Category Archives: censorship

The guilty-if-accused school of jurisprudence

George Pell at court: an overdue victory for the rule of law

Detention without trial, guilt without proof

It is shocking, writes Dalrymple, that the case against Cardinal Pell was seriously investigated in the absence of evidence, and even more shocking that it was brought to trial and ended in conviction. Of course,

it is terrible for someone who has suffered abuse to not be believed. But it is also terrible for an innocent man to be wrongly accused, even if he is eventually exonerated. It is part of the unavoidable tragic dimension of life that both are possible: not for nothing is the prohibition of bearing false witness one of the Ten Commandments.

He warns of the danger of surrendering legal administration

to the political and emotional pressure of those who believe that certain categories of crime are so heinous that normal safeguards against false conviction must be abrogated. Better that ninety-nine innocent men be convicted than one guilty man be acquitted, especially when he already belongs to a category of persons whom one dislikes.

No one is guilty merely because he is accused

Dalrymple notes that campuses,

with their censorship and de-platforming, have demonstrated how shallow is the commitment of some people to the notion of freedom of speech and thought. Likewise, the Pell case has illustrated how shallowly implanted is the commitment of some people to the principle that a man is innocent until proved guilty, once moral enthusiasm for a cause takes over.

This,

be it remembered, takes place in polities in which the principles of freedom of speech and the rule of law are supposed to be deeply rooted. Things are often more fragile than one supposes, including the commitment to basic rights of the accused.

Associations in defence of victims of abuse are said to have been angered by the overturning of the Cardinal’s conviction. Dalrymple asks:

Would they prefer detention without trial, and guilt without proof? Perhaps if it were under their direction.

There are fears for the safety of the Cardinal,

so certain are his calumniators of the rectitude of their outrage.

Censorship makes necessary the implicit

Pushkin statue, St Petersburg

Dalrymple ventures to point out that

the great majority of great art was produced under conditions of censorship.

The removal of all censorship

has not resulted in a florescence of the arts, and certainly not in literature, quite the reverse.

He notes that

the golden age of Russian literature was certainly not one of an absence of censorship, nor was Shakespeare entirely free to write what he might have liked.

Censorship

makes necessary the implicit, which is always more powerful and moving than the explicit.

If we were obliged to disregard that part of the artistic heritage of Man that was produced under conditions of censorship,

there would be practically nothing left. And if, conversely, we were obliged to regard only that part of the heritage that was produced under conditions of complete freedom of expression, we should have but little artistic sustenance from the past.

Speaking power to truth

Political correctness is not a neurodegenerative disease, the doctor explains,

but it might as well be, so devastating is its effect on intellection. It appears to be infective, spreading from brain to brain. It is more like a form of chronic mass hysteria.

A little like our economic system, it must be forever expanding to survive.

The capitalist system, Dalrymple reminds us, must

stimulate new desires in consumers and make those desires as quickly as possible seem like needs, without the satisfaction of which life is rendered impossible.

Similarly, political correctness,

to extend its soft-totalitarian hold over the population, must discover new injustices to set right — by a mixture of censorship, language reform, and legal privileges for minorities. The meaning of life for the politically correct is political agitation.

Dalrymple points out that the greater the violation of common sense, the better.

It is like communist propaganda of old: the greater the disparity between the claims of that propaganda and the everyday experience of those at whom it is directed, the greater the humiliation suffered by the latter — especially when they were obliged to repeat it, thus destroying their ability to resist, even in the secret corners of their heart.

That is why the politically correct

insist that everyone use their language: unlike what the Press is supposed to do, the politically correct speak power to truth.

All that is necessary for humbug to triumph is for honest men to say nothing

The politically correct, Dalrymple notes,

never seem to become bored with their thoughts. This leads to a dilemma for those who oppose political correctness, for to be constantly arguing against bores is to become a bore oneself. On the other hand, not to argue against them is to let them win by default. To argue against rubbish is to immerse oneself in rubbish; not to argue against rubbish is to allow it to triumph.

The totalitarian impulse

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-20-56-23Dalrymple points out that Europe’s problems are associated with

intellectual error and dishonesty — combined with a totalitarian impulse to suppress discussion.

Many subjects cannot freely be broached, with the result that

the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.

The uncolumnist

Hitchens is a onetime communist (Trotskyist, to be more precise) who unlike so many of this species has had the guts to admit that he was wrong and that the doctrines he espoused were evil

Hitchens is a onetime communist (Trotskyist, to be precise). Dalrymple points out, however, that unlike so many of his kind, Hitchens has had the courage and intellectual honesty to admit that he was profoundly wrong — indeed, crack-brained — and that the doctrines he espoused were murderous and evil

The Mail on Sunday censor has been at work. Peter Hitchens, the onetime Trotskyist who is the Rothermere-owned newspaper’s best writer, has had his columns spiked, the skewering being timed to coincide with the run-up to, and the aftermath of, the British general election.

It is speculated that the newspaper, recognising the commercial imperative of identification with the winning side, decided — after seeing which way the wind was blowing — that it would back the Conservatives. It would help that disreputable party secure a convincing victory. It gagged Hitchens so as to ensure that readers would not be influenced to follow his (wise) counsel. This has long been that right-thinking, decent people ought to desist from voting for the corrupt Tories.

According to the magazine Private Eye, Hitchens (who has not been silenced altogether — there remains much engaging material on his blog) is ‘talking to his lawyers’.

