Let’s keep the tapestry

Manny Macron has offered to lend the Bayeux tapestry to Britain, which is widely regarded as an act of selfless generosity. Only dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries dare mention that it’s but a smokescreen enveloping Manny’s never-ceasing efforts to extort more money from us.

This time he wants an extra £45 million to beef up the border controls at Calais, thereby curtailing diversity that, according to Messrs Blair, Cameron, Corbyn et al, makes British culture so much richer.

Leaving aside any questions about the invaluable cultural contribution bestowed upon us by, say, the 100,000 Somali migrants currently resident in Britain, one may still wonder why we should pay for security measures on the other side of the Channel. We take care of our end, the French take care of theirs, wasn’t that the deal?

We do stand to benefit from tighter border controls there, but then a shop owner also gains something by paying protection money to the mob. Should we also pay for France’s police? After all, some British tourists may be assaulted in Paris (predictably, by the same people whom the extra security is supposed to keep out).

On the other hand, perhaps we don’t stand to gain so much by agreeing to succumb to Manny’s blackmail. For, in parallel with demanding money to stem the flow of moustachioed migrant children, he also insists that we accept more of those overgrown babies.

Logically speaking, the two demands seem to cancel each other out, but Manny functions according to the superior Gallic logic, possibly Cartesian in origin. The core premise is that, if A equals B and B equals C, then let’s stick it to les anglo-saxons.

Anyway, the offered loan of the tapestry may solve this matter, though not necessarily in the way Manny and his foster mother Brigitte envisage. (I assume, perhaps unfairly, that she put him up to this.)

But first a personal note, if I may. My wife and I have been going to France regularly for some 20 years now. In all this time, Penelope has been bugging me, in that understated English way of hers, to go to Bayeux on the way to or from our house. I manfully resisted since that represented a rather long detour, and I’m the one who does all the driving.

However, no married man should be surprised that Penelope finally got her way, albeit after protracted resistance on my part. A fortnight ago, we did stop for a couple of days in Bayeux (a lovely town, by the way, with a glorious cathedral), which earned me some merit points.

Now what do you know, a few days after we come back it turns out the detour was unnecessary: the tapestry is coming to England, most probably London. If only I had held out for a fortnight longer… Oh well, the story of my life.

Yet I’m glad the tapestry will arrive because this may take care of Manny’s latest extortion attempt. We should give him his £45 million (hope you choke on it, Manny), but then just keep the bloody thing.

For the outlanders among you, the Bayeux tapestry is about 230 feet long. It’s made up of a sequence of some 50 scenes telling the story of the early stages of the Norman (emphatically not French) Conquest, culminating in the 1066 Battle of Hastings.

Though made soon after the event, the tapestry isn’t the kind of history that’s written by the victors. It depicts the events strictly from the Anglo-Saxon perspective, which is no surprise considering it was designed, embroidered and constructed in England a few years after the events – only to be then taken to France.

There it was systematically cut up into pieces used for all sorts of nefarious purposes, until some history buffs managed to locate all the fragments and stitch them together in the early eighteenth century.

Therefore, my campaign to keep the tapestry dovetails neatly into another campaign, one involving the Elgin marbles. That one is fronted by the intellectual and cultural giant George Clooney, whose overachieving wife had to explain to him that the marbles involved were sculptures and not playthings.

I’d suggest that my case is stronger, which isn’t saying much because the Clooneys have no case at all.

For Lord Elgin, then ambassador to Greece, legitimately bought the marbles from the Ottoman Turks who occupied the country at the time. The Turks, who clearly didn’t regard those masterpieces with the same reverence as Lord Elgin, were burning them to obtain lime for construction purposes.

On balance, Greece’s claim to the Elgin marbles is much weaker than ours. And, considering the tapestry’s English origin and subject, our claim to it is at least as strong as France’s – especially since this illustration to English history was vandalised there for so long.

Admittedly, reclaiming the Bayeux tapestry from its current residence would take a mini D-Day, which isn’t an operation HMG would ever be prepared to undertake. But mercifully there’s no need.

When Manny brings the tapestry over in his camion de livraison, we should simply take it and tell him to kiss it good-bye. “So here’s your £45 million, Manny,” we should say. “An exchange is no robbery, mate.”

Financially, the investment will be quickly amortised if we keep the tapestry in a stand-alone museum and charge the same exorbitant admission fees that the French do in Bayeux. And morally, our cause is just.

First Minister for Loneliness, anyone?

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” asked the Beatles.

Don’t have a clue, is my answer. All sorts of things can cause loneliness: one’s own hermetic tendencies or rotten disposition, the olfactory aspect of personal hygiene, rowdy drunkenness, excessive fastidiousness in choosing friends, outliving one’s friends and family.

But not to worry: we’ll soon find out exactly where all the lonely people come from. More important, they won’t be lonely any longer – the state will take care of that. “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life,” commiserated our PM Tessa. “I want to confront this challenge for our society.”

And confront it she has. Tessa has just appointed Tracy Crouch as First Minister for Loneliness. So worry naught, all you lonely people. Tracy and Tessa will look after you.

The urgent need to create yet another ministerial post arose when it was discovered that nine million Britons live in isolation. That, you must agree, is a serious problem, and who better than Tracy and Tessa to solve it?

As a lifelong believer in an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent government, the bigger and more central the better, I’m sure that the public purse can solve any private problem.

However, here’s the rub: numerically, loneliness isn’t the greatest problem in Britain.

The American comedian George Carlin once quipped: “You know how stupid the average person is? Well, I’ve got news for you: half the people are even more stupid than that.”

Though offered in jest, this points at another blight affecting Britain: statistically speaking, the number of idiots must greatly exceed nine million.

If you seek empirical proof, just look at the number of Corbyn supporters; people who believe that after Brexit we won’t have French wine; those who think wind farms can provide all the energy we need; champions of global warming; chaps who feel that allowing two men to marry strengthens the institution of marriage; those who agree with Richard Dawkins that evolution explains everything.

So yes, a first minister for loneliness (is there also a second one?) is a jolly good idea. But let’s sort out our priorities. If there are more idiots than loners, we need to appoint a First Minister for Idiocy before we do anything else.

And while we’re at it, there are many other snags in the human condition that the state is uniquely qualified to eliminate. For example, my wife often burns my breakfast toast – and I bet millions of other Britons suffer from the same ordeal.

Hence Tessa must urgently appoint a First Minister for Burnt Toast to alleviate the suffering of all those men on whose behalf I’m speaking herein.

