The internet is like many other developments in human history; it’s changed all our lives for the better, but it’s also left some unforeseen consequences in its wake. One of these more pernicious side effects has been to witness our society drowning in hyperbole. Now everyone’s a Nazi and every piece of legislation is proof positive of Orwell’s dystopian nightmare. Vaccine passports, environmentalism and international trade have morphed into the horsemen of the apocalypse and the mark of the beast, rather than issues for serious discussion by thoughtful people.
This constant ratcheting up of attention-seeking outrage has an anaesthetic effect on our collective consciousness, rendering us less able to recognise a real danger when it appears. Rather than comprehending a genuine existential threat, we find ourselves merely tut-tutting as knife violence soars and our once respected police keep files on everyday citizens who’ve broken no laws.
It’s disappointing that the Daily Mail should be the paper to highlight such an issue of genuine concern, but the truth is the truth, no matter from whence it comes. The arrest of an elderly Christian preacher for the crime of quoting the Bible in public should send shivers down the spine of every free citizen anywhere in the world.
The fact that the 71-year-old was later released without charge is no comfort, because although he has not been charged, the encounter will still be recorded as a non-crime hate incident by the police. That’s right, in our topsy-turvy authoritarian world, not breaking the law is now sufficient reason for the police to keep a file on you. The fact that quoting one of the three Abrahamic texts verbatim is now grounds for arrest and state sponsored harassment is nothing short of terrifying. It’s my sincere hope that Mr Sherwood has a Muslim friend who’s willing to stand in the same spot and quote the Koran on the same subject. It would be fun to watch the Met’s mental gymnastics team spring into action!
If I were in Mr Sherwood’s shoes, I would wait until the next gay pride parade and call the cops, claiming that such behaviour caused him to feel alarm and distress. The police would surely have to take his complaint seriously, or justify why they failed to protect his religious beliefs from harm. He’d probably end up under arrest again, but it would be a useful test case. After all, what happens when one protected characteristic (religious belief) is offended by a second protected characteristic (sexual orientation)? I’d love to see a police statement squaring that circle.
Although it’s tempting to laugh at our ridiculous woke policing policies, there’s nothing at all funny about the situation we citizens find ourselves in. Any one of us could receive a visit from plod at any time, for any reason. Cases like Mr Sherwood and Douglas Kedge are proof positive that we live in a police state where a mere accusation is enough to blight any law-abiding citizen’s life. Non-crime hate incidents show up in enhanced DBS checks carried out by prospective employers, so there’s a real-world price to pay for offending the woke, the mad or the maliciously thin-skinned.
Currently, upwards of 120,000 such non-crime incidents have been recorded by the police, and at last the Home Secretary has ordered a review into this legally dubious practice. In my opinion, all such records should be deleted immediately and those affected issued with letters of apology.
This is no longer an abstract debate about what freedom really means. Ordinary people are being harassed by the state every day for no legitimate, lawful reason.
We can’t go on like this.