”If you thought “the thought police” existed only in Orwellian fiction, then you haven’t been following a case in the U.K High Court. Douglas Murray Miller, a former constable, had posted a few ribald tweets on the subject of transgender self-identification. (Sample: “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me”.)
“Not long after, he got a visit from a Humberside police officer warning him that his tweets had been recorded as “a hate incident” and that his social media account would now be monitored. “I’m here to check your thinking,” was how the officer put it, Miller told the court. Miller rightly claims this breached his right to free expression, yet Humberside police still insist they did nothing wrong in assuming the power to decide what can and can’t be said in our society. The scary thing is it’s part of a trend: the police are increasingly invoking the notion of hate crime to stifle debate. Those challenging reigning orthodoxy have always had to brave the wrath of the rabidly orthodox. Now they also have to contend with the police at their door.” (Douglas Murray, Daily Telegraph).
My comment: I read Mr. Miller’s message as a tongue-in-cheek joke, albeit not at all funny to some. One of the characteristics of the modern era is the self- importance and lack of sense of humour of so many people in positions of authority. Yes, it’s fair enough for those who feel, for instance, that they are women trapped in a man’s body to be asked to be treated with respect. But now we have a veritable minefield of gender identification in schools and universities (she, her, hers; he, him his to name two), and society has to get used to it . It takes time. We need lightness of touch. The way to deal with those who can’t see the point is to gently educate them and persuade them, not to accuse them of spewing “hate”. This is an over-reaction that arguably begs a conservative comment from a very conservative publication.
Moderation, please, the Epicurean way.