2016 is barely two weeks old and already the politically correct freak show is in full swing.
Students from the University of Oxford stepped up their campaign to ‘decolonise’ their campus by removing a statue of Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes this week. 198 Rhodes scholars wrote a letter condemning the internationally respected scheme as an attempt to “buy our silence”.
Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais landed himself in hot water when he hosted the Golden Globe awards the other day. The comedian landed a series of hilarious verbal blows on Hollywood’s self important elite. But a joke about Bruce Jenner, the Olympic athlete who now insists on being called Caitlin, proved controversial.
Moral campaigns are nothing new. In the nineteenth century, radicals campaigned against slavery. In the twentieth, they fought for votes for women. In the twenty first century, they campaign against ‘offensive’ words and images.
Parliament is set to hold a debate on banning US Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump from the UK after an online petition gained over half a million signatures. Trump has suggested banning all Muslims from the United States and building a wall Berlin style on the Mexican border.
Journalist and reality television star Katie Hopkins has rarely been out of the crosshairs of the PC brigade, with a campaign to charge her with hate crimes gathering momentum after she wrote a tub-thumping article criticising open borders last year.
Historian David Starkey was removed from Cambridge university promotional material after students campaigned against his ‘offensive’ views. Nobel Prize winning biochemist Tim Hunt was asked to resign after making supposedly ‘sexist’ comments about female lab assistants.
The boxer Tyson Fury courted controversy when he expressed views on homosexuality and women that were mainstream until a few generations ago.
Even feminist icons are not immune from persecution. Germaine Greer was effectively blacklisted for suggesting that men who undergo sex-change surgery are not real women.
The outrage only ever flows in one direction. When Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell praised the IRA, their supporters blamed the ‘right wing media for reporting it.
The politically correct Left have been stronger and more vocal in their reaction against Donald Trump, and Katie Hopkins than they have ever been towards actual terrorist violence. When Islamists attacked Paris – twice – last year, progressives made excuses and expressed sympathy for the killers.
There is a predictable pattern to these campaigns. Someone expresses a point of view that offends social justice activists. Those activists take to social media expressing outrage that anyone could possibly hold those views. The outrage gathers momentum and soon a petition appears demanding the offensive person be silenced, sacked or arrested for hate speech.
The reaction in each case is depressingly familiar. The victim is forced into a grovelling apology, or the offending image is taken down. Every time this happens the campaigners grow stronger, buoyed up by the success of their latest witch hunt.
But sometimes the victim fights back. This is often hilarious to watch. The campaigners don’t expect to lose. When they do they tend to throw a massive tantrum until they either get their way or move on to the next crusade.
Social justice warriors have no power to silence us except for the power we give them. It’s time to stop apologising.
Which takes us back to Rhodes. Lord Patten, Oxford’s chancellor, recently told student demonstrators they should “think about being educated elsewhere”, suggesting they “go to China where they are not allowed to talk about Western values”.
Louise Richardson, the university’s first female vice chancellor, has urged students to be open minded and engage with ideas they find “objectionable”.
What exactly are these angry students going to do if the university says no to them? At best they will continue to whip themselves into a self-righteous frenzy. At worst they can risk arrest and expulsion by vandalising the hated statue.
Either way they will learn a valuable life lesson: the world is not your plaything and you don’t always get what you want.
Chris has been a member of the Conservative Party since 2010. He believes strongly in individual freedom, personal responsibility, and the power of free markets to eliminate poverty by encouraging wealth creation. Follow him on Twitter: @
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty.