Staying on the subject of gays:
A bill that would have wiped clean the criminal records of thousands of gay men has fallen at its first parliamentary hurdle.
The private member’s bill would have pardoned all men living with UK convictions for same-sex offences committed before the law was changed.
Mr Nicolson says he was motivated by his work as a BBC journalist in the 1990s: “I made a documentary in the 1990s looking at the discriminatory laws which criminalised gay men.
“There were some shocking injustices. Men were arrested aged 21 for having ‘under-age sex’ with their 20-year-old boyfriends,” he said.
Section 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 concerned buggery. Which means 60 years ago politicians sat down and decided what two grown men of sound mind could and couldn’t do to one another, and how the rest of the country should treat them. Does this sound reasonable to you? It doesn’t to me. There is an argument that this is what the majority population wanted, but I don’t see any reason why the wishes of the majority should be taken into account when two independent adults decide what they’re going to do behind closed doors.
Had the principle of individual freedom and liberty been in force in 1956, this law would never have come into being. This is why the war cry of the gay movement was “Get the Government out of the Bedroom!”, implying what two men get up to is no business of the government’s or anyone else. On that basis, the gays of the day would have had my full support.
Across the Atlantic there is a parallel: pre-Civil Rights Era laws requiring blacks to be segregated from whites, and the two treated differently. At some point legislators sat down and determined that blacks should be treated differently from whites, and anyone breaking these laws – be they black or white – would be subject to criminal prosecution. Regardless of whether a free individual of one colour wanted to interact with a free individual of another, this was prohibited by law, which in turn was justified on the grounds that this is what the majority wanted. Only if individuals are truly free then they can associate with whomever they please, and it ought not to be a matter to be decided by the majority.
My point is that not so long ago legislators put severe restrictions on supposedly free individuals as to how they could interact with each other based on rather arbitrary criteria beyond the individuals’ control. They justified these laws by saying that this is what the majority wanted and it was for the greater good of society. These laws, the majority agreed, made for a better, safer society.
Only now we look back and most people are in agreement that these laws were an abomination and ought never to have been passed. Hence the attempt now to pardon those in the UK and the rioting and looting in the USA. I’m being ironic about that last one.
Fortunately politicians and the voting public learned their lesson that individual liberty and freedom is paramount and governments have no business passing legislation as to how free individuals should interact (short of causing actual physical harm or loss of property, reputation, etc. covered by laws that have been in place since Man first wandered out of the Great Rift Valley).
Oh wait. No, actually they didn’t. With breathtaking hubris they determined that although the last lot of politicians and voters were catastrophically wrong, they are much smarter and hence are able to write laws setting out exactly how individuals must interact in a hideously complex society to achieve the absolute optimum outcome in terms of happiness and security for all. Clever folk, eh?
So now we have laws which actively discriminate between people of different skin colours and religions, insist that gender – which can be changed on a whim – should be both ignored and acknowledged simultaneously, maintain an ever-growing list of sexual orientations all of which deserve special treatment, allow grown men to wander into women’s toilets a fundamental human right, and make formal (and even informal) criticism of all of this practically illegal.
Whatever happened to the principle of all humans are equal? Or the principle of individual freedom? Well, that’s the problem: there are no principles being applied, it is simply a small group of people deciding this is what they want to do, claiming a democratic mandate, and forcing it on everyone else. Just as they did when they criminalised gays and made blacks drink at a different fountain.
Some people call this Social Engineering, and it’s a good term. But engineering is all about the application of principles, not doing whatever a gaggle of people fancy doing this week. If you tried to build a bridge like this it would collapse. As will our society if we keep this up.