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PARDONING GAYS (Ron Olden)


Ronald Olden

The UK is to pardon nearly 50.000 Gay men convicted under the old homophobic laws.

If the victims of this law are already dead, these pardons are of no value whatsoever to the individuals concerned or to their living families. And, there are issues of principle associated with it. The individuals concerned broke the law as it was at the time, and we are all supposed to obey the law.

There’s a strong practical case for pardoning someone who is still alive and who has suffered from an unjust law. But there’s little moral case for pardoning someone who is dead. It just undermines the rule of law with no counterbalancing legitimate purpose to be weighed against the disadvantage of doing so.

In these circumstances there should be no pardons, save perhaps in the very rare circumstances such as Alan Turing, who did something very specific, intellectually heroic,  of national significance, and who suffered more than others from the most monstrous abuse and injustice associated with this law. In his case the pardon is a kind of posthumous ‘thank you’. Like a ‘War Medal’.

It would be better for all concerned if society was left to permanently bear the shame and guilt of this vile homophobic law, and the injustice and misery it caused. ‘Gay’ people as a ‘Community’ do not need this pardon.

The gift we need is more substantial. We require that people of all sexualities (and none), races, and religions, or anything else, be treated with equal respect. These ‘pardons’ do no more than let society off the hook and afford ‘liberal’, self-indulgent, gesture politicians the privilege of congratulating themselves as to how generous and morally superior they’ve been in distributing ‘pardons’, which cost them nothing, and from which their own consciences are the sole beneficiaries.

I was, not so long ago, reading some biography of Margaret Thatcher (like you do), and I notice that when she was a barrister she defended a man who was being prosecuted under this law and its associated provisions. She also voted in Parliament to abolish it. In those two respects (particularly the former), she personally, did more to remedy the consequences of this law than the sum total of these, near 50,000 pardons, ever can.

That however is the history of mankind. Quiet individual acts of good, are forgotten. In Mrs Thatcher’s case she’s actually vilified as ‘homophobic’, on the grounds of the (admittedly misguided and in retrospect wrong), ‘Clause 28’. ‘Clause 28’ however, was as much an, inappropriate, over reaction against the activities of ‘Loony Left’ (as we used to call them) Local Education Authorities which were interested in everything other than actually teaching children academic knowledge. Mrs Thatcher and the parents who demanded it didn’t all simultaneously just wake up one morning in the 1980’s and think ‘Oh My God we must start victimising Gay People’.

‘Clause 28’ had to be directed at prohibiting the teaching of references to Gay people, specifically, because by it’s very nature, referring to Gay people in the classroom inevitably meant introducing the generality of sexual activity to young children. When you show a drawing of ‘Mummy and Daddy’ sitting up in bed, the idea of sex doesn’t come into the child’s mind. He just assumes that ‘Mummies and Daddies’ sleep in the same bed. When you show a drawing of two men in bed, the child asks questions, and the question of sexual activity in general, comes to the fore at an age when the parent of the child might not want it.

In retrospect I think that ‘Cause 28’ was an inappropriate over reaction to this dilemma, and I’m glad it’s gone and an apology to anyone affected by it wouldn’t go amiss. I voted Conservative at the time and I was in favour of ‘Clause 28’. So I apologise. At its heart ‘Clause 28’  DID proceed on the basis that relationships between Gay people are of less value than those between heterosexuals. But it was hardly a Human Rights issue comparable to the laws which caught Alan Turing, but which Mrs Thatcher herself, played at least a small part in bringing down, and, when she was a barrister, tried to mitigate on behalf of her client.

Amongst ‘liberals’, however, the idea that an individual can actively do practical good, is, at best, seen as irrelevant, and at worst, seen as reprehensible. Engaging in grand meaningless gestures which involve no effort, let alone self sacrifice, is a far more agreeable political hobby, and provides more opportunity for self promotion.

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24 thoughts on “PARDONING GAYS (Ron Olden)

  1. Clause 28 an inappropriate overreaction? It strikes me as entirely appropriate inn order to prevent propagandization of young people by teachers. We should bring it back and extend it to the banning of multi-cultural propaganda in schools too. Relationships between two men ARE less valuable than marriage, which is the basis of procreation and society’s continued existence.

