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Author Topic: "The tyranny of victim culture" by Melanie Phillips  (Read 1659 times)

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"The tyranny of victim culture" by Melanie Phillips
« on: Dec 06, 2003, 01:09:31 AM »
The tyranny of victim culture

Daily Mail, December 3 2003

The government claims that the Domestic Violence Bill which was published yesterday will put the ‘needs of victims’ at the heart of the criminal justice system. In fact, it does something very different. Incredibly, it takes an axe to the very notion of justice itself.

For the bill proposes something at which one has to rub one’s eyes in disbelief. It will give the courts the power to impose a ‘restraining order’ to protect an alleged domestic violence victim from a defendant, even after he has been acquitted in court.

So even if a man – and it is almost always a man who finds himself in the dock – has been found not guilty of assaulting his wife or partner, he may still be treated as if he is guilty and prevented from going anywhere near her. He will leave the court without a stain on his character, only to be treated as if he were a criminal. This measure will destroy the very concept of innocence itself.

Appalling as this is, however, it is merely one strand in a far broader and sinister pattern emerging from current government measures, which – under the guise of protecting a range of politically correct ‘victims’ -- amount to a wholesale onslaught against justice, freedom, truth and objectivity.

The assumption lying behind the invidious Domestic Violence Bill proposal is that if a woman makes an allegation of abuse against a man, it must be true – even if a court has found no substance to the charge. It thereby enacts the ultra-feminist belief that all men are guilty. Far from giving victims, as ministers claim, ‘the support they need to convict the guilty’, it will create an entirely new type of victim – men who are innocent, but are treated as if they are not.

The driving force behind it is not a concern for victims at all. It is a rabid anti-man agenda (evident also in separate moves to rig rape trials against men) which presents men as invariable abusers and women as invariably abused. This was made clear by the Solicitor-General Harriet Harman who said this was ‘a tough new law which will protect women and offer violent men a choice – stop the violence or you will face prison’.

In fact, all reputable research overwhelmingly indicates that women are just as likely to be as violent towards their partners as men – and even land the first blow more frequently than men. Yes, more women than men are actually killed by their partners; but that is due more to the fact that men tend to be stronger rather than any innate abusiveness, which is shared equally between the sexes.

These facts, however, are drowned out by the fact that ultra-feminism has claimed a general victim status for women. This is part of the ‘victim culture’, in which any group whose situation is in some way disadvantageous claims this is due, not to chance or individual incompetence or misdeeds, but to external ‘oppression’. This status then entitles it to demand preferential treatment, including the presumption that anything its members may do is legitimate and anything its ‘oppressors’ may do is not.

As a result, victim culture produces a complete reversal of responsibility, in which innocent people are deemed guilty of discriminatory or prejudiced acts towards members of the self-designated ‘victim’ group which by definition is always innocent. Far from protecting real victims, therefore, victim culture reverses the roles of victim and victimiser and produces real injustice.

It also destroys notions of truth and objectivity. For the essence of victim culture is that these ‘victims’ define themselves as such. Despite the fact that this is wholly subjective and therefore eminently challengeable, this self-definition nevertheless trumps any objective reality. So the woman who claims she is the victim of domestic violence trumps the man who is aquitted of the offence.

The same pernicious fallacy underpins the new employment equality regulations that came into force this week. These regulations outlaw discrimination, victimisation or harassment on grounds of sexual orientation or religious belief. Clearly, real prejudice or discrimination is wrong. But these regulations – imposed upon Britain by the EU -- usher in a truly Kafkaesque nightmare for employers, who now face being accused of victimising or harassing employees on the grounds of sexual or religious orientation of which these employers may be completely unaware.

Far from correcting injustice, these regulations pave the way for infinite injustice – not least because the grounds for complaint are once again based on the alleged victim’s subjective perception rather than an objective test. So someone can say he thought that his employer believed he was gay and that was why he didn’t win promotion – and win a case for harassment.

Or employees can sue for ‘violation of their dignity’ on account of sexual orientation or religious belief. With the threat of being hauled off to a tribunal on the basis that someone -- of whose sexuality or religious beliefs a colleague was blissfully unaware -- took grievous offence at his playground humour, people are going to be too terrified to open their mouths.