Neither should we forget millions of people traumatised by having to queue up for anything. My heart bleeds for them: the appointment of First Minister for Queues is urgently needed.

Also, if you have any compassion in your heart, think of the plight of redheaded and corpulent people (routinely dismissed as, respectively, ‘ginger tossers’ and ‘fat bastards’), Welshmen (‘sheep shaggers’) and people ridiculed for preaching the impending environmental catastrophe caused by aerosol sprays (‘tree huggers’).

They’re all crying out for a new ministry dedicated to lifting their gloom. I’m not sure about the relative numbers involved, but it’s nothing that a multi-billion research programme can’t find out. A few more billion – and hey presto, sorted. Jean-Jacques is your uncle, Tessa is your aunt.

All this sounds crazy, I know. But it’s not I who’s crazy, but the world where people have been brainwashed to believe that any problem can be solved if the government can throw a few billion at it.

This goes against reams of evidence showing that large-scale state interference doesn’t solve problems. It either makes them worse or creates new ones.

A war on poverty makes more people poor; an attempt to redistribute wealth destroys it; an overhaul of education promotes ignorance; a war to end all wars leads to more and bloodier wars. At the end of all that bungling nothing beckons but an even greater expansion of the state, a further reduction of liberty.

For make no mistake about it: the more the state does (or rather claims to do) for you, the more it’ll do to you. Every ministry, apart from the four or five essential ones, isn’t there to cure social ills. It’s there to increase state power at your expense.

Yet loneliness can be a serious problem. So, abandoning my prior facetiousness, I’d like to offer a serious solution – with no new sinecure anywhere in sight.

If you’re lonely, start going to church every Sunday. Introduce yourself to the priest or vicar, buy him a cup of tea or a pint (the latter would be the preference of most vicars I know). Tell him you’re lonely, see what he says and does.

He’ll probably tell you that, metaphysically, you’re never lonely when you’re with God. And in purely practical terms, he’ll introduce you to other parishioners with whom you can go out for a cuppa or a pint after the service. Before long you’ll have as many friends as you can handle.

So there’s the problem of loneliness, solved. Solving the problem of rampant statism is more difficult and, in today’s world, probably impossible.

Was that anti-Semitism, Mrs Merkel?

Back in 2014, three German Muslims got drunk and threw firebombs into the Wuppertal synagogue. Mercifully, no one was hurt.

The synagogue is rather old, but its building isn’t. The original quarters were burned rather more successfully during the 1938 Kristallnacht.

Both acts of arson suggest that the arsonists had some misgivings about the Jews. The first lot were quite open about this motivation, knowing that the state welcomed it. The trial or two that ensued were perfunctory, and the firebugs got off with only a word of nudge-nudge, wink-wink reproach.

Now, because the current German state hasn’t yet got around to the same delights of Judophobia, the Muslim chaps pleaded innocence of anti-Semitism. They simply sought “to draw attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel.

One has to say that firebombing German synagogues is both a criminal and illogical way of taking issue with Israel’s policy. After all, most people inside weren’t Israelis but Germans who happened to worship the first part of the Bible more than the second.

Of course back in 1938 that would have been regarded as a distinction without a difference. It didn’t matter how, if at all, German Jews worshipped God. What mattered was that they were Jews. Killing them was laudable because it advanced a noble political cause.

Times have changed altogether though, haven’t they? Well, yes, they have changed. But not altogether.

For last Friday, the regional court affirmed the original court ruling that the firebombing wasn’t anti-Semitic at all. It was a valid form of political protest.

Even taking anti-Semitism out of it, one finds it hard to accept Molotov cocktails as a valid form of political self-expression in a country where legal means exist. A long custodial sentence is the only punishment that fits the crime, with the proverbial key thrown away. Isn’t it?

Evidently not, for the arsonists only got suspended sentences. Their political, as opposed to racial, motivation was seen as a mitigating circumstance.

There’s nothing new about this sort of lenience, and I’m proud to know that Russia pioneered it back in 1877, when the socialist terrorist Vera Zasulich shot and wounded the Governor General of Petersburg Fyodor Trepov.

However, the jury trial, a short-lived novelty in Russia, acquitted Zasulich on the same grounds as those on which the Muslim arsonists were spared jail. Her brutality was political and therefore justifiable, if unfortunate.

Since then, similar suicidal idiocy has taken root even in civilised countries, both in Europe and North America. Any strong political feelings are ipso facto seen as extenuation if not exculpation, regardless of the cause.

But when I read about the German trial, I was aghast and bitterly disappointed. What do you mean Mrs Merkel’s Palestinian guests were drunk at the time?

I thought pious Muslims, those ready to die for their faith, didn’t drink – because Mohammed didn’t drink and he was perfection personified.

It was in a state of perfect sobriety that he had 800 Jews slaughtered by way of saying hello to Medina after his move from Mecca – and yet today his followers get drunk before trying the same sort of thing, if on a smaller scale.

Does this mean the arsonists aren’t real Muslims, and Islam is indeed a religion of peace, as so many of our leaders have proclaimed? This would be a spurious conclusion to draw. The true one is that Islam is neither a religion of peace nor, for most of its followers, at least in Europe, a religion at all.

It’s a licence to kill (mostly Jews and other infidels) and to enslave (mostly women). In common with other violent doctrines, such as communism, fascism and Nazism, the function of Islam is to turn mass murderers into freedom fighters in the eyes of our ‘liberals’.

Yet the only purpose of mass murder is to murder masses – and killing Jews is the only purpose of killing Jews. Everything else is just an attempt at vindication, be it in courts or at fashionable leftie parties hosted by senior Labour figures.

It must have escaped the German judges’ attention that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in European countries is directly proportional to the number of Muslims there. Such incidents may involve murder, assault, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues – whatever it is, the more Muslims, the more such outrages.

Now we’re talking mathematical relationships, the likelihood of a Muslim committing such crimes is directly proportional to the extent to which he self-identifies as a Muslim. If, say, a British Muslim sees himself as a Muslim first and British a distant second, he’s more likely to firebomb a synagogue than someone who’s British first and foremost.

The task of mullahs and Muslim activists is to draw as many men as possible from the second group into the first. And – back to mathematics again – their success is directly proportional to what they’re allowed to get away with.

Our governments, utterly corrupted by the bien pensant ‘liberalism’ they themselves have fostered, let them and their acolytes get away with anything, including – as in this arson case – attempted murder.

