The Corner

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Creep

(Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

There are a lot of extraordinary events happening in the UK at the moment, some of which I address in my cover piece in the current issue of NR.  But amid all the big Brexit events, some of the broader matters of the culture are inevitably getting lost, which is a shame because they will be with us whether we ever manage to leave the European Union or not.

In July I wrote here about one of the increasing number of occasions when the intersectional rainbow gets inadvertently rent in twain.  On that occasion it was video from a ‘Pride’ parade in East London where local gays found themselves being abused by a niqab-wearing Muslim woman.  Specifically the fully-covered woman in Waltham Forest attacked the rainbow-flag bedecked marchers with cries such as “Shame on you, you despicable people.”

Thus did “Pride” culture meet “Shame” culture, and some of us remain very interested in who, in the long-term, might win such a stand-off.

In any case, I return to the story because there has been a development.  Back in July a number of people immediately called for the culprit to be tracked down and prosecuted for her crimes.  Though I was suspicious whether the long arm of the law would ever catch up with the culprit.  For while the police might have found populating the niqabi line-up to be an absolute doozy, I wouldn’t like to be the gay who had to figure out which niqabi in the line-up was my abuser.  Any incorrect identification would have been the absolute epitome of ‘Islamophobia’, almost certainly leading to new charges.

Yet what I failed to take into account was that while the British police are still terrible at stopping Londoners from knifing each other to death, they are an absolutely crack force when it comes to tracking down and prosecuting “hate crimes.”  So through some uncommon detective work, the culprit was found and has in recent weeks been hauled before the bench.  Thirty-eight year old Jamila Choudhury of East London was charged last month and convicted in super-quick time at the start of this month.  The crime was a homophobic hate-crime which the judge in the case declared constituted “an attack on the [LGBT+] community.”

The judge gave Choudhury a three-month suspended sentence and she was also ordered to take part in a 40-day anger-management activity as well as paying £100 of compensation to nine people she abused, in installments of £10 a week.  Which seems on the low side to me.  Perhaps next year’s marchers could sport T-shirts reading, “I got abused at Walthamstow Pride and all I got was ten quid.”

Interestingly, it emerged at the trial that the Ms. Choudhury was already under a community order for calling a London Underground employee a “black piece of trash.”  Her defender in court said in mitigation that Choudhury suffers from health problems including an auto-immune disease and that when Choudhury saw the footage of her actions at Pride she was “devastated” and “didn’t recognize who she saw.”  Such was her shame around her actions and the subsequent publicity that it was said that at the salon where Ms. Choudhury works, she felt “ashamed” to look some of the customers in the eye.

At this point there were a number of cracks that it might be possible to make.  But after Choudhury’s conviction the gay pride organizers immediately, and predictably, announced that “We condemn outright and unequivocally all forms of hatred and abuse, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism” and “utterly condemn any attempts to use this incident to fan the flames of discord between communities.” In a country where the police now tell us what pronouns we should and should not use, it becomes increasingly clear that unless we want to be embroiled in rolling hate crime cases to the end of our days, the best thing to say is nothing at all.

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