Another day, another “full and unreserved apology” forced on someone in the public eye by the leftist Offence Police.
This time the mea maxima culpa comes from a minor government minister called Lord Freud who, apparently, has been caught out saying something truly, dreadfully, almost unforgiveably evil about disabled people.
His statement says:
We all care about the disabled. But “passionately?“
This is no ordinary apology.
It’s redolent of the kind of thing you might write with a knife held to your throat by Islamic State; the sort of confession you’d make after months of reeducation in a North Korean POW camp; the stuff you might say at a Kim Jong Un show trial, shortly before being thrown into a cage of fifty starving dogs. What it most definitely isn’t is the language you’d expect any person to have to use anywhere outside a totalitarian state. It’s just not how real people talk. Not only is it too strained and hyperbolic but it’s intellectually dishonest and politically extreme.
Why, for example, is it “offensive” to the point of total unacceptability to argue that there are some occasions where it makes sense to pay disabled people below the minimum wage?
Surely there are times when it is both economically sensible and compassionate?
Sam Bowman makes a good case here:
Many severely disabled people who would like to work thus can not do so.Markets are amoral. If a severely disabled person cannot produce morethan the minimum wage’s worth of work, no employer will be able toprofitably employ him. Some generous ones might do so at a loss, but wecannot assume that there will be enough of them.
What Bowman is restating here is the point that Lord Freud was trying to make at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, where his remarks were recorded by a Labour party activist and then used by Labour leader Ed Miliband in parliament yesterday to ambush David Cameron.
Lord Freud’s point was a perfectly reasonable, caring and practical one: how do you best incentivise employers to take on disabled people who want to work but whose productivity rate may not be the equal of able-bodied employees?
In a Soviet style command economy, the solution would be simple: the State would simply force employers to absorb the costs of taking on relatively unproductive disabled staff.
But we don’t (yet) live in a Soviet style command economy. We live in a free market one where businesses not unreasonably expect to maximise productivity and minimise costs by recruiting the best available staff for any given job. It is not their role to provide a welfare safety net for the less fortunate. Indeed the law actually forbids them from doing so because corporate entities are legally obliged to pursue profits for their shareholders.
So what in effect we have is a situation in which a blameless minister has been castigated for telling the truth – and then compelled by the Prime Minister into issuing a grovelling, humiliating retraction.
I said at the beginning: “Another day, another full and unreserved apology.” Perhaps these things don’t occur quite so often as daily. But they have certainly become a depressingly regular feature in our cultural landscape.
Earlier this week, daytime TV presenter Judy Finnigan was compelled to apologise for having suggested that a footballer imprisoned for rape had been punished enough and that having served his sentence he ought not to have his career destroyed too.
Several times in the last year, Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson has been similarly hounded into public self-abasement, most notably over his mumbled use of the “N-word” while repeating a now-politically-incorrect nursery rhyme.
In May this year, UKIP leader Nigel Farage was forced to apologise for suggesting that if a Romanian family moved in next door they might not be the most desirable neighbours. There were also concerted attempts by the usual suspects to bully him into another apology over his self-evidently accurate statement that women who take time off work to have children are “worth less” to City employers than men who don’t.
There is nothing accidental in any of this. It is part of a concerted ongoing campaign by the Cultural Marxist left to silence its ideological opponents, first by smearing them as hateful racists/disabled-haters/misogynists/rape-apologists and second by creating a climate of fear in which unpalatable truths or, in Clarkson’s case, harmless politically incorrect jokes are effectively rendered unsayable.
As George Orwell warned us, this way totalitarianism lies.
What Lord Freud said – and what he meant – was reasonable and well-intentioned. The way the left has been allowed to twist his innocent words and brand him a thought criminal is cynical, ugly and very, very dangerous.