Category Archives: Racism

Is our diversity only skin deep?

The choice of Lennie Henry to guest edit the flagship BBC radio programme Today inevitably brought the question of diversity into the public mind.

He is a much loved figure, amiable, “just like us”, and an excellent ambassador for “the Black Country” in both senses of the word.

You can’t not like Lennie.

If you looked for an example of an integrated person, in some ways different but in most ways not, it is hard to think of anyone better to choose.

Nevertheless, given a full , open choice of issues to explore, this very English man of colour felt it appropriate to go back to issues of diversity and exclusion. That was his right and his choice, but it is interesting that he felt obliged to look primarily  in that direction rather than others; he identified with exclusion even though he has been as well embraced as anyone you might care to name.

Brother Ivo has lived long enough to have seen much change in this regard.

His own mother spoke of her fear of seeing the first black man in herstreet in the North of England, the children fleeing,  lest he take them back to wherever he might have come from.

She was not initially comfortable around such strangers. She was troubled when the teenage Brother Ivo and a friend brought home a very pretty girl of Indian origin, yet to her credit she later  learnt her own similarity with people of difference by badinage, whilst buying dress making materials from an Indian young man in the local market. Shared interests bridged  cultural gaps

When she saw the fervour of dislike amongst some parts of the community with the early rise of the National Front,  she confronted her own discomfort and by an act of will put it aside, for which Brother Ivo always admired her.

If you have never felt difficulty with difference, you have no claim to virtue in espousing tolerance.

Listening to Lennie Henry exploring issues such as the numerical disparity of BME managers in professional football, the problems of securing more ethnic minority MPs and black authors breaking out of their traditionally niche subject areas, Brother Ivo began thinking about another side of the  diversity coin.

We regard ourselves as tolerant towards a diverse society because most of our major towns and cities have a variety of cultures in situ and  readily visible, with Dreadlocks, Turbans, and Hijabs abounding, but does that really tell us much?

Happily we have relatively little racial tension and no “rivers of blood” yet if we drill down looking for hard data,  how is the mutuality of acceptance really playing out?

Brother Ivo would have found it very interesting to hear not from those who have been motivated to integrate but rather to hear from those who have not yet done so.

Diane Abbott, Sajid Javid, Amjad Basir MEP and Chris Hughton had important and interesting stories to tell, and yet they are all people who have moved towards the values of the “indigenous community”: the story of those communities which are more inward looking is less explored. and it is a shame that Lennie did not go there.

That surely is the story that truly needs to be explored.

Brother Ivo was moved to explore this thought when he recalled a discussion he recently had with a colleague from another Church who sought his help in locating somebody willing and able to facilitate conversations within his own Church which had a number of people from a specific African region.

The colleague had made a mistake and did not want to compound it. He also had a problem, which he explained.

When he found people from the same country gravitating to his church he thought it was  a good idea to promptly introduce the newcomers to each other and expected that alone to be a successful strategy.

He had not appreciated the tribal dimension.

He soon learnt that there were plainly issues that he did not know and yet they were issues which his congregation did not feel comfortable discussing with him. They feared he might disapprove of their reservations and so, he was effectively excluded from a dimension of his own ministry. He may have been all for diversity and yet found that he needed needed  informed specialist help to penetrate the cultural issues that were holding back fellowship. Brother Ivo was able to suggest a source of such assistance.

There was another problem.

His new congregation members were very supportive of the Church. If he wanted simple things done his requests were met with enthusiasm yet those tasks embraced  tended to be of a more menial capacity. Recruiting people to join the PCC, to become Treasurers or Church Wardens had never been successful. He was concerned by this.

He did not want outsiders to speculate about racial glass ceilings. He was genuinely bothered that he was unable to extend his opportunities with this new generation of worshipers. There may be to be a very prosaic answer. The new immigrants may be young, have working long hours, have family commitments in other towns; in that they may be no different from other young people with too much to do, yet he cannot be sure.

It is these conversations that need to be had. It does take two to tango.

Brother Ivo shall be seeing him again in a couple of months and will be interested to see see how he is getting on with the support suggested.

The story from this local Church is the kind that does not reach the media.