If a Muslim employee, let’s say, expresses a mild opinion that women should stay at home rather than go out to work, this will now constitute harassment if his female colleagues decide this remark was an offensive attack upon them. And their employer also faces potential legal action unless he disciplines this Muslim employee. What on earth is all this going to do for communal relations?

Similarly, if an employer restricts staff breaks, he might be sued for discrimination by, say, a Muslim who needs to pray at regular intervals. So the hapless employer will have to allow such breaks unless he can prove it would seriously damage his work. The contortions required by all this descend into politically correct farce when the regulations solemnly intone: ‘…it could be justified to refuse permission to a firefighter to take a prayer break at any time when she is responding to an emergency’. Just how many female Muslim firefighters can there be in Britain?

This is all sheer madness. The potential for abuse is endless. It opens up the prospect of legal action on the basis of any perceived slight. It will tie businesses up in knots. It will increase ill feeling towards women and minorities. And it will force intrusion into private lives, which will be turned into a public battleground.

Moreover, such potential abuses will be enforced by their own commissariat, the proposed new Commission for Equality and Human Rights. According to ministers, this body – which will replace the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission -- will provide more ‘joined-up’ support for a crackdown on discrimination and the promotion of ‘equality and diversity’. It will also for the first time promote and police human rights law.

Far from expanding equality and diversity, however, this new super-quango is likely to worsen the Orwellian nightmare of victim culture. It will be a vast bureaucracy enforcing a hugely expanded, oppressive agenda of political correctness that will set citizen against citizen and conduct a witch-hunt against any attitudes of which it disapproves.

At the root of the injustice of victim culture is the substitution of objective tests and rules by subjective experience. This replaces a system of law based on generally accepted beliefs by a free-for-all in which self-designated victim groups write the laws to suit themselves.

This lies behind the proposed Civil Partnerships Bill, which gives most of the legal privileges of marriage to cohabiting homosexual couples on the grounds that the fact they don’t have such privileges is proof that society is discriminating against them. In fact, it is doing nothing of the sort, because marriage is a unique institution in which society has a particular stake.

This obvious truth, however, is now brushed aside on the grounds that anyone who doesn’t have something that someone else has got is by definition a victim of prejudice. So marriage is to be further attacked and weakened, because the subjective definition of a self-designated victim group now trumps all our existing laws, customs and understandings.

Even more dramatically, the proposed law reform for transsexuals will enable another ‘victim’ group to trump our very understanding of what it means to be a human being. The Gender Recognition Bill, announced the day after the Queen’s Speech, will allow transsexuals to register for a new birth certificate in their adopted sex, and to marry in that sex.

Now of course, people who feel the need to take the drastic step of changing their sex deserve every sympathy and consideration. But apart from the fact that surgery is not always a solution to their problems, the proposal would establish personal identity on the basis of a lie.

For their new birth certificate would say falsely that they were born into the sex which they now profess. But this would not be true. And if they marry, there are grounds for saying that they would be marrying someone of their same ‘real’ sex. For despite their ‘gender reassignment’, it does not follow that just because they feel themselves to be, and desperately want to be considered as, a member of their chosen sex, that they are indeed so.

After all, the bill also expressly states that they will retain their rights and obligations under their old gender, such as being a mother or father. So we may have the grotesque situation, for example, where a transsexual may be pursued for child support as a father, even though as a woman he has married another man.

How can our society have got into such a terrifying, nihilistic mess? At root is our profound loss of values and the emergence instead of two destructive doctrines. The first is ‘identicality’, the belief that if anyone doesn’t have what other people have got, they must be the victims of prejudice. The second is gross personal irresponsibility, and the corresponding tendency to blame others for any personal misfortune.

This has given rise to the compensation culture of human rights – the defining religion of the EU -- which has encouraged group after group to define itself as victims, and use the ever-expanding army of grasping and ideological human rights lawyers to make money out of exercising the desire to control the lives and thoughts of their fellow citizens.

The foundation stone of English liberty is the principle that everything is permitted unless it is expressly forbidden. We shall soon reach the point where everything will be forbidden unless it is expressly permitted. Discrimination and prejudice are wrong. But the victim culture is scything through the foundations of truth, liberty and justice, and establishing in their place a truly victimising tyranny of the self.



 

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