Instead, like a moth to a flame, I ended up back on Melanie Phillips' rip-roaring Spectator blog, which I tend to visit with a sense of morbid fascination in the way others do with 2 Girls 1 Cup, or videos of soldiers getting beheaded. Reading Melanie Phillips isn't like reading your average right-wing rent-a-gob columnist, it's like opening a portal into a fantastical world which shares a language and some names with ours but is fundamentally different, somehow other. If she was officially a fiction writer or a film director you could praise her for the deeply atmospheric but defiantly unearthly world she creates so vividly through her narrative. Sadly, she constrained herself by portraying her baffling hyperbole as a non-fictional commentary on what's happening on the real planet Earth upon which we roam, and thus must be judged against mere journalistic standards instead of being celebrated as the visionary maverick she so clearly is.
One of the central pillars of Phillips' script is the bit about how people such as her, with only a regular newspaper column in the Mail, a widely-read Spectator blog, seven books and frequent appearances on BBC radio and television, are being silenced and denounced as heretics for their far-out views on things like evolution and, in particular, climate change. Phillips doesn't believe that humans have any effect on the climate and that it's all some kind of nefarious scam to raise taxes or something. This is the kind of dangerous opinion that most of us won't get to hear without taking radical action like reading a newspaper or talking to your parents or a bloke down the pub, or catching a taxi, or looking at an internet forum. Brown and his henchmen may have suppressed the "glooooobal warmin'? Do me a fackin' favour! It's pissing it down 'ere!" argument to the point where only a few tens of millions of Britons subscribe to it, but Phillips is here to take on Big Government and Big Science armed with her big sword of principle, revealing to us the Truth.
She did this in two consecutive articles recently; A true scientist in government? Quel scandale!, and yesterday's The modern heresy of true science. Truth and heresy are big concepts in the movie which plays in Phillips' head; on the one hand there are truthers like her, the white knights riding fearlessly into battle to bring enlightenment to the mistreated and misinformed masses, versus on the other hand the armies of darkness, who lie and distort facts to fit their own warped agenda, something clearly anathema to such a journalistic colussus.
To properly get into Phillips' stories you have to discard your old mindset, to try and forget things you thought might have been true, like for example science. Whatever you thought before, Phillips thinks the opposite, and what's more, she's read a book which agrees. The monumentally well-backed theory of anthropogenic climate change s in fact a 'global lunacy' that has spawned a 'hallucinatory propaganda industry', while Phillips' side of the debate constitutes the 'real science' which in sole possession of the 'actual scientific facts and evidence'. Whatever your opinion of the theories, Mel's determination to not so much nail her colours to the mast but to dress up as a mast herself and hammer glorious nails of truth into her own righteous palms with a primal scream of quite messianic zeal is quite something to behold.
She really doesn't let up. In the most recent article ('The modern heresy...'), the theory of man-made climate change 'rests in its entirety upon charlatanry, fraud, ignorance and ideology'. It is 'simply false', 'sheer bunkum from start to finish'. It is categorically NOT science, despite the many thousands of scientists who subscribe to it; it is in fact 'a belief system purporting to be ‘science’ but which is more akin to a religion sustained through the imposition of authority and intimidation'. (Religion in this case apparently a bad thing). At the end, Mel wonders aloud if the 'credulous intelligentsia' who have bought into this web of lies 'still have any capacity to think'. Clearly, Phillips has done enough thinking for all of us.
In the earlier article, she heralds Nicolas Sarkozy's appointment of climate change 'sceptic' Claude Allegre, wondering whether it's the first step towards France once again leading Europ 'into a second Enlightenment and a new age of reason'. If so, the fight begins here, as 'Doubtless the warmist inquisition is already working out how to boil Allegre in Big Oil'. There are no shades of grey in Phillips' universe; the characters are all good or evil, light or dark, wrong or right. I actually wonder if it's fair for me to compare it works of fiction, because most films and novels and comic books have more levels of sophistication, meaning and nuance than Phillips' sledgehammer-fisted pronouncements.
With the battle between science (as defined by large numbers of scientists) and True Science (the kind Phillips believes) thus resolved, we can go back a week and see how Phillips views more complex issues like human sexuality and the strive for equality and human rights, and how we achieve harmony through delicately balancing the competing needs and opinions of our various communities. Whereas science can be falsified and ideas eventually win out, surely such multi-layered, more subjective social issues call for a more tender, introspective stance, one which perhaps wouldn't suit the hectoring 'you're wrong, you idiot, it's like THIS!' tone of her True Science™ pieces?