There are many new cultures and communities now in the UK. Some are still not wholly comfortable with the language and the culture. With 4 million newcomers in the last decade, it would be highly unlikely that all the potential issues of integration will have even  yet been identified, let alone solved.

We should, as a larger community be keen to ensure that ours in not an exclusionary culture; In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free male or female. Yet the British have tended to be a pragmatic people relying on evolutionary practice rather than grand schemes of intellectual design. THis is both a blessing and a curse.

Seeing diversity on the street it may look ordinary enough, yet until we know and understand the various communities – and not least how they inter-react one with another – any declaration of diversity having been easily achieved is premature.

It may be too early to “celebrate diversity” not because we should not aspire to it, but simply because our success is greeted prematurely. Integrating  two  communities is of a different order of magnitude than integrating forty or a hundred. in many ways we have not yet begun.

Lennie Henry did a good job, but he skimmed the real depth of the problem

It will take time for so much diversity to bed down: the problems are exponentially complex and not exclusively caused by the “indigenous majority” – howsoever one defines it.

We can, however take a degree of comfort that the vast majority of folk do want to see this happen peacefully and naturally.

We in the Churches have an important role in facilitating acceptance on all sides, but we will help nobody if we allow the problem to be defined in the one dimension of indigenous intolerance only.

 

 

Ferguson -“Its not a skin matter, its a sin matter”

When the riots began on Ferguson Missouri, we all  began to wonder what to make of it.

Brother Ivo is a huge admirer of Archbishop Justin Welby but his response goes to prove that even our best leaders can sometimes get it wrong.

Archbishop Justin tweeted an approving link to a piece from Jim Field, the President of Sojourners , a “progressive” Christian organisation. He described it as ” powerful”. It is not, it is a piece designed to advance a political narrative contrary to the facts of the case.

On the issue Brother Ivo believes that the Archbishop and Jim Field have missed the mark and were bested by a less sophisticated National Football League player for the New Orleans Saints by the name of Benjamin Watson.

Brother Ivo reproduces the two pieces and invites readers to consider who gives the better Chritian response.

Piece 1 Jim Field

Many black families woke up this morning knowing that the lives of their children are worth less than the lives of white children in America. The deep distrust of law enforcement in their own communities that so many African Americans feel just got deeper last night — 108 days since the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown — when the prosecuting attorney announced the decision not to subject the police officer who killed Brown to a trial where all the facts could be publically known and examined.
Ferguson protests Monday night. Photo by Heather Wilson / PICO
We now all have the chance to examine the evidence — released last night — in the grand jury’s decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson, who fired multiple bullets into Michael Brown. But the verdict on America’s criminal justice system is already in for many Americans: guilty, for treating young black men differently than young white men.

According to veteran prosecutors and defense attorneys, many things were unusual about the grand jury that ultimately decided not to indict Wilson. But most unusual may have been the decision to hold the news until after dark — as anxiety rose and hundreds gathered on the street. The decision was reportedly in by 2 p.m., so why did authorities wait seven hours to announce it? Why did they wait until people were off work and anxious young crowds had gathered outside police headquarters in Ferguson? Focus quickly turned from the grand jury’s decision to the response in the streets. While most protestors remained peaceful, the media naturally focused on the very unfortunate violence.

Other large questions remain. Why did prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch never mention in his long statement last night that Michael Brown was unarmed? Why did a trained police officer decide he had no other option than to shoot more bullets into Brown after he had fled their confrontation? Why did anyone have to die? Why did a prosecutor, in his long 25 minutes of explanation of why Wilson was not indicted, sound more like a defense attorney for the police officer instead of an advocate for the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed? Why were the “conflicting accounts” of the confrontation between Officer Wilson and Michael Brown not subjected to a trial? The resulting decision from the grand jury was completely foreseeable in a nation where police officers are almost never indicted for the use of deadly force — especially when it is white police officers killing black people.

It was a very sad night for America. I echo St. Louis area pastor, Rev. Traci Blackmon’s words this morning: “I hurt, I really hurt for the young people who did everything they could to be peaceful and nonviolent and to raise their voice; but the anger and rage of a few made the narrative very different this morning.” Even though most of the protests in Ferguson and around the country were peaceful, it was painful to watch President Obama speaking to the nation on a split screen with scenes of violent protest in Ferguson. In his powerful speech, the president spoke the truth when he said, “We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson; this is an issue for America.” He also reminded the nation of the recent words of Michael Brown Sr., the dead boy’s dad, words that have touched many of us so deeply.

The dad who lost his son said, “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

It’s time for us all to honor the wishes of Michael Brown’s father and mother. Whatever the facts might have revealed in the trial that will never happen, the time is long overdue to subject our criminal justice system to the requirements of racial justice. The racialization of that system and its policing behavior toward people of color is beyond dispute. The police force in Ferguson that is completely unrepresentative of the community and whose behavior has caused such deep alienation among the people they are supposed to serve and protect has become a parable. Ferguson has become a parable in America, for how black lives are less important in the ways our laws are enforced. Ferguson is not only in Ferguson.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s apostle of nonviolence, once said: ”a riot is the language of the unheard.” He also showed us that only disciplined, sacrificial, and nonviolent social movements can change things.

It is time to right the unacceptable wrong of black lives being worth less than white lives in our criminal justice system. The broken relationships between law enforcement officials and their communities are deeply felt and very real.

How law enforcement interacts with communities of color raises fundamental, legitimate issues that must be addressed by the whole nation if we are to move forward. The changes we need in both policies and practices must now be taken up in detail. Our neglect has led to anger and hopelessness in a new generation, but their activism will also help lead us to new places. It is indeed time to turn Ferguson from a moment to a movement, and Michael Brown’s life and death must not be allowed to be in vain.

Piece 2

Benjamin Watson

25 November at 18:00 ·
At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

You can decide whether the better leadership is being offered by Jim Field or Bengamin Watson, who has incidentally received significant abuse for his ” controversial” piece.

Since Benjamin Watson wrote we know more.

Brother Ivo is not one to step away from controversy, and regrets that the media have not put into the public domain a number of significant facts which have come out of the Grand Jury decision. Facts matter.

Michael Brown was not exactly an innocent adolescent but a huge and powerful young man – 80lb heavier than the not insubstantial police officer. He was willing and able to use that size to dominate the weak and exhibited an attitude that made that plain. He identified with gang culture.

The police Officer Darren Wilson, had never fired his weapon at a suspect before.

Michael Brown was capable of killing the officer and attempted to kill the officer, once with his fists and once by turning the officer’s gun on him.

Michael Brown had robbed a store earlier that evening and was filmed on CCTV using his size to brush aside the slight Pakistani store clerk’s protestation as he he suffered the crime.

Michael Brown and his accomplice Dorrien Johnson were correctly identified by the officer as the offenders, Michael Brown was carrying the stolen property and declined to stop when located 10 minutes later, walking down the middle of the street. He swore at the officer as he refused to step to move to the sidewalk for questioning.

In the course of the initial altercation the officer was punched twice in the face with the intent to cause serious harm. Those injuries were recorded and photographed immediately afterwards. People can and do get killed by punches to the head; having “ridden” and survived two such blows, whilst seated and contained in his car, the officer was reasonable to fear for his life at the hands of such an assailant, and doubted his ability to survive continuing blows. Under fear for his life, a person is lawfully permitted to use lethal force to stop the attack.

He was accordingly fully entitled in law to draw his weapon but Michael Brown reached into the car and attempted to take control of the weapon and turn it against the officer. In the struggle the gun failed to fire on two occasions adding to the officers anxiety, but a shot fired in the car, injured Michael Brown in the hand. It did not deter his determination to act in an un-constrained manner.

Michael Brown walked away but when the officer followed, in accordance with his duty to arrest the suspect, he turned and charged at the officer from a few feet away, and was shot as he did so. that renewed attack also entitled lethal force to be employed.

All the forensic evidence, including three autopsy reports, was consistent with the account given by the officer, who did not avail himself of the right to refuse to attend the Grand Jury or, once there, to remain silent before the Grand Jury under the 5th Ammendment, but submitted himself to questioning for four hours by the jury without having a lawyer present to protect his interests. The jury received considerable evidence, including eye witnesses and found the few that blamed the officer not to be consistent with each other or the forensic evidence, and not to be creditable. It is qualitatively no different from the decision made by Lord Justice Mitting against Andrew Mitchell, except they were the very people policed by Darren Wilson and threatened by Michael Brown and his accomplice.