As a direct result, Jews are emigrating en masse from precisely the countries with large Muslim minorities, such as France. In other countries they are warned to take precautions by, for example, not wearing skullcaps in public.

The mathematics I mentioned earlier strongly suggest that the only way to reduce Muslim violence (and not just against Jews) is to reduce the number of Muslims – and also of the venues, such as mosques and Islamic centres, in which they receive their absolution, aka the licence to kill.

I’m not saying anything new here – everybody knows this. Yet few are those who can say it openly – and even fewer the governments capable of doing anything about it.

So yes, Mrs Merkel, zeitgeist says those arsonists aren’t anti-Semites. Were the SA?

The Gospel according to Vlad

Seeing the multitudes, Vlad went up into Moscow: and when he was set, his Ministers and the multitudes came upon him: And Vlad opened his mouth and taught them, saying…

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, that communist ideology is evil, but I say unto you: “Communist ideology, it’s really much akin to Christianity: liberty, equality, fraternity – all this is based on Holy Scripture, it’s all there.”

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, that Lenin hated Christianity, but I say unto you: “Look, Lenin was put into the Mausoleum. How’s that any different from the relics of Orthodox saints or simply other Christians? When I’m told that no, there’s no such tradition in Christianity – what does it mean, no? Go to Mount Athos, have a look, they have holy relics there, and we too have our holy relics here.”

I’m sorry about prefacing Vlad’s gibberish with phrases from Matthew, but that’s really the spirit in which it was meant. Vlad delivered his lines with nothing short of gospel gravitas.

The Ministers and the multitudes were represented by editors of top Russian publications, who came together at the Mount, or rather the offices of Komsomolskaya Pravda, a paper so proud of its Soviet heritage that it has kept its name, Komsomol Truth.

Now, Putin’s ‘conservative’ British fans, otherwise known as ‘useful idiots’, regard Vlad as the last stronghold of Christianity, mainly because he ‘supports the Orthodox church’ and doesn’t support homosexual marriage.

As to the latter merit, it’s commendable but rather insufficient. After all, ISIS aren’t great fans of the new Western institution either, but few will insist that this redeems their other sins.

As to Vlad’s take on Christianity, he that hath ears to hear, let him hear the two passages quoted above. Such an aural effort should suffice to put paid to the frankly idiotic and refreshingly ignorant view of Vlad as the latter-day Fidei Defensor.

However, here are a few comments for those of them who are hard of hearing and plagued with learning difficulties – and of course also for normal people who suffer from none of those disabilities and therefore understand what Putin is about.

First, “liberty, equality, fraternity” has nothing whatsoever to do with Scripture. It was a Masonic slogan adopted by the French Revolution, the first massive violent revolt against Christianity. Anyone who has the remotest idea of Christianity would instantly know how un-, or rather anti-Christian that slogan is.

Jesus repeatedly disavowed any association with any revolutionary or liberation movement, to wit: “My kingdom is not of this world”, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” and so forth. He was talking about gaining spiritual freedom through the truth – hardly a demand for political liberty.

Second, equality and fraternity, as used in the secular French slogan, don’t appear – nor could have ever appeared – in Scripture. We’re all brothers because we have the same divine Father, and we’re equal only before Him – not because some blood-thirsty chaps murder all aristocrats.

Third, Vlad’s statement is both ignorant and blasphemous. However, compared to the second statement quoted above, the one equating Lenin with Christian saints, it’s an exemplar of piety and erudition.

Christian saints were different people living in different places and at different times. However, they all had at least one thing in common: they were Christians. I hate to break the news to Vlad, but that’s not quite the same as being anti-Christian.

Lenin, whose relics are as saintly as, say, St Sebastian’s, hated Christianity with every fibre of what passed for his soul. Is Vlad aware of this? He has to be – he did go to a Soviet school after all. Why, he even went to university, where he had to take a course in ‘scientific atheism’, as did we all.

One could quote any number of statements to that effect from a whole library of Lenin’s works. For example, he wrote to Gorky in 1913:

“Any god is necrophilia… any religious idea, any idea of any god, even only flirting with god is unimaginable filth, which is tolerated and even well received particularly by the democratic bourgeoisie – and precisely because of that it’s the most dangerous filth, the most disgusting, the most revolting contagion. A million sins, failings, violent acts, physical infections… are much less dangerous than the subtle, spiritual, clad in luxurious vestments idea of god.”

Lenin’s visceral hatred of Christ and his church couldn’t co-exist with the sight of church valuables, all those icons in enamel frames studded with jewels, heavy gold crosses, precious books in jewelled covers, silver vessels.

Those had to be plundered, along with all other riches amassed throughout Russian history. However, for the first couple of years the saint-to-be had to wait: when the peasants were still too strong to resist, there could be undesirable consequences.

Finally the time came in 1922, during the first murderous famine caused by the Bolsheviks. Lenin wrote a secret circular, saying church valuables could now be plundered, what with the peasants “swelling from starvation… reduced to cannibalism” and therefore too weak to resist.

But it was not all about money. Lenin continued that: “…removal of valuables… must be carried out with merciless resolve and in the shortest possible time. The more representatives of the reactionary bourgeoisie and clergy we shall manage to shoot in the process, the better. It is now that we must teach that scum a lesson so that they will not even dare think of any kind of resistance for several decades.”

That task was accomplished. During Lenin’s tenure (November, 1917 – April, 1924), 200,000 church people, 40,000 of them priests, were slaughtered. As to the number of lay parishioners, massacred out of hand, say by spraying a procession with machine gun bullets, their deaths were too numerous to count.

Lenin was turned into a relic immediately after his death, when, before the current Red Square ziggurat was built, his mummy was placed into a temporary wooden structure. Alas, the builders carelessly punctured the sewer underneath, flooding the sacred remains and giving Patriarch Tikhon, then under house arrest, an opening for a witticism: “The incense fits the relics.”

The Orthodox church was stamped into a puddle of blood under Lenin. However, it came back under Stalin, when the Germans were overrunning Russia in 1941.

With 4,000,000 soldiers taken prisoner in the first three months of the war, many of them without any resistance, Stalin realised that the people wouldn’t fight under the banners of their communist murderers and slave masters.

The Russians had become immune to Marxism, communism and all other Bolshevik poisons. As a matter of fact, Stalin himself had had enough of them, which had been evident for several years before the war. Mussolini observed perceptively that, under Stalin, “communism became a Slavic version of fascism”.

