I had realized that Scotland was ruled by a gang of daft leftists, but Christoper Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, brings home to us just how all encompassing it has become:
Charging Highlanders wearing kilts and waving Claymores? Bagpipes? Tossing the caber at the Highland Games? Really good whisky? For those of you who have similar thoughts, Brendan O’Neill takes great pleasure in introducing modern, real Scotland:
Well, if that’s how you see Scotland, you urgently need to update your mind’s image bank. For far from being a land of freedom-yearning Bravehearts, Scotland in the 21st century is a hotbed of the new authoritarianism. It’s the most nannying of Europe’s nanny states. It’s a country that imprisons people for singing songs, instructs people to stop smoking in their own homes, and which dreams of making salad-eating compulsory. Seriously. Scotland the Brave has become Scotland the Brave New World.
Jailed for singing songs? Surely O’Neill must be joking. Unfortunately, he’s not.
Last month, a 24-year-old fan of Rangers, the largely Protestant soccer team, was banged up for four months for singing ”The Billy Boys,” an old anti-Catholic ditty that Rangers fans have been singing for years, mainly to annoy fans of Celtic, the largely Catholic soccer team. He was belting it out as he walked along a street to a game. He was arrested, found guilty of songcrimes—something even Orwell failed to foresee—and sent down.
Seems its now illegal in Scotland to make opposing sports fans feel bad in any way.
It’s all thanks to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which, yes, is as scary as it sounds. Introduced in 2012 by the Scottish National Party, the largest party in Scotland the Brave New World and author of most of its new nanny-state laws, the Act sums up everything that is rotten in the head of this sceptred isle. Taking a wild, wide-ranging scattergun approach, it outlaws at soccer matches “behaviour of any kind,” including, “in particular, things said or otherwise communicated,” that is “motivated (wholly or partly) by hatred” or which is “threatening” or which a “reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive.”
Catholic Celtic or Hibernian fans might want to leave their rosaries at home.
Even blessing yourself at a soccer game in Scotland could lead to arrest. Catholic fans have been warned that if they “bless themselves aggressively” at games, it could be “construed as something that is offensive,” presumably to non-Catholic fans, and the police might pick them up. You don’t have to look to some Middle Eastern tinpot tyranny if you want to see the state punishing public expressions of Christian faith—it’s happening in Scotland.
I sure am relieved that they don’t have a law like that here in St. Louis or the City Police would have to commandeer every bus in the metro area every time the Chicago Cubs came to town. But what else can the haggis-for-brains Scottish National Party get its panties in a bunch about? Well, there’s obviously smoking.
Not content with policing what soccer fans sing and say, the SNP also polices Scots’ smoking, boozing, and eating habits. It was the first country in the U.K. to ban smoking in public. Last month it announced that it will ban smoking in cars with kids. It is currently pushing through a ban on smoking in parks. And it has its eyes on smokers’ homes: if a public-sector employee, like a doctor or social worker, visits your home, he or she has the right to say that you should “not smoke when they are providing [their] service.” This, of course, is the ultimate goal of the global jihad against nicotine: to move from making bars, cars, and parks smokefree to making our homes smokefree.
Scotland has set itself the Orwellian-sounding goal of making the whole nation, every bit of it, smokefree by 2034. What will happen to any smoker still lurking in Scotland after the glorious dawn of the 2,034th year? It’s probably best not to ask.
Scotland is also plotting to put a sin tax on booze. The SNP blubs about the fact that “alcohol is now 60 per cent more affordable in the U.K. than it was in 1980″—that’s a bad thing?—and so it is pushing through the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Act, which will impose a state-decreed price on all liquid pleasures. It is trying to push the Act through, I should say: it’s being held up by a legal challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association which, understandably, doesn’t want the state telling it how much it should sell its wares for. I would say “God bless those whisky makers,” but I’m not sure how much you’re allowed to say “God” or “bless” in relation to Scotland these days.
Now that’s just wrong. Oh and then there’s what Scots eat.
Scotland’s great and good also watch what the little people eat. Last month, BMA Scotland, an association of doctors, declared war on Scotland’s “culture of excess” and said ads for junk food and booze should be banned. The SNP wants to go further: it’s agitating for an EU-wide ban on junk-food ads, clearly keen that all the peoples of Europe, and not just poor Scots, feel the stab of its Mary Poppins extremism.
There is even—get this—a discussion in Scotland about making salad bars mandatory at restaurants. Yes, there exist actual officials who would like to force businesses to serve you vegetables, even if they don’t want to and you don’t want to eat them. Concerned that “Scots are 30 years away from reaching the World Health Organization target of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day”—apparently the average Scot only eats 3.5 portions a day—there is talk of “beefing up [get it??] the number of greens by introducing mandatory salad bars.”
Can’t leave out how they raise their children (this one is truly frightening).
And then there’s the authoritarian icing on the cake, if Scotland will forgive such an obesity-encouraging metaphor: the SNP’s Children and Young People Act. This Act plans to assign a Named Person, a state-decreed guardian, to every baby born in Scotland, in order to watch him or her from birth to the age of 18.
