You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight. To hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.
For those of you who know the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific, the words above will be familiar to you. For some reason, I have been recalling them quite often in recent months. It may be because we have a new addition to the family – my five-month old son. I’m not sure, but when I heard yesterday that Milo Yiannopoulos had been banned from speaking at his former school, they sprung to mind again.
There are some who think Yiannopoulos is someone who spreads hate. I don’t agree with that assessment, not that I agree, by any means, with everything he says. He is often “offensive”, although what is offensive and what is not is always subjective. He certainly has robust views on many of the important issues of the day – views which need expressing in a free society. If we genuinely want to combat extremism, we cannot ban it and hope that it will go away. Not that he is advocating violence in any form, which is more than can be said about those with whom he disagrees.
The reason those words, penned by Oscar Hammerstein II, sprung to mind yesterday is because we are teaching our children to hate and fear. Any viewpoint that doesn’t conform to the accepted consensus must not only be rejected, but those people advocating those views should not be allowed to voice them. They become figures of hate for merely using their right to free speech. The censors also want us fear those people. They are dangerous, subversive – whatever adjective you can use to advance the view that they should never be allowed a platform. And I don’t just mean a physical platform in a lecture theatre, or a radio and television studio. They must be banned from social media, too, for fear that they will cause an uprising. The elite which vaunts itself as enlightened and liberal is really totalitarian.
Not only has the number of “safe spaces” risen exponentially in our universities, it also appears that sixth-form students need protecting, too. For the censors, their delicate little ears must never be exposed to anything that challenges them. The natural instinct of parents is to protect their children, however, at some point you have to prepare them for adulthood. You have to teach them to be ready for what life throws at them. They have to be prepared to think for themselves. It appears, though, that the Department for Education disagrees
Milo Yiannopoulos’ old school, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, issued this statement:
“The decision was taken following contact from the DfE counter-extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public, and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community,
“We note that, within 24 hours of advertising the event, 220 Langton sixth-formers had, with parental consent, signed up for the event and that objection to our hosting Mr Yiannopoulos came almost entirely from people with no direct connection to the Langton. The staff and students of the school were overwhelmingly in favour.
“While disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question, we at the Langton remain committed to the principle of free speech and open debate and will resist, where possible, all forms of censorship.”
The last paragraph would be highly amusing if the subject was not so serious. The school has clearly caved in to the pressure of those who wish to censor free speech, and so has the DfE. It really is shameful that the DfE decided to use its counter-extremism unit to silence someone who viscerally attacks those extremists who wish to see all infidels turned into a mangled mess.
It seems that every time I hear Theresa May use the word “freedom”, there is always a “but” in the sentence. The real extremists must be laughing at us.