Yet an idea for which people would fight was urgently needed – and it was at that time that the church came back, albeit in a different incarnation.

Ever since Peter I the Orthodox church had been an extension of the state. Peter abolished the patriarchate and had the church run by a lay Synod.

Stalin embellished that arrangement by placing the church under the aegis of the secret police. Coming in from the cold was not only the church, but all other demonstrably un-Bolshevik, nationalist ideas: Mother Russia, Third Rome, Holy Russia – all packaged with the idea of imperial expansion.

When Vlad took over, he looked at that state of affairs and saw it was good. He too needed to rally the populace, and Marxist ideas could no longer work even as window dressing.

The traditional Russian imperial idea based on the delusion of the country’s holy mission was the only available option, the only way in which the criminal KGB colonel could legitimise the rule of his kleptofascist junta.

The church had been house-trained long ago, to the point that all the post-war patriarchs were career KGB agents. Not only the present patriarch Gundiaev (aka Kirill, aka ‘agent Mikhailov’), but also the other two candidates for his post at election time are KGB men, every bit as servile and corrupt as all other members of the ruling KGB elite.

They serve Putin with the same ardour as they served Stalin. It was thanks to their support that the murderous, thoroughly corrupt KGB colonel has acquired the status of the last Christian standing.

Vlad knows that, without mouthing imperial slogans, he’d never stay in power, which is to say alive. That’s why he’s busily reviving every scrap of Russia’s expansionist history – regardless of who was at the helm.

He’ll take something from Ivan the Terrible, something from Peter I, something from Nicholas I, something from Lenin – and a lot from Stalin, whose statues are going up all over Russia.

Now, I’m well aware that I can’t make our ‘useful idiots’ change their minds – if it were possible, they wouldn’t be idiots. But I can feel pity for them: it must be hard going through life spouting ignorant, ideologically inspired shibboleths.

Trump doesn’t rate a royal invitation, unlike…

Emperor Hirohito, who was cordially received at the Palace in 1971. He was the wartime leader of Japan, when tens of thousands of British soldiers lost their lives, many of them in concentration camps (see the film The Bridge Over the River Kwai). Under Hirohito’s leadership, Japan matched the Nazis in genocidal atrocities – including anti-Semitic ones in Indonesia.

Mobutu, in 1975. The dictator of Zaire successfully combined murderous totalitarian oppression with embezzlement.

The $15 billion sum he misappropriated may be smaller than Putin’s achievements by an order of magnitude, but we must make allowances for inflation and also for the Congo having considerably less riches to purloin.

Nicolae Ceaușescu, in 1978. He was dictator of Rumania, then the most Stalinist country in the Eastern bloc, which is saying a lot. Ceaușescu was a mass murderer, who routinely ordered his troops to fire at protesters.

Hajji Suharto, in 1979. The military dictator of Indonesia suppressed a communist uprising in 1965-1966, which was a good thing. By some estimates, about a million people died, which sounds excessive but, if they were indeed communists, forgivable. Alas, many of them were only guilty of being ethnic Chinese, the most successful and therefore hated group in Indonesia.

Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1989. Before the former KGB chief Andropov elevated Gorbachev to the Politburo, he had run the Stavropol province, one of the most corrupt in the USSR. Even against that background, he was nicknamed Mickey Envelope (Mishka konvert) in reference to his preferred way of doing business.

When moving into the Kremlin, Gorbachev continued Andropov’s programme of sham liberalisation, designed to save bolshevism by making it appear acceptable to the West. When that began to unravel, he ordered his troops to fire at demonstrators in Lithuania and Georgia. Before that, he had mendaciously denied the Chernobyl disaster, which was indirectly responsible for thousands of unsuspecting Soviets dying.

Boris Yeltsyn, in 1992. He too had run a major province, that of Sverdlovsk, before moving to Moscow. Yeltsyn ran Sverdlovsk in a sort of duopoly with the KGB, whose concentration camps provided much of the region’s labour.

That kind of recruitment policy got some Nazis hanged at Nuremberg, but Yeltsyn thrived. While in Moscow, he ordered tanks to fire at the building of the Russian parliament, which was a rather radical version of Colonel Pride’s approach to parliamentarism.

In parallel with moving from Sverdlovsk to Moscow, Yeltsyn made a seamless transition from dipsomania to alcoholism and was never again seen sober. During his prolonged absences, the country was run by Gen. Korzhakov, Yeltsyn’s former bodyguard, ably assisted by the new breed of gangsters, mainly Berezovsky and Abramovich. They in fact chose Putin as Yeltsyn’s successor, a choice Berezovsky later got to rue.

When meeting Her Majesty, Yektsyn tried to paw her, with the Queen setting a good example for today’s indignant soft-porn stars by thwarting his attentions without making a big fuss.

Robert Mugabe, in 1994. Zimbabwe’s Marxist dictator presumably rated the honour by such achievements as crimes against humanity, racism (of the forgivable, indeed commendable, anti-white variety) and championship-calibre corruption.

… Bashar al-Assad, in 2002. His qualifications for the royal honour are too current to require a comment. The only good thing one can say about him is that ISIS is even worse.

Vladimir Putin, in 2003. Though the unrepentant, indeed proud, KGB colonel hadn’t yet got around to having his critics ‘whacked’ with radioactive isotopes in the middle of London, he had already covered himself head to toe with domestically harvested blood.

To ease his way to absolute power, he had several blocks of flats blown up, with the blame placed on Chechnya. The second Chechen war followed, easily as genocidal as the first.

At the time of his visit to Buck House, Vlad was already on his way to becoming the most successfully corrupt leader in history. Under his strong leadership, so admired in some British quarters, Russia has not only maintained but infinitely strengthened her leadership position in global money laundering.

Xi Jinping, 2015. The communist dictator of China is a proud heir to the regime that slaughtered some 60 million and later gave the world Tiananmen Square.

Compared to these gentlemen, President Trump positively looks like a liberal trying to get in touch with his feminine side. Moreover, unlike them he represents Britain’s most important ally.

Historically the UK-USA relationship has only been ‘special’ in the warped minds of British propagandists. Ever since the beginning of the twentieth century, when America began to supplant the British Empire, the relationship has been rather one-sided. FDR, for one, transparently detested the British Empire almost as much as Nazi Germany.

Still, when American interests happened to coincide with ours, the US has been an important ally, and, in peacetime, seldom as important as now – for reasons too widely discussed at the moment to call for my penny’s worth.

