Language terrorism reaches Brexit

The other day I wrote about the Welsh Assembly’s misguided attempt to solicit views on Brexit from children as young as seven.

My general thrust was that we might as well ask babies what they think. If our paedocrats think that seven-year-olds should be asked because they’re the ones who’ll be affected by Brexit longer than grown-ups, then, by the same logic, babies should have even more of a voice.

In the intervening three days, the Welsh legislator Neil Hamilton, Ukip, has expressed the same view, and he’s right, as any half-intelligent person would realise without even a second’s deliberation.

Enter the fully paid-up language terrorist Oliver Kamm, who disrespectfully disagrees.

Ollie mostly delivers himself of permissive views on the English language. If we applied his permissiveness to other matters, we’d lower the age of consent to that same seven or even lower (prenatal possibilities would have to be discarded for ballistic reasons).

Ollie, who’d rather split infinitives than hairs, proceeds from the premise that, if folk say it, it has to be right. Such swapping of prescription for description is a short-fused bomb placed under the foundation of Europe’s greatest language.

Again this is something anyone with a modicum of intelligence would know: anarchy in language has the same destructive effect as anarchy in politics. Naturally, our egalitarian modernity makes inroads on everything of value, including English. But it’s the sacred duty of every educated person to fight rearguard action against this onslaught, rather than joining it.

I suspect Ollie has gone to all the right schools, so, technically speaking, he’s educated. But schooling doesn’t equate intelligence, especially when it’s further compromised by leftie bias.

This Ollie’s rhetoric on Mr Hamilton proves beyond any doubt. For, since rhetoric is adjacent to language, it too suffers from Ollie’s terrorist propensities.

Ollie proves that it’s not only wit that brevity is the soul of. His short piece has five paragraphs, of which the first four are savage ad hominems against Mr Hamilton.

Actually, I rather share the view that Hamilton is a disagreeable man. But ad hominems constitute a rhetorical fallacy partly because even an awful man may sometimes be right.

For example, if a composite villain made up of Lenin, Hitler and Mao said that the sky is blue and Ollie’s nose isn’t, he’d be right. Much as we might hate this apparition, we’d have to agree.

Ollie kicks off with groundless assertions leading to witless irony: “As the cause of Brexit becomes mired in the brute facts of economic torpor and diplomatic isolation, Neil Hamilton knows who to blame. The fault lies with children at primary school.” (It should be ‘whom’, but what’s one terrorist act among so many?)

He must be privy to data outside the public domain. Those in that domain (and I suspect our vox populi Ollie thinks ‘data’ should be singular because his postman uses it that way) point to neither the torpor nor the isolation. But leftie Remainers will say anything.

Another tip on rhetoric, Ollie: for irony to succeed, it must touch on truth, however tangentially. Yet Ollie’s irony has no bearing on truth whatsoever. Mr Hamilton didn’t blame tots for the fictitious torpor and isolation. He simply said that grown-up decisions ought to be made by grown-ups.

If anything, leaving children out of this process exculpates them from any mistakes grown-ups may make on their behalf. But our language terrorist sees no difference between ‘blames’ and ‘protects from blame’.

Having got the thin gruel of personal attacks out of the way, Ollie proceeds to the meat of the argument:

“It’s natural that children will have inchoate views on public policy. Perhaps, as the Conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott put it, ‘politics is an activity unsuited to the young, not on account of their vices but on account of what I at least consider to be their virtues’. Yet young people are the ones who will pay the highest price for Brexit, losing the automatic right to travel freely, study and live in the EU. I’d rather listen to the voices from the playground than to their Ukip critics.”

At first I wondered why he’d drag Oakeshott into it, especially since the late professor presaged the view held by Mr Hamilton. Then it dawned on me: ‘conservative’ is the operative word. To Ollie, everything conservative is ipso facto wrong, not to say evil, and he assumes that his Times readers share this view.

It slides downhill from there. I won’t repeat the argument I made the other day against the ridiculous notion of enfranchising children because they’ll have more years to live with Brexit.

But “losing the automatic right to travel freely, study and live in the EU”? This prediction, provided it comes from the mind rather than out of…, well, you know what I mean, heavily depends on the known facts.

Specifically, for it to be true, Ollie would have to demonstrate that before 1992, when Europe was blessed with the Maastricht Treaty, Britons had been unable to do all those things on the Continent.

But that’s simply not true – unless he’s prepared to argue that Nice’s Promenade des Anglais was so named because no Englishmen were allowed to go there. And Sorbonne’s numerous British alumni include Douglas Cooper, George Whitman, Frank McEwen and John Cairncross (I assume his degree was a first in treason).

As to Ollie rather listening to “the voices from the playground than to their Ukip critics”, this preference is understandable. Ollie must sense intuitive kinship between children’s minds and his own.

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