Roger Scruton teaches philosophy at Oxford and St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, and held a fellowship at Cambridge. He told Il Foglio that the “homosexual issue is complicated and difficult” but it is not going to be helped by a blunt instrument like the proposed anti-homophobia law.
The law on homophobia, said Scruton, “is to instill in the minds of the public the idea of a malignant force that pervades the whole of Europe, housed in the hearts and in the heads of people who may be unaware of its machinations.”
Such laws, he said, have contributed to a self-censoring atmosphere in European countries, “a fear of heresy”. The ideologues behind these laws, have created “a remarkable emerging system of semi-official labels intended to prevent the expression of ‘dangerous viewpoints’.” The success of these labels, he said, has been to “sideline and condemn opponents of the Communist belief that reality can be changed by changing the language.”
Scruton, apart from his extensive academic and literary achievements, worked to found underground free universities in several Central European countries during Soviet rule. “You can’t imprison thought with law,” he said. The proposed law “is the criminalization of intellectual criticism on the subject of gay marriage. It’s a new intellectual, ideological crime, as was anti-communism during the cold war.”
“To me, this Bill on homophobia is reminiscent of the Moscow trials, and those of Maoist China, where victims confessed their crimes enthusiastically before being executed.
When political activists accuse opponents of “hate,” he said, there is a “moral inversion”. “If you oppose the normalization of homosexuality you are a ‘homophobe’. If you believe in Western culture, you are an ‘elitist’. Accusations of ‘homophobia’ means the end of a career, especially for those who work at a University.”
He compared this process of political manipulation to the process described by George Orwell in his classic political satire 1984. The “Newspeak” of the bill is an example of the use of langauge to create a “spell”.
The purpose of such linguistic manipulation is to “show the triumph of words over things, the futility of rational argumentation and the danger of resistance to the spell.”
The threat, he said, is more than theoretical. He pointed to the killing of millions in the Stalinist Soviet Union, which the Communists described as “just the ‘kulak clearance’.”
“How easy is it to lock up people for years in forced labor camps until they get sick or die, if the only language allowed to define it is ‘re-education’,” Scruton said.
“Now there is a new secular bigotry that wants to criminalize freedom of expression on the big topic of homosexuality.”
These concerns were echoed today by Alfredo Mantovano writing on the Catholic opinion website, La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, who reported that a conference held on Sunday in Casale Monferrato was mobbed by a group of homosexualist demonstrators who disrupted the proceedings with signs and shouts.
During one of the first talks, about 40 of the demonstrators, organised by Turin GBLT Pride Coordination, The Altereva Group and Arcigay, entered the room and began to disrupt the speaker, shouting slogans such as the often used “shame” and whistling. One demonstrator approached the table where the presenter was speaking and stood in front of it with arms outstretched while about twenty girls holding signs went onto the stage and circled the table.
A conference organiser, Prof. Mauro Ronco, a Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Padua and a member of Alleanza Cattolica, ended the session and invited the audience to leave the hall without interacting with the demonstrators. Shortly after this, police arrived, Mantovano reports, and removed the demonstrators, “but the conference was now ruined.”
Mantovano commented, “The next day national newspapers did not carry even a paragraph of a hundred words. Absolute silence!”