And yet Mrs May’s government has allowed subversive socialists like Corbyn and Sadiq Khan to rouse enough rabble to make Trump’s visit untenable. If any justification for the modifier ‘subversive’ is still needed, this repulsive action provides it more than amply.

Personally, Trump isn’t my favourite cup of Bourbon, what with his vulgarity, narcissism and manifest absence of any discernible cultural attainment or dress sense. But his policies have by and large been the best of all other presidents’ I remember, with the possible exception of Reagan’s.

Yet our rabble-rousers object not so much to Trump’s personality or his policies as to his palpable contempt for all their sacred cows – both physical and semiotic. At the moment, for example, they’re up in arms over his describing some downmarket countries as ‘shitholes’.

Now, I don’t think leaders of civilised countries should resort to such uncivilised vocabulary, but implicitly the lefties deny countries that merit this designation exist. Having come from one myself, I can assure them that the description is apt and accurate – including in the most literal of senses.

Preventing our greatest ally from visiting Her Majesty (whom by all accounts Trump admires) shames not only the immediate culprits, but also our limp-wristed government, unable to act in Britain’s interests no matter what. Above all, it shames Britain herself, a country that allows such nonentities to ascend to government.

I hope that Trump will be able to rise above this slight, but I fear that, narcissist that he is, he won’t.

We know something the French don’t

If two parties can’t agree on terminology, they can’t agree on anything. This basic rule is vindicated every time I talk to my French friends about politics or law.

Take the rule of law, for example. I’ve never been comfortable with that notion, if ‘law’ is left unmodified by ‘just’. Yet with the unqualified way the term is commonly used, one may get the impression it’s synonymous with virtue.

However, the two most diabolical regimes in history, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, both had laws galore.

Nazi Germany, for example, enforced Nuremberg Laws, prohibiting on pain of death marriages between gentiles and Jews. Those laws ruled all right, but they had nothing to do with justice.

And the USSR Criminal Code contained Article 70, under which lending a friend a mimeographed copy of, say, a Solzhenitsyn book carried a penalty of up to seven years of hard labour.

All such laws are described as ‘positive’, which means they’re vectored from the state downwards, and their justice is wholly dependent on the moral and intellectual integrity of those at the top.

This brings us back to Roman law, a subject I touched upon yesterday. That positive law arrived in France with the Renaissance and gradually assumed the exclusive role it still plays today, having been refined – or rather exacerbated – by the Napoleonic Code.

That represented a drastic departure from the legal concept prevalent during the millennium of the Middle Ages. The French and proto-French didn’t then widely use the word ‘law’ in the secular context. The word they preferred instead was ‘custom’.

Now the rule of custom takes us away from positive law and gets us close to common law, as practised in the Anglophone countries under the influence of their erstwhile English metropolis.

Unlike positive law, the English Common Law is vectored upwards. Rather than relying on the wisdom and virtue of lawyers and lawgivers, it rules by paying heed to millions of legal precedents accumulated over centuries.

In essence, this means that at the core of English jurisprudence lies the Judaeo-Christian doctrine of original sin. The underlying assumption is that, because man is fallen, he’s fallible, and therefore his judgement isn’t always safe.

Starting from this premise, the English Common Law tries to protect individuals from arbitrary rulings by judges and magistrates. One could argue that, by doing so, it also reduces the epiphanic effect that a brilliant legal mind could have on proceedings.

In fact, my French friends, some of them lawyers, often make that argument, if not in so many words. To them, the compromise implied in the English Common Law is unacceptable. To someone who regards prudence in such matters as a greater virtue than brilliance, it’s not only advisable but uniquely advisable.

Implied in Roman law is what we today call statism, the primacy of the state over the individual. Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis was an imperial code designed to strengthen, or rather revive, the central power of Rome.

Though produced in Christian times, the code has distinctly pagan antecedents going back to Hellenic times. In those days, to simplify ever so slightly, the polis meant just about everything and the individual just about nothing.

Public interests trumped private ones, and an individual’s worth was judged in terms of his usefulness to the polis. Laws were designed on that understanding, including laws that turned women into strictly their husbands’ chattels.

In the same spirit, the Greco-Roman civilisation accepted slavery as natural, and that institution shouldn’t be confused with medieval serfdom. A serf was a man; a slave was a possession, not drastically different from livestock.

Christianity changed all that by teaching the inherent value of man, thereby altering his idea of himself – and consequently of the desired interaction between himself and the state. The spiritual revolution that caused the change was by far the most sweeping in history – and in that sense the Renaissance was counterrevolution.

It revived Greco-Roman antiquity with all it entailed, including the inherently centralising Roman law. (Slavery, steadily disappearing throughout the Middle Ages, also made a comeback, culminating in the nineteenth century.) That’s why to the French ear the word étatisme has no negative connotations that its English equivalent has for us.

The French are conditioned by their history to accept the dominant role of central authority. In fact, one could say that, rather than being progressive, modernity is regressive, leapfrogging Christendom in a backward jump to land smack in the middle of pagan antiquity.

Nowadays this affects us as much as the French, but at least in England some rearguard conservative action is possible. In France it isn’t, which is why conservatism in our sense of the word doesn’t exist there.

One can’t argue persuasively that relying on the state’s good offices is a factor of political stability. If England has had roughly the same constitution since the 1688 Dutch occupation, otherwise known as the Glorious Revolution, France has had 17 different constitutions since 1789.

And the number of different laws spawned by those constitutions is uncountable. What is patently obvious is that this system doesn’t foster a visceral, intuitive respect for the law – of the kind the English used to have predominantly and still have residually.

That’s why in England rioting still isn’t accepted as a valid way of settling political disputes – and that’s also why so many Englishmen are intuitively suspicious of the big national state.

That suspicion logically carries over to the rejection of the even bigger supranational state, the EU. By voting for Brexit in unprecedented numbers, the British communicated their misgivings about a political contrivance based on voluntarism and no precedent whatsoever.

This viscerally conservative feeling animates the British opposition to the EU. In France, however, those on the Right, like my French friends, adore the EU, and the opposition to it comes mostly from the anarchic Left.

The French and the English have much common ground in matters cultural, but not political. That’s why we naturally belong together at a dinner table but not within the same state – and both my French friends and I realise this.

Alas, our powers that be don’t.

The French know something we don’t

In my youth I admired Catherine Deneuve in ways I can’t discuss here for fear of causing offence. However, as we both, and especially I, have aged, my esteem for the actress became more cerebral if somewhat less fervent.

