That practice is the unique property of Muslims – and their record on colonialism isn’t exactly pristine either.

Except that in their case the colonialism wasn’t just geopolitical but also religious: as the Arabs conquered new territories, they converted their new subjects to Islam at sword’s point. That’s how their religion spread: one doesn’t hear about too many Muslim missionaries risking their lives to preach to the uninitiated.

Jews should be excluded as well: while their record on colonialism hasn’t been too bad since the time Moses led those ancient Hebrews to the Promised Land, their feelings about homosexuality are similar to the Christians’.

People who venerate scripture describing homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ shouldn’t be allowed to sully Oxford halls with their malevolent presence. In fact, the only group that should be welcome are militantly atheist Corbyn voters, ideally anti-Semitic (tautology?).

Those self-righteous young cretins (another tautology?) ought to remind themselves that, without Christianity, their university wouldn’t exist at all. Nor would any other similarly old educational institution.

But for those Mediaeval friars, these religion haters would now all be studying at polytechnics. Perhaps that’s where they belong anyway, devoting themselves to less challenging academic subjects, such as plumbing.

Interestingly, Frederick Potts, who led the anti-Christian campaign, was a star of Balliol’s University Challenge team. This proves yet again, if any proof is needed, that there’s more to education than the knowledge of trivia.

Dear Vlad, I’m so sorry…

You know how it is. Sometimes we get so swamped by petty everyday concerns that we forget what’s really important in life.

I know it’s a lame excuse for my having missed your birthday yet again the other day, and I hope you aren’t upset with me. As your friend and admirer, I think you’re the last person in the world I’d ever wish to upset.

Speaking of people who upset you, serendipity or what? Your birthday coincides with the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s death in 2011. Remember her?

She was that annoying pest who kept saying nasty things about you, calling you a fascist, blaming you for mass murder and so forth? She was, to use Saki’s expression, one of those human flies that buzz.

Why, she even wrote a libellous book about you, bringing all those nasty things together under one cover. So you had her swatted like a fly, or “whacked”, as you describe such acts so elegantly.

Good on you, mate. Show me a man who doesn’t envy your masculine power, and I’ll show you a liar. At least Peter Hitchens is honest about his affection for you. Why, he positively swoons every time he sees a picture of your bare torso.

I especially like the one of you half-naked, with a rifle in your hand, riding a horse. That’s my Vlad, I think every time I see it. The muscles are getting a bit flabby, but by God they’re still there – amazing in a man no longer in the first flush of youth.

You’re five feet of flabby muscle, exuding testosteronal strength and issuing with your very flesh an implicit warning to all your detractors.

Speaking of detractors, such as Politkovskaya, Nemtsov and all those dozens of naysaying hacks and politicos you’ve had whacked, only a weak-kneed liberal would hold that against you.

How can a strong leader remain strong if he allows those vermin to undermine his authority? In fact, I know many British conservatives who wish we had a strong, decisive leader like you, rather than the wishy-washy, namby-pamby, shilly-shallying bunch we’re cursed with.

Just think how much more smoothly Mrs May’s tenure would run if she could whack Boris, Jacob and the entire editorial staff of The Daily Mail? And then, while she’s at it, shut down all opposition media, print, broadcast and electronic? Think of the respect she’d command from the general public, other world leaders and Peter Hitchens.

As it is, she’s muddling through, waiting to be ousted by the first opponent blessed with what our Spanish friends call C.O. Jones (I’ll let you figure this one out).

Also, no Western leader I can think of, with the possible exception of your friend Silvio Berlusconi, has been able to duplicate your ingenious scheme for protecting public finances.

They all squander money on useless social programmes, medicine, education and some such, keeping whatever little is left in their countries’ treasuries. How stupid is that?

You know and I know and every conservative knows that private individuals can look after their money much better than the state can. Extrapolating ever so slightly, one could see that, likewise, private individuals can do a much better job looking after public money too.

