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The Australian News


From Stiff Upper Lip to Clenched Jaw

May 14, 2006

By Theodore Dalrymple

Youthful embrace of human rights is destroying British dignity and decorum

WHAT a human catastrophe is the doctrine of human rights! Not only does it give officialdom an excuse to insinuate itself into the fabric of our lives but it has a profoundly corrupting effect on youth, who have been indoctrinated into believing that until such rights were granted (or is it discovered?) there was no freedom. Worse still, it persuades each young person that they are uniquely precious, which is to say more precious than anyone else; and that, moreover, the world is a giant conspiracy to deprive them of their rightful entitlements. Once someone is convinced of their rights, it becomes impossible to reason with them; and thus the reason of the Enlightenment is swiftly transformed into the unreason of the psychopath.

The doctrine of rights has borne putrid fruit. In the ward recently was a young woman of the now very extensive slut-babymother class, whose jaw was clenched in a habitual expression of world-destroying hatred. Her glittering saurian eyes swivelled mistrustingly, on the qui vive for infringements of her rights. She exuded grievance as a skunk exudes its odour.

She had been admitted to hospital because she had been out celebrating the night before. In England now, celebration is synonymous with aggression and public nuisance, and she had conformed to type by screaming and pulling another slut-babymother’s hair. When the police arrived, she claimed her drink had been spiked and was dumped by them in the hospital rather than in the slammer, where she belonged.

The police having departed, she turned the attention of her lip, as we call it around here, to the admitting doctor, who took down verbatim some of what she said to him.

Her recorded remarks were littered with a word beginning with F, followed by very neatly drawn asterisks, which proves that in India, at least (where the doctor came from), there is still some sense of dignity, decorum and self-respect.

The following morning a friend of the patient arrived in the ward before visiting time. Both patient and friend were what is called in the prison “very verbal”, which is to say mouthy. A nurse, acting on the biblical observation that a soft answer turns away wrath, asked them to keep their voices down, only to discover that the Bible has been superseded in modern Britain and that wrath turns away a soft answer. The nurse then told the visitor that she had to leave or else.

Shortly after her departure under foul-mouthed protest, the wife of another patient came to sit with him. She was a respectable Sikh woman with a gentle manner, but it was not yet visiting time, and the nurses feared to provoke the slut-babymother by allowing her to stay, when they had told the slut-babymother’s visitor to leave. The nurses could all too well imagine the scene: Why am I not allowed a f---ing visitor when that man over there is?

In vain would the nurses point out the difference in the conduct of the two visitors; if anyone had a right to a visitor, everyone did, irrespective of the conduct of the visitor.

To avoid a conflict over rights, the Sikh woman was asked to wait outside, which she did without demur, reading a book of prayers.

A little later I bumped into one of our security guards whose job it is to deal with slut-babymothers and yob-babyfathers.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Can’t grumble,” he replied.

“Oh, surely you can,” I said.

“No one would listen if I did,” he said.

“Well, there you’ve got it,” I said. “That’s your reason to grumble. No one would listen if you did. It’s a kind of meta-grumble.”

Come to think of it, that’s what I’ve been doing all these years: meta-grumbling. It’s been great fun.



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