Cerebral it remains, but the intensity has grown since Miss Deneuve led a group of 100 prominent Frenchwomen to write a letter saying that les anglo-saxons have gone mad with their neo-puritan hysteria about sex harassment.

The letter points out the difference between rape and flirtation, and the fact that it needs pointing out is a ringing denunciation in itself. “Rape,” explain the Frenchwomen, “is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression.”

True, French women, rather than being offended by male attention, welcome it and, should it get out of hand, so to speak, handle it with aplomb. They accept this as a normal interplay between the sexes.

We, on the other hand, equate hand-on-knee flirtation with ‘medieval oppression of women’, a phrase much bandied about. The underlying assumption is that the Middle Ages, the period roughly demarcated by the collapse of the Roman Empire at one end and the Renaissance at the other, were the epitome of obscurantist savagery.

Now one can’t realistically expect things like erudition and intellectual rigour from militant feminists or, dare I add somewhat controversially, any political activists. But the truth is rather different from the popular mythology.

For it was the Middle Ages that gave us great cathedrals and universities, restraints on absolutism, small central government, musical notation, the printing press, sublime thinkers and theologians, magnificent religious painting and sculpture.

And, relevant to my theme, women during the Middle Ages enjoyed a status and freedom they gradually lost pari passu with the demise of Christianity and advance of modernity.

Even without going into historical facts, anyone with a modicum of intelligence unsullied by ideology should realise there wasn’t much room for oppressing women during a period practically defined by the worship of the Virgin. Also venerated as much as their male equivalents, and often more, were women martyred for their faith, such as St Agatha, St Cecilia, St Agnes and many others.

Medieval queens were no strangers to political power either, routinely governing their countries when their husbands were away fighting foreign wars, ill or dead. It was during the Middle Ages that French queens were crowned side by side with their husbands, and some queens, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castile were dominant political figures.

Women were also prominent in the Church, this without the abomination of female priesthood that today is regarded as a sine qua non for empowering women. It was often through the Church that women – and not necessarily high-born ones – acquired tremendous power.

Abbesses, for example, were not only equal to abbots in status and learning, but also, like them, were often feudal lords, in effect governing their provinces and imposing tithes and other taxes on the locals. And, in dual monasteries, where nuns and monks had their own wings, it was often the abbess, not the abbot, who was in overall charge.

Everybody knows the story of the great theologian Abelard and Héloïse. As a result of their love affair, Abelard fell victim to a certain enforced surgical procedure, but Héloïse’s lot is less well known.

In fact, she went on to found the Abbey of the Paraclete and became not only one of the best-educated persons of her time, but also one of the women who acquired religious and consequently secular power in the Middle Ages.

Both monasteries and convents were at the time centres of learning, and women were among the most outstanding figures. The abbess Herrad produced the famous twelfth century encyclopaedia, while Hildegarde of Bingen – abbess, philosopher, writer, composer and general polymath – was a true Renaissance woman, something she wouldn’t have been able to become during the actual Renaissance.

For the Renaissance was the birth cry of modernity and therefore the first dying gasp of Christianity. What was reborn in the Renaissance was the culture and ethos of pagan Hellenic antiquity, which was bad news for women among others.

We think of the Renaissance mostly in terms of paintings depicting plump babies sucking rosy-cheeked breasts, testifying both to the technical mastery of the artists and the creeping secularisation of sacred subjects.

But also re-born at the time was Roman law, which, by ricochet, has since done untold damage even in countries like England, which stubbornly stuck to their own jurisprudence.

Roman law was pagan and therefore centralising. It established and protected the primacy of the central state over local government, that natural offshoot of the Catholic concept of subsidiarity, devolving power to the lowest possible level.

As a result, monasteries and convents gradually ceded their position as centres of learning and certainly of secular power. The former was shifted to steadily secularising universities; the latter to the royal court.

A medieval king was merely a superior feudal lord, primus inter pares. But when Roman law came off the mothballs, kings gradually became monarchs who, as the word’s etymology suggests, concentrated more and more political power in their own hands.

Their queens were no longer crowned with them – like women in ancient Rome they became their husband’s chattels, kept in the background. In fact, the king’s current mistress often enjoyed much greater power, which was coextensive with her tenure in the king’s bed.

Step by step, women lost the freedom they had enjoyed during the Middle Ages. More and more they were seen as men’s property, of which men – their fathers, brothers or husbands – could dispose as they saw fit. Women were no longer seen as equal if different. They became different and strictly subservient.

That situation changed in due course, but the dynamic of intersex relations was for ever destroyed. Feminism appeared as a belated reaction, or rather overreaction, to any inequalities, both extant and extinct.

Women no longer wanted to be just equal to men – they now strove for the impossible goal of becoming identical to men. Hence the modern neo-puritanism of attacking flirtation ostensibly as sexual harassment, but in fact for emphasising the eternal difference between men and women.

For neo-puritanism to exist, there had to be old puritanism in the first place. That’s strictly a feature of Protestantism, especially its reformed version. Hence the current Walpurgisnacht is at its most virulent in Protestant countries.

The residual Catholicism of southern Europe, specifically France, has overcome the toxic effects of Roman law and modernity to preserve normal, human relations between the sexes. And we must thank Catherine Deneuve and her friends for pointing this out.

P.S. To keep things in balance, I’ll write a companion piece tomorrow, entitled We Know Something the French Don’t.

Breaking up the EU tango is easy to do

When it comes to Britain reclaiming her sovereignty, it doesn’t “take two to tango”, in Phillip Hammond’s typically hackneyed phrase.

To extend the choreographic metaphor, all it takes is for one partner to disengage and walk off the floor. The abandoned partner may feel jilted, but, if the other dancer doesn’t want to tango any longer, there’s precious little to be done about it.

If, on the other hand, the seemingly reluctant dancer doesn’t really want to stop, then, after a short spat, the tango may well continue – with one partner proud of winning the argument and the other secretly happy that the decision was made by someone else.

There, the metaphor has expanded to bursting point. The thing is, if our powers that be really wanted to leave the EU, it would be as easy as apple strudel, or tarte aux pommes, if you’d rather.

Breaking up only becomes hard to do when both parties want to make it so – the EU, because it wants to keep Britain’s billions in its grubby fingers or, barring that, to encourager les autres; our own Remainers in charge of Brexit because they are, well, Remainers.