    • I am opposed to the idea of homosexual ‘marriage’. My reasoning is that the institution of marriage has evolved over time as the most effective way of maintaining a stable society by making sure, as far as is practicable, that any children brought into the world are the product of two parents who are committed to each other and will stay together to provide a stable home environment for the child. Marriage is, in short, all about the children, not about the participants.
      To pretend otherwise, and to pretend that a ‘marriage’ between two men is as valid as between a man and a woman, is arrogant nonsense. Having said that, I believe that any ‘couple’ (or ‘pair’ in the case of homosexuals) who live together in a stable loving relationship should have the same property rights in law as a conventional married couple, so I am content with civil partnerships. But ‘marriage’ it ain’t. I believe the definition of ‘consummation’ of a marriage is a sexual coupling with the intention of reproduction, so until biology catches up with political fashion, gays are going to have a problem with that one too.
      As far as homosexuality itself is concerned, I believe that what two adults do in private is nobody’s concern, least of all that of the government. But today, many homosexuals make sure it is everybody’s concern. They wear the homosexuality on their sleeves. They define themselves by their sexuality. One’s sexual preference used to be a private matter, and I believe it is better that it remain so. Homosexuality is all but compulsory in today’s world. To publicly express the views that I have set out here in what I hope is a reasonable manner is to invite all manner of vicious attacks and denunciations. Why?
      Specifically with regard to the Turing case, I am troubled that he could have been convicted at all in the apparent absence of any evidence of a criminal act. His ‘crime’ seems to have merely been inferred from his living arrangements.
      Finally, I do take exception to the word ‘homophobic’. This is one of those annoying made-up words. It literally means ‘fear of the same’ which is palpable nonsense. A person should be able to hold and express whatever views on the subject he pleases, as long as he doesn’t indulge in the ancient sport of ‘queer-bashing’. But this is no longer the case, and I find that troubling.

      • I largely agree but your homophobiaphobia is nonsensical. The language is full of “made-up” words (Jabberwock, google, supercalifragilistic), but in fact you mean compound words. Homosexual for example. Homophobia does not MEAN samefear because we all know the sexual has been omitted because “homosexualophobia” or even “homosexuphobia” are a bit of a mouthful. (to pick an analogy at random). No-one thinks homophobia means Fear of homonyms, homologues, or homophony.

        My problem with the -phobia suffix is its uncertainty, as it can mean “fear” or “aversion/hatred”. If someone is an Islamaphobe does she fear or hate Islam? If she is both concerned at the risk of being bombed and hates being treated as inferior to men does that make her a double-Islamophobe?

        • Yes, ok. But the idea of a fear, let alone an irrational fear (which is what the word has come to mean) of homosexuals is frankly ludicrous. Unless you have one coming up behind you in the shower perhaps.
          What they mean, of course, is a dislike or disapproval of homosexuality, rather than of homosexuals themselves. That is a perfectly legitimate emotion, of course, but it is one that is not permitted in today’s world.
          I am an arachnophobe. An entirely irrational fear, a very common one, and one whose origins in prehistory fascinate me.
          Islamophobia is a perfectly rational fear, seeing as they keep trying to blow us up. You could argue that it is irrational, since the statistical risk of being harmed in a terrorist attack is vanishingly small. But again, such an emotion is denounced as somehow improper, to put it mildly.
          The one that really bugs me is ‘xenophobia’. Again, a perfectly rational fear of strangers, and one of the first lessons every child has to learn. But once again, it is denounced as ‘racist’ or whatever is the buzzword of the moment.
          Talking of which, I am very suspicious of ‘-isms’. I believe, although those more knowledgeable may correct me, that ‘-isms’ have their origins in the Marxist lexicon. Most ‘-isms’ are merely used as insults, without any clear idea of what they mean. I have no idea, for example, what a ‘racist’ is. Whenever I challenge anyone to define the term, they say “You know perfectly well what it means”, and that is as far as we get.

