When railing against the dismissal of the Eton master Will Knowland the other day, I was guilty of slapdash research.
Before putting my hands on the keyboard, I hadn’t listened to his lecture, The Patriarchy Paradox, going instead by long quotations cited in the newspaper reports.
That oversight has now been corrected, and I’m happy to report that the sacking verdict is looking more justified.
If I were the Eton provost, the post now held by Lord Waldegrave, I might sack Mr Knowland myself, in the unlikely event that I would have hired him in the first place. Yet my reasons for this conclusion are different from Lord Waldegrave’s.
His Lordship’s two cuts of beef are that Mr Knowland pushed a “false narrative” and, when ordered to make amends, disobeyed “internal discipline”. Both gripes are spurious.
Far from being false, Mr Knowland’s narrative is accurate on every rational level, supported as it is by copious scientific and historical evidence, not to mention the blindingly obvious observations made by anyone not blinded by ideological afflatus.
Mr Knowland takes issue with the currently dominant view that any differences between men and women are merely social constructs. This view has no foundation in biology, anthropology, zoology, history, psychology or anything else having to do with reason.
It’s nothing but a garbled signal of misconstrued virtue, sent out by a coalition of strident fanatics as long on emotional frenzy as they are short on rational thought. That much is clear, and it would be even clearer to anyone who can find half an hour to listen to Mr Knowland’s lecture.
The only factual quibbles I’ve seen so far have to do with his assertion that “rape, is not a unique claim for male oppression of women because male-on-male rape in jails dwarfs male-on-female rapes outside them”.
Then, responding to a comment underneath the video clip, he added that “the only serious scientific studies ever done on the subject estimate that… 40-60 per cent of rape accusations are false.”
I can’t prove or disprove Mr Knowland’s data because I haven’t seen the studies in question. At first glance, the proportion Mr Knowland cites looks on the high side, but I’m in no position to argue one way or the other. However, pedantic quarrels over details shouldn’t in this case change the essence of the argument, which is worth discussing.
There’s no doubting that a) many claims of rape are indeed false and b) the definition of rape is broadening by the day, while the required standards of proof are loosening at the same rate.
We read endless reports of careers and even lives destroyed by such false accusations. Moreover, their frequency tends to increase in proportion to the social and economic standing of the accused.
Thus, say, a professional footballer is more likely to be falsely accused of rape than, say, a professional carpenter. Striker Ched Evans found that out the hard way by spending two years in prison only then to have his conviction quashed. (He was later found innocent on retrial.)
Such examples are made so much more numerous by the police being overeager to press charges, and the courts to convict, on a woman’s say-so.
If you were to accuse me of stealing your watch but fail to produce any evidence to that effect, the case would never even go to trial. If it did, the prosecution would be laughed out of the courtroom. Yet women may claim rape decades after the supposed fact, with the alleged perpetrators prosecuted and often convicted.
Newspapers are also full of stories of women who claim rape after getting in bed with a man, indulging in imaginative foreplay and then saying no in mid-stroke. The man is expected to practise instant coitus interruptus or else be accused – and probably convicted – of rape.
Just as the definition of rape is getting broader, the definition of consent is getting narrower. Nothing but an explicit statement (ideally written and notarised, though oral may still do at a pinch) of “I hereby consent to sexual intercourse” exculpates a frisky male.
I’m not trying to trivialise real rape, which is indeed a heinous crime. However, if every ‘no’ whispered by a naked woman in bed were taken as a legally enforceable injunction, the birth rate in Britain would drop way below the replacement level.
In fact, rape is trivialised not by me but by those who expand its definition, thereby putting on the same level a vicious degenerate jumping a jogger in the park and a man who refuses to believe his wife really does have a headache.
Rape is also trivialised by fanatic feminist propaganda, teaching women to regard every man as an oppressive, raping brute. Any sexual impropriety – an unwanted kiss, a hand on the knee, a pat on the rump – is supposed to be treated as sexual assault, rather than bad manners, insensitivity or flirtatious behaviour.
If this tendency continues, and if no statute of limitations applies to such ‘crimes’, every man in His Creation – including, regrettably, me – will be branded a criminal. That would constitute the ultimate trivialisation: if everybody is a criminal, nobody is.
I have no doubt that Mr Knowland can support his data with appropriate references. After all, everything else he says is amply documented. But that wouldn’t make any difference to Lord Waldegrave et al.
They object not to the substance of the argument but to the very fact that it’s made. Mr Knowland’s appeal to freedom of speech rings hollow in the empty spaces of woke crania.
Lord Waldegrave’s other charge, violation of “internal discipline”, is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union I remember so fondly. There, in the name of party discipline, people were supposed to repent crimes they had never committed and mouth gibberish they found repulsive.
When told to remove the lecture from the Eton website, Mr Knowland instantly complied. However, he did refuse to remove the text from his own YouTube channel, which features a disclaimer that the views expressed therein are his own and not his employer’s.
He invokes free speech, in the naïve belief that the notion still obtains. It clearly doesn’t, and neither does the distinction between discipline and tyranny.
Eton’s insistence that it has the authority to police statements made on its employees’ own media is tyrannical and therefore unjust. Hence anyone working there has not only the right but indeed the obligation to resist.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you may be tempted to backtrack to the beginning of this piece and wonder why I’m now more amenable to the sacking of Mr Knowland. Well, I’m happy to explain.
As any conservative, I’m a strong believer in social and cultural hierarchy. Eton, historically, is the hatchery of fledglings slated to inhabit the upper perches in that vertical structure.
For such a hierarchy to perform a valid social function it not only has to exist, but be seen to exist. Hence, each of its levels must come with a clearly visible badge, exclusive and at the same time aspirational.
Obviously this goes against the grain of our decultured, deracinated and demoralised modernity. So much more the reason for vigorous rearguard action to be fought by our ancient institutions, such as the monarchy, aristocracy, church – along with Eton, Rugby, Harrow and other exclusive schools.
They should flaunt their hierarchical badges, thereby flouting the mob ever ready to stamp them into the dirt. One such badge, perhaps the most visible, or rather audible, of all, is the accent.
In the past, schools like Eton had easily identifiable accents, each subtly its own but all generally upper-class. Yet Mr Knowland’s lecture, unimpeachable as it is on content, fails on form.
For he speaks with, at best, a middle-of-the-road accent, as far removed from the traditional Eton phonetics as, say, Essex from Belgravia. Moreover, he makes frequent references to the kind of proletarian TV shows that no Etonian of the past would have even heard of.
Had Mr Knowland been dismissed on such grounds, I’d be the first to applaud. Yet Lord Waldegrave knows that even obliquely referring to such standards would lead to his own dismissal faster than you can say ‘toff snobbery’.
Hence, rather than trying to inoculate society against the soul-destroying egalitarian contagion, Eton happily falls its victim. There goes England.