Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting Worked Up Over Nothing

So the suspended disbelievers of the National Secular Society (presumably not in schism from the tenets of international secularism, but we can safely let that one pass) have rather uncharitably dubbed up the St. Margaret's Children and Family Care Society to the charity beaks for perceived breaches of the Equality Act 2010; when providing adoption services, they give preference to heterosexual couples who've been married for at least two years. 

The sight of the forces of militant nothingness on the march is always disconcerting, if only because one thought that religious fervour of the type being exhibited by the NSS was the sort of thing that secularists sneered at into their G's & T's. Note that their attack is not from the front in the form of an outright accusation of criminal homophobia; their attacking style is instead the dirty side punch to the kidneys in the form of a subtle, actually quite lawyerly, attack on the means by which St. Margaret's is funded. That's very middle class, actually very bourgeois in the original French sense. These are the guys who would have been red-hot for Napoleon, had he ever achieved any foothold in this country other than the one he built inside the head of William Hazlitt. I suppose they deserve a measure of back-handed congratulation, if only because they are a credit to their parents' high ambitions for them in having ensured that they were educated to such an obviously high standard.

Writing as the most diverse person I know, it's disappointing that the charity beaks seem to have to find that St. Margaret's is a body that provides no 'public benefit' while at that same time acknowledging the 'valuable service provided by this charity', a division between the fact of the facts and the fact of the law which borders on the schizophrenic. That what is beneficial to the public has to be able to satisfy a legal test of 'public benefit' seems faintly tyrannical, if only because it so clearly smacks of an attempt to engineer minds. Regardless of whether their charity provides care for young single homeless people in Dundee or preserves miniature steam locomotives in Didcot, in order to be able to satisfy the terms of the Equality Act 2010 the trustees of all charities will all require to ensure that all their charities all satisfy all the same criteria of 'public benefit'. The only way that all charities will all be able to satisfy all the same criteria, of course, is if all trustees think the same way, and one of the ways in which Parliament has dictated that they must think is that gays must enjoy precisely all the same rights as all other people, regardless of whether individual gays want them or not. This is nothing less than an attempt to enforce uniformity of thought, to establish diversity in principle by destroying diversity in practice; not unlike saying you represent the proletariat while enjoying the use of a Zil and a dacha. The great consolation one can draw from such heavy-handed egalitarianism is that just as every other attempt to engineer minds in history has failed, this one will also fail. It's a dead cert.

In the case of St. Margaret's, the consequences of this bold emancipation of the perhaps gratefully unemancipated include enabling the NSS to scream 'Unfairness!' in the name of Britain's poor downtrodden godless, and might just also mean that some children who might have been adopted into families in which they would receive limitless love and attention and encouragement might stay mired in the care system. That an association of people whose shared interest is stated to be secularism  - the NSS makes no mention of either advancing the cause of gay rights or of promoting the best interests of children in its title - should have used the cause of gay rights to attack a body supported by a church, a move which might just undermine the best interests of some children, for no apparent reason other than that it follows the teachings of that church perfectly illustrates the wisdom of Bossuet's remark that "those who suffer in schism will have but a sour zeal".

One of these days, the National Secular Society will be a footnote in history, joining the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and The Manchester No Breakfast Association (most famous disciple M.K. Gandhi) in the ranks of those groups who temporarily achieved a far greater influence than their numbers actually merited and their message actually deserved. In this instance, they are prepared to police religion even if it means children stay in orphanages, mean-spiritedness of that particularly nasty stripe which bourgeois liberals show themselves capable of with depressing frequency. Secularism is for middle class men what spiritualism is for middle class women; a dangerous pastime indulged in by those with too much time on their hands.That they can be so fervent about unbelief only makes them even more ridiculous. 

After all, even by their own standards they're getting worked up over nothing.

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