            • Ok, I read your article. I’ve had an aspirin and a lie down and I feel better now. I don’t agree with you. I think most people simply find the homosexual act distasteful. I certainly do. But it’s none of my business, is it, unless somebody is trying to force me into it. Then again, normal copulation is hardly an elegant process either, is it? In fact, from a mechanical point of view, it’s ridiculous, especially when you consider that the process was invented by something the shape of alligators. How on earth do they manage, with that tail? They’ve survived for 300 million years, so it must work, but I’ve no idea how.
              Homsexuals themselves are often hugely talented people, and I certainly have no problems with them, let alone a ‘phobia’ of them (although I do dislike ‘camp’ men). It is as though Nature is conspiring to keep these talented individuals from passing on their gifts on to the next generation. Levelling the population down, as it were – an extension of ‘the regression towards the mean’ as I recall from my schoolboy biology.
              I’ve been thinking. We hear much these days about the ‘gay community’. How is there a ‘community’ of homosexuals? Everybody has their own sexual preferences, but that does not define who they are. For instance, since you ask, I prefer slim girls with long legs and small breasts.
              Mmmmm. Where was I? Oh yes, my sexual preferences do not define who I am. I am not part of a ‘small tit fanciers’ “community”, for example.
              We have gay night clubs. If somebody tried to open a night club for heterosexuals they would end up in jail. (Footnote – I spend a lot of time in Florida, and on Ocean Drive Miami there is a whole row of nightclubs – by far the most vibrant is the ‘gay’ one).
              I’ve been thinking some more. I have a theory that many, if not most, women are bi-sexual. At least, some of the stuff I’ve seen on the internet would indicate that. But my theory is based on more than that. Homosexuality is much more widespread, in my view, than it ought to be. Nature throws up mutations with every generation, but the unsuccessful ones quickly die out. And surely nothing is less successful, in evolutionary terms, than homosexuality. So it ought to be a rare condition, but it’s not. This leads me to believe it might be hereditary, and as it clearly cannot be hereditary through the male line, it must be the women. As always, I have absolutely no scientific proof of this assertion, but I think it makes sense.

              • If it’s a polygenic trait and conditioned by environmental influences, as I suspect it is, it might explain why it does not die out, especially if it correlates with genes which have beneficial reproductive properties. It’d be interesting to see if there’s any basis to the notion that women are likelier than men to be bisexual. I always had the opposite impression, but obviously not based on any scientific survey of that area.

              • Thank you for your interest.

                Forgive me for saying this if I am mistaken, but, although your ideas are not uninteresting, you seem to be thinking very much deterministically, i.e. in terms of unchosen, caused sexual orientations, rather than chosen lifestyles. You haven’t quite picked up that I am writing from the opposite, libertarian point of view, about lifestyle choices, as opposed to a deterministic point of view like yours appears to be.

                Perhaps you consider yourself to have a sexual orientation, which you didn’t choose, but which deprives you of choices. I consider myself not to have a sexual orientation, but rather to have chosen how to behave. That is the distinction between determinism and libertarianism.

                If you want to be a deterministic, that’s your free choice, in my opinion. I dare say that you think that my preference to be a libertarian, is just one of those things that was bound to happen.

                • You say; – “Perhaps you consider yourself to have a sexual orientation, which you didn’t choose, but which deprives you of choices. I consider myself not to have a sexual orientation, but rather to have chosen how to behave. ”
                  I find this statement rather odd. Yes, I do believe that my sexual preferences are a matter of instinct, not of choice, but the way I choose to behave is very much a matter of choice. If I were to freely indulge my sexual inclinations I should very quickly find myself in jail. In the good old days, of course, we could just drag women by the hair into our caves, but that kind of thing is frowned upon nowadays, at least in western society.

                  • What do you find “odd”? I am sorry that your sexual inclinations are criminal. I am not aware of the “good old days” of which you speak. I wasn’t born until 1953. I didn’t know that east and west were so different.

                    • Haha – it is not my inclinations themselves that are criminal, but there are legal curbs on putting them into practice – boring stuff about consent & all that.
                      The reason I described your statement odd was that you seemed to conflate sexual orientation (which I believe to be involuntary) with behaviour (which is voluntary). I apologise for not making clear that distinction.
                      I believe there is a clear distinction between Eastern and Western attitudes in these matters, or I should of course say between Western values and Muslim values, which seem to be spreading alarmingly throughout the West. The Muslim incomers appear to regard the issue of consent as obsolete, or rather they have yet to acknowledge it.

  2. “The individuals concerned broke the law as it was at the time, and we are all supposed to obey the law.”

    Free people have a duty to oppose all unjust laws. Free people are under no obligation to obey unjust laws. Only slaves follow unjust laws not free men and women. Tyranny of the majority imposing their will on the minority.

  3. Why did Parliament vote to pardon these particular offenders, before it voted to pardon those who got speeding tickets in the past, driving at 55 miles an hour, on roads on which the 50 miles an hour speed limit in those days was changed, years or decades later, to 60 miles an hour?

    It was to show their continued favouritism towards so-called “gays”, in my opinion.

    I am against this favouritism, and the political elite’s love affair with the homosexualists.

    But I am even more concerned about people dressing up this pro-sodomy culture shift in the political establishment and the jurisprudence they impose on the rest of us, as something “brave” and “new” (to borrow a juxtaposition of adjectives from Huxley), and seeking to marginalise anybody who thinks for himself, and denounces homosexualism and its fellow travellers for the squalid things that it, and they, are, according to that thinker’s expression of his personal value judgments.