You’ve surrounded yourself with such frugal men, who have collectively transferred more than a trillion dollars into their Western bank accounts. That way they protect public finances from both governmental profligacy and the traditionally volatile Russian politics.

Fair enough, you’ve also helped yourself to the odd hundred billion or so, but the money is much safer in your hands than it would be in the hands of those Russian losers who live on £100 a month.

I also admire you for the way you’ve brought those Ukies to heel – and I’m not the only one. You’ve shown the world how to deal with jumped up upstarts who have ideas beyond their station. Independence indeed. Who do they think they are?

Just look at those Spanish wimps who’ve done nothing to stop that nonsense in Catalonia, other than bust a few heads with police batons. You showed how such things ought to be done by whacking 10,000 Ukies with air raids, multiple missile launchers, heavy artillery and AA rockets.

Admittedly one of those brought down a Dutch airliner, but hell. There’s no war without collateral damage, as you’ve so ably demonstrated in Syria. But at least the whole world knows not to mess with the strong leader you are, Vlad.

Actually, there’s little I can say about you that wasn’t said on TV by your Propagandist-In-Chief Dmitry Kisilev, whom some noxious insects describe as ‘Putin’s Goebbels’:

“On 7 October Vladimir Putin turned 65. His life is all about serving Russia… In the West, people have ambivalent feelings about Putin, as always. Those outside the sphere of professionally malevolent politics and invariably venomous media are well disposed to Putin. For example, there are congratulatory graffiti in Barcelona, Berlin and Paris. And British designers presented him with a ‘Putin’ motorcycle jacket… The whole world attaches to Putin its hopes for peace and prosperity.”

Even Peter Hitchens couldn’t have put it better. Since I pin my own hopes for peace and prosperity on you, Vlad, I’m going to look for one of those jackets, even though I don’t ride a motorcycle. Nor do I have any ambitions of posing like a male answer to Lady Godiva – but only because my musculature is no match for yours.

And yes, I’m going to roam London with my trusted spray paint, writing on every wall “Putin = Peace + Prosperity”, just like your fans in Barcelona, Berlin and Paris.

So here are my belated good wishes, Vlad. Many happy returns – and many more whacked naysayers and detractors. Keep showing the world what a strong leader should be like.

(By the way, the other day I overheard Corbyn say something about you I can’t repeat in polite company.)

Catherine the Great, meet Theresa the Puny

The differences between Catherine II and our own dear Theresa I (and, one hopes, last) are obvious. However, ever the seeker of the positive, I’d also like to point out some similarities.

Granted, Catherine – I’m guessing here – was probably more libidinous than Theresa. She also tended to reward her more ardent lovers with titles, large estates and sometimes whole provinces.

Theresa, even if she had lovers, would probably be disinclined to reward one with, say, Cumbria, even if she were in a position to do so, which she isn’t.

Nor would she ever follow Catherine’s example by having her female staffers (then called ladies-in-waiting) take her prospective lovers out for a test drive to make sure they satisfied her exacting performance standards and were free of VD.

Even though Theresa, by the very nature of her profession, has to have a certain amount of ruthlessness and powerlust, I doubt she’d have her hubby-wubby murdered by her lovers even if her job depended on it (and if she had lovers). So Mr May has no fear of suffering the fate of Peter III.

Admittedly the similarities between the two ladies are less apparent, but they do exist. One is the vast distance separating their words and deeds.

Catherine (who was considerably better educated than Theresa, but this is by the bye) was involved in brisk correspondence with prominent Enlightenment figures, such as Diderot and Voltaire.

That most absolute of monarchs referred to herself as a republican and a ‘philosophe on the throne’. She admired all the progressive ideas, and their originators admired her.

Voltaire, in particular, was completely smitten, calling Catherine an ‘enlightened despot’ and saying that, if he were younger, he’d make himself Russian. Catherine smiled benevolently – and immediately extended serfdom to the Ukraine (intimations of Putin there?).

