Ignorance by any other name smells as foul, as Justice Secretary Dominic Raab proved yesterday at the Tory Conference.
Speaking to the BBC, he said “insults and misogyny is absolutely wrong whether it’s a man against a woman or a woman against a man”. When it’s against a man, Dominic, it’s called misandry – get your lexical ducks in a row.
Still, the underlying sentiment is correct: crimes committed against men are every bit as reprehensible as those targeting women. And if a woman does fall victim to a crime, she is entitled to seek recourse not because she is a woman, but because she is a subject of Her Majesty and, as such, enjoys the state’s protection. (I made a similar argument yesterday, in relation to ‘gay rights’.)
Any day, give me a man who understands the law over one who never commits a solecism when spouting rubbish. Understandably though, Labour mandarins and other fruits took the chance to make an ideological mountain out of a lexical molehill.
Raab’s Labour shadow, David Lammy, said: “No wonder the Conservatives are hopeless at tackling violence against women and girls.” I like the precision of “women and girls”. Otherwise one could have got the impression that women are entitled to protection only post-defloration and only when they reach a certain age.
And Raab’s LibDem shadow, Wera Hobhouse, added: “It’s little wonder the Conservatives are failing to tackle misogyny when their justice secretary doesn’t even seem to know what it is.”
She was referring to the government’s reluctance to designate misogyny as a hate crime, something Mr Raab reiterated in the same interview. He thereby proved that whatever he lacks in vocabulary he makes up for in his grasp of legal realities.
Misogyny is defined in the dictionary as “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.” I find such feelings idiotic and despicable, but how is it possible to criminalise them? How is it possible to criminalise any feeling or, for that matter, idiocy?
I’ve met many Englishmen who prefer the company of men, a preference I emphatically don’t share. I’ve even heard many men impugn women’s intelligence (wrongly), morality (ditto) and driving ability (correctly). I disagree with some such sentiments, agree with others, but I’d neither punish a chap for expressing the former nor extol him for expressing the latter.
Crimes motivated by misogyny (as opposed to crimes committed against women for other reasons) are of course a different matter altogether. These ought to be punished to the full extent of the law – existing law, that is.
For, thank God who, as we know, is an Englishman, we already have plenty of good and ancient laws on the books to punish any conceivable crime against women, men and anything in between. All of them, men, women and anything in between, are entitled to the state’s protection, just as the state is entitled to their allegiance.
Any additional law would be redundant and therefore useless. Actually, even worse than useless, for bad laws tend to reduce whatever respect people have even for the good ones. As to having on the books laws proscribing ill-defined, indeed undefinable, transgressions, they bring the country’s whole legal system into disrepute.
So yes, by all means, do let’s laugh at Mr Raab’s shaky command of woke English derived from ancient Greek. As long as we praise him for his legal nous at the same time.