Once Aryan Skynet Goes Live It Doesn't Matter Who Pulled The Switch
The novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson, who was assigned in 1966 to cover the trial of murderer Ian Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley for The Sunday Telegraph, later published a book on the subject titled On Iniquity: Some Personal Reflections Arising out of the Moors Murder Trial. Johnson is largely concerned with the question of censorship and cites the presence of books about the Marquis de Sade and the NSDAP in Ian Brady’s personal library – Johnson’s insinuation being that a society so permissive as to allow its population free access to the works of Sade might soon find itself plunged into the horrors of Nazi Holocaust. On Iniquity is, in short, a work inoperably cuckolded in its bizarre conflation of nationalism with pornography, sexual violence, and pedophilia. Only once does Johnson allow herself to stray from the path of sociological propriety, and it is this little passage that warrants readers’ attention today. Discussing increasingly mean-spirited humor in British television programming and public life, she writes:
At about the same period, jeering about the Christian religion also became “good for a giggle” – one of the most affectless phrases of our decade. It is curious that this happened more or less at the time when libertarians [i.e., ostensible proponents of free expression] were campaigning for a tightening-up of the law in respect of anti-Semitism or any kind of racial hatred. Very odd. It is true that many Christians did complain at some of the more gross insults offered to their faith, but they were generally considered in the light of fuddy-duddies, if not as Ancient Druids.1
Curious, indeed, Mrs. Johnson – but surely just a coincidence.
Surely, too, it was just a coincidence that it was in 1965, the year that saw the passage of Britain’s Race Relations Act, which criminalized “incitement to racial hatred”, that the BBC premiered the sitcom Till Death Do Us Part, the inspiration for Norman Lear’s seductively anti-American CBS hit All in the Family:
In the 1960s, an MP told the House of Commons that the only sensible political debate in this country was taking place on Till Death Us Do Part. First screened in 1965, the sitcom landed like a meteor on the BBC’s cosy TV schedule. It was trouncing Coronation Street by its second series, pulling in almost 20 million viewers.
Its star character was Alf Garnett [played by Jewish actor Warren Misell, alias Mitchell], the brash, working class reactionary, described by one TV critic as “everything most hateful about our national character – xenophobic, illiberal, racist, anti-Semitic, toadying, authoritarian”.
Writer Johnny Speight had meant it as a satire, but millions failed to spot the irony, preferring instead to see Garnett as a champion of the downtrodden, white, working man. Both sides saw the clear message that Britain was struggling to come to terms with immigration.2
Britain, as everybody knows, never stopped “struggling to come to terms with immigration” – the palace mulatto notwithstanding – but, unlike the days of telecommunications monopoly, “the only sensible political debate” in Britain is no longer being televised.