Acting in the same spirit, Mrs May coughed her way through a speech extolling the virtues of capitalism, a term coined by William Thackeray but popularised by that great Tory Karl Marx.

Thereby she mirrored Catherine’s professed admiration for the liberal values of the Enlightenment – but then came a reality check.

For at heart Theresa is, mutatis mutandis, as much of a statist as Catherine was. That’s why most of the policies she… I almost wrote ‘announced’, but then remembered that Theresa doesn’t really announce policies. She hints at them obliquely, leaving herself an out to change her mind if the focus groups say so.

In this case, however, she was less equivocal than usual. While complimenting free markets, she stated her intention to cap energy prices, a measure that relates to capitalism the way Catherine’s serfdom related to liberté.

This capping was the flagship of Ed Miliband’s electoral programme, and Theresa has decided to grab that relay baton and run with it. I wonder how she feels about wholesale nationalisation as a way of protecting free enterprise and preempting Comrade Corbyn.

There are many other hints at policies that indeed make Catherine sound like an economic libertarian by comparison. Most of them are opportunistic, cowardly and hare-brained, which Catherine wasn’t and Theresa, alas, is.

But one is truly disgusting. Theresa plans to the change the organ donation system from ‘opt-in’ to ‘opt-out’. Do you see what this means?

At present, a hospital can’t remove organs after death in the absence of explicit consent in the person’s will. Now, if that item has been forgetfully left out, doctors will take it as implicit consent to harvest the organs as they see fit.

Combined with the delights of euthanasia reaching our shores from Holland and other progressive EU members, this neat trick will create brisk business in organ harvesting, with more and more patients put out of their presumed misery for the sake of their livers and kidneys.

I’m not going to dispute the intrinsic benefits of organ donation, nor its morality. Obviously one can see its usefulness, and even the Catholic Church isn’t opposed to the practice. Yet equally obvious is that the choice to donate organs has to be made by the person and not by the state.

I shouldn’t have to ask a Romanian immigrant not to pick my pocket – if I wish to help out, I ought to hand over my wallet voluntarily.

In the same vein, a man leaving 40 per cent of his estate to charity commits a charitable act. Yet the state extorting 40 per cent of his estate isn’t charity. It’s oppression.

Just as inheritance tax (and other unjust taxes) discourages charity, so does the ‘opt-out’ system discourage opting in.

Belgium that, along with Holland, pioneers every ghoulish perversion of modern ‘progress’, has adopted the ‘opt-out’ system, only to see a marked reduction in voluntary organ donation. At the same time she has seen a spread of euthanasia performed specifically for the purpose of organ harvesting.

Our hearts (along with other internal organs) belong to Daddy, the omnipotent, paternalistic state – this is the message Theresa the Puny is sending out. At least Catherine the Great couldn’t be tested on that issue: medicine wasn’t far enough advanced for organ transplantation in her time.

But not for medical experiments on humans. Thus Peter I, Catherine’s role model, was known to amend death penalty orders by writing “not to be punished by execution – to be passed on to doctors for experiments.”

That practice acquired a bad name in the twentieth century, but perhaps the time has come to revive it. How about it, Theresa? All in the name of free enterprise of course.

Heinous criminals on the prowl

In parallel with covering the carnage in Las Vegas, our papers have devoted quite a few column inches to another blood-curdling crime.

I must tell you about it, but first make sure there are no children within sight of your computer screen. For the crime committed by Brian Lord, former GCHQ Deputy Director, is so vile that children reading about it may be traumatised for life.

Are you ready? Here it comes then. Mr Lord, 56, brutally assaulted a woman at a dinner party. He… wait a second, let me pull myself together and make sure my hands aren’t shaking…

Now… he put a hand on a woman’s knee! And kept it there for two to three minutes – the poor victim was so distressed she couldn’t remember the exact duration.

Having recovered from the unspeakable shock, the victim went to the police. The frisky spook was arrested, charged with sexual assault and found himself in the dock.

