Day 5: Port Meadow to Abingdon

Talked to Jacqui on the way and she is a delightful English teacher from Oxford. She tells me her mother is a ZANE supporter and she wondered what else her Mum might do to help the cause? I suggested she might leave a large chunk of her estate to ZANE. Jacqui looked thoughtful.

A long brisk walk with three jolly ZANE supporters.

Long Live Stigma

To boast “left” sends a virtuous signal of being warm and kind, earnestly embracing social justice. On the other hand, mention “right” and you run the risk of being branded a Nigel Farage type on a bad day.

This concept is arrant twaddle. The truth is that the “left” are tribunes of “non-judgmentalism” who demand “lifestyle choice”. And they have taken an axe to the roots of the nuclear family, once the bedrock of society.

All major institutions swing left: look at the Church, Amnesty International, OXFAM, the National Trust and the Church of England. Nothing annoys the left more than the stigma created by “judgmental morality”, but that’s the only kind of morality there is – and the removal of morality has radically gutted the concept of family.

Imagine that your son or daughter is a student at Durham University. Their authorities have decided to make it easy for little Jemima or Piers to participate in the sex industry – how nice for your family. The aim is to remove the stigma faced by prostitutes by rebranding them as “sex workers”. But the blinding reality is, of course, that all people involved in that pernicious trade are hookers, rent boys and “escorts”. Durham is acting the pimp, ignoring the fact that prostitution is rightly stigmatised because the trade is disgusting, immoral, exploitative, illegal and spiritually demeaning. This is not to say that the people involved should be regarded as outcasts, of course not – we must draw a distinction between the sinner and the sin, and we must hope they will turn away. But for goodness’ sake, we must be able to condemn the trade itself as sinful and ghastly and refuse to cast a benign gloss over it. Stigmatising whoring is a good thing, and I suspect that for most people the stigma will not abate.

Everybody’s Doin’ It

Next, the stigma that once surrounded divorce has all but been expunged. People today just shrug as if it didn’t matter. I am sorry if this offends any ZANE supporters who may have suffered divorce as the innocent party (ZANE supporters are always innocent). However, experience tells us that divorce is usually accompanied by mendacity, guilt, sadness, bitterness, and financial hardship, as well as the incalculable damage inflicted on children. As the stigma abates, of course, the number of divorces rise.

Nor is there any stigma now to “living in sin”. Remember the old song “Everybody’s doin’ it, doin’ it”? Today, “hooking up” outside marriage is what everyone’s doing and anyone who claims it’s a bad idea is mocked as an old-fashioned Victorian prude. But’s it’s us who are paying the price, not the Victorians. They knew what they were doing. The stigmas that used to exist surrounding promiscuity, divorce and living in unmarried sin were inherited from Christian teaching and existed mainly for the protection of children. That protection has gone with the wind. The bleak indicators are damning, with children born to cohabiting unions more likely to see their parents separate than if they were married. Parental separation damages a child’s education and future life chances – those brought up by a single parent get worse grades at school, are more likely to suffer addictions or from mental health issues, are far less likely to secure a high-earning job and are more likely to end up in prison. This all costs a fortune, to be paid by the poor old taxpayer.

For years, the left has been sawing at the branch on which the family sat. It has now fallen, not into a bed of scented roses but into a pool of raw sewage, crisscrossed with barbed wire. It will cost a fortune to hook it out.

Long live stigmas! And, oh yes – cross out Durham from your list of preferred universities.

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