Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has embarrassed herself by demanding Boris Johnson apologise for mocking conservative Muslims who put women in sacks. Picture: AFP
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has embarrassed herself by demanding Boris Johnson apologise for mocking conservative Muslims who put women in sacks. Picture: AFP

Why Theresa May should be embarrassed

How weak is the British Prime Minister? How much hope is there for the West when even a Conservative leader kowtows to a medieval oppression of women?

Boris Johnson, May's former Foreign Secretary, last week argued against banning the niqab - the full-faced covering which some Muslim women wear, blotting them out of public life

The niqab has been banned from most public spaces in Denmark, Holland, France, Austria, Belgium and Bulgaria, but Johnson prefers to combat this oppressive garb with ridicule - in the way that made Britain the home of satire.

It was "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes", he said, and universities should not have students "looking like a bank robber". Uproar followed, and May told Johnson to apologise: "Some of the terms Boris used describing people's appearance obviously have offended."

Pardon? Why should Johnson apologise for causing exactly the offence he intended?

If you criticise the dumb things some people wear, say, believe or do, of course you'll offend them. You offend them because you want them to improve, but they think they're perfect.

This offence-giving is no sin of itself. Didn't Christ offend the Romans? Didn't Galileo offend the Pope? Didn't Marx offend capitalists? Didn't Churchill offend Hitler? Doesn't every ABC host offend Trump supporters?

Why, then, do we now demonise offence-giving - at least when the offended are approved minorities or the Left? Why? Because it's easier for the intellectually weak to scream they're offended than to win an argument.

Here in Australia, it's the same. We have racial discrimination laws that make it unlawful simply to "offend" someone with your opinions, say, on our new
identity politics.

Indeed, the ABC devoted nearly half of this week's Media Watch to denouncing a column I wrote on ethnic and religious enclaves as "inflammatory", "divisive" and "toxic". My crime was not that I was wrong, but that I'd offended ABC thought.

This must stop. I don't approve of crude abuse or needless offence, but mockery and, yes, offence-giving must be better defended.

If we cannot mock even the niqab, what primitive relic must we silently accept? Stoning?



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