Victimhood is the new tyranny and cry-bullies are its warriors
Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30
In any culture where new rights and old values exist in a state of uneasy truce, there will always be the odd skirmish. The latest skirmish to hit these shores is very odd indeed, but is just the latest collision between the right to self-expression on the one hand and the right to never be offended on the other.
For those of you unaware of the evangelical Christian preaching circuit, Angus Buchan is the equivalent of a rock star.
The former Zambian farmer moved to South Africa to escape the unrest in his own country and he is, like most evangelical Christian preachers, rather opposed to homosexuality.
In fact, as he puts it: "I cannot ever agree that homosexuality is right, I cannot bless it. I love them, though, but they need help. We have prayed for them and God has changed their hearts."
The Presbyterian pulpit pounder is well used to attracting opposition and has said in the past: "I don't shy away from controversy.
"Homosexuality is against the word of God. I'm not doing this for money. I'm doing this because God told me to."
He is due to hold an event in Kilkenny next Wednesday and also has plans to appear in the North.
But following widespread protests from gay rights activists, he had to cancel his recent planned visit to Scotland and we can expect the same reaction here.
According to one of the groups that organised the boycott in Scotland: "We were very pleased that Scottish Borders worked with us to ensure there is no place for Pastor Angus Buchan to preach his messages of intolerance. Our organisation encourages diversity, and acceptance."
Then, proving that we really have entered the realm of the absurd, the African Human Rights Commission stuck its beak in and said Ireland should stop him at the Border because: "The fact that he represents quackery when he asserts that he can cure anyone of being gay is reason enough to deny a visa."
Obviously, the African Human Rights Commission has succeeded in turning that continent into such a utopian, welcoming environment for gay people - I believe Uganda is now a virtual rainbow nation - they obviously have nothing better to do than interfere in how another country conducts its immigration affairs.
Of course, there are plenty of homegrown bullies ready to do what they can to stop the man from praying the gays away - but why do they even care?
The pastor is perfectly entitled to think that gay people aren't living a sufficiently 'godly' life and he is perfectly entitled to pray for them.
Similarly, gay people are perfectly entitled to think that he is utterly mad.
That's a mature democracy - where people hold diametrically opposed views but as long as neither side espouses violence, they should be allowed to go about their business unimpeded.
To put this into some sort of context, if, a few years ago, there was a gay pride festival which was the target of Christian fundamentalists, then anyone who valued free expression would be quick to defend the right of the event to go ahead as planned without it being disrupted by intolerant bigots.
Ultimately, the problem with identity politics is that it places too much emphasis on the identity and not enough on the politics.
If one political group tried to force the cancellation of a rival group's activity, we'd call it for what it is - intimidation.
But because the gay lobby have managed to wrap themselves in the rancid cloth of victimhood, they feel they can shut down anything they don't like - whether it's Christian bakers or Christian preachers.
Although, funnily enough, I've debated against Muslim clerics who openly call for gays to be killed, yet I don't recall any Irish progressives turning up to picket those events.
The marriage referendum was about equality and respect, but that's a two-way street. And there has been precious little respect coming from an increasingly obnoxious and militant bunch of gay activists.
It's not just confined to gay issues, of course. Now everyone can be a victim, which is why we currently live in the era of what has become known as the cry-bully; people who use the 'rightness' of their cause to harass and intimidate others and who then start whining and claiming persecution when they don't get their way.
It's as if people no longer feel alive if they're not complaining about someone or trying to get something banned.
I have no time for Buchan's views, nor indeed for many of the views I've defended in these pages in these worryingly censorious times.
But I've even less time for a heckler's veto, which is the obnoxious and infantile idea that you can just shout louder than your opponent until they pack their bags and go away.
We're at a genuine crossroads in the West.
We have largely divested ourselves of religious baggage - which, ironically, is why someone like Buchan seems so exotic and threatening - yet we are merely swapping one dogma for another.
We have replaced the clerical hierarchy with a hierarchy of approved victims and they show the same fury at dissenters as their religious predecessors.
The problem, of course, with being a professional victim is that when you're the one who wants to censor, boycott and cancel everything you don't agree with, it's hard to tell who is the victim and who is the bully.
Contrary to popular opinion, the world is not a 'safe space', you're not special and a different point of view is not 'hate speech'. It's just a different point of view.
People would do well to remember that.