The new round table

An elderly celebrity, I forget who, used to say that he read the Obituary page of the Times in bed each morning, and if he wasn’t in it, he got up. Obituaries in this new intersectional normal of ours have become obsolete, because the woke want to erase the memory of the dead as soon as iconoclastically possible, apart from their newly-minted biographies of Mary Anning as a lesbian, or Mary Seacole as a nursing pioneer. Oh yes, and Frederick Douglass as a white supremacist.

It seems to me, though, that the demise of the obituary leaves space in the newspapers for a new kind of column: the daily list of those who have been cancelled by social media, the press itself, universities, employers, churches, sports clubs, artistic guilds and learned societies. It’s getting progressively harder to remember the names of the growing legion of the demonized, and a permanent daily record would be a big help to knowing who is still a living human, and who a mere shade wandering the earth in the vain search for sacrifical offerings, should you bump into them in the street. Only today, for example, I stumbled across the cancellation of Scottish historian Neil Oliver and Hollywood actress Halle Berry.

The first has been deemed unworthy of continuing as Chairman of the Scottish National Trust because he once expressed admiration for David Starkey. Starkey was himself cancelled at the end of last week by his Cambridge College, his publisher Harper-Collins, the Mary Rose Trust… in fact, he has been stripped of all the fruits gathered during a long and celebrated career. This was because of one misplaced “damn” in a sentence that could be, and therefore was, interpreted as racist.

Racism, as we are finding, is the unforgivable sin of the new morality, but unlike the sin against the Holy Spirit mentioned by Jesus, it is not rare but damns the whole white race, and many representatives of the other races too if they unconsciously express “whiteness.” Neil Oliver’s transgression was to fail to see past the half century of Starkey’s even-handed and competent historical scholarship to the genocidal Nazi within.

Berry’s fault, in contrast, was that of taking on the character of a transsexual woman in a film, instead of leaving the role to a trans person of one persuasion or the other. She has immediately recanted and confessed the error of her female and black, yet transphobic, ways, but as we all know, forgiveness is not part of the woke canon, and so we may anticipate her silent disappearance from the roster of Hollywood celebs. It will be interesting to see who is qualified to take on the lead in any remakes of the Hannibal Lector films.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the swelling ranks of “the disappeared” include many of the best and most worthy minds of our time. I venture to suggest that the longer this stuff continues, the less the remainder of spineless quislings, keeping their real beliefs to themselves, and those woke cult-members who have drunk deep of the poisoned well of its pernicious dogmas, will be able to keep a functioning society going. If you doubt me, look how the utopia of CHAZ collapsed after three weeks, its two hundred members shooting in that time almost as many blacks as the entire US police shoot in a year.

For that reason it has occurred to me that we members of the real world might seek to overturn all these cancellations by deliberately honouring those counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of, in this case, liberty of expression. In this way, we might keep alive some vestiges of original thought and courageous expression against the coming barbarism.

To this end, I propose the formation of a new chivalric order, to be known as the Incorrect Order of the Cancelled Knights of St Martin (Luther, that is, whose dictum “Here I stand – I can do no other” is what the cancelled perpetuate).

The Order would be open to all those who have been cancelled by those organs that have been infiltrated by intersectionality – which essentially means all of them. But entry would be solely by invitation of those already in the brotherhood, who would be most able to judge the claims of those seeking its hallowed precincts.

The Order would necessarily exclude those who had bent the knee under the threat, or reality, of being de-personed. But here again, the discretion of existing knights would be paramount. As in the Donatist controversy of the fourth century, mercy would be shown to those traditores who had temporarily succumbed in extremis. After all, forgiveness is a prerequisite of free speech, and it is forgiveness which is absent from the new morality. As I have already said, unlike the “sin against the Holy Spirit” Jesus warned about, the unforgiveable sin in wokeness is the rule, not the exception. That is because their sins are all class sins, and all the individual repentance in the world will not erase whiteness, nor heterosexuality, nor maleness.

An open letter has just been organised by Vanity Fair, signed by 150 of the great and good, and protesting against cancel culture and the curtailment of free speech. Already, though, some of the signatories have backed off, either because they thought other signatories ought to have been cancelled as transphobes or whatever, or because criticising cancel-culture is itself racist and omniphobic, and brought the signatories threats of cancellation which outweighed their libertarian convictions.

For this reason it is vital, the Order being all about liberty of conscience and speech, that the reasons for cancellation should be irrelevant to membership. J K Rowling would have to accept an equal footing with Tommy Robinson, and Ricky Gervais with the late Roger Scruton.

Within the walls of their citadel, of course, fierce disagreement would be pursued to sort out the good ideas from the bad, providing valuable training against the day when our new totalitarianism finally collapses. Then the world will sorely need to re-learn how to live with the true diversity of free individuals, instead of the woke pseudo-diversity of half a dozen “protected groups” with imposed cartoon characteristics.

Well, I think I’ve said enough to give you the general idea. Pass on a link to this piece in case some enterprising soul among the cancelled decides to run with the idea. Martin Luther responded to his excommunication by the Pope with an excommunication in return. “And we shall see,” he added, “which excommunication stands at the last judgement.” The woke need to be made to realise that each voice they think they have cancelled is just a new one added to the body that they will eventually make strong enough to cancel their own evil project.

So I’ll close by describing, and explaining, the armorial bearings of the new Order of the Cancelled. Its blazon, shown in pictorial form at the foot of the column, is as follows:

On a circular shield: Argent, a bordure Gules and a bend Gules dexter;
and for a Crest: a coroza Argent and a devil Gules;
and for a Motto: Sine Veritas Omnia Vanitas (without truth, all is vanity)
and for Supporters: On a compartment of Vert dexter a lion Or sinister a mule Cendrée both rampant.

  • The shield is self-evidently the insignia of cancellation. The coroza was the cap placed upon the heads of unrepentant heretics at the Catholic autos de fe during the Reformation, which they wore as they were burned at the stake.
  • The motto is also self-evident. It is truth that is the hard-won fruit of freedom, and deception that inevitably springs from oppression: it is no coincidence that the Bible’s description of the end times is that of a monumental struggle between the truth of Christ and the deception of Antichrist.
  • The supporters: the mule, for stubbornness, and the lion for courage.

The way things are going, the Incorrect Order of the Cancelled Knights of St Martin, once founded, might soon prove to be the mustard seed that came to tower over all other trees of the earth. And a jolly good thing that would be.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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