I responded to Hitchens' article with a fairly strong "fisk" of his comments. This morning he sent me a reply and asked if I would publish it. I am happy to do so. Before you read on, you may wish to read my original article HERE.
FROM PETER HITCHENS
May I respond to Iain's green-ink verbal assault on me last Sunday? I think he let his feelings get the better of his reason and that his charges against me don't actually stand up. I'm accustomed, as I said in the original article, to being pelted with verbal vegetables for my view on this subject, and accept it as part of the job. But I think Iain, and some of those contributors who posted ad hominem attacks on me, have not seriously considered what I said.
I'll take it, more or less, point by point, as Iain did. But first I urge anyone who's really interested to go back to the original article and read it, if necessary taking a deep breath, or a comforting milk drink, first.
Actually I don't want to write about homosexuality or homosexuals, and always do it reluctantly. I'm far more interested in the central front of the morality war - the furious attack on lifelong marriage that has been raging now for 50 years and is close to total victory. The trouble is that homosexuality is used by others (themselves not interested in the subject or in may cases specially sympathetic to the position of homosexuals) to advance the sexual revolution they believe in. By 'others', I mean those who wish to undermine marriage (a weird alliance of militant statists who see the married family as an obstacle to their power, and commercial interests who want to keep women in the paid workforce for as long as possible).
Homosexuality is useful to them for two reasons. Treating homosexual relationships as the equal of marriage enables them to produce a plausible reason for redistributing the previously unique privileges of marriage (I'm not just talking about legal and tax advantages here, but about status and regard). And, by classifying homosexuals as a persecuted (or potentially persecuted) minority, they can easily misrepresent those who object to homosexual equality as bigots who hate homosexuals. The liberal mob usually falls for this, as I can testify.
So from time to time a case comes up where I feel compelled to write about it. This was one. And, as Iain rightly notes once he has calmed down, the real issue was the threat made to the grandparents when they voiced objections to their grandchildren being placed with a homosexual couple. This is what got my goat and decided me to choose this subject.
Now, there's the question of knowing what people do in their bedrooms. Well, here's a question for those who assure me that they don't want to tell me this. What other thing do I learn from a person's public declaration that he or she is homosexual? Surely it is the bigots, who imagine that homosexuals all share a number of non-sexual characteristics, who think that a person's sexuality is the key to that person's whole personality, character and nature? I believe no such thing. I'm also old-fashioned enough to think that someone's sexual tastes and habits, as well as being a private matter, are one of the least interesting things about him. Does Iain disagree? Do my other critics disagree? If they don't, I must ask once again, what else am I told by a public declaration of sexual orientation?
Now, it may be 'immaterial' to Iain whether I approve of his private arrangements or not. I am pleased to hear it. I should hate to fall out with him about such a thing, and he is, after all a member of the 'Conservative' Party (for what that name is worth). But there are others in the homosexual equality movement who plainly do not take this view. For they have successfully campaigned to have 'sexual orientation' given the same significance as 'ethnicity' in the great battery of 'equality' law now in place, especially in workplaces. Increasingly, public employees are obliged to promote such policies, not merely to accept them passively. Note the case of the Christian nurse Caroline Petrie, disciplined for offering to pray for a patient. It now emerges that Mrs Petrie (like all Nurses) is covered by a document called the 'Nursing and Midwifery Council Code'. This actively requires her to 'demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity'. If she doesn't, her employment may be threatened, and her union won't help her. I hope I do not need to translate these terms here. I strongly suspect ( and would be interested in any further evidence) that similar codes of this nature are common in many workplaces, both in the public sector and in some private companies.
I would also cite the Edinburgh case here. Leave aside the merits of the adoption case itself. The threat made to the grandparents was not made because they threatened to prevent the adoption, but because they began to express *opinions* suggesting that they did not approve of adoption by a homosexual couple. This, like the Code quoted above, is a freedom of speech issue.
Readers will also (I hope) be familiar with the problems of Roman Catholic Adoption Societies, which are opposed on religious grounds to adoption by homosexual couples, but can no longer advertise or offer placements on this basis, and have therefore in many cases closed down. This is a freedom of thought issue. Approve of the new rules - or face the majesty of the law. I might also cite the recent case of Lillian Ladele, who eventually lost her case ( as I predicted she would) after declining (on religious grounds) to perform civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples.