Due to come into force in August 2016, the Named Person initiative is truly dystopian. Once, it was only abandoned or orphaned children who became charges of the state; now, all Scottish children will effectively be wards of the state under a new, vast system of, in essence, shadow parenting. In an expression of alarming distrust in parents, and utter contempt for the idea of familial sovereignty and privacy, the state in Scotland wants to attach an official to every kid and to keep tabs on said kid’s physical and moral wellbeing.
Hopefully, the Scots will, at some point, rise up and rebel against all this crap. But until they do, I’m going to start referring to my dad’s European ancestors as Ulstermen. Because Country-I’m Thoroughly-Embarrased-By-And-Would-Really-Rather-Not-Be-Associated-With-Right-Now-Irish is far too long and wouldn’t fit on any forms. Continue reading
Have you noticed that as government becomes more of a ponzi scheme where it takes in huge amounts of money and doles out some of it to a large number of recipients in the body politic it has taken on the hectoring privileges of a parent paying out allowances to wayward brats? The late Kenneth Minogue did. From 2010:
My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.
No philosopher can contemplate this interesting situation without beginning to reflect on what it can mean. The gap between political realities and their public face is so great that the term “paradox” tends to crop up from sentence to sentence. Our rulers are theoretically “our” representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves. Debt, intemperance, and incompetence in rearing our children are no doubt regrettable, but they are vices, and left alone, they will soon lead to the pain that corrects. Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults to the churches. But democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century means receiving a stream of improving “messages” from politicians. Some may forgive these intrusions because they are so well intentioned. Who would defend prejudice, debt, or excessive drinking? The point, however, is that our rulers have no business telling us how to live. They are tiresome enough in their exercise of authority—they are intolerable when they mount the pulpit. Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism.
We might perhaps be more tolerant of rulers turning preachers if they were moral giants. But what citizen looks at the government today thinking how wise and virtuous it is? Public respect for politicians has long been declining, even as the population at large has been seduced into demanding political solutions to social problems. To demand help from officials we rather despise argues for a notable lack of logic in the demos. The statesmen of eras past have been replaced by a set of barely competent social workers eager to take over the risks of our everyday life. The electorates of earlier times would have responded to politicians seeking to bribe us with such promises with derision. Today, the demos votes for them. Continue reading
As a conservative I do appreciate one thing about the Obama administration: it makes the argument as to the evils of big government far more effectively than ten thousand free market sermons. Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics takes a look at the Obamacare roll out, and the unbelievable level of incompetence it betokens:
Sebelius’ department had 3½ years to prepare to implement the Affordable Care Act. No one ever suggested that commandeering one-sixth of the American economy would be an easy task. (Many Republicans suggested the opposite and were dismissed as killjoys for their efforts.) But after the debacle of the last two weeks, liberals and Democrats—not conservatives or Republicans—should be calling for Sebelius’s head.
The administration’s handling of the implementation of Obamacare over the past three years has been a slow-moving train wreck: a mixture of embarrassing delays, hard-to-justify waivers, and assorted bad news about the unintended consequences of the law. Some of this was Sebelius’s fault, some of it was not.
The crowning blunder came 10 days ago with the rollout of healthcare.gov website, the centerpiece of the administration’s effort to sign individuals up for coverage through the government-run health care exchanges that are at the heart of the legislation. To say this was vitally important to the overall success of the law is an understatement. It is the aspect of Obamacare that the president himself has said is utterly essential—and backed up those words by letting the federal government shut down rather that give in to Republican demands to gut it. Nonetheless, its premiere was a giant flop – and Kathleen Sebelius is responsible.
The government’s website apparently cost more than $500 million to build—and counting. This is more than LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Spotify, and yet it has been a disaster from the get-go, freezing, crashing, and locking people out.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
All we have of freedom, all we use or know—
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—
Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.
Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.
Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.
So they bought us freedom—not at little cost
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,
Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue
Give an A to Sarah Conly for boldly proclaiming what many of our liberal elites believe but are too wise to state openly:
our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
One of the more amusing aspects of living in contemporary America, if one likes one’s humor fairly dark, is that the government is attempting to take over health care at the same time the wheels are coming off some functions of government that have been around for centuries. That is your cue Post Office.
Inspector general David Williams, described as the “chief postal watchdog,” said the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will go out of business this year unless Congress bails it out.
In an interview with the Guardian, Williams said the postal service lost nearly $16 billion the last fiscal year, nearly $41 billion over the last five years, and has reached its $15 billion credit limit.
When asked if the USPS will need a bailout this year, Williams said: “Yes. The choices are that it would cease to exist or it would need a bailout.”
Williams, whose agency audits the postal service, says Congress may have to help the postal service with its pension payments, which he says have put the postal service “in very serious trouble.”
According to the Guardian, the USPS has “missed its last two payments into the benefit funds” and “has never made a single payment without having to borrow from the US Treasury. “ Continue reading
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C.S. Lewis Continue reading