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Rob Slane: Hate crime crowds out investigation of real crime


Inside the new “online hate crime hub”, which has been set up by the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, Sergeant David Marshmallow and PC Gary Snowflake are discussing a new hate crime case that has just come in:

Snowflake: Sarge, I need your advice on this?

Marshmallow: What’s that Gary?

Snowflake: Just received a complaint about this. Posted on Facebook.

Marshmallow: What is it?

Snowflake: Not sure, sir. I don’t quite know what to make of it.

Marshmallow: Okay, okay. Let’s hear it.

Snowflake: Here goes. “Did you hear about the man who went to a dyslexic doctor for gender reassignment?”

Marshmallow: Hmm. Can’t say that I have.

Snowflake: “He ended up being served at Christmas with apples and cider gravy.

Marshmallow: Apples and cider gravy? I’m not sure what to make of it.

Snowflake: Well, I think it’s a joke, sir.

Marshmallow: A joke? How is that a joke? I don’t understand.

Snowflake: I think the clue is in the fact that it’s a dyslexic doctor, sir. I think he misread the notes, and instead of performing a gender reassignment, went ahead and did a gander reassignment.

Marshmallow: Gander reassignment?

Snowflake: Yes, sir. In short, he turned him into a goose.

Marshmallow: A goose? But that’s terrible.

Snowflake: Yes, I agree. It’s a pretty poor joke.

Marshmallow: No that’s not what I mean. I mean the obvious hatred towards transgender people. No wonder someone complained.

Snowflake: Oh no Sarge, I think you misunderstand. The complaint hasn’t been raised as a transphobic hate crime.

Marshmallow: Really?

Snowflake: No sir.

Marshmallow: Oh I see. I forgot the part about dyslexia. This is very serious, Snowflake. Two crimes in one. Transphobia and Dyslexophobia.

Snowflake: Dyslexiophobia? Is that actually a hate crime, Sarge?

Marshmallow: It is now, Snowflake. Add it to the list.

Snowflake: Right you are, sir.

Marshmallow: What’s the matter with you, Snowflake? Can’t you spell? It’s d-y-s-l-e-x-o-p-h-o-b-i-a, not d-y-s-l-e-x-a-p-h-o-b-i-a.

Snowflake: Okay, got it. But actually Sarge, the complaint wasn’t from someone with dyslexia either.

Marshmallow: Really? Are you telling me that despite the clear Transphobia and Dyslexophobia, we’re registering it under another category? What is it then?

Snowflake: Guess. Think about the recipe.

Marshmallow: Hmm, not sure. A goose being cooked. Vegeterianophobia?

Snowflake: Vegeterianophobia? We haven’t got that one down either. I’ll add it to the list.

Marshmallow: Well, was I right?

Snowflake: No sir, it wasn’t Vegeterianophobia.

Marshmallow: Hmm. Difficult one this. Oh, I’ve got it. Islamophobia!

Snowflake: Islamophobia? How so, sir?

Marshmallow: Well, it does mention Christmas, doesn’t it? That could well be deemed to be offensive to a Muslim.

Snowflake: Or a secularist.

Marshmallow: Good point. Is this a case of Secularophoba? Or Atheistophobia?

Snowflake: Looks like another couple to add to the list, Sarge.

Marshmallow: Well, was I right?

Snowflake: No sir, the complaint wasn’t anything to do with Transphobia, Dyslexophobia, Vegeterianophibia, Islamophobia, Secularophoba, or Atheistophobia.

Marshmallow: Homophobia?

Snowflake: Did you see that in the joke?

Marshmallow: No. But we can’t be too careful, and it’s just possible that someone saw some sort of thinly veiled attack on the LGBT community.

Snowflake: Don’t think so. Well, no-one’s complained yet. Give up?

Marshmallow: Not yet. Let me try a few more. Racism?

Snowflake: No.

Marshmallow: Mysogyny?

Snowflake: No

Marshmallow: Doctorphobia?

Snowflake: Doctorphobia? What’s that?

Marshmallow: Well it mentions a surgeon turning someone into a goose because he can’t read properly. I wondered whether one of them had taken offence.

Snowflake: No, it wasn’t from a doctor or a surgeon.

Marshmallow: Okay, okay. I give up.

Snowflake: Allergophobia, sir.

Marshmallow: Allergophobia? Is that a new one?

Snowflake: I think it may well be. Here’s what the complaint says. “As someone who has suffered for years with an allergy to apples and cider, I was horrified to find my condition being used in a so-called ‘joke’ about a man who ended up being turned into a goose and served up as Christmas dinner. I can assure you that this is no laughing matter, and I find the inclusion of apples and cider in a joke to be deeply offensive and a clear example of a hate crime against those with allergies.”

Marshmallow: I see. Well, log Allergophobia down and we’ll start investigating it right away.

Just then the phone rings and is picked up by PC Snowflake.

Snowflake: What’s that? You’ve just had your house burgled and you were beaten up? Well, I’m sorry to hear that madam, but unfortunately there’s not much we can do about it. Yes, I understand that you’re shaken, but I’m afraid we’re short-staffed at the moment and we have to prioritise things. What’s that? Why do you pay your taxes? Now madam, there’s no need for that. The police are what? You can’t say that. That’s offensive that is. That’s a hate crime. I’m afraid I’m going to have to log this as a clear case of Policeophobia. We’ll be round immediately.

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Rob Slane
Rob Slane
Rob is married to Alina, and they live with their six children in Salisbury. He blogs regularly at

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