Teetotalitarians drive me to drink
How exactly will longer pub opening hours 'cause more terrorism'?
‘Extended drinking hours may cause more terrorism.’ That’s the fear of a Mr Andrew M Rosemarine of Salford, writing a letter in The Times (London) on 10 August. His argument – if I can dignify his bizarre assertion with the term – is that imbibing alcohol is symbolic of our Western ‘decadence’, and risks further alienating Muslims. Similar arguments about our decadent society and its potentially deadly consequences have been made elsewhere.
Presumably, these are the kind of people who also believe that Christmas cards insult people of other faiths and that women who expose bare flesh deserve all they get. Such views are gaining currency on both the extreme left and extreme right: that ‘we’ (ie, ‘the West’ – whatever that means) are too decadent, too depraved, moving away from the certainties of God and family and into some Danteish inferno of vomiting hoodies, wine bottle-wanking on Big Brother, and two-for-one offers on Alcopops.
I have surprising news for all these pious, holier-than-thou zealots who now seem to be in control of much of our media: it isn’t just the Muslims who feel alienated. I’m a left-wing, atheist, drinker (I don’t smoke, but don’t care if you do), who believes in sex before and during marriage, and frankly I find your dull witterings offensive to my beliefs.
In some parts of Halifax, which I visited recently, pubs have been firebombed by local youths who apparently find their presence offensive. Many of these same youths are drug dealers and pimps, but they don’t seem too troubled by this inherent contradiction. It’s bad enough that we have to listen to faith groups constantly carping on about their bizarre beliefs, without white, middle-class liberals helping them with their propaganda.
I find all religion offensive. Being offended is something I can live with: it goes with freedom. I can even tolerate sanctimonious, muddle-headed letters to The Times. But keep telling your average Briton that they are always wrong and they might start wondering exactly who you are, and why you are so convinced of your own moral certitude.
If some truly believe that our country is too decadent, perhaps I might suggest that they take steps to remove themselves from this degenerate society, where women can vote, and the working classes can fall over in Faliraki. I believe Riyadh is clement at this time of year. Perhaps there they will find many others who share their concerns – and their moral certainties.
The opposite of decadence is austerity, and in this argument emerges the austerity of ideas at the heart of current political debate; the exclusivity and intolerance that has taken the place of rationalism and freedom of thought. I feel truly sorry that fundamentalists are unable to tolerate the freedoms our forefathers and foremothers fought and died for. Still, that’s their loss. I’m off for a pint – because I can.
Mark Piggott is a freelance writer and journalist based in London. Visit his webpage here.
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