Shakespeare, according to Ben Johnson, had “small Latin and less Greek”. Our comprehensively educated masses go the Bard one better: they also have small English, which is why they’re at the mercy of any hysteria whipped up by the media.
This becomes especially galling when the media have to use longer words of either Latin or Greek origin, such as ‘paedophilia’. And they use this particular word a lot these days: moralising titillation sells papers.
‘Paedophilia’ is a compound word of Greek origin consisting of two stems, with the first one meaning ‘child’. Spelled in various ways, it also appears in other words, such as ‘pedagogue’, ‘pedant’ and ‘pederast’.
Naturally our brutalised masses find all those paed- words confusing, which is bad news for paediatricians. Since our papers discovered that an extensive and graphic coverage of paedophilia sells, many paediatricians have been attacked on the assumption that their trade is a particularly perverse form of paedophilia.
Yet every one should know that paediatrics isn’t a perversion and paedophilia is. What else everyone should know is that it’s not the most dangerous paedo- perversion.
If paedophilia claims only a small percentage of children as its victims, paedocracy, the rule of children, not only damages our democracy but undermines the idea of democracy in general.
Like all other contingent rights, the right to vote comes packaged with responsibilities. Democracy lives or dies by the people’s ability to cast their votes responsibly and intelligently. Any voter who can’t do so harms every vital institution of Britain.
Now Edmund Burke (d. 1797) believed that only 400,000 Britons, then about 10 per cent of the population, were qualified to vote – and that was before the arrival of comprehensive non-education.
Assuming that roughly the same proportion holds true for our time, one is dismayed to see that the actual number of registered voters exceeds 51 million, about 78 per cent of the population.
Accepting the Great Whig’s calculations as true, and few people in history understood politics as deeply as he did, we have about 45 million potential voters in this country who can’t vote in a responsible and intelligent fashion.
Logically then, the electorate should be shrunk to make sure we elevate to government only those qualified to govern. There are many methods of achieving this goal, of which the most obvious and least controversial one is to raise the voting age, which at present stands at 18.
I maintain that only an infinitesimal minority of 18-year-olds have the necessary qualifications of intellect, maturity and education. Neurophysiologists agree: until age 25 or so, the human brain isn’t even wired properly.
Yet political opinion in this country, especially among the MPs, is that the voting age should actually be lowered to 16.
The MPs’ motives are easy to understand. If people could vote responsibly and intelligently, most of our parliamentarians wouldn’t be elected as proverbial dog catcher.
While praising them for their realistic self-assessment, one shudders to think what lowering the voting age to 16 would do to the country.
Why, Corbyn, who hates viscerally everything that makes Britain British, would follow Xi and Putin to be elected leader for life – with everything that would entail (see the history of modern Russia and China for details).
One would think political folly couldn’t possibly sink any lower. But such optimism would be misplaced: things can’t always get better, but they can always get worse.
If you doubt this existential truth, look no further than Wales. Its ministers believe that children as young as seven (!) should have their say about Brexit.
Wales’s Minister for Children (Who was his Victorian counterpart? How many useless ministerial posts are there?) Huw Irranca-Davies explained that: “Our children are our future, so it’s absolutely vital we ensure their views and concerns are listened to.”
As his source of authority, the spiffily named minister cited the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives children a right to agree or disagree with grown-ups’ decisions if they affect the tots’ future.
If you doubt that we live in a madhouse circumscribed by national borders, this should dispel any such doubt.
Narrowing the issue down to a single family would be fun. It has been assumed since the time Darwin created man that parents take decisions on behalf of their children until the latter reach majority.
Unlike many other rock-solid presuppositions, this one hasn’t suffered much erosion over history. If Mr Irranca-Davis has a 7-year-old child, would he consult him about buying a new house, changing a pension provider or moving to a different city?
Probably not. Yet all those decisions affect the child’s future, don’t they? I’d suggest Irranca-Davis be censured for violating the aforementioned UN Convention.
Or perhaps locking him up in a loony bin would be more appropriate: who but a madman would think that a person unqualified to pass judgement on relative trivialities deserves to have an audience for his views on the country’s future?
However, the proposed survey is going ahead, and its results will be released in a few months. One can only bemoan the uncharacteristic restraint of Welsh legislators.
Extending their own logic to its ineluctable end, why limit the age to seven? After all, statistically speaking, babies have even a greater stake in Brexit than 7-year-olds do – they’ll have to deal with the consequences for several years longer.
It’s true that most one-year-olds can’t yet speak, but that doesn’t mean their views can’t be solicited. Even if they can’t communicate their opinion semantically, they can do so semiotically.
For example, gauging their responses to other questions, such as “Want to go potty?”, one can establish empirically that “ah-ah” means yes and “ooh-ooh” means no. So, if we avoid more involved questions, such as “Who’s Daddy’s lovely girl then?”, we can obtain a reliable sample for qualitative research.
As far as I know, no one has proposed extending full franchise to babies yet, which points to a deficit of logic. For, when it comes to issues as complex as Brexit or our next government, a baby’s view has as much value as that of an adolescent.