Right-on cru­sade that makes mugs of us all

Scottish Daily Mail - - Little John - ITTLEJOHN richard.littlejohn@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

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.’

NOW there’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.

PUBLIC bod­ies — 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 Bri­tain.

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!

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