It’s not easy to see Peter Hitchens – the personification of the Daily Mail mindset – as a devout Christian. But here he is, furious about the fact that betting shops can now open on Good Friday. The headline:
Our braying, Godless land where Easter is another day at the bookies
As opposed to “another day” in which a newspaper’s main headline contrives to add to the grief of the mother of a 15 year-old murdered girl, by implying that the fact that the girl drank alcohol was somehow a reason for the girl’s murder and therefore the mother’s fault? Good example of Christian charity, that paper? Oh, blow me down with a feather, is that the Daily Mail?
Pause to reflect on the meaning of “braying” in Hitchens’ headline. Can’t find one. Assume, uncharitably, that is must be there to make “godless” seem more threatening. As with the unusual capital letter on “Godless”.
I must confess to not knowing that bookies were previously closed at Easter, (not being a gambler) so I start from a bit of a disadvantage. Nonetheless, I can’t see what the opening hours of betting shops have to do with morality, at all. There might be (unconvincing to me) moral argument for banning betting but how can there be a moral argument for banning betting on certain days?
But it appears, according to the rabid one, that the new testament provides the justification:
……this is the first generation in centuries that does not know that the soldiers cast lots at the foot of the Cross, ignoring the groans of the crucified Jesus and the weeping of his mother, to decide which of them should have Christ’s seamless garment.
Betting makes the baby Jesus cry? But only at Easter?
Hitchens then argues that:
“paintings of the Crucifixion by the great Flemish Masters such as Hieronymus Bosch and you will see, baying or sneering at Golgotha, exactly the same snarling, contorted, heedless faces you find on the drunken streets of our country.”
What? I thought this was rant against betting on Good Friday, rather than against angry drunks. Is a bad-tempered drunk in the street somehow mocking the crucifixion? Is the (conceptual) guy putting a Five pound Yankee twist forecast on the fourth race at Cheltenham somehow responsible for another (mythical) guy betting on an old t-shirt 2000 years ago?
Falling for Hitchens’ usual rhetorical trick of arousing emotion by association of ideas, I confess that I now picture Hitchens as some sort of Bosch demon. I definitely picture him “snarling” at the keyboard as he types his column.
Oh, it turns out the cause of society’s ongoing tumble into the Pit isn’t gambling on the first “Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox.” (Wikipedia) Nor is it people who look ugly when drunk in public. It’s single parents, according to the next few paragraphs.
This is actually what people such as me have been warning of for years, while being dismissed loftily as puritans and bigots and falsely described as believers in a past “golden age”.
Please let me join in the lofty dismissal. May I add ranting, fear-mongering, hate-spreading, self-satisfied, unable to present a halfway coherent argument?
He’s supposed to be a committed Anglican, according to his Wikipedia biography.
That’s “committed” used in a sense other than that which it has when it’s coupled with “should be”.
And that is “Anglican” used in a sense that is so unlike that brand of Christianity of Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney, as to make you wonder if the Trades Descriptions Act might usefully be applied to religion.