Common law may mean different things. In purely legal terms, it’s a judicial system based on custom and precedent, rather than statute.
England and most of her former colonies, such as the US, have this bottom-top system in place. On the other hand, continental countries, such as France, practise top-bottom positive law, with clever chaps who know better getting together and concocting laws for everybody to live by.
But then common law may also mean one judicial system for all, and there the difference between England and continentals is slight. However laws are generated, it’s assumed that they apply equally to everybody.
For a legal system to function properly, there can be no parallel systems or sub-systems. No competition is possible, which is one reason, among many, for banning Sharia law in non-Muslim countries.
This sounds self-evident, but these days nothing is. Hence gathering strength at the expense of the English Common Law is the glossocratic law imposed by a panoply of minority pressure groups.
‘Glossocratic’ means government by the word, of the word and for the word. At its heart lies the understanding that whoever controls language controls minds, and whoever controls minds controls, well, everything.
The two legal systems are vectored in the opposite directions. The traditional common law going back to Scripture is now routinely flouted, with its underlying principles shunted aside.
Crimes that strike against individual property and person often go unprosecuted and even uninvestigated. Burglary, for example, is no longer thought worthy of police attention, and even gruesomely violent crimes often receive derisory sentences if any.
That situation isn’t unique to Britain. Thus Chériff Chekatt was free to have fun at that Strasbourg Christmas market even though he had 27 criminal convictions to his name, most for violent crimes.
Clearly, France’s positive law isn’t doing better than England’s common law in making sure that such human refuse don’t roam the streets looking for prey.
I’m not necessarily advocating the three-strikes-and-you’re-out arrangement, but surely any country not bent on suicide should have such a policy for 27 strikes. Yet all Western countries are exhibiting suicidal tendencies galore.
Meanwhile the parallel glossocratic system is flourishing, with its injunctions enforced mercilessly, surely and universally.
Because glossocratic laws spring from neither precedent nor statute, it’s impossible to contest them or to seek justice. In any case, the glossocratic law isn’t about justice. It’s about power and control.
Three examples spring to mind off the top, all from the past week or so.
The comedian Konstantin Kisin was invited to do an unpaid charity gig at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Richly endowed with a sense of civic responsibility, he agreed.
By way of thanks he was served with a ‘behavioural agreement form’, specifying areas held off-limits for jokes:
“By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism,” went the agreement, adding that such self-restraint will “ensure an environment where joy, love and acceptance are reciprocated by all”.
In other words, making even a remotely funny joke on any subject would contravene the parallel system of glossocratic law, and no appeals were allowed. To his credit, Kisin didn’t even try to appeal. He simply refused to appear and made some laudable statements about freedom of speech.
Going back a few days, advertising regulator, the Committee of Advertising Practice, issued a ban on “gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”.
Harmful stereotypes in ads, explained CAP, “contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society”, and can therefore hold some impressionable souls back.
Advertisers will no longer be allowed to show, say, butter-fingered men breaking the dishes they wash, women being weaker (shorter?) than men and in any way subservient to them, or presumably men leading a bayonet charge with no help from the weaker, nay equally strong, sex.
One could of course cite scientific proof of innate physiological differences between the sexes (or rather among the sexes: a bisexual dating site lists 22 of them). But no such evidence is admissible in a glossocratic courtroom.
As I say, no appeals are allowed; due process boils down to morbidly undue sensitivity, institutionally mandated but seldom actually felt.
Another example of glossocratic justice at work was helpfully provided by animal rights groups, which are impervious to the sheer idiocy of the very term ‘animal rights’. Rights dialectically coexist with duties: someone with no duties, such as animals, can’t have any rights by definition.
But glossocratic tyranny is never about the face value of the proposition. Those animal righters don’t really care if you kick Fido every time he crosses your path. All they want is to control your language and thus your mind.
Hence you can find yourself in glossocratic prison for saying “kill two birds with one stone.” The mandated inoffensive alternative is “feed two birds with one scone”. (With or without Devonshire cream? We have the right to know.).
In the same spirit, thou shalt replace “there are many ways to skin a cat” with “there are many ways to eat a kiwi” – or else. Also criminalised are expressions like “go the whole hog”, “sweating like a pig” and “human guinea pig”, which deny their God-given rights to the species mentioned.
Actually I pride myself on having pioneered this long-overdue initiative by taking exception to any idioms including the word ‘dog’. In all of them, I’ve been campaigning, the offensive noun can be profitably and poignantly replaced with ‘wife’.
Hence I suggest such inoffensive alternatives as “let a sleeping wife lie”, “you can’t teach an old wife new tricks”, “sick as a wife”, “a wife’s breakfast”, “a wife in a manger”, “a hair of the wife”, “a barking wife never bites”, “go to the wives”, “if you lie with wives, you’ll get fleas” – though not, again for physiological reasons, “wife’s bollocks”.
However, I face a horrible conundrum. For, having thus found myself on the animal righters’ good side, I’ve run foul of the parallel laws passed by those who are programmed to be mortally offended by any irreverent remarks about women, that long-suffering minority that happens to be a majority.
The tyrannical system of parallel laws is both proscriptive and prescriptive. It not only specifies things that can’t be said, but it also dictates things that must be said.
Moreover, its remit shows a potential for endless expansion, specifically because its laws are demonstrably absurd. That, as Orwell once observed, is the nature of tyranny.
The tyrants know that their laws are ridiculous, and they know that we know. So much more satisfying it is for them to make us comply: when despots speak, reason stays silent for its own good.
Orwell was talking about fascist regimes, and that’s exactly what’s gestating within our body politic: a foetus of fascism conceived by glossocratic diktat.
But none dare call it that. The term ‘fascist’ is these days reserved for hard-working, church-going, Tory-voting conservatives who resist glossocracy in a hopeless last stand.
When it comes to attacking them, the glossocratic law instantly turns permissive: no holds barred. Thus a simple impersonation of cultured diction elicits roars of laughter; the vilest and most groundless accusation is avidly accepted on faith.
It’s only anomic slurs that go unpunished by glossocracy. Quite the opposite – they’re actively encouraged.
That’s par for the course, for the animating impulse of modernity is the urge to destroy everything of long provenance. Including the Common Law.