Last week the British government stopped considering the usual trifles – Ukraine, ISIS, UKIP, the budget deficit, as well as the unsurprising news that, now according to Forbes, America’s nuclear arsenal is a pile of rusting junk – and turned to the vital affairs of state, notably the urgent need to block the entry into the United Kingdom of an American citizen by the name of Julien Blanc.
Mr. Blanc’s visit to Britain, like Oscar Wilde’s famous excursion in the opposite direction all those mauve years ago, was to have an educational purpose. Mr. Blanc lectures to men on how to govern their spouses, and his prescriptions include torturing the family cat and smashing the prized crockery, as well as some proactive throat grabbing and hair pulling. For the efficacy of these prescriptions in the management of conjugal relations I cannot vouchsafe personally, yet it is clear to me that men – as well as, on occasion, women – who follow Mr. Blanc’s advice intuitively, without having ever heard of him or listened to his lectures, constitute a not inconsiderable portion of mankind. None the less, a parliamentary grandee called Lynne Featherstone urged Home Secretary Theresa May to ban Mr. Blanc from coming to Britain.
I note that Ms. Featherstone is possessed of a middle name, and it is “Choona.” Hence it should hardly surprise the Kabalarian philosophers among us that it was Lynne Choona Featherstone who “launched the consultation by the UK government on introducing same-sex marriage and was the first politician to take part in the Out4Marriage campaign,” whatever that indubitably clever policy initiative might have involved. If Mr Blanc were allowed to lecture, said Lynne Choona Featherstone, “I have no doubt that cases of sexual harassment and intimidation would increase. Free speech is obviously hugely important, but with free speech comes responsibility. It is not appropriate to talk about choking girls under any circumstances.”
Whether or not choking girls is worse to a normal person’s mind than molesting them, we must bear in mind that we are in Britain, where girls of 13 have just been told in a government document, endorsed by the Department for Education and the Deputy Prime Minister, that “consenting oral and/or penetrative sex with others of the same or opposite gender who are of similar age and developmental ability” is to be regarded as “safe and healthy.” The same document, incidentally, describes “concern about body image” as dangerous, while drawing the morality line at “sexual degradation/humiliation of self or others,” “genital injury to self or others,” and “sex with animals.”
An internet petition against Mr Blanc’s visit, started by a female activist who remains pseudonymous – wisely, I might add, considering that the Kabalarian necromancers among us have been alerted – has gathered 158,000 signatures. “I've said all along this isn't about me,” said the activist. “That the petition garnered so much attention in such a short period of time highlights the everyday, ongoing relevance of sexism and misogyny. We cannot continue to ignore what is a daily reality for all women – particularly felt by transwomen and women of colour – by shielding men like Blanc behind the veneer of ‘free speech.’”
In closing, I want you to picture in your mind’s eye a photograph I’ve come across. It’s captioned as follows: “Lynne Featherstone launches 16 days of activism for the elimination of violence against women with the Minister of Gender and Child Development, Inonge Wina, in Zambia in November 2012.” What comes to mind, after an initial wave of dismay at the news that the Zambian budget accommodates such extravagance, is the unsettling thought that nobody would prevent Ms. Wina from lecturing in Britain even if she were to advocate cannibalism.
Andrei Navrozov, born in Moscow, lives in Palermo and is European editor for Chronicles. The former publisher of the Yale Lit, he is a widely published author and translator. His Italian Carousel: Scenes of Internal Exile was published by Peter Owen Publishers.