Mr Farage made an innocent remark that has attracted criticism that’s far from innocent.
All he said was that it’s “just a matter of common sense” that a breastfeeding woman should do so discreetly, for example by retreating to a corner or covering herself with a napkin.
I have to disagree. It’s not just a matter of common sense. It’s also one of taste, decorum, upbringing, manners and concern for others.
Of all those things, in other words, that have no place in our increasingly barbarous society. And barbarians tend to create their own ethos, their own rules.
Such as: being a member of an arithmetic majority but existential minority, a woman may breastfeed twins, one for each breast, in the middle of Trafalgar Square if she feels like it.
Presumably such unrestrained behaviour communicates to the world that the woman is free of inhibitions (particularly those of the bourgeois kind), at one with nature, proud of her body, comfortable in her femininity, basking in the glory of motherhood, and all those wonderful things.
Actually one doesn’t have to presume. All those points are being made at hysterical pitch by Mr Farage’s detractors.
The leitmotif of every bit of criticism is that, because breastfeeding is natural and healthy, its practice must in no way be restricted.
Now what about urination and defecation? Both are undeniably natural and healthy. Both have a clear-cut advantage over breastfeeding because no painless alternative exists.
Does this mean we should all relieve ourselves in the King’s Road? (Actually Chelsea FC fans do so on every match day, but at least this isn’t yet officially condoned.)
This argument may seem to be reductio ad absurdum, but it actually isn’t. It simply shows that, by itself, an appeal to a practice being natural and healthy is rhetorically unsound.
We can’t avoid referring to such, admittedly obsolete, notions as culture, civilisation, convention and etiquette. And in our residually Western civilisation, when a woman appears in public her breasts must be covered at least partially, and her nipples completely.
If they aren’t, the exhibitionistic woman violates the etiquette that has held sway in the West since God was young. She also offends the aesthetic sensibilities of those who still stubbornly cling to tradition – or else prefer to see female breasts used for a less utilitarian purpose.
The usual argument, that just a few decades ago this subject simply would not have arisen, doesn’t cut much ice with the modern lot, those who see tradition as something to despise and, ideally, destroy.
Things have changed, they declare, from those antediluvian times when women’s breasts had to be at least flimsily covered in public. Since every change is for the better to these progress junkies, no appeal to conventional decorum will make a dent in their savage smugness.
In that respect today’s Times editorial is second to none.
In the very first sentence it helpfully informs us that “Women have breasts”. Eliciting our agreeing nod, the editorial presses on – while I, realising where this is going, make a mental note that, even though I have a penis, I don’t object to its public use being regulated.
“Babies,” continues the article, “don’t necessarily wait till they get home to ask for their sustenance.” True again.
But then all grown-ups have urinary tracts and bladders. The latter are sometimes so full that waiting till one gets home is even harder than for a baby to postpone his repast. Would this justify urinating on a pavement in broad daylight?
“It’s not common sense for a mother to waste time worrying that feeding a baby in the most natural way possible might offend” is the next pearl of wisdom.
How much time would be wasted if a mother tossed a napkin into the pram before going out and then used it to cover herself? That’s a bit of a nuisance, but having children usually is.
Short of truths, the editorial offers another truism: “Britain is not Saudi Arabia.” Indeed it is not. But then neither is it subequatorial Africa, where women don’t think twice before happily posing nude for National Geographic.
“We value manners but not subservience. In any case, we value freedom more.”
Well, well, well, aren’t we waxing downright libertarian now. Freedom, chaps, is two-sided. On one side you’ve got freedom for something. On the other, freedom from something.
I’d suggest that the latter should supersede the former, at least in this case. A woman’s freedom to expose her lactating breasts in public impinges on my freedom to be protected from this gross violation of millennia-long tradition.
I’d further suggest that my freedom is more in keeping with our civilisation and therefore must be protected – just as a woman’s freedom must be protected from the sight of me exercising my freedom to urinate on a parked car.
More banalities are coming our way: “Social mores do change but they have been changing for a while.”
Which, to The Times, obviously means that they’ve been invariably changing for the better.
Tastes differ, but I for one don’t rejoice at the sight of drunk women brawling in a pub, a sight all too common in our changing world and relatively rare in the past.
Nor do I welcome having the pavement outside my house densely covered with vomit every Saturday morning. Hearing people of all ages swear at the top of their voice isn’t too pleasing either, and don’t get me started on facial metal and body art.
Now comes a helpful suggestion: “Anyone… offended or embarrassed by it this deep into the 21st century… can always look the other way.” The same protective measure would also work for public defecation, yet even The Times doesn’t countenance it – so far.
And as to the 21st century, can we please stop the bloody thing before it’s too late? Otherwise God only knows the depths of barbarism to which we’ll sink – to the sound of thunderous applause coming from our progress-happy ‘liberals’.
My new book, Democracy as a Neocon Trick, is available from Amazon and the more discerning bookshops. However, my publisher would rather you ordered it from http://www.roperpenberthy.co.uk/index.php/browse-books/political/democracy-as-a-neocon-trick.htmlor, in the USA, http://www.newwinebookshop.com/Books/0002752