Right-on crusade that makes mugs of us all
LOUGHBOROUGH market is one of the oldest in Britain, dating back almost 800 years and laying the foundation of the Leicestershire town’s early prosperity and expansion. Back in the 13th century, it was a major trading centre, attracting buyers and sellers from miles around, a tradition which continues today. Every Friday, Loughborough plays host to a vintage market, with 40 stallholders knocking out a selection of antiques, secondhand books and historical bric-a-brac.
For the past three years, one of those traders, Tina Gayle, has made a 200-mile, four- hour round trip from Didcot, in Oxfordshire, to flog her wares. Or, rather, she did until last week.
That was before the local council banned her from the market for selling ‘offensive’ items — coffee mugs depicting the ancient order of the Knights Templar. Apparently, someone complained that the mugs celebrated the murder of Muslims during the Crusades. When Tina refused to remove them, the council withdrew her licence.
The Knights Templar was a chivalrous religious order, a group of warrior-monks, formed to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land from marauding Saracens. They became established in England in the 12th century, to raise money for the Crusades, and officially disbanded a couple of hundred years later.
Yet 700 years on, a sense of vicarious injustice still burns in the bosom of somebody in Loughborough who took exception to Tina selling £6 mugs featuring Knights Templar insignia and a Latin motto which translates as: ‘Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give glory.’
NOWthere’s a hate crime, if ever I saw one. I’m surprised the police haven’t got involved. Only a matter of time, I’m sure.
Initially, the council refused to say why, exactly, the mugs should be withdrawn from sale.
Tina soon discovered that (just as she suspected) the complaint had been made by the same individual who had previously objected, back in August, to her selling Nazi memorabilia — mugs, badges, books and so on. We don’t know the identity of this sensitive soul, but clearly the council takes him or her very seriously indeed.
After being visited by council officers, Tina agreed to remove all Nazi-related items, even though she protested that they were mostly bought by World War II re- enactors. Anything for a quiet life.
But if she thought that was the end of her problems, she was sadly mistaken. A spokesman said: ‘We want the public to have a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting our markets and we have a duty to ensure that items sold do not cause public offence, a threat to safety or that could bring the market into disrepute.
‘It’s not for us to comment as to why the mugs were offensive to the complainant, however, we had previously asked the trader not to sell contemporary mugs or items which could cause offence so we asked for them to be removed.
‘The trader refused to remove the mugs from the stall so we issued a second letter which excludes the trader from all Loughborough markets. This decision is in line with our market regulations which state that if a trader has displayed serious misconduct, they can be immediately excluded from trading, with no further warnings required.’
Tina claims the council has confirmed, after initial reticence, that the complaint was about the Knights Templar killing Muslims during the Crusades. So what? Tina said: ‘Richard the Lionheart killed thousands of Muslims and I’ve had items relating him, and the Romans, and no one has ever complained. No Muslims have ever complained.’
Of course not. I shouldn’t have thought for a moment any Muslim in Loughborough was remotely offended by coffee mugs featuring the Knights Templar. And even if they were, tough. No, Tina will have fallen foul of some miserable misanthrope — almost certainly a Guardian reader and Jeremy Corbyn supporter — who specialises in taking offence on behalf of others as a way of asserting their own moral superiority.
The world’s full of these selfrighteous imbeciles. But that doesn’t mean anyone should take any notice of them.
Where does Loughborough council — or whatever fancy name it calls itself these days — get the idea that it can prevent a market trader making a living because some nutter objects to her selling mugs depicting a 700-year- old band of warrior-monks?
It’s the same kind of mentality which encourages universities to appease snowflake students who believe they have the right to tear down statues and exclude any point of view which upsets their sensibilities.
PUBLICbodies — and, increasingly, public companies, too — live in fear of causing offence, real or imagined. They allow themselves to be bullied by singleissue lunatics. History is rewritten, or erased entirely, in pursuit of political purity to comply with contemporary pieties.
We’ve come to expect this kind of sanctimonious censorship in the political sphere and on the more deranged shores of academia. But these days nowhere is safe, not even the marketplaces of Middle England.
How the hell did we end up with a stallholder being put out of business on the say- so of an interfering, brain-dead bigot who objects to coffee mugs bearing the insignia of an ancient chivalrous order, which was officially disbanded seven centuries ago?
At least those pioneering Loughborough market traders in the Middle Ages only had to put up with plague, pestilence, robber barons and outlaws.
They didn’t have to contend with modern malcontents and jumped-up council jobsworths. If they had, they’d have soon put them to the sword.
Bring on the Knights Templar!