Matthew Parris is much saner than a former Tory MP has any right to be. He proved this again with a good piece in the Times. He was arguing against thought crimes.
I am driven to my wits’ end by my fellow humans’ feeble grasp of principled reasoning. .
I feel your pain, brother!
He discussed the new proposal that “anyone found with drawings (or computer-generated images) of child sexual abuse will face up to three years in prison.” Parris pointed out that making images of abusing real children is genuinely different from making imaginary representations, however repellent such imaginary images are.
Maria Eagle, the Justice Minister, said that the move was not intended to curb creativity or freedom of expression but to tackle images that had “no place in society”. Crikey – the intellectual sloppiness!….. The logical extension of Ms Eagle’s principle is almost boundless.
That is, there are an endless number of things that “have no place in society.” But, as soon as we start restricting expression to things we like, we start down a dangerous road. Surely, almost every TV show or Hollywood movie shows things that we don’t want to be true. And not just the endless shootings and stabbings in crime shows and action movies. What about the bickering morons portrayed in soaps? These definitely should have “no place in society”.
In fact, if it was left to me, there is no end to the things I don’t think have a place in society. Luckily, it’s not left to me. Thank your personal deity for that, all you women carrying miniature dogs in your handbag and masquerading as Paris Hilton, for example.
In fact, on the topic of deities – personal or otherwise – Parris extended the point about attempts to outlaw people’s chosen means of expression, however repugnant, to the issue of the new law
requiring fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, astrologers and mediums to stipulate explicitly that their services are for “entertainment only”
He pointed out that this principle should surely apply equally to faith-healing and, indeed, to all churches.
Is Parliament aware of any harder evidence for the efficacy of faith-healing than for the reliability of clairvoyance? I’d like to hear it. Otherwise, let the collecting boxes in church display a sign “for entertainment purposes only” and let Catholics buy candles to light “for entertainment purposes only”; and let trips to Lourdes be sold “for entertainment purposes only”. And let the raiment of the priest administering the Sacrament be embroidered likewise.
Imagine the churchyard billboard: the Power of Prayer (for entertainment purposes only).
Well, we can but dream… All the same, if laws to save people from their own gullibility are going to be passed, why should more mainstream official churches be exempt?