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January 06th 2010 print

Bill Muehlenberg

Thought Police and Big Brother

Even by French standards, this proposed new law is really quite bizarre. A bill may soon be passed by the French parliament in which “psychological violence” will be made a crime. Really folks, I am not making this up.

In what was once known as the free West, we are witnessing an escalation of totalitarian and anti-democratic laws being passed, which are greatly restricting freedom of speech and religious expression. I refer especially to the various hate crimes laws which are being fomented by various minority activist groups.

I have written elsewhere about how bad such legislation is, and why these incursions into our freedoms need to be fiercely resisted. If we do not stand up and fight for our freedoms, they will slowly be taken away from us. Consider the latest case of Big Brother activism – this time in France.

Even by French standards, this one is really quite bizarre. A bill may soon be passed by the French parliament in which “psychological violence” will be made a crime. Really folks, I am not making this up. Here is how a BBC report covers the story:

If you insult your wife or husband repeatedly, you could soon find yourself in court if you live in France. The charge? Psychological violence. That’s what the new offence will be called if a bill backed by the government is passed by parliament. Once considered a purely private domain, rows between married or cohabiting couples could now prompt intervention from the state.

This law will be about “mental and verbal abuse” and the State will meddle in domestic situations to ensure that such crimes are not committed.  If you thought French police might have had a lot on their plate up till now, just wait till this law gets passed.

They will be patrolling not just every street corner, but every bedroom, kitchen and living room as well. Indeed, perhaps every marriage ceremony or de facto ritual will also have mandatory provisions for a cop to tag along on the honeymoon, or take up a guest room in the couple’s home.

But such is the nature of the ever-encroaching State. Mere humans are simply not capable of conducting their own affairs, so the State must increasingly step in and intervene. Not only must a whole new raft of laws be passed, but a new army of thought police must be employed to enforce these laws.

The totalist state is ever seeking to expand its powers and control, and if we have covered just about every physical crime imaginable, then let’s invent some mental and psychological crimes to also police. When we start creating psychological and mental crimes, the sky’s the limit.

And never mind the mere details about how such a law might actually work. Indeed, just how a case of “psychological violence” can ever be proven in a court of law may be difficult, but never mind, a new mass of lawyers and bureaucrats will quickly spring into action, demanding their slice of the pie.

Judicial activism has already reached epidemic proportions, with lawyers and others making a mint from the ever-expanding State. This law will simply escalate things a hundred-fold. But of course all of this is done for our “own good”. We need to be protected from ourselves, and who else but our faceless bureaucrats can make sure we all live acceptable lives.

Fortunately even secular prophets such as Huxley and Orwell had earlier warned about Big Brother and the strangling apparatus of the total state. Religious prophets have also sounded the alarm. C.S. Lewis for example wrote much about those well-meaning bureaucrats who would slowly exterminate humanity, all in the name of humanity.

His 1947 book, The Abolition of Man is a classic in this area, and all of us should have a copy of this important volume on our shelves. But he wrote about this elsewhere. Consider these remarks found in the preface to the 1959 edition of his The Screwtape Letters:

I like bats much better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.

Indeed, Lewis penned an entire volume of science fiction on this topic, warning about the dangers of a power-mad bureaucracy in his 1946 volume, That Hideous Strength. In the book the evil bureaucracy was called NICE, the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments. These ruling elites always appear to be nice, even while they are involved in decidedly not very nice activities.

This book – the last volume in his space trilogy – is well worth reading. With great prescience he noted how many Western secular states were heading to a tyranny of the bureaucrat. The passing of time has only confirmed his fears.

Of course all of this is not to dismiss the reality and unfortunate nature of genuine domestic abuse, such as physical violence, bullying and the like. But to ask the State to enter into the minds and emotions of couples, and arbitrate on what might be a case of “psychological violence” would require more than the wisdom of Solomon. And it would require a clear diminution of our freedoms.

The truth is, the State can never create the Perfect Man. Secular totalitarians have tried that before, and have always failed. They always end up becoming coercive utopians, where the heaven on earth is achieved by enslaving mankind and destroying freedom.

Modern France was founded on the concept of liberty, equality and fraternity. While a police state-like equality and fraternity may be the outcome of such laws, the very notion of liberty will cease to exist. It is hoped that the French lawmakers and politicians will have more sense than to pass this idiotic bill. If they don’t then God help us all.