They always come in threes
It’s been a good week for bigot-spotters. First, we had Vladimir Putin saying that gay people could come to the Olympics just as long as they didn’t give Russian children the gay. Apparently, just a word of affection for a member of the same sex is liable to set off an epidemic of homosexuality throughout the country – won’t someone ban this sick filth!!!
Then Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni blocked legislation to introduce life imprisonment for homosexuality, because there were better ways of dealing with the “abnormality”, such as killing them. Such a great ally to the cause! He also claimed that some people become homosexual for “mercenary reasons”, which might explain the apparent ease with which Russian children can be turned.
But they always seem to come in threes, and the third is the truly special one. David Silvester is a UKIP councillor (not a good start), who believes that the floods are divine punishment for same-sex marriage legislation. Quite why the almighty chose to inflict this suffering on places like Henley and Somerset while Brighton remains largely unaffected was not explained, but naturally, he’s absolutely convinced that he’s right.
The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war
The scriptures do no such thing (even if they could be said to be “abundantly clear” about anything), and he seems to have a very strange idea of what causes war. I’m not sure what disease and pestilence he’s referring to – arguably, and being generous, it could be said that the floods will cause them, but that would involve an acceptance of Germ Theory, which is incongruously modern for UKIP, whose scientific understanding still seems to have something of a pre-Renaissance vibe.
Of course, we’ve been here before. Any natural disaster or unlikely event tends to bring out the zealots who want to tell you that it happened because God’s angry about people being treated as human beings, or the political balance on BBC News, or the ridiculous amount of junk mail I get these days. It’s a blank canvas, ready to be smeared with whatever vile excrement fills the speaker’s head, safe in the knowledge that you can’t prove a negative.
The best bit is that Silvester had time to choose his words carefully, and knows there’s a perfectly sensible explanation, but he sneeringly rejects it because it doesn’t fit his prejudices. To put “global warming” in scare quotes, as if it’s some ridiculous fable is bad enough – to do it while explaining meteorological events in a manner tending towards “a big God did it then ran away” scores at least 0.9 Ickes on the loonometer.
And then we come to UKIP’s response:
If the media are expecting UKIP to either condemn or condone someone’s personal religious views they will get absolutely no response… Freedom to individual thought and expression is a central tenet of any open-minded and democratic country. It is quite evident that this is not the party’s belief but the councillor’s own and he is more than entitled to express independent thought despite whether or not other people may deem it standard or correct.
Yes, he is entirely free to express his view, just as everyone else is free to condemn it. The question is whether UKIP are happy for this person to represent their motley assortment of fogeys, kneejerkers, nutters, saloon bar racists and like-minded bigots. It seems they are – can you imagine a similarly relaxed response if it was his “personal religious view” that God was punishing us for our political isolationism and neglect of outsiders and refugees? He’d have been kicked out before you could say “Jingo!”
So their fine words about religious freedom are a figleaf. What this comes down to is that as long as you come to an acceptable conclusion, they don’t care how you reached it. Not so much freedom of religion as freedom from explanation, especially as Cllr Silvester’s now been suspended for continuing to talk about his unorthodox beliefs. Despite the UKIP rhetoric, it seems that religious freedom only extends to the point where your party start to consider you an embarrassing PR disaster.
Forget marriage between people of the same sex. This is the true example of everything that’s corrosive in our society – a dogged certainty in the rightness of their convictions, and a lack of interest in investigating the evidence. The science behind both meteorology and climate change is clear and overwhelming, but UKIP reject that because they don’t like the implications, while being happy to be associated with Cllr Silvester’s primitive superstition. There’s no helping people like that.