The threshold of proof before a Grand Jury is very low: the mixed race jury heard all the evidence and decided there was no basis to suspect illegality on the part of the officer. The officer is entitled not to be drawn through lengthy and stressful prosecution if there is no proper case against him. We ought to support justice for all.

The riots that followed Mr Brown’s step father’s repeated call to “Burn this bitch down” paid every regard to a preconceived false narrative of victimhood, and none to the facts of the case.

Looters are not “the community”. Martin Luther King never fomented a riot. There may be many cases of injustice by police towards black citizens. This case is not it .

There is one story of hope emerging out of these dreadful circumstances.

A young black woman Natalie Dubose had her bakery store burned out by rioters: she was a wholly innocent party. She had sold cakes in the local market, saved her money and eventually been able to buy a store whilst supporting her two children. She was pictured weeping in the wreckage. She had done the right thing, worked hard following her American Dream only to have it destroyed but someone
Protesting his “civil rights” whilst violating hers.

Within days, money began to arrived from all over America. People of all races were moved by her plight, and the donations quickly topped $250k. For all the talk of a racially divided nation, one is minded to recall the words of Bill Clinton that ” there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be solved by what is right in America.”

The generosity was as colour blind as the jury verdict.

It is truly is “not a skin problem but a sin problem”.

First they came for the racists…..,

Brother Ivo has found himself significantly embroiled in the debates over UKIP and its detractors of late. It is not something he was particularly keen to do, he is not a member, and certainly does not believe that they have all the answers, anymore than any other political party.

He was clear however that plain speaking and a reflection of what ordinary people think is not to be stifled in a democracy. Even in this modern world, the membership of the United Nations is comprised significantly of undemocratic regimes. One of the first signs of privilege is taking one’s blessings for granted.

Free speach is fundamental to Brother Ivo.

Readers will also know that Brother Ivo is clear in his view that the political correctness which underwrote much of the attempted silencing of the debate over EU immigration is a deliberately political movement designed to frame debate by controlling what may and may not be said.

The capture of certain concepts – ” fairness” is an obvious example, is another stage in that movement, yet Jesus parable of the workers in the vineyard illustrates how complex such a seemingly simple and attractive idea may be. There is no one “fairness” but the radical left will coral us unto their version of it, given half a chance.

It is with that analysis in mind that Brother Ivo was sorry to see the Church of England bishops deciding that membership of the British National Party should become a disciplinary offence. One can understand the decision: the church is very sensitive to its slowness in recognising the consequences of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy and many of its members foolishly fellow travelled the road from the high unemployment of the 1920’s depression to “Arbeit Macht Frei”.

Yet therin lies the paradox and danger.

” Work makes you free” was a fair enough slogan when first advanced. Of course it does: it gives you choice, independence and economic liberty – many things to appeal to the mass unemployed of inter war Europe. Yet surely we should appreciate that it is not where you start, but where you finish that matters. Christians are called to move from original sin to salvation, yet there is a two way street here. The power of the Church can intoxicate and lead us astray, even as they set out with good intentions.

Political Correctness is no friend of the Church: its followers are antithetical to Christ. Brother Ivo is not confident that the bishops understand this.

This may be why the Anglican bishops find themselves seduced into taking the first steps of political censorship at this time.

Why now?

The BNP vote is declining. We are not seeing a neo-Nazi revival, there are, apparently, no known BNP priests within its ranks so why now?

Could it be that our overwhelmingly Socially Democratic bishops would like to proscribe UKIP but, with such significant current support, dare not do so directly, so they choose instead to send a “signal” by this decision? Certainly there are one or two in the ranks who would cheerfully conflate the two parties.

We have never had a similar approach to parties of the far Left.

Might we expect the Socialist Workers Party to be similarly proscribed ? One somehow doubts it. Yet “a next ” there will surely be; there will be another serious “threat” requiring an extension of the banned list. Perhaps climate change deniers will be a sufficiently minority to be similarly rejected by all “right thinking people”.