Being a simple man, I usually try to untangle the knottiest of problems, reducing them to separate stands even I can grasp. Credit where it’s due, the negotiating parties have managed to encumber the issue with remarkable skill. Still, let’s give it a try, shall we?

Simplifying a problem means stripping it of marginal aspects and getting to its very core. Thus the object of driving a car is to get somewhere, not to listen to music, admire the landscape or flirt with one’s passenger – even though all those activities may well accompany the journey.

In that spirit, let’s accept as an axiomatic premise that the purpose of the whole exercise is for Britain to become again a sovereign nation reigned by Her Majesty and governed by Parliament.

I shan’t bore you by listing every aspect of sovereignty, but one is worth mentioning: a sovereign country’s internal affairs are governed by her own laws and no one else’s.

However, as an ironclad condition for any ‘deal’, the de facto führer of the EU Angie Merkel insists that Britain continue to recognise the jurisdiction of the European Court even within her own borders.

The only possible answer to that is an instant, resolute and non-negotiable no. Accepting the jurisdiction of foreign courts is incompatible with sovereignty, regaining which is, as we’ve agreed, the purpose of Brexit. Therefore even discussing it violates every rule of logic.

Then, sovereignty precludes vassalage, paying tributes to a foreign power for the privilege of conducting the country’s affairs as it sees fit. Such an arrangement would make sovereignty contingent on someone else’s good will – which again debauches the very concept.

Sovereignty is by definition unconditional and unilateral. If gaining and maintaining it depends on someone else’s consent, it’s not sovereignty any longer. Consent can be as easily withdrawn or modified as given in the first place.

What if the feudal lord tells the vassal that henceforth he’ll have to pay more to keep the arrangement going? Should the whole rigmarole start afresh? It’s either that or meek surrender, and there goes the pseudo-sovereignty in either case.

Yet one reads with amazement that Mrs May’s crypto-quisling government is seriously considering the EU’s demand that we keep up payments to its coffers even after Brexit. Otherwise no ‘deal’.

That means Britain will be unlike truly sovereign nations that don’t have to pay entry fees at the door of the European markets. We’ll in effect be the EU’s vassals, an arrangement that hasn’t existed in Europe for a while.

In other words, as far as the negotiating parties are concerned, we can only regain our sovereignty by agreeing not to regain our sovereignty. One can smell a logical rat running about somewhere.

In order to get that blessed ‘deal’, we must agree to submit to the European Court of Justice, which even my fanatically Europhile French friends describe as evil.

That means, among many other things, not regaining control of our borders, with the ineluctable consequence of London turning first into a bigger Malmö and then into a giant Kasbah.

And we’re supposed to keep contributing to the EU budget, but this time without having even a minuscule vote on how this money will be spent. Suddenly the issue becomes so encumbered that the sole purpose of Brexit can no longer be seen through the dense fog.

The only thing that can be seen is the outlines of a scam aimed at making the issue seem so complicated that the whole project will be defeated by attrition. Yet, if we really want to regain our sovereignty, breaking up isn’t at all hard to do.

We simply announce that, effective immediately, Britain is no longer an EU member. All European laws – emphatically the one about uncontrollable immigration, otherwise known as free movement – are hereby declared null and void within the jurisdiction of British Parliament. And all payments to the EU are summarily stopped.

Britain, however, is eager to remain an ally, both military and economic, of all European nations or the single state made up thereof. Specifically, we hope the EU will refrain from cutting off its economic nose to spite its face by declaring trade war on Britain. If, however, it refuses to see sense, we can fight an economic Battle of Britain, doing all it takes to win (see my posting of 6 January).

The band’s last chord is dying; the tango has ended. The dancer left alone on the floor is fuming. But that’s what one gets for stepping on the partner’s toes once too often.

Reshuffle: Is Mrs May Corbyn’s agent?

Surely not. I can’t imagine her surreptitiously sabotaging her own party to make sure the Trot is ensconced at 10 Downing Street.

However, neither can I imagine how differently Mrs May would have handled the cabinet reshuffle if she were indeed Corbyn’s sleeper. In fact, the troubled waters she has created are ideal for subversive demagogues to fish in – even if this wasn’t Mrs May’s desired outcome.

She shows most palpably that, if the solipsistic maxim “I think, therefore I am” doesn’t work very well as first uttered, it doesn’t work at all the other way around. Mrs May is, but she doesn’t think – and least not as a statesman.

An expert card sharp can shuffle a pack in such a way that the ‘loaded’ half of it stays on top even after the pack is cut. Mrs May managed to pull the same larcenous trick with her reshuffle.

Present occupants kept four out of the top five posts, even though they’re dubiously, and the Chancellor not at all, qualified for the jobs. There was, however, a cull of white middle-aged men at the lower tiers, with their jobs going to women, blacks and other ethnic minorities.

Mrs May explained this sleight of hand by her desire to make “the government look more like the country it serves”. There goes that reversed Cartesian aphorism, proved false yet again.

Under no circumstances should the government of Britain look like Britain as she now is, at least not by deliberate design. Belief in the advisability of every group being proportionately represented in anything, and especially in government, is idiocy at its most disproportionate.

For a holder of this belief must also think that the essential qualities required for government are evenly represented among all demographic groups. Superior intellect, erudition, moral integrity, willpower, patriotism and so forth are all supposed to be spread in exact proportion to the numerical strength of each group, is that it?

But this is nonsense, and empirically demonstrable nonsense at that. Such qualities, especially a full complement of them, aren’t characteristic of any group – they’re strictly individual, and a political system succeeds or fails on its ability to find and elevate such individuals to government.

As I never tire of repeating, in this world we aren’t blessed with perfect systems, and no method of government has ever been entirely successful in selecting only those fit to govern. But at least some have tried, whereas the ideological, arithmetical method of choosing leaders is absolutely and unequivocally guaranteed to create a government of, for and by nonentities.

Suitability for the job, not the sex, skin colour or sexual orientation, should be the only requirement. This isn’t to say that women or, say, blacks can’t produce qualified ministers. They can – but only as individuals, not as a group.

I’d applaud a cabinet made up exclusively of women if they possessed the qualities I mentioned earlier. Yet this criterion clearly didn’t even come into consideration. The selection was done with the calculator, not the head.

And even the calculator didn’t work properly. Thus The Times laments that “Justine Greening’s resignation means David Mundell is the only gay cabinet minister.”

Yet the most extensive survey I’ve ever seen puts the proportion of homosexuals in Britain at under 1.5 per cent. That means they’re over-represented among the 22 cabinet minsters and, before Miss Greening’s unlamented departure, they were well-nigh prevalent in statistical terms.

