Friday, June 17, 2005

Hateful Things

From Reflections on the Revolution in France, by Edmund Burke (drawn to my attention in Red's Bookshelf):

We do not draw the moral lessons we might from history. On the contrary, without care it may be used to vitiate our minds and to destroy our happiness. In history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials fo future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind. It may, in the perversion, serve for a magazine, furnishing offensive and defensive weapons for parties in church and state, and supplying the means of keeping alive, or reviving dissensions and animosities, and adding fuel to civic fury. History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with the same
- troublous storms that toss
The private state, and render life unsweet.

These vices are the causes of those storms. Religion, morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the pretexts. The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real good. You would not secure men from tyranny and sedition, by rooting out of the mind the principles to which these fraudulent pretexts apply? If you did, you would root out every thing that is valuable in the human breast. As these are the pretexts, so the ordinary actors and instruments in great public evils are kings, judges, and captains. You would not cure the evil by resolving, that there should be no more monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the gospel; no interpreters of law; no general officers; no public councils. You might change the names. The things in some shape must remain. A certain quantum of power must always exist in the community, in some hands, and under some appellation. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to the occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear. Otherwise you will be wise historically, a fool in practice.

Seldom have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts and the same modes of mischief. Wickedness is a little more inventive. Whilst you are discussing fashion, the fashion is gone by. The very same vice assumes a new body. The spirit transmigrates; and, far from losing its principle of life by the change of its appearance, it is renovated in its new organs wtih the fresh vigour of a juvenile activity. It walks abroad; it continues its ravages; whilst you are gibbeting the carcass, or demolishing the tomb. You are terrifying yourself with ghosts and apparitions, whilst your house is the haunt of robbers. It is thus with all those, who, attending only to the shell and husk of history, think they are waging war with intolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under colour of abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are authorizing and feeding the same odious vices in different factions, and perhaps in worse.

Read that last paragraph and especially the last sentence again. Now consider the a BBC report from yesterday afternoon Boys 'used for human sacrifice'.

Children are being trafficked into the UK from Africa and used for human sacrifices, a onfidential report for the Metropolitan Police suggests.

Children are being beaten and even murdered after being labelled as witches by pastors, the report leaked to BBC Radio 4's Today programme said.

That's not all.

It said that people who are desperate seek out churches to cast spells for them.

"Members of the workshop said for spells to be powerful it required a sacrifice of a male child unblemished by circumcision," the report said.

Contributors said boys were being trafficked into the UK for this purpose, but did not give details because they said they feared they would be "dead meat" if they told any more.

There were also claims that youngsters were being smuggled into the UK as domestic slaves and for men with HIV who believed if they had sex with a child they would be cleansed.

Fortunately, the punditocracy is on hand to cut through all this verbiage to the heart of the matter.

Dr William Les Henry, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmith's College, said there was an element of racism about the report.

For as we all know the Police are institutionally racist, but at least the report:
acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue as the abuse was a product of individuals' faith and beliefs.

Well that's alright then. Thank goodness the government is moving at breakneck speed to introduce legislation that will demand that we are legally bound to be circumspect in any criticism of such faith else we incite religious hatred.

All the sensitivity training in the world is not worth one weal, cigarette burn, or bruise on the black skin of a brutalised boy. One of the things that I loathe most about the notion of hate crime law is that it is so bloody prissy; its real purpose is to help its drafters and supporters feel good about themselves. If they need to feel guilty about something, they should feel guilty about the hideous inversion where the mindset it has brought forth is responsible for the abandonment of children to unimaginably degraded fates beyond the hope of any deliverance in this world.

PS I just looked up Dr William Les Henry on a search engine. There is a profile of him here. "He�s a far cry from academic stereotypes" apparently. I'll bet he is.

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