This is in keeping with the shaping of the debate, the narrowing of thought, the limiting of what may be said which is part of the strategy of the politically correct. Brother Ivo was there when this began. It started with linguistic policing only – one was upbraided if one spoke of ” fighting an election”. Now we have moved on and a major non-political institution has proscribed political thought. Might others follow? Will the British Legion or the National Trust be next? Why not?

As we approach the 70th anniversary of D-Day we need to remind ourselves that Liberty is hard won with great sacrifice: it is easily surrendered, incrementally.

Those who crossed the Normandy beaches were a mixed bunch. There were Christians, atheists, homosexuals, homophobes, and of course, Eisenhower brought a segregated Army to our rescue. They united to fight an enemy which permitted but one way of thinking-their way: much like the politically correct of today, with whom the Anglican Bishops have sided, with no real existential urgent threat.

” First they came for the racists, and I did not speak out, I was not a racist : then they came for the climate change deniers, I was not a climate change denier and I did not speak out: then they came for the homophobes…. Oh wait …the Church of England has a statutory exemption from conducting gay weddings. Gee aren’t we lucky we’re not next on the list.

Brother Ivo remains abroad without his twitter password and would appreciate any help in publishing these thoughts if you found them thought provoking.

 

Jeremy Clarkson; mountains and molehills

Unknown-7

Many years ago, the scriptwriters Frank Muir and Denis Norden set themselves a challenge to break every one of the BBC guidelines on taste and decency in one sentence. At that time, no programme could make jokes about religion, the Royal Family, race or sexual activity, and they came up with the line “Christ”, said the King, “that nigger’s a poof”.

Despite a genuine dislike of taking the Lord’s name in vain, Brother Ivo still smiles at the subversive brilliance, verbal dexterity, and conscission of their invention. It was that skill which made them pre-eminent in their field for decades and throughout that time their gentle affectionate mocking of humanities foibles and weaknesses were never perceived by anyone to be anywhere near “hate speech”, that ugly invention of the equally ugly politically correct.

The line which they wrote was a verbal answer to a puzzle they had set themselves.

The world event they constructed was so improbable as to be safely removed from all of the ills which the decency code attempted to exclude. Yet to tell the story of their invention today risks bringing down all manner of of accusation upon Brother Ivo. It is because he is able to safely address these issues, having nothing to lose, that he feels compelled to do so.

He comes from a generation that had many many faults in these matters but it is not one over which the succeeding ones have any right to feel morally superior. Let him offer a few examples.

In the days when you could be prosecuted or killed for provocative behaviour, the comedian Lennie Bruce challenged everybody’s attitudes. He was a “hip” jazz fan and would take to the stage with a theme rather than a routine, and his comedy was improvised. In one such routine he took racial epithets and constructed a kind of jazz drum solo. Having identified a Polack, some Niggers, a Yid a Mick and a Spic he was soon chanting the rhythm of his invention like a musical nonsense verse before, having disarmed the terms, reduced them to a meaningless cacophony of syllables, he broke off, declaring all such attitudes equally meaningless.

In 60’s America it was a brave and creditable performance. Lenny, with his chanting of each of these terms, risked more, achieved more for racial harmony than the anonymous sneaks who took a muffled out-take of Jeremy Clarkson recording a nursery rhyme and published it for their own purposes.

Another example is still with us. Kinky Friedman is a Texan singer who wrote a song satirising racial prejudice against both himself , a Jew, and black people. “They ain’t making Jews like Jesus anymore” proclaims that today, Jews don’t always turn the other cheek, but along the way he has his protagonist ” a rednecked nerd in a bowling shirt” mistake him for a “well dressed country nigger”. Kinky needs to establish the prejudice before demolishing it – all in the musical style which the redneck would have thought defined him only. It is satire and edgy to this day forty years on.

Brother Ivo is very comfortable owning these examples of his generation’ s steps on the way to tolerance in the public sphere, for these were small but important cultural landmarks of far greater significance than the PC heavies who predate upon the foolish, like bullies.