Readers of mine will know of the case of the Bournemouth Christian preacher, Harry Hammond, who was successfully prosecuted under Public Order legislation for preaching against homosexuality (his militant pro-homosexuality hecklers, who helped this elderly man with mud and knocked him to the ground, were not prosecuted) . A full account of this extraordinary case is to be found in my book 'The Abolition of Liberty'.
And they may also recall the affair of the Christian activists Lynette Burrows, who was investigated by the police for voicing doubts about homosexual adoption on BBC Radio 4. Not all these cases have yet resulted in actual prosecution or loss of employment (a Glasgow fireman recently won a tribunal case after being required to distribute leaflets at a Homosexual Pride march, when he objected to this on religious grounds, and disciplined when he objected ). But it seems to me that the trend of the law is strongly in this direction, and that even when such cases fail, most employees get the message that they had better button their lips on this subject if they want a quiet life. The moment may come (may in fact have come) when incorrect remarks about homosexuality will lead to secret denunciations by colleagues. Perhaps we will end up with a new 'Blackmailers' Charter' - a horrible mirror image of the pre-1967 sex offence laws - under which those who have let slip 'homophobic opinions' on public premises are blackmailed by those who heard them.
So no, Iain, you may not want my approval. But others definitely do, and they are prepared to use the traditional engines of dogmatic intolerance to get it. I, in a privileged position, can voice opinions which others are increasingly fearful of voicing. But several of those who wrote to me after the publication of this article suggested, without any sense of irony or embarrassment, that I should either be sacked, or investigated by the police, for having expressed my views.
Who has 'peddled a myth' that homosexual parents are better than heterosexual ones? I have no idea. But the Edinburgh social services seem to have concluded in this case that a homosexual couple are better suited to raise the children in this case than their own (heterosexual) grandparents. Which is the same thing, though not a myth.
Then there is this quote from me, and Iain's green-ink response. :Me :"Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show."
Iain:"And just what are these true opinions? That we gayers are some sort of sub form of human life?"
I should hope not, and would disapprove strongly of such an opinion. But many of them would certainly believe that homosexual acts are morally wrong, with everything that flows from that. Many would also think that children are better brought up by a husband and wife than by two homosexuals.
As for this exchange :Me "We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the ‘Gay Pride’ parade passes by." Iain:"Pathetic. If you don't wish to watch a Gay Pride parade, don't. I don't either. Not my thing. So I don't go, or watch. It's a free country."
This comment was a metaphorical one influenced by the fact that I'd just come back from Prague, where people were once indeed compelled to wave little (red) flags as the Stalinist parade went by, and would suffer all sorts of privations and career damage and petty persecution if they failed to comply. They still have bitter memories of such impositions, which we in this country are only just beginning to experience. I am strongly influenced in my opposition to this sort of stuff by my extensive experience of life in Communist countries, which teaches you how such things are done and what they look and feel like. In my case it also teaches you to loathe them, and feel the need to warn against them when you see them growing up in your own country.
However, the instances I cite above (plus the recent flying of a Rainbow flag by a London police station) make my point, that increasingly we are not permitted to remain neutrally silent on this subject but required to make active public obeisance to the new post-Christian morality. The increasingly obligatory use of the word 'Gay' is a powerful example of this. By declining to use this essentially approving term, I now expose myself to criticism, though the word I use instead is chosen for its unemotional neutrality. I think the existence of this process, in life and language, undeniable and I think that Iain, as a conservative, (if not as a 'Conservative') should be as vocal as I am in his objections to this creeping totalitarianism.
I haven't responded to some of Iain's more intemperate remarks and accusations against me because I'm sure ( or perhaps I should say I hope) he didn't mean them, and was just fired up at the time.
I was indeed fired up. I want to respond to some of the points Peter makes in this articel because there is, you will find difficult to believe, a little common ground. However, my response will have to wait as I have an afternoon of work ahead of me. But in the meantime, what are your views? Did I overreact? Is Peter Hitchens right? Please keep the language temperate.