Wednesday, 27 October 2010

On the Offensive

I read with my typical inner fury yet utter lack of surprise about British museums removing mummies, skulls and other ex-people on display due to protests. It may not surprise my reader (yes, probably still singular - thank you, mother) that this has got me a little irritated.

It appears museums are worried about offending various minority groups who hold religious beliefs regarding the putting on show of human remains. This particular case is not incredibly close to my heart, but generally symptomatic of a wider problem malevolently pervading society.

Why on earth do we have to listen to the Pagan Organisation Honouring the Ancient Dead and then act on their whims? When did we go from a tolerant society who accepted and respected other people's views and beliefs, and their right to have them, however different from the norm they may be, to one who go out of their way to make sure the abnormal, the minority are to shape all and sundry even at the expense of the views and beliefs of the normal, the majority?

The point is, what is accepted as custom is part of the backbone of a society. It differs vastly from country to country, less so from region to region, lesser still from town to town; you get the idea. Custom and law are the embodiment or reflection of the belief structure of a civilisation. Cows are sacred in Hindu society. They aren't big into McDonalds in the Hindu parts of the Indian subcontinent. Cows aren't sacred in Christian society. Predominantly Christian America tends to like McDonalds - that's why they're all fat. Chacun à son goût.

The point I am drawing towards like an obese American towards a Big Mac, is that we're ok in the UK with mummies and skulls. Not on the bus, or in kindergarten, but in the places you'd expect them to be -science labs at school and museums. They are there to teach, for children to learn, they are important in biology, history, anthropology and so on. Likewise, if you wanted a greasy fry up you'd probably head to a café. There you would expect a rather bacony and sausagey smell. Fine, it is after all a café - you probably wouldn't want that in a library or Bray's Fat Duck, but it has its place in our society. But what of the people who don't like mummies and bacon?

If you didn't want to see the skulls or the mummies, don't go to the museum.

If you don't like the smell of bacon, don't live next to a café.

A society is not intolerant or regressive if it generally upholds things that are acceptable to the mainstream of it, but might offend or displease a minority. Norms define a society. Ours - Britain - is fine with mummies and bacon. One should not sniff at accepted norms - it's where laws come from, like everyone in general deciding indiscriminate murder is probably wrong. I don't advocate going out of your way to upset a minority view, but it is clear the scale of underdoggism has tipped too far by half. Where would it ever stop? If I set up the Organisation for the Liberation of Tarmacadam, should we go back to earthen highways lest the other 60 million people in Britain might upset me by stepping on my beloved and downtrodden tarmac?

It has to stop. Britons have to remember who they are. They have to stop being so 'politically correct'. Half the barking genuflections to minority views aren't even asked for by said minority. It is as if we are still apologising for the Empire and the best way we can think of doing that is constantly being really really nice and letting everyone know that we love everyone and everything not British or normal in British custom. Problem is, we are forgetting we need to love ourselves a little too, lest we forget who we actually are. I like Britain. I do. But sometimes it really gets on my tits.

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