Sex with children and public nudity – that’s freedom for you

Our government called for a ‘brainstorm’ on limiting state intrusion into private lives. The brains involved in the storm all belonged to civil servants, academics and civil-servant academics, which explains the jetsam the storm has carried ashore.

For Number 10 to initiate such an enquiry in the first place is akin to Myra Hindley asking Fred and Rosemary West to explore ways of improving childcare. Mr and Mrs West would have been happy to oblige, but somehow one doubts that they would have approached the task in good faith and with the right mindset. The brainstormers didn’t either.

‘As we take steps to reshape the British state for the 21st century, we will take further steps to limit its scope and extend our freedoms,’ declared Dave and Nick in their inimitable style. Over to you, Fred and Rose.

My advice wasn’t solicited but, had it been, I would have offered a few steps guaranteed to take HMG to its professed destination. Let’s see:

Cut the size of the public sector, and consequently of our tax burden, by half. Abolish all but the essential half-dozen government departments (free countries don’t have ministers for equalities, culture, media, sport or women). Eliminate at least half of our domestic regulations on business, and all such regulations emanating from Brussels. Leave the EU with immediate effect and transfer all power back to our ancient parliament accountable to the British people only… Well, you catch the drift.

Now, as Americans might say, I may be dumb but I ain’t stupid. I don’t think for a second that any such measures would have been adopted by our freedom-seekers at Number 10 and adjacent properties. But I bet my house against your pint that in the brainstorming free-for-all these proposals never even came up.

At the risk of sounding cynical, one has to suggest that both the commissioners of the enquiry and its participants have a vested interest in an ever-increasing size, and therefore power, of the state. Yet the only way to limit state nannying is to deprive it of the requisite power. Anything short of that falls into the realm of PR trickery, not statesmanship.

The froth produced by the brainstorming waves provides ample empirical vindication for this general observation. The two principal proposals involved reducing the age of consent from 16 to 14 and allowing public nudity everywhere. This reminds us that ‘liberty’ and ‘libertine’ are cognates, which is one reminder we could have done without.

‘Libertarian’ is another cognate, and those of this persuasion support the first measure because the existing age limit is routinely flouted, with 40 percent of children having sex by the age of 15. One may suggest that exactly the same argument could be applied to laws against murder, rape and theft. After all, making such activities illegal clearly doesn’t eliminate them.

The International Child and Youth Care Network laments that an age of consent of 16 criminalises about half of the teenage population. Yes, and speeding laws criminalise just about every driver. So should we all be allowed to drive at 150 mph on the M25?

Rumour has it that Dave rejected this proposal out of hand, good family man that he is. But apparently LibDems, the party that in its ideal world would deliver every right of Englishmen into the hands of an unaccountable foreign body, are broadly in favour. One can understand this: Nick has to justify somehow the ‘Lib’ element of his party’s name. Otherwise it sounds too much like a misnomer – almost like ‘Conservative’ in the name of his Coalition partner.

Go the whole hog, Nick. Why stop at 14? Why not fight the next election on the slogan ‘Eight’s too late!’ That’s what liberalism (another cognate of liberty) is all about, isn’t it?

Publicly though, Nick too has rejected the measure, for once toeing the line of Coalition discipline. But the second proposal, that of allowing people to roam the streets buck naked, struck a chord with both partners. No immediate action will ensue, but by the sound of it they both thought the idea has merit.

The idea, however, negates a custom of rather long standing, the one that involves wearing at least minimal clothes in public. This goes back to the events described in Genesis 3: 7: ‘And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.’

In common with other scriptural injunctions, this one has shaped the secular domain as well, informing since time immemorial our notions of decency, morality and propriety – irrespective of our faith.

That our present government is the most atheistic one in British history is fairly obvious, as is their desire to stamp out religion as a social force. But equally obvious is their urge to uproot the last vestiges of traditional morality even in the secular realm – all in the name of freedom, of course.

Same-sex marriage, female bishops, tax laws penalising marriage, a growing welfare state making fathers redundant – these are all separate battles in the same war on Western civility. And it’s our government that’s in the vanguard.

In their mind’s eye Dave and Nick see a cherished version of Shangri-la, an urban jungle populated by post-moral creatures, their bodies and minds equally bare. They know that only in such an environment would their political success be perpetuated.

If this is freedom, I’ll take tyranny any day, and twice on Sundays.

 

  



 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

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