The prosecution demanded a guilty verdict and a custodial sentence, and its case sounded irrefutable:

“During some party games, the defendant placed his hand on the lady’s knee… It was there for a significant time and caused her embarrassment and awkwardness. She felt she was not in a position to deal with the situation by speaking to this defendant, expressing her concern, or leaving the table.”

One wonders why. In my experience, women have little problem dealing with such assaults one way or another.

For I have an embarrassing admission to make: during the course of my lamentably long life, my criminal hand used to find itself on a few knees here and there (typically one at a time). Some knees didn’t mind such brazen flirtation, some did.

Those that did communicated their recalcitrance in various ways, some of them too obscene to mention here, for fear that in spite of my warning there still may be children in your room. Others would simply swipe my hand off. Others would ignore it. Others would use their husbands as an excuse for their unfriendliness.

None ever found it hard to speak. None ever felt severely traumatised. None ever had to leave the table. And, most important, none ever described my action as sexual assault or threatened to call the cops and slam me in the pokey.

Mr Lord must have had good lawyers who prepped him properly. According to the prosecutor, “He was emphatic that his actions, however unwise, were not sexual in nature.” Out of interest, what were they then? Spiritual? Religious?

One gets the impression that, by accepting that statement, the prosecutor proved that somewhere deep down he, like any remotely sane person, was aware of how utterly ludicrous the case was.

He wasn’t alone. Apparently three other judges who had dealt with the case had doubted it was in the public interest to proceed owing to its “minor nature”.

Minor? This case wasn’t ‘minor’. It was insane, testifying to the pandemic of madness going by the name of modernity.

As a result… the case was thrown out? Mr Lord was acquitted? Neither. He pleaded to a lesser offence of common assault, was conditionally discharged for a year and sentenced to a fine.

The court took into account that Mr Lord had “never been in trouble before” and was a “family man”. But the judge still felt called upon to issue a stern rebuke: “Your behaviour crossed the line to criminal behaviour, as a result of which you have lost your good name and your good character, which I know you will have held dear.”

‘Criminal’, Your Honour? Are you out of your bleeding mind? And if a man may lose his ‘good name and character’ over a bit of clumsy flirtation, we’re all, well, most of us, thoroughly criminalised reprobates.

I shan’t repeat the arguments I put forth in an article of a few days ago: http://www.alexanderboot.com/rape-is-in-full-bloom/. But there I was talking of the state maniacally trying to alienate the sexes by broadening the notion of rape to an insane degree.

This salvo fired in the same war goes quite a bit further. The state communicates to the populace that behaviour that in the past rated nothing worse than a slap may now put a man in prison.

The state thus insists that it can reach the most remote nooks of human behaviour and put its foot down. It’s in the state’s interests – and within its power – to alienate the sexes, lest they may unite against the state.

Hence flirtation is no longer an acceptable mode of intersex relations. In France, even wolf-whistling at a woman has been criminalised, not to mention asking for her phone number. And Britain is following the same course.

One effect of this madness is that the very notion of crime is trivialised. In this case, Mr Lord was spared a custodial sentence largely because it was his first offence. In an adjacent courtroom, a burglar or a mugger might have been let off at the same time and for the same reason.

An iron bar has been placed next to our moral, and therefore legal, compass, which has gone haywire as a result. The arrow that used to point at a crime now points at a forgivable indiscretion – and increasingly vice versa.

Thus misled, we’re heading straight for a moral, and therefore legal, precipice. It’s a long way down and no way up.

Not so saintly after all, Mother Teresa

Recently I was beastly to the sports writer Matthew Syed, criticising him for his unsound (which is to say fashionably Leftie) views on racial stereotypes.

Yet the title of his article today, Hero Or Hypocrite? History Shows That Muhammad Ali Was Both, caught my eye. A quick scan showed that deep down Matthew is my spiritual brother: “There is a tendency,” he writes, “to place our heroes on a moral pedestal.”

