An academic from the University of East Anglia argues that animals have privacy rights. “What does it say about our assumptions about animals” when people film them he asked. In Britain a Muslim who spray painted a war memorial with a slogan calling for Islamic world domination, the assassination of Gordon Brown and the exaltation of Osama bin Laden is not prosecuted, after authorities concluded that his graffiti was “not racially motivated”. A teacher is acquitted for beating a student with a 7 pound dumb bell after he snaps from repeated taunting.
Each incident exemplifies in its bizarre way the new morality. Things are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ for reasons which only 20 years ago would have been regarded as completely crazy. Take Peter Harvey, the teacher at a school in Britain. He knew the rules, the only problem was, he couldn’t take them any more.
Hounded for months by a group of students who decided to see what it would take to make him snap; tripped up, shoved him into hedges and followed home threateningly, Harvey went on a 5 month leave of absence because he feared he would lose his mind. Punishing the gang leaders was out of the question. Traditional classroom disciplinary measures were no longer available to him. No more harsh words, no more corporal punishment, however slight. Teachers had been sentenced to jail for striking students in a country where the police were called into classrooms 40 times a day because the schools had lost control. Upon his return from leave the same group decided to secretly record him going over the edge and arranged to goad him after which they planned to distribute the video to complete his humiliation. They didn’t reckon on the 7 pound dumb bell. The result was a 14 year old with a skull fracture and a man accused of murder.
In a way Peter Harvey was a failure. He couldn’t meet the enlightened standard. Political correctness is a tough game; it demands a relentless reinforcement of small problems until things fall apart. Double down until your broke. Poor, weak Mr Harvey wasn’t made of stern enough stuff. He might never have snapped if some classroom disciplinary measure between taking it and going postal existed. But in the face of the relentless need to “be a caring school” no matter the hooliganism, and probably because he had to care for a chronically sick wife and child Harvey committed the cardinal error of forgetting “that it’s for the children”, even if it really isn’t. The instant realization of his utter worthlessness sank in the moment he realized what he had done.
He was led away making a guttural howling noise, and was later seen headbutting a wall at the police station because he wanted to “destroy horrible me”.
It was the reaction of a man brought to the level of an animal. Doubtless the politically correct brigade will complete the task, though they should be reminded that we ought not film animals in the wild, even when they are teachers being humiliated in the classroom. Underlying the new morality is not some notion of good or bad, but the preservation of privileges in an unstated but obvious hierarchy. Things are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ in the old courtly sense. Did you forget yourself? Rise above your station? The idea that animals should not be filmed in their burrows is founded on the idea that their relative ranking in the PC universe should be revised. “What does it say about our assumptions about animals?” That we think we’re better, hence we’re bigots. QED. Animals up, humans down. But not all humans. Some humans are better than others and we all know who they are. Not inquiring into animal behavior is of a piece with not asking people who show up in our living rooms what they are doing carting away the TV set or asking why they’re climbing over a border fence. It has to do with who’s doing the carting or who’s the climbing. Everything, guilt or innocence, morality or immorality is judged not by what is done, but by who did it. Alternet has an article by a rape victim who thinks her Haitian attacker was justified because she was white and deserved to be punished. Others are above it all. If Roman Polanski does rape, is it really rape?
The need to judge every act within the new hierarchy means only one real crime is left in the world: not knowing your place. Hence when a Muslim spray painted a British war memorial calling for Islamic world domination, the murder of the Prime Minister and the praising Osama Bin Laden the only accusation that could politically stick was the allegation of racial crime. It was madness to consider treason, incitement to murder or aiding and abetting terrorism. Those are judgmental things. Even terrorism is now referred to as human-caused disaster; so that’s out. And certainly nothing so quaint as charging him with defiling the memory of those who died for their country could even be considered. That’s so yesterday. Since no racial epithets or religious insults were spray painted, what crime could there be? And so he walks.
Political correctness is gradually replacing common sense and natural law with an unstated but controlling code of manners. Certain things cannot be said; certain illegal things are legal and vice versa; things though evident may not exist. Go to the eye doctor. Nothing to see here, just move along. Doubts are driven underground; dissent is expressed in secret. It’s a cave of whispers, the new Sound of Silence. In brief the politically correct world is becoming very much like Mr. Peter Harvey’s classroom: a “caring place” seething with hatred; a place of forced gaiety, of smiles as mirthful as the Joker’s, a place you want to take five month’s vacation from knowing nothing will have changed when you get back.