Thursday, May 26, 2022
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Whatever happened to prudence?

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MENS sano in corpore sano, said Juvenal, and I try to follow his guidance. For half an hour each day when I do my press-ups, squats, sit-ups and weights, I listen to the first part of BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.So you see, I am cultivating my mind as I tone my body. Yes, I know you will ask me why I bother with that Leftie sh*t when I might be listening to Bach or Schubert. Well, I do so because it’s sh*t. The Leftism is so pronounced, ingrained and, as they say, in yer face, that it’s really rather amusing.

And, as befits our infantilised age, it’s easy to understand or, as they say in the BBC’s cliché factory, accessible. There is a pellucid simplicity about PM. You want to know the reason for all our ills at home or abroad? It’s All The Fault Of White Middle-Class Men. It’s also very funny, particularly because its devisers and presenters are so far into self-parody that they don’t know how funny it is.

My Sundays are even better. PM takes a break and they give us a repeat hearing of File on Four instead. If PM is amusing, FoF is so hilarious that I often fear I will sprain my sprocket. It takes irrational prejudice to such a degree that it makes common-or-garden bigotry seem liberal. Its stupidity never falters. It never falls from its pinnacle of absurdity. Just one example, then . . .

Last Sunday FoF was about the spiked drinks pandemic. All over the country, especially in our large cities, a certain class of young people – or youngish, anyway – go to bars and clubs in search of drink, tribal gyrations, bedlam and flashing lights. I have heard from members of the proletarian cognoscenti that on occasions other delights might be available also.

This paradise is marred by the presence of nasty people – usually men, both black and white, so I hear – who tip drugs into other people’s, usually young women’s, drinks. Your more ambitious predator might go so far as to administer a surreptitious injection of a similar sedative. The aim is to render the victim incapable, and thus susceptible to rape and robbery.

Sometimes this appalling procedure is bathed in black comedy and the reports of its incidence, in the best traditions of the BBC, educate even as they entertain. To use my mother’s words, I didn’t know how the other half lived. In last week’s programme, one of the aforementioned nasty men spiked a young lady’s beverage then gave her a fireman’s lift to the hotel room he had booked for the purposes which he now planned. There he placed her, dead to the world, on the bed. Next, he removed her underwear and opened her handbag. Then he left the room, went to the high street, bought a Big Mac and ate it before returning to the room, stealing the young lady’s credit card and sexually assaulting her.

By all accounts, these surreal atrocities are happening all the time. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of clubland’s strobe lights and psychedelia?

O brave new world that hath such people in ’t!

It is at this point that we hear the voices of the victims, and FoF’s resident Prefect for Confected Outrage (PCO) makes an appearance. They are all agreed: Something Must Be Done. The victims usually insist that they have a right to go where they will and do as they like without being molested and robbed. Well, if anyone has a right to do this, that or the other – especially the other – it follows that someone else has a duty to supply and guarantee that right. According to victims and the FoF Prefect for Pointless Sanctimony (PPF), this responsibility belongs to the proprietors of these salubrious establishments and to the police. It is they who ought to prevent these attacks.

Now everyone – even those who teach the philosophical ethics course at uni – know that ought implies can. In a word, you are responsible for an action if and only if you are physically able to perform it. So, consider the scene. We are not talking about the Cheltenham Ladies’ Canasta Club here, but the bacchanalian chaos of pubs and clubs in the middle of the night when many of their patrons may have imbibed strong drink somewhat less than circumspectly.

How the hell – literally – does anyone police and safeguard such an environment? It can’t be done.

When the PPF speaks, it is to demand that systems must be put in place to guarantee the safety of the clubbers. But any system would fail in this task, just as the club managers and the police must fail. This truth is obvious to anyone whose mind has not been polluted by dreams of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good. In the melée of bacchanal, no one can make sure that nasty men will no longer approach stealthily and slip a hypnotic potion into someone’s drink or arm.

I have a right to go where I wish and do as I like, protests the tipsy ingenue. No, you don’t – because it is impossible for anyone to guarantee that right. As we noted, ought implies can. But above all common sense should make its appearance. Never mind the idealism of rights and wrongs for a minute, how about prudence? Clubbers know from the very experiences they themselves have related that nasty men with evil intent go to places like that.

Before I finish, let me dispel FoF’s allegation – and I quote – of a misogynistic culture. They are wrong. It is not the fault of all men. It is the fault of those nasty men. And thankfully most men are not nasty.

The antelope perhaps has the right to go to the watering hole where the lions also drink. But if she does, she must prepare for the consequences of her folly.

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Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen is a Church of England clergyman, writer and broadcaster

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