  4. “…there are issues of principle associated with it. The individuals concerned broke the law as it was at the time, and we are all supposed to obey the law.”

    Reading that makes me think that Olden would walk his way into a mass grave were it a legal edict. Kinda undermines an otherwise rather sound piece.

  5. [quote]”‘Gay’ people as a ‘Community’ do not need this pardon.

    “The gift we need is more substantial. We require that people of all sexualities (and none), races, and religions, or anything else, be treated with equal respect.”[unquote]

    Does this explain Ronald Olden’s views? I don’t like to be personal, and forgive me if I cause offence, but in recent times being homosexual does seem to go hand-in-hand with holding socially ‘liberal’ views. There is clearly a connection, and this seems to apply on both sides of mainstream politics: the most prominent Tory social liberal, Matthew Parris, is homosexual. I could sit here all day typing a list.

    That said, frankly I find it difficult to get worked up about homosexuality, for the same reason that I struggle to maintain interest in the whys and wherefores of such things as paedophilia and zoophilia, train spotting, faking your own death, soap carving and milk bottle collecting. It’s an eccentricity. From an evolutionary and biological perspective, it’s a sub-optimal attribute. It’s quite common, but in the grand scheme of things, it will never catch on, for perfectly obvious reasons that I need not elaborate on here. In view of this, it should come as no surprise that ‘normative’ men like me find it disgusting. But I accept that some people don’t find it disgusting, and some even choose to partake in it, and I am willing to tolerate this, as long as it is just toleration and not equality.

    Equality for homosexuals is totally unacceptable. I accept that it most likely serves an evolutionary purpose, otherwise we wouldn’t see it in humans and throughout the rest of Nature. So it’s natural as well as cultural, and just part of life. OK, but what makes us a civilised and above the beasts is that we can suppress our natural and base instincts. I agree with a commenter above that Section 28 was a proper measure and should not have been repealed. It’s just civilisation. We’re not monkeys swinging in the jungle. We have standards.

    Most causes célèbres are disingenuous hogwash intended to fool good-natured but gullible people, and the case of Alan Turing is no exception, but I accept he and others like him were treated badly. However I think Mr Olden misunderstands (or wilfully misrepresents) the purpose of the criminalisation of homosexuality. That law did not exist to persecute homosexuals, rather it was in place to act as a deterrent and discouragement of open and public homosexuality and to protect the institution of marriage, and thus the basic fabric of society. Mr Olden may wish to reflect on the effects of the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the state of society now, including most specially the consequences of the breakdown of marriage. I might also mention the fact that in some metropolitan areas of Britain, people now have to put up with the sight of public homosexuality – men kissing and holding hands, etc., which is disgusting – and even carnivals and parades where sexual fetishism is openly on display, in broad daylight, in front of innocent children.

    Is this what people like Mr Olden have in mind when they rail against the supposed intolerance and repressiveness of traditional society? In truth, the law was not intolerant or repressive. Homosexuals were mostly tolerated and prosecutions were statistically rare. Those laws served an important policy function and should be restored.

    • 1) “Equality for homosexuals is totally unacceptable.” An uncharacteristically sloppy use of language from you here. ‘Equality’ in what? I believe homosexuals should be equal in law, as should everybody else. But how would anybody know what their sexual preferences were, unless they shouted about it? As I said in previous post, one’s sexual preference is normally a private matter and therefore nobody’s business, least of all that of the government.

      2) “I accept that it most likely serves an evolutionary purpose, otherwise we wouldn’t see it in humans and throughout the rest of Nature.” I doubt this – I believe it is just one of many aberrations that Nature ‘tries out’ from time to time. Some catch on ( having two eyes is better than having one, for example, and long-necked giraffes survived where others didn’t). Some don’t. As I said before, I have a theory that homosexuality is hereditary through the female line, but I have no evidence for this except for the prevalence of homosexuality.

      3) “Most causes célèbres are disingenuous hogwash intended to fool good-natured but gullible people, and the case of Alan Turing is no exception, but I accept he and others like him were treated badly. [….] That law […] was in place to act as a deterrent and discouragement of open and public homosexuality”. But Alan Turing did not practise “open and public homosexuality”. He was a private man, convicted, as far as I can tell, on little or no evidence of law-breaking.

      4) What I find troubling is the present-day enthusiasm for homosexuality, and its promotion as a ‘lifestyle choice’. Everybody seems to have forgotten one of the first acts of the Blair government – invoking the Parliament Act to force through a particular piece of legislation. This is normally reserved for matter of grave constitutional importance. And what was the constitutional principle that Blair & co thought so important as to invoke the ‘nuclear option’? It was the right to legally bugger sixteen year-old boys. And this from a government with a disproportionate number of homosexuals. I don’t know which is worse – the fact that they did this, or the fact that it didn’t raise a murmur from the public.