Reviewed by Dalrymple: Hitchens's 2003 polemic

Reviewed by Dalrymple: Hitchens’s 2003 polemic

Dalrymple reviews Hitchens’s A Brief History of Crime

Hitchens’s rage at what has been done to British society is more than justified, Dalrymple writes. In A Brief History of Crime, Hitchens is especially astute on the matter of the failings of the British criminal justice system. Hitchens has discovered, Dalrymple points out, that the systemic corruption causes people no longer

to believe very deeply in the majesty of the law or the legitimacy of the British State; and this disillusion in turn must lead to a kind of resentful apathy.

Hitchens appreciates, says Dalrymple, that such a state of mind

will be highly receptive to authoritarianism: for order will come to be valued over freedom. As the author points out, this is useful to many politicians and it explains why the rigorous enforcement of the law is so essential to liberty.

The spike: destination of Hitchens’s two most recent columns for the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday

The spike: destination of Hitchens’s most recent articles for the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday

Dalrymple writes that in A Brief History of Crime,

Mr Hitchens traces the descent of Britain, in only a few decades, from being one of the best-ordered societies in the western world to being among the worst-ordered.

Hitchens places the blame, explains Dalrymple,

firmly where it belongs: on a supine and pusillanimous political establishment that, for four decades at least, has constantly retreated before the verbal onslaught of liberal intellectuals whose weapons have been mockery allied to sentimental guilt about their prosperous and comfortable lives, and whose aim has been to liberate themselves from personally irksome moral constraints, without regard to the consequences for those less favourably placed in society than themselves.

How Hitchens became an unperson at the Mail on Sunday, as reported by the magazine Private Eye

How Hitchens became an unperson at the Mail on Sunday, as reported by the magazine Private Eye

Dalrymple says that Hitchens’s outrage at the compromising and besmirching of British traditions, values and liberties is palpably

of the genuine and generous variety that comes from a real understanding of the conditions which millions of people now endure — unlike the simulated and self-regarding outrage that is common among liberal reformers.

Examining the way in which British peace and order have gradually disappeared,

Mr Hitchens in every case finds the self-satisfaction of people such as Roy Jenkins, who introduced lenient treatment for criminals without ever having personally to face the social consequences.

Dalrymple thinks Hitchens

Not so optimistic any more: Hitchens discusses the election result on his blog

Not so optimistic now: Hitchens discusses the election result on his blog

is too optimistic about the prospect of the nation coming to its senses: the march of ‘progressive’ sociology through the institutions has been so thorough that there is no constituency left which could preserve the kind of traditional limited polity that he believes Britain once was and which he would like to see restored.

Judging from Hitchens’s pronouncements on his blog and on Twitter since the election, he is no longer nearly as optimistic as he was when he wrote A Brief History of Crime, which Dalrymple commends as

a lucid polemic by a man who is so obviously more interested in the welfare of the common man than in the approbation of his peers.

Hitchens in the People's Republic of the Rothermeres: now you see him, now you don't

Now you read him, now you don’t

 

Hitchens as he was: the conceited Marxist participant in cheap middle-class protest

Hitchens as he was: the conceited Marxist, active in cheap middle-class protest. He gave up the Leninist claptrap along with the donkey-jacket many years ago

The gagged Hitchens

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 08.18.54A strange disappearance, behind which there is something probably disreputable

Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper has silenced its best columnist, Peter Hitchens. His columns have been spiked. The skewering was timed to coincide with the British general election.

The spike: destination of Hitchens’s last two columnsIt is speculated that the newspaper, recognising the commercial imperative of identification with the winning side, has gagged Hitchens so as to ensure that readers do not follow his (wise) advice, which has long been that right-thinking, decent people ought to desist from voting for the corrupt Tories.

In the republic of the Rothermeres, Hitchens has become an unperson.

According to the magazine Private Eye, Hitchens is ‘now talking to his lawyers’.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 08.22.35

In the run-up to the election and after, suddenly absent. Why?

Censored

This is a disgrace because Hitchens is a writer and broadcaster of a high order. He is also personally admirable for having the guts to admit that his youthful communist leanings were dangerous, murderous folly.

Dalrymple writes that Hitchens has

undergone a real and painful repentance for all that he formerly was and did.

Hitchens

has discovered that it is he, and not just the world, that was and is imperfect and that therefore humility is a virtue, even if one does not always live up to it.

The first sentence of Hitchens’ 2010 book The Rage Against God reads,

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 08.25.36I set fire to my Bible on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967.

One senses, writes Dalrymple,

the deep — and, in my view, healthy — feeling of self-disgust with which he wrote this, for indeed it describes an act of wickedness.

Hitchens does not believe, says Dalrymple,

that man can live by his own individual reason alone.

He believes that

something else is necessary and inevitable.

From the magazine Private Eye

From the magazine Private Eye

The Western idea of a free Press

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 01.54.59Perhaps no tyranny in history, Dalrymple writes,

has enjoyed such a good Press, and for so long, as Cuba under the Castro boys. When it comes to Cuba, restrictions on freedom of opinion, thought and expression, which have been both severe and long-lasting, are deemed by liberals to be unimportant, of no fundamental significance in their assessment of the regime.

Meanwhile the Brooklyn Museum

has only to be prevented from showing pictures of the Virgin Mary surrounded by blobs of elephant dung — without any private institution being prohibited from showing them — for the cry of ‘Intolerable censorship!’ to go up.

The Holy Virgin Mary. Chris Ofili, 1996. Oil, elephant dung, polyester resin, glitter, collaged pornographic images.

The Holy Virgin Mary. Chris Ofili, 1996. Oil, elephant dung, polyester resin, glitter, collaged pornographic images