‘People there will hurt you ’cos of who you are’, sang Blur of the countryside. Echoing the common sense view that small communities, by virtue of their isolation and inexperience, tend to be more bigoted than the cosmopolitan masses. By virtue of the same common sense such communities can indulge practices that make those same cosmopolitan masses’ hair stand on end.
I’ve never been a fan of common sense, which is supposedly shorthand for the stuff we all know to be true (and so never test) and that too often turns out to be common prejudice. But take the Pitcairn islanders where half the male population (seven) are charged with underage sex. Clearly an example of one of those small communities playing up to the common sense stereotype, a community so far divorced from our cosmopolitan morality it sees nothing wrong. Meanwhile the countryside lobby, is having fun appropriating what it no doubt sees as politically correct language. They claim to be ethnic country folk and are initiating a letter writing campaign to support a new coding on the census. While I don’t doubt it’s a bit of a wheeze, I hope they succeed as having been recognised as a minority, they’ll no longer be able to claim to be typical English.
Anyway. The link is that tradition and ethnicity are both communities’ defence against the tyranny of the majority. The islanders say underage sex is an essential part of their identity. They point out that the girls consent and are not otherwise abused. However, those looking in from outside are likely to argue that just because the girls have been brought up to believe this all okay, doesn’t mean it is. Similarly, the country folk argue that inflicting suffering upon animals for fun is part of their culture and ethnic country folk are brought up to see nothing wrong in this. The country folk further illustrate how little their culture respects animal life by mutilating dead horses and cattle, scrawling notes on them and dumping them in the street. Many hope that their new found ethnic status will allow them to reintroduce cock fighting.
Yet cock fighting is a tradition excised from the countryside without genocidal consequences and the end of fox hunting does not mean the end of country folk. It’s great that Britons have so many lifestyle choices, but all have to accept an underlying morality. And thankfully, that’s a morality that says underage sex and inflicting animal suffering for fun are wrong, whatever your community elders told you.
Fox hunters and the retreat into pop……Fox hunting: parliament’s chance to be relevant……Pro-hunt barbarians at the gates……On animal fashion, morality and suffering……‘Celebrity worship essential’, say scientists (the Bryan Ferry connection)