In the Name of the Flock’s Welfare

It is a common prejudice that free speech is a popular cause. Most people want it for themselves, of course, but many would far rather that others would shut up. It does not come naturally to people to enjoy being contradicted, much less severely criticised. We want freedom from opinion at least much as we want freedom of it.

The impulse to suppress free speech is very strong, and when it is allied to the joys of denunciation and the possible punishment of those with whom we disagree, the stage is set for tyranny and even totalitarianism. This, with the passage of a law in Scotland to make so-called hate-speech criminal even in private, has resulted in thousands of people hastening to denounce J.K. Rowling to the police, in the hope of her arrest, trial and probable imprisonment.

Anthony Daniels appears in every Quadrant.
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That she is a very rich woman, thanks to her own efforts, no doubt sharpens the desire to denounce her and see her taken down a peg or two. Earned wealth is at least as much hated as the inherited variety, for of course it must be the result of exploitation, the grabbing of a larger slice of the economic cake than average. Without riches, there could be no poverty. This is a matter of pure logic.

Even worse, however, is the fact that J.K. Rowling enunciates truths that are so obvious that even a few years ago most people would have wondered why anyone should bother to enunciate them. She does not mince her words and does not apologise for any distress that her opinions may cause those who do not share them, or who claim that they do not do so. One suspects, though one cannot prove, that the howls of protest directed at her are so loud because the truth of what she says is, secretly, obvious even to her opponents. Nothing is as hated as a justified heresy.

Many of us must have wondered how the culture of denunciation, such as that which obtained in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany (with a sub-branch in Vichy France) could have developed: how it was that millions of people were willing to denounce their neighbours, friends and even close members of family, in the full knowledge of the consequences of such denunciation. But at least in those polities people had the excuse of fear: that is to say, the consequences of not denouncing people were almost as severe as those of being denounced.

Even in Scotland, as yet, under its mass-rape-supporting First Minister, failure to denounce has not yet been made a crime, though no doubt that will come: for non-denunciation will be evidence of tacit support of hate-speech and therefore as bad as hate-speech itself. But the fact that denunciation is still not obligatory in Scotland makes the thousands of denunciations all the more sinister. They are the product of pure denunciatory malice, the pleasure of contemplating and even bringing about the suffering of others: of course, under the guise of benevolence. In other words, the denunciations in Scotland are a kind of purer form than the denunciations to the Gestapo or the NKVD, uncontaminated by either the hope of material gain or the avoidance of arrest oneself for having failed to denounce.

I do not have the statistics to hand, and I doubt that anyone has: but it is my guess that the educational level, or at least of attendance at supposedly educational establishments and institutions, of the denouncers in Scotland is above that of the population as a whole. The reasons for this are obvious: it takes a certain capacity for intellectual obfuscation and rationalisation to believe that a man can become a woman, simpliciter, and a woman a man. No one can truly believe this, and the enormous effort to do so is what causes the violent reaction when the contrary truth is baldly enunciated.

J.K. Rowling is protected, to an extent, by her great wealth, but that does not detract from her courage. After all, pusillanimity is not confined to the poor, who at least have the excuse of poverty to explain their lack of courage. And in these days of balkanised fanaticism, no one can be completely protected from the so-called lone wolves of vengeance; no one can be absolutely sure that every death threat on the anti-social media is metaphorical, even if 99 per cent of such threats are.

There was a time when the extension of education, especially tertiary, was expected to increase the intellectual freedom of a country, to release ever growing numbers of people from the shackles of inherited or conventional ideas, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. The transvaluation of all values does not lead to valuelessness: it leads to different, and not necessarily better, values. Convention is like nature: you may throw it out with a pitchfork, yet it will return.

In Britain, at least, there have long been efforts to promote a culture of denunciation. I recall from nearly thirty years ago a poster in the visitors’ centre in the prison in which I worked asking people “to rat on a rat”. The rat to be ratted on was the person who was claiming social security but also working for pay. Naturally, this kind of person was assumed to be more common among those who visited prisoners, and a telephone number was provided to which anonymous denunciations could be made and treated with “complete confidentiality”. The authorities would not reveal from whence cameth their information.

I need hardly say that I am not in favour of defrauding the social security system (though it seems to me that the whole system was set up to encourage such fraud); but even less am I in favour of a society of sneaks or dobbers-in. I prefer the ratted-on to the rats.

In British trains and stations there is now, inescapably, a message telling the public that if it “sees something that does not look right”, it or they should call the police. There is no elaboration as to the kind of wrong-looking thing that should be denounced, and I confess that whenever I look about me in trains or stations, I see very little that looks right: for one thing, people are so badly dressed these days.

We are told that if we “see it” and “say it” (whatever it may be), “it” will be “sorted”. This, of course, is a lie, since everyone knows that the British police would be incapable of sorting a box of children’s coloured bricks into their various colours: but neither truth nor even promise is the object of the message. The object is to make people fearful and turn to the authorities for their protection and salvation. These authorities are shepherds to the sheep, though they are also wolves because the shepherds have to be paid for.