      • I don’t have time for this, and it’s not an issue that exercises me much, in truth, but I will respond quickly:

        Equality in the context of issues that pertain to homosexuals – obviously. What else could I have meant? We’re not discussing stamp collecting.
        If homosexuality is seen throughout Nature, that suggests it serves an evolutionary purpose. (Of course, I accept the expression ‘evolutionary purpose’ is quite clumsy, but you know what I mean and I’m not writing an academic monograph here).
        No, Alan Turing practised homosexuality openly and publicly. He was known for his sexual advances towards strange men. Of course, I judge his ‘openness’ relative to the times. Nowadays he would be regarded as the picture of discretion.
        I agree with you about this. Homosexuality is, I think, a natural desire for some men and I do sympathise with them, but as I think you are implying, it is also a choice, and in some cases (maybe most cases), an unnecessary choice that reflects the culture more than the innate desires of the person.

        • The paragraph numbering is missing from that post – blame Word Press, which seems to auto-edit everything I post on here.

          Roll on the new website.

          Speaking of which…..?

          • Let me try it again. Just bear in mind this is a quick response as I am lacking time – have work to do – and in all honestly, the whole issue of homosexuality doesn’t hold my interest, as I regard it as an eccentricity.

            Roman numerals correspond to your enumeration above:

            (i). Equality in the context of issues that pertain to homosexuals – obviously. What else could I have meant? We’re not discussing stamp collecting.

            (ii). If homosexuality is seen throughout Nature, that suggests it serves an evolutionary purpose.
            (Of course, I accept the expression ‘evolutionary purpose’ is quite clumsy, but you know what I mean and I’m not writing an academic monograph here).

            (iii). No, Alan Turing practised homosexuality openly and publicly. He was known for his sexual advances towards strange men. Of course, I judge his ‘openness’ relative to the times. Nowadays he would be regarded as the picture of discretion.

            (iv). I agree with you about this. Homosexuality is, I think, a natural desire for some men and I do sympathise with them, but as I think you are implying, it is also a choice, and in some cases (maybe most cases), an unnecessary choice that reflects the culture more than the innate desires of the person.

            • Forgive me for challenging you on your use of the word ‘equality’, but I believe it is one of those words that are in vogue today and are much mis-used. No, it wasn’t obvious to me what you meant. I believe in equality under the law. I believe in equality of opportunity. That is about it. Most people in Socialist Britain today talk of ‘equality’ as though it were some unversally desirable outcome, in the sense that all people should do the same amount of work (EU Working Time Directive, for example) or achieve the same outcome (Huey Long’s dictum that “Nobody should be allowed to have too little; nobody should be allowed to have too much.”).
              I appreciate that you have work to do – so have I – so I won’t take up any more of your time, except to say I did not know that Alan Turing was an openly practising homosexual. If so, then he did indeed invite arrest under the laws that pertained at the time, although I still don’t believe he deserved it.

              • I think we’re getting off-track here. What you say above does not relate in any way to what I am talking about.

                It’s obvious what I mean. I’m talking about equality in things that relate to homosexuals as homosexuals – i.e. marriage, adoption/fostering, age of consent, etc.

                I therefore do not believe in equality under the law. I think “equality under the law” is in any case not workable and is just another liberal myth.

                I don’t really want to have further discussions with you, as I feel you have difficulty in understanding my comments and it’s taking up time. No offence.

                • Can I respectfully suggest that the onus is upon you to express yourself unambiguously. Of course it is obvious to you what you meant, but it wasn’t to me I’m afraid. Merely saying “It’s obvious what I meant” doesn’t quite do it for me. I am a simple man and I like things to be spelled out in simple language, so that there can be no mis-understandings.

      • I’ve just been reading that Mr Russell Brand, whom the Telegraph describes as a ‘comedian’, has announced that his ‘daughter’ is to be raised ‘gender-neutral’, and let ‘it’ “grow up and be whatever the hell it is.”
        But how will he know what ‘it’ eventually is? In the good old days, of course, if you had a penis you were a boy, and if you didn’t you were most likely a girl, then you had ‘boy meets girl’, and on to the next generation. But today, if you can be whatever gender you choose, regardless of physical attributes, and if homosexual sex is a ‘valid’ as the common or garden variety, well, I dunno, I’m so confused I don’t even know how to finish the sentence.
        One thing I am certain of is that I feel desperately sorry for Mr Brand’s child, whatever it is.

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