Friday, 4 January 2013

The Rise Of The New Puritans

There is nothing quite like the phrase "A Conservative Case For Gay Marriage" to send shivers down the spine of any even slightly radical LGBT person. I have to say that when I began moaning about marriage equality, I really wasn't considering the wider consequences. I was simply annoyed at the unfairness of civil partnerships. Later I looked at equal marriage as a step down the road to liberty, not perfect but heading in the right direction.

Sadly, I realise now, many conservative supporters see it as a way of "taming" LGBT people rather than freeing them. And, before you think "Hang on, I thought you weren't doing marriage equality posts anymore", this sort of conservative, moralising attitude is becoming in vogue once again on a lot of topics.

Now I'm not pretending that moralising busybodies have suddenly reappeared after years of being sidelined. Of course they have always been there. But rather than your Mary Whitehouses and Tory MPs being the loudest, we now have far more worrying noise makers from quarters I wouldn't have expected (although once you look into the history you see the potential has always been there and I was just being blindly naive).

Our Coalition Government has been pushing at eroding individual rights "for our own good" recently. Minimum alcohol pricing has been proposed at a time when alcohol consumption is on the decrease. They are listening to Christian MPs and "women's groups" are pushing for the criminalisation of paying for sex. And, though thankfully less authoritarian than the original proposals, the Government is still trying to treat parents like children and tell them what is best for their household.

Meanwhile, on Opposition benches, Diane Abbott is calling for controls on those horrific evils: fast food, alcohol and children on the internet. She wants the minimum alcohol price to be higher than the one proposed by the Coalition. That's opposition for you...

There are real problems that need tackling... alcoholism isn't a joke, sex workers are abused and the internet (like a town) has its places that you wouldn't want children going to on their own. But bans, filters and taxes aren't going to change people, they aren't going to educate people and they will end up causing more problems. Alcoholics will just be poorer whilst occasional drinkers will cut back. Sex workers, especially those being forced/coerced into it, will still be abused whilst those who make a living out of sex work will be left without a source of income. Kids will still look at porn on the internet. They aren't stupid!

So for the next few posts I'll be focussed on looking at these issues, and more controversial ones, and looking at whether the busybodies have a point or if they are very wide of the mark indeed.

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