As examples of such unmerited elevation, he cites Muhammed Ali, whose “[objectionable] conduct and political opinions were always there, lurking beneath the airbrushed façade”, and Princess Diana, “the passionate but flawed woman who walked the earth [but] has given way to a Messianic caricature.”

All true. All good. Our secular hagiography, even if we should have it at all, which we shouldn’t, is too full of undeserving characters.

Suddenly I felt ashamed about having been beastly to Matthew. He got those racial stereotypes wrong, but who of us never errs? Perhaps I was unfair to say he should stick to sports, steering clear of subjects requiring some thought.

But then Matthew got back into my bad books with the speed of Ali’s left jab: “Mother Teresa spent most of her life in this position of uncritical reverence. She was the saviour of the poor, the saintly woman who ministered to their needs. The truth is that, for all her many admirable qualities, she was also a religious conservative who opposed contraception, an ideology which condemned millions of women to poverty.”

In general, I don’t object to people having views different from mine – provided they make sense. This proviso is hard to satisfy, for views that differ radically from mine are usually but glints tossed off by the revolving ball of unsound philosophy. (The death penalty stands apart: I’m for it, but I’ve heard valid arguments from those who aren’t.)

And an unsound philosophical premise can make even clever people look dumb. I don’t know if Matthew is clever but, even supposing for the sake of argument that he is, he fails on that score.

Let’s decorticate that paragraph. Matthew has nothing against contraception. I suspect he sees nothing wrong with abortion either.

If so, he’s in agreement with the British Medical Association, whose members recently voted to remove all that silly red tape from abortion on demand practically until birth. I struggle to see any difference between a baby a month before delivery and a month after, but then no one has ever accused the Left of intellectual rigour.

And if opposition to abortion is regarded in those quarters as strictly marginal, opposition to contraception is seen as being so insane as to be outside the margins. Who but “a religious conservative” would hold such views, and we know where that lot belong. In the garbage heap of history, to borrow a phrase from Trotsky who shared Matthew’s side of this argument.

Hence he seems to think that Mother Teresa’s opposition to contraception disqualifies her from sainthood. Not one of the secular variety, but the real kind, bestowed on such people as Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo and Thomas of Aquino.

Such people live in an intellectual, spiritual and moral universe that’s different from the one inhabited by the likes of Matthew and the BMA. That universe signposts its own territory, and trespassers are severely punished by being made to look like idiots.

Within that territory, not only a Christian saint but any orthodox Christian opposes contraception. How does Matthew think Paul, Augustine and Thomas felt about it? I suspect their views would ill-qualify them for today’s secular sainthood.

In his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI reemphasised the Church’s teaching that it’s wrong to use contraception to prevent a new human being from coming into existence.

These days that rigid stance is associated with the Catholic Church only, but this hasn’t always been so. Until 1930, all Protestant denominations, including our own dear C of E, also condemned contraception as sinful. In other words, until 87 years ago all Western Christians were – or at least were supposed to be – against contraception. And 1.2 billion Catholics still are.

We may argue about the merits of such intransigence till the bishops come home, but the fact of the matter is simple. While opposition to contraception isn’t fashionable among atheists, it’s still an article of faith for orthodox Christians.

So in effect Matthew thinks that Mother Teresa doesn’t deserve to be a Christian saint because she was a true Christian, someone who lived in a universe of which Matthew is ignorant but to which he’s instinctively hostile.

Never mind the saintliness of ministering to the needs of the poor. That true Christian wasn’t fit to be a saint because she was a true Christian. That’s like saying that Muhammed Ali wasn’t fit to be a boxer because he knocked people out.

Matthew might as well have rebuked Mother Teresa for wearing nun’s habits, which would have prevented her from making any Ten Best Dressed list. The logic would have been equally inane.

The wind returneth again according to his circuits. Matthew has climbed back into my bad books, having left them momentarily. But somewhere in my soul there’s a spot warmed up by gratitude.

I’m grateful to Matthew Syed for confirming yet again my life-long conviction that all Lefties are either fools or knaves. And I’ve heard no rumours of Matthew’s knavishness.