Lenny Bruce was quite an immoral man and certainly no Christian, yet he had a number of insights which deserve respect. He would had been excoriating of the new puritanism of the politically correct, and in his spirit Brother Ivo proposes we continue that legacy by insisting that we reserve our ire and condemnation of racism for those who are truly racist, unkind or intolerant. Lennie famously remarked that the Liberal can understand and tolerate everything – except those who don’t understand them.

Making mountains out of molehills like the Jeremy Clarkson story is self indulgent and a distraction.

Clarkson, like Carol Thatcher before him and, before her, Ron Atkinson, come from the same generation as Lenny Bruce and Kinky Friedman. It was the generation that loved their golliwogs, called their pet cats Nigger and laughed at Michael Bates brilliant portrayal of an Indian in “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. This was also  the same generation which rejected Enoch Powell,  passed the Race Relations Act, brought Apartheid to an end and learned (much thanks to Ron Atkinson) to welcome black footballers as they grew to make their great contribution to the National game. That acceptance probably did more to move “minorities” into mainstream acceptance than anything else. When your star player in your sports team is black, it overcame any prior prejudices. We have yet to similarly exploit our Asian players’ talent but it will come.

When much has been achieved, all that is left for the pygmy campaigners of today is to complain at small things. Mr Clarkson was probably silly to start on that particular rhyme in his sound test , but it was perhaps not so very far from the naughtiness of Muir and Norden. One thought the BBC enjoyed boundary pushing, and edginess against the norm, seeing how close one can get to the line without crossing it.

Mr Clarkson’s transgression is about as outrageous as a ten year old saying ” bum” at the back of the class in 1912. Back then, nobody liked sneaks.

Plainly Christians insist upon according dignity to all we meet. In this context, is everything. “By their fruits ye shall know them” and none of those driven out of public life by the Politically correct strike Brother Ivo as Himmlers in the making.

There was a recent attempt to prosecute fans of Tottenham Hotspur who had appropriated the term” Yid” to themselves. That had done so historically in solidarity with their many Jewish supporters when other fans abused them. It has happily been accepted that that term, like many others, is used as a familiarity interlnally within the group and its associated friends. Comedians like Chris Rock and Reginald Hunter routinely use the offending term knowingly to those of their own race and they do it with a mischievous glint in their eyes to tease the discomfort of white members of the audience.

Jesus too used this technique to make a more important point.

When he used the term “hypocrite’ against his opponents, it had a plain undertone. His opponents hid their true nature and were thus acting like the masked actors of the Greek theatre;”You are no better than those dreadful Greeks” is the stinging implication to proud Jews. Similarly, when he rebuked the Syrophonecian  woman for seeking the blessing intended for the Jews there was a racial divide implicit in his initial testing rejection, which brought forth the response that the little dogs under the table may catch the children’s scraps.

Was Jesus “racist”?

Plainly not, yet many Christians will happily join the marxist approach of the  politically correct in applying this term to those they disagree with on other grounds.

Surely the various examples, biblical and secular, which Brother Ivo has identified are joined by a common thread. It is that context is everything. Intention and context is an important part of giving offence.

Those who wish to demonise words regardless of context might care to be reminded that society changes and that they may too in time fall foul of the language rules which the PC folk impose.

In forty years time, the grandchildren of today’s radicals may well be rebuking and prosecuting them for their use of the perforative word “Tory”. No matter that some of that clan use it amongst themselves, it is frequently used as a disparaging term – “hate speech” if you will. If you cannot conceive of using the term in a positive way but only as a derogatory  term or term of derision, if you use it to divide, then it is entirely foreseeable that this will join the list of that which is unsayable though you may convey exactly the same idea by referring to the “T-word”.

This is a nonsense. Moral people should ensure that their yea is yea and their nay means nay. If you can’t say it openly, you should not be saying it at all. Before I criticise you or think of prosecuting you I ought at the very least to examine the context before pronouncing judgement. It is what is in our hearts that corrupts us in our dealings with others not the words themselves.

Witch-hunting the foolish and the unguarded is not a moral activity, it is however a tactic of bullies with a political agenda of social control ( the clue is in the title) and for the male fides of that project alone it ought to be rejected.