Thursday 8 December 2016

It’s the Law

Ah, ‘tis the season of nativity, when – in all the best primary schools where they still dare to do this sort of thing – a donkey will lead the procession into the school hall while a motley of bed-sheet-clad, miniature Arabs sing their hearts out... to several different tunes at once. Bless, literally. In years to come, the proud parents will embarrass their rapidly maturing offspring with video footage of the day... Oh, but wait. No video; it could end up on the world-wide-paedo-web. If you want photographs of your children all dressed up and living through their important little milestones you must take them furtively, at home, without including any of their little friends. It’s the law.

It’s also the law that if somebody imagines that somebody should feel offended, whether they do so or not, you are bang to rights, son. The CPS says a hate crime is “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.” So the law, effectively, depends on perception. Imagine if the same approach applied to burglary. “Officer, I would like to report the theft of the Rolex oyster I perceive I used to possess...”

In order to turn imaginary crime into real crime, the law demands hard evidence and the CPS site instructs: “If you, or anyone you know, has been called names, been bullied or had anything happen to them that you think may be because of one of these factors, then you should report this as a hate incident. Even if you don’t want the incident to be investigated, it is important that the police know about it, so that they can build up a picture of how many incidents are happening and where. This information can help police investigating other hate incidents.” This sounds to me like incitement to invent hate crime.

But here’s a thing; what if the law is just a great, big con? I mean, religion is a con; a con so obvious that children need indoctrination from birth to accept it. Philosophy; it’s just one man’s opinion versus another. The cons are everywhere. Homeopathy’s a con. Crystal healing’s a con... Aromatherapy? Oh, come on... We live every day under the shadow of one piece of inveiglement after another. The experts that Michael Gove railed about adopt the mantle of wisdom when many of them have simply managed to convince less complicated minds that big words and complex theses trump clear thought and common sense.

And so to Brexit and the vexed legal questions about Parliamentary oversight, whether or not people knew what they were voting for and who has the power to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Oliver Letwin put it simply: “We’re leaving. We’re leaving the single market and the customs union. We’re going to have control over our own migration. If you want that it implies that you’re leaving the single market. We’re going to be able to negotiate our own free trade deals with the rest of the world. If you want that you have to leave the customs union. That’s all pretty clear.” And it is clear... to everybody who voted to leave.

The Supreme Court in session

And yet the Supreme Court (although subordinate to Brussels, so not supreme at all) is now examining what all the long words mean. The House of Commons just held an utterly pointless opposition day debate and resolved nothing except to superficially give the government permission it may not actually need to progress the referendum result we already decided. All these braying donkeys...led by more donkeys... The spectacle in the Supreme Court looks less like a solemn judgement and more like a fancy dress sideshow and all dressed by their mums; the Brexit Nativity, starring its very own eleven gilded donkeys. Is this proof, if proof were needed, that the law is, you know... an ass?

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