Also, I’m willing to bet that all our ministers can read and write, the latter only after a fashion, but still. So who’s representing the illiterate majority in a country that consistently places near the bottom of most literacy and numeracy rankings?

And, with about half of all British children born on the wrong side of the blanket, are single mothers and fatherless ex-children adequately represented among the ministers? I bet not, although figurative bastards more than fill the appropriate quota.

As if this earth-shattering idiocy weren’t enough, Mrs May has turned government into the only job in Her Majesty’s realm from which people can refuse to be sacked. Can you imagine any company, big or small, where the stern statement “You’re fired!” could be met with a sterner “No I’m not. I refuse to go and you can’t make me!”?

Yet this is exactly the situation our lame-duck, lame-brained, limp-willed PM allowed to develop during the reshuffle. Several of her ministers refused to be sacked or moved sideways, and Mrs May didn’t have the gumption to get her way. She should have simply announced publicly that she’s unqualified to do her job – the effect would have been the same.

To answer the facetious question in the title, no, I don’t think Mrs May has dedicated the latter stages of her career to shoving a Trotskyite government down Britain’s throat. But, should she lose her present job, which will probably happen soon, I think Jeremy should seriously consider hiring her as his campaign manager.

He’d be hard-pressed to find within the ranks of his own party a candidate who could do more to promote his career. And Mrs May won’t even have to retrain.

The N-word worse than attempted murder?

I’ve only been away from England for a month, which admittedly is too short a time to expect that the country’s acute mental disorder would be cured in the interim.

Yet hope, though it may not spring eternal, hasn’t yet been declared illegal. So I hoped that my country’s madness would slip into remission at least. Yet that hope, like so many others, has proved forlorn on my return.

And if you think I may be misdiagnosing the condition, judge for yourself.

The Liverpool Brazilian footballer Roberto Firmino was running full pelt trying to retrieve a ball going into touch. It was a lost cause: no man using only his two legs for locomotion would have caught up with that ball.

But the Everton defender Mason Holgate did catch up with Firmino and assisted his momentum by pushing him in the back as hard as he could with both hands. That turned Firmino into a good imitation of a stone flying out of a slingshot.

The pitch was surrounded by a concrete wall, about four feet high, serving as a hoarding for advertising posters. It was that barrier towards which Firmino flew uncontrollably, head first.

The great athlete that the Brazilian is, he somehow managed to somersault over the wall, landing among the spectators in the front three rows. But what if he hadn’t, as you or I wouldn’t be able to do?

In all likelihood Firmino’s career, and possibly his life, would have ended: running headlong into a wall at 30-odd miles an hour has been known to produce that effect. Holgate, in other words, attempted murder or at least GBH.

Years ago, another Everton player, Duncan Ferguson, proudly became the first footballer in history to go to prison for something he did on the pitch. But Ferguson only ‘nutted’ an opponent and, though a head butt could break a man’s nose, it’s unlikely to kill.

Holgate’s life-threatening assault was much worse and, understandably, Firmino was incensed. No sooner had he extricated himself from the crowd than he rushed towards his assailer screaming invective.

One of the words he shouted, after inquiring in Portuguese whether Holbate was crazy, was an Anglophone racial insult. I don’t know if the referee heard it, but he had certainly seen the assault – and yet took no action.

That means the Football Association won’t punish the attempted murder either – its rules say that, if a referee sees a transgression but chooses to ignore it, the culprit gets off scot-free. However, if, as Holbate claims, Firmino used the N-word, the FA can and will act.

The Brazilian will probably be banned for many games and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s criminally prosecuted. Hence my worst fears have been realised: England hasn’t become any saner in my absence.

What happened to sticks and stones, one wonders, those that, according to the popular ditty, can break one’s bones, whereas words can’t? Well, you see, that proverb was made up at a sane time, when a sense of proportion hadn’t yet disappeared, and society was at one with man.

They’ve now gone their separate ways, with most people retaining their sanity, while society has gone bonkers. Breaking a man’s bones, even fatally, is now a crime against that man only, which society may not condone but won’t treat as too big a deal.

However, uttering the N-word or even its faux cognates and vague homophones, such as ‘niggardly’, goes way beyond that. It’s a slap in the face of the modern ethos that has ruled that ‘racism’ is a crime worse than most others, possibly including murder.

Trying to break a man’s neck by hurling him towards a concrete wall offends no one but the victim. A cross word uttered in response commits a crime against our civilisation, or rather the bogus caricature of one that now rules supreme.

This is the message of the article written by Martin Samuel, one of our best sports writers but a paid-up modern man. Here’s what Mr Samuel wrote to call for a sensible balance:

“However angry he [Firmino] may have been, there are plenty of epithets he could have used to express his feelings without mentioning race. He does not get a free pass, no matter the provocation.

“And, yes, racism has been responsible for extremes of misery and suffering through the centuries and must be addressed. But mindless acts of violence are no lesser crime.”

Quite. Firmino should have picked himself up, dusted himself off and remonstrated in a gentlemanly fashion, by saying “A jolly bad show, old boy, what? One is aggrieved at this display of ill will, isn’t one?”

If this is Samuels’s protest against injustice, the hack doth protest too little, methinks. For one thing, in common with all modern cretins, even those who write for a living, he doesn’t use words precisely – especially words that convey modernity’s opprobrium at whatever peeves it.

‘No lesser’ means about equal. So attempted murder is as bad a crime as using an ill-advised word, and I suppose we must thank Mr Samuel for recognising this – many wouldn’t.

However, since the context he himself has outlined includes no mention of things like slavery or genocide, the “extremes of misery” he has in mind must have been caused by verbal insults. Surely that can’t be as extreme as all that?

Call me a crypto-racist insensitive to human suffering, including my own, but I’d rather someone called me every name in the unabridged dictionary than tried to kill me. But it’s not about me, you or any other person, is it? It’s about the modern ethos, today’s surrogate god.

And that god punishes blasphemy as surely, if not yet as severely, as blasphemy against the real God has ever been punished. Word has become graver than deed.

We ought to be thankful that guardians of modern probity haven’t yet learned to read thoughts, for otherwise we’d all be in trouble. Then again, one may interpret this whole mess as another proof of the primacy of the word.

Or else one may interpret it, with better justification, as the world turning into a madhouse. The frightening thought is that Britain may not even be the most violent nutcase.