As every shepherd knows, the mere presence of wolves near a flock of sheep is sufficient to affect them adversely. They lose their appetite and become thin; the ewes are more inclined to abort. This happens even if the wolves do not kill a single sheep.

The shepherd is therefore responsible for far more than merely keeping the sheep together in the flock. In fact, he is responsible for everything affecting the welfare of the sheep which, being sheep, they cannot arrange for themselves. As for the human sheep, one of the guises in which wolves come is hate-speech. Everyone knows that to be hated is discomfiting; and to be discomfited is like saying goodbye, it is to die a little. Hence it must be suppressed, for the sake of the welfare of the sheep.

But what, exactly, constitutes hate-speech? According to the Scottish law, it is speech that any reasonable person would consider calculated to arouse hatred towards certain protected groups—which constitute more than half the population.

But who is this reasonable person? He cannot any more be the man on the Clapham omnibus. With the balkanisation of culture, nothing holds people together but geographical proximity. What is reasonable to one group is unreasonable to another, what is sacred to one is odious to another. This creates an eggshell society in which everyone is expecting, and perhaps even hoping, to be aggrieved at any moment. Protection from grievance becomes the object of government, justifying endless intrusion, while at the same time providing an excuse for the obvious deficiencies in what government ought to be doing. How can you suppress hate and fill the potholes in the road on a limited budget?

8 thoughts on “In the Name of the Flock’s Welfare

  • Sebastian Nowakowski says:

    Bion of Borysthenes ~300BC:
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most opressive.”

  • pgang says:

    I love Mr Daniels writing, but this really caught my eye:
    ‘No one can truly believe this, and the enormous effort to do so is what causes the violent reaction when the contrary truth is baldly enunciated.’
    So true of many things.
    We can change the weather with taxes and windmills. Unimaginably complex living systems are the result of pure chance and chaos. Hamas are the good guys. A dust mask will protect you from getting sick.
    People are willing to argue and scream until they are blue in the face over these nonsensical propositions. Once people have taken such a stance, they must fight hard to keep reality at bay.

  • ianl says:

    Online Harms Act, or Bill C-63 – Canada’s Trudeau is apparently offering this as his contribution. Various descriptions of this Bill are extremely disquieting. I lack sufficient knowledge of Canadian parliamentary procedures to know if this Bill will stand.


    “Unimaginably complex living systems are the result of pure chance and chaos.” pgang’s contribution to knowledge, slipped into a list of other superstitions. Cancer cells, with DNA in chaos, build their own empires of existential supply – a wonderful example of intelligent design.

  • Dubitat says:

    Denunciation is never far away. During Covid our government encouraged citizens to dob in non compliant neighbours and many were happy to do so. Scotland is just the first to take this one step further.


    Who remembers the hit song Li’l Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs? I think they are apt as the wolf in this case is offering security whilst having flagrantly wicked intentions.

    Who’s that I see walkin’ in these woods?
    Why, it’s little Red Ridin’ Hood

    Hey there, little Red Riding Hood
    You sure are lookin’ good
    You’re everything a big bad wolf could want
    Listen to me, little Red Ridin’ Hood
    I don’t think little big girls should
    Go walkin’ in these spooky old woods alone

    What big eyes you have
    The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad
    So, just to see that you don’t get chased
    I think I ought to walk with you for a-ways

    What full lips you have
    They’re sure to lure someone bad
    So, until you get to grandma’s place
    I think you ought to walk with me and be safe

    I’m gonna keep my sheep suit on
    ‘Til I’m sure that you’ve been shown
    That I can be trusted walkin’ with you alone
    Little Red Ridin’ Hood
    I’d like to hold you if I could
    But you might think I’m a big bad wolf, so I won’t

    What a big heart I have
    The better to love you with
    Little Red Ridin’ Hood
    Even bad wolves can be good

    I’ll try to keep satisfied
    Just to walk close by your side
    Maybe you’ll see things my way
    Before we get to grandma’s place

    Little Red Ridin’ Hood
    You sure are lookin’ good
    You’re everything a big bad wolf could want

    I mean, baa, baa, baa

  • vickisanderson says:

    The marvellous satire in the writings of Anthony Daniels is, in itself, a splendid advocacy for free speech. I fear that we may not see his like again as the darkness spreads.

  • Ceres says:

    So many examples of absurdities being discussed seriously these days, as Daniels points out. Not only transgender or mankind controlling the climate, nonsense but watching a President clearly riddled with dementia and barely able to string a sentence together. To hear TV presenters talking about the acumen and abilities of this ‘leader’ of the free world would be laughable if not so serious. Reminds me of the Emperor’s New Clothes with J.K. Rowling as the child, pointing out the reality.

  • john mac says:

    Yes Ceres, the propping up of Biden by the world’s media is our 1984 2+2=5 reality ! That they KNOW he’s unfit , and know WE know makes our situation in the West all the more dire. That newsreaders across the world spout clear nonsense on this and the other Trojan horses such as climate change, identity politics, the plandemic, and wars is chilling. “And they do so with the approval of their own conscience “.

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