My problems with Lord Neuberger start with his title, President of the Supreme Court. Next we’ll call our MPs congressmen, our Lords senators and let our defendants take the Fifth.
The Supreme Court was created in 2005, when it usurped the judicial functions of the House of Lords, a system that had worked perfectly well for half a millennium at least. But hey, what’s a few centuries of tradition among friends? Life would be dull without a spot of constitutional vandalism.
Even those of our institutions that have kept their old names have lost their old meaning. This used to be to protect Britain as Britain, not as an ideological contraption beholden to foreign bodies and alien ideas.
These days their function seems to be to whip Britain into a shape outlined in foreign lands, where our idiosyncratic constitution used to be admired but is now despised.
The Supreme Court was one of the bodies created for this purpose, and its head Lord Neuberger has got into the spirit.
His Lordship has suggested that Muslim women should be allowed to cover their faces – which is to say to conceal their identity – when appearing in court.
We must “show, and be seen to show” respect for other people’s customs, explained the judge, who probably has never read ‘the Father of History’ Herodotus but is acting on his prescriptions.
Herodotus too suggested that other people’s customs must command respect. A few pages later in the same book he wrote: “The ancient Persian custom is to bury people alive.”
Obviously the Greek’s book didn’t get the benefit of rigorous editing, for otherwise this logical inconsistency would have been pointed out to him.
“Look, Herodotus,” the editor might have said. “I appreciate the sentiment and all that, but surely you must qualify it. Why not say something like ‘we must respect other people’s customs as long as they don’t threaten our own’?”
One can respect only what’s respectable, and not all foreign customs fall into that category. Among those that don’t automatically merit respect one could name cannibalism, suttee, female genital mutilation, the stoning of adulterers.
Killing Christians is another ancient Muslim custom, and Mediterranean boat people uphold it by throwing Christian refugees overboard. Should this too be given as much respect as the wearing of a full-face veil in a country where people like to know who’s talking to them?
Out of curiosity, how would Lord Neuberger know that the defendant actually is the alleged transgressor and not her grandmother (or grandfather with a particularly high-pitched voice)?
Yes, I know, such crude practical considerations are outweighed by the lofty ideals of share, care, be aware. Not hurting the defendant’s feelings is more important than serving justice, as His Lordship explained:
“Would you feel that you have given of your best if you had been forced to give evidence in unfamiliar surroundings, with lots of strangers watching, in an intimidating court, with lawyers in funny clothes asking questions…?”
One could suggest that a person who is so traumatised by the sight of non-Muslims shouldn’t live in a non-Muslim country. If she does, she should be prepared to accept the local mores. And in any case, a certain degree of discomfort is to be expected when a person is being tried for a crime.
I can only wish that our top judge could be as sensitive to his own country’s customs as to those of the people who come here from cultures not only different from ours, but aggressively hostile to it.
Peter Hitchens went even further down the same path by claiming he “was moved by the picture of two Muslims praying at a football match…”
If I were a Muslim, I’d feel that praying to Allah for your team to win is the height of blasphemous vulgarity. As an infidel, I only hope that the two chaps indeed prayed for something as innocent as that, and not, say, for a nuclear device to go off in Knightsbridge.
Peter here lets his febrile mind be guided by the same non sequitur logic I mocked the other day. Yes, it’s most lamentable that the West has gone secular. But I’d rather it remained secular than became Muslim.
Much as I hate seeing the West’s traditional religion going to pot, I’d still rather be spared shows of Islamic piety. If that’s the sole alternative, give me atheism any day. At least godless criminals don’t hide their identity behind Halloween garments.
Peter wouldn’t be Peter if he also didn’t apply the same crepuscular logic to his favourite subject: the glorification of fascismo Putinesco.
In the same blog he gloats over two supposedly political murders committed in the Ukraine: “…the belief that Russia is the heart of darkness, and Ukraine is a law-governed, clean Utopia, is ridiculous and silly.”
Quite. That’s why no one I know, including the Ukrainians among my friends, holds this belief. However, decent people realise that, whatever her failings, the Ukraine is a sovereign country and, as such, must be protected by international law.
Even assuming for the sake of argument that the Ukraine is diabolical, it doesn’t logically follow that Russia is angelic. And whatever alleged political crimes are committed in the Ukraine don’t justify Russia’s predatory aggression.
For Hitchens two wrongs can make a right, provided one of the wrongs is committed by the strong leader he self-admittedly wishes we had.
My argument would be the same as above: yes, our own government is craven, self-serving, intellectually feeble, morally deficient and generally risible. But fascism, Russian or homespun, doesn’t offer a viable alternative – any more than Islam offers one to our deplorable atheism.
At a weak moment, however, one does wish that our politicians, judges and, come to think of it, pundits had a bit more sense. Otherwise we may not muster the will to resist alien perversions, religious, political or any other.