...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 2871: Dacre: One Man Should Not Determine Britain's Morality… unless that man is ME!


Mr Paul Decrepit, editor-in-chief* of the Daily Hate Mail, has called the judgements of a high court judge AMORAL!

Quite right too! We do not want anybody's funny ideas about "morality" creeping into our courts! Let us keep our justice FAIR and IMPARTIAL!

But seriously, folks, surely what this NEWSPAPER HACK is asking for is AT BEST free licence to TITILLATE, and at worst a SPECIAL LICENCE to say some people's consensual private behaviour doesn't qualify as private just on his say so. Because, let's be honest, this dribbling diatribe is NOT about upholding "morality" let alone defending "democracy".

Let's look at the "morality".

"Morality", in the sense that Mr Decrepit means, if it means ANYTHING, must mean some kind of universally accepted "ideal" standard of behaviour. Now assuming that such a thing is even POSSIBLE in a democracy where everyone gets their say, why is Mr Decrepit's formulation the right one? Because I think I must have missed the meeting where that ideal got "universally accepted".

The ALTERNATIVE is that everyone has their own PERSONAL moral code: the things that they believe are right and wrong. And that Mr Decrepit thinks that HIS personal moral code trumps everyone else's. In which case he is just using "morality" as a code word for "do as I say".

So, why might Mr Decrepit personally want to put this "FILTH" in his papers, anyway?

a) in order to OFFEND as MANY people as possible, er,
b) to make a FAST BUCK out of DEVIANT peccadilloes, er,
c) because he likes showing off things that make him go EWWWWWW?

What POSSIBLE moral code says that some kinds of CUDDLES are WRONG, but publishing acres and acres (and D'acres) of newsprint describing them in nauseating detail is just dandy? How can those two things go fluffy foot in fluffy foot? If it is WRONG just to do, surely it is even more wrong to PROFIT from someone doing?

It seems to me that Mr Decrepit wants to roundly condemn his cake AND eat it.

So what about "democracy"?

INSIDIOUSLY, Mr Decrepit tries to suggest that the actions of Mr Justice Eady in DOING HIS JOB (i.e. interpreting the Law that Parliament made) are undemocratic because it should be up to Parliament to debate the Law.

Well, Lord Leicester points out, as Mr Pax reports, that he is just plain WRONG to say that Parliament DIDN'T debate precisely this point, and decide that actually, Mr Press Baron, ordinary folks DO deserve a little protection from your snooping, prying and arbitrary moralising.

But beyond that, his rabble-rousing speech is ITSELF actually much more DEEPLY UNDEMOCRATIC than anything that the judge has done.

For starters, democracy cannot WORK without the Rule of Law. That is the IMPARTIAL and CONSISTENT application of laws without favour. And therefore we NEED independent judges.

If some DEMAGOGUE can whip up a crowd, baying for blood, and get people condemned that way, that ISN'T Democracy, it is Tyranny.

So when Mr Decrepit says "most people would consider such activities to be perverted, depraved, the very abrogation of civilised behaviour" he shows his COMPLETE LACK OF UNDERSTANDING of real Democracy.

CRUCIAL to the concept of Democracy is PROTECTION OF MINORITIES, to avoid the "tyranny of the majority".

ANY sentence that begins "most people think…" suffers from two immediate FALLACIES. Firstly, unless you have any evidence, you simply don't KNOW what "most people think", and are using the substitution "most people" for the pronoun "I".

But, secondly, even if most people think it they can be WRONG.

(e.g. in 2005, a majority of people in Americaland thought Mr God created people in their present form, in spite of all the evidence that evolution is true.)

That is why if you actually WANT real Democracy, you have to ENTITLE people to say – and do! – things that are outside the "normal".

That bit on the Liberal Democrat membership card that says "freedom from conformity", THIS is what that is all about.

This does NOT extend to HARMING others – your freedom to do exactly as you like extends right up to the point where it might restrict someone else's freedom and not one fairy footstep further.

And, of course, that principle is also why Mr Decrepit's much whined-about Freedom of the Press or Freedom of Expression extends right up to the point where he starts making other people's lives a misery for no reason beyond his own sales figures and then he gets rightly slapped down with a lawsuit.

Mr Decrepit claims that "public shaming" has always been a part of maintaining standards of behaviour. And yet, somehow our civilisation has survived since we abolished sticking people in the STOCKS.

He also goes off into the old "healthy newspapers vital to the interests of democracy" trick. If only there were some way that people could get their news by means of electric signals transmitted to some kind of viewing screen that they could have in their own homes, or even access to some sort of network of electronic computing machines that could exchange information from all across the world then we wouldn't be so reliant on the newspapers, but tragically in these days of the late Nineteenth Century… hang on…

"If mass-circulation newspapers, which, of course, also devote considerable space to reporting and analysis of public affairs, don't have the freedom to write about scandal, I doubt whether they will retain their mass circulations with the obvious worrying implications for the democratic process."

Translation: if we can't make loads of filthy lucre from selling scandalous sexy stories, then you'll not be informed about the fulminations of the rightward lunatic fringe and THEN where will you be, eh?

I'm not REALLY sure which newspapers he's talking about, anyway, as it seems to be that there are mass circulation newspapers (which cover the shopping habits of the Spice Girls and the shocking habits of their husbands) and newspapers that devote considerable space to reporting and analysis (the Independent, readership: 4). And not much cross-over between them. Unless I'm missing something by not reading the page three girls; do they perhaps sum up the events of the last day in Parliament and place the developments in a geopolitical context while accidentally misplacing their blouses, nowadays?

The BIGGEST irony, of course, is that Mr Decrepit is not only editor-in-chief of a national newspaper, but also the chairperson of the Press Complaints Commission's ETHICS committee. Thus neatly combining the roles of POACHER and SUBSERVIENT LAPDOG [R: surely "gamekeeper"?]

The PCC, comprising entirely of the people it is supposed to regulate, is one of the LEAST democratic oligarchies you are likely to find, managing to make the rules and judge whether they have been broken all without any recourse to actual real people at all.

You might say that that is the "moral" of this story.

*it would be QUITE WRONG to call Mr Decrepit the "grüppenfuehrer" of the Hate Mail, because that would have an "UNPROVEN Nazi theme"

1 comment:

Alex Wilcock said...

I couldn't disagree with you more, Millennium - well, only about your asterisked last clause. You're too young to remember, but of course the Daily Hate was a big supporter of Mr Hitler in the 1930s, so that's what one might call a well-founded Nazi theme