We live in an increasingly censorious world, I’m sure you’ll agree. We seem to be all caught up in a fever of outrage at what “other people” do, well, not I, and not you perhaps, but all those “other people”.
It begins with outrage over what most reasonable people would consider an atrocity, such as obligatory cliteroidectomy for example, and a few people work themselves into the ground to try to have it outlawed. Then another thing of which most reasonable people disapprove becomes the focus of an adversarial campaign, such as the fox hunt. Now larger numbers, because cruelty to animals always attracts a bigger crowd than cruelty to humans, do everything they can to force an end to the hunt.
Buoyed by the effects of collective pressure, a number of traditions and cultural amusements of which the many disapprove, though they may live across the planet, come under attack, and everyone’s encouraged to make a big song and dance about each issue.
The Spanish have held the tradition of the bullfight for many centuries, and a whole culture, including the flamenco dance and the music, the costume, and many other integral facets, is built upon its traditions. It is now threatened by a vocal and outraged majority from around the world for whom it is an abominable offence.
Now, I’m not saying that I think bullfighting is okay. But my attitude to it and to the multitudinous other things which I abhor is simple. I won’t participate.
A highly successful anti smoking campaign designed by governments and other organisations and driven by insurance companies is gaining ground all around the globe. Delighted by this tendency of people to round on one or another group or individual, and to buy into the overblown rhetoric, and to be whipped into zealous opposition, and to identify with the many, governments and organisations routinely co-opt “the public” into demonising any group they’d like to subdue or destroy.
But in this fervour of disapprobation and censure over issues largely affecting the complainants not one iota, a great many things which distinguish one culture from another, and which bear witness to traditional ways in each culture and different ways of seeing life and death and experiencing the world are being lost. And what do we have in return?
Here’s what we have in return: a growing global culture of Coca Cola and back to front baseball caps. Of fast food and corporate logos. Of degenerating music prostituting itself to lurid display, of narcissism and sarcasms and trickery and lies. And this same culture which deplores cruelty to animals in fox hunts and bullfights consumes the fast food of the giant corporations which keep animals as prisoners destined for slaughter. This same culture which will not abide a smoker within eyeshot loves its street side cafes and the passing poisonous traffic.
I know it’s hard to grapple with these things, to be torn between one argument and another, and the reason is that life in this world is not simple, and cannot be conformed to the ideals of lofty disengagement. People of differing backgrounds and traditions will inevitably have a view of life and life’s conduct which will not conform to another’s, and will resent any coercive efforts to make it do so. Likewise individuals who have a singular perspective and expect to express their response to the world according to their own view and after their own counsel will resent the judgement and pressure to conform to those of the majority.
Once people get involved in repressing or banning the conduct of others on the grounds that they find it offensive, regardless of how noble or righteous the argument, the more easily they’ll be induced to campaign against other “offences” of others, and in almost no time nothing will be permitted which gives offence to any. What a wonderfully obedient, cowed, homogeneous and obsequious global society we’ll be.