Pfft! Of course you'd think that, but that's why Phillips is a successful regular guest on The Moral Maze and you're sat here reading this blog like a twat. Where you might have written something even-handed (read: wishy-washy, you unforgivable ponce!), Phillips has the conviction to strap herself into her armoured tank of wisdom and blitz your sorry ass with reality shells, in the wonderfully-titled The Sexualisation of Heresy. There's that word 'heresy' again, to serve as a warning that your mind just might be about to get blown...
Tolerating the gays is all well and good, but come on folks, isn't Mel's view that 'the tolerance of homosexuality that a liberal society should properly show has long been hijacked by an agenda which aims at destroying the very idea of normative sexuality altogether' just that little bit more exciting? Watch and learn, you dreary intellectual peasants:
The true liberal position, that it is right and just to tolerate behaviour that deviates from the norm as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, is deemed to be rank prejudice on the grounds that homosexuality is not ‘deviancy’ but normal. ‘Normality’ is thus rendered incoherent and absurd and accordingly destroyed altogether.That's so fucking clever that to mere mortals like you or I it may appear to be constructed from a whole field of straw men and weird suppositions, and be bereft of any internal logic.
Oh yeah, destruction, that's another word she loves to piss forth wildly from the comfort of her Truth Tent. You may think gay rights are okay, but not only have they gone a bit too far, they're actually 'destroying the very idea of normative sexuality altogether', destroying, in fact, the very idea of the word 'normal' with their 'de-normalising agenda'. THEY'RE KILLING WORDS! GAYS ARE ACTUALLY BUMMING WORDS OUT OF THE DICTIONARY! How do you people get through the day without screaming at the very injustice of it all? For Mel, what was once liberal tolerance is now 'illiberal coercion against mainstream moral values', which has put in place 'new sexual and moral anti-norms'. Hey, would you like to see gays treated equally in the church? Let Mel take you to school:
But what about the unfair treatment of traditional Christians and other faith groups? The doctrine of equality means they have no right at all to uphold their belief that certain types of sexual behaviour are wrong. This is simply trumped by gay rights, which allows them no space at all to uphold their religious beliefs. This is not progressive. It is totalitarian.Warming to her theme, she continues:
One of the key tenets – possibly the key tenet – of a liberal society is that it grants religious groups the freedom to practise their religious faith and live by its precepts. Preventing them from doing so is profoundly illiberal and oppressive – and it is not made any less so by the fact that ‘progressive’ voices inside the church themselves deem such precepts to be ‘homophobic’. This is merely the sexualisation of heresy. And what follows from heresy, whether religious or secular, is persecution.Persecution, totalitarianism, these may sound like strong words for the concept of letting existing employment laws apply to the religious in pursuit of some kind of fairness, but there you go. You have to decide in the end whether the world Phillips describes sounds like the one you live in. If it does, I'm truly sorry for you, and if my musical alter-ego ever starts selling merchandised rope appropriate to its pseudonym, I'll be sure to give loyal readers of this blog a hefty discount if you decide to take the ultimate step to finally get the peace you deserve. Until then, I leave you with this epic and not-at-all hyperbolic conclusion from dear brave Melanie:
Truly, as the joke goes, what was once prohibited has now become compulsory. Once, homosexual practice was outlawed. Now, it appears that Christian practice is to be afforded the same fate. This is a matter of fundamental civil rights. So where are the upholders of progressive values on this? Where are the human rights lawyers? Where is the voice of Liberty, Britain’s powerful human rights NGO? And where are the supposed defenders of core British and western values? Where (don’t laugh) is the Conservative Party?
Marching in the ranks of the secular inquisition, every one of them.
Well, I wasn't expecting the secular inquisition, to be fair.
So, I'm off to join Mel's Army Of Light, because if we don't save Christians from being slowly OUTLAWED as they CLEARLY ARE right now, she might be forced to spiral even further beyond the outer reaches of parody and satire. Do you really want to see Phillips' anger continue to well up like this until either her brain explodes or she teeters off the precipice into pure insanity, and spends her old age hectoring passersby in the high street with Biblical tales of humanity's imminent damnation by firey apocalypse?