The new big­otry

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment -

HOW crazy that Pro­fes­sor Richard Ned Le­bow, who once bravely fought against racial seg­re­ga­tion as a ‘free­dom rider’ on buses in Amer­ica’s Deep South, should now find him­self ac­cused of sex­ism and pressed to apol­o­gise, for mak­ing a harm­less jest in a ho­tel lift.

His ac­cuser has yet to ex­plain how ex­actly she was ‘ha­rassed’ when Pro­fes­sor Le­bow jok­ingly asked to be con­veyed to ‘Ladies’ lin­gerie’. In fact, her out­rage is im­pos­si­ble to jus­tify in any ra­tio­nal way.

But if she forces him to say sorry, then it will be a vic­tory for a new sort of big­otry – un­der which any­one in a cur­rently fash­ion­able group who claims to have been of­fended can pun­ish and si­lence any­one they choose to pur­sue.

Do we now need a new gen­er­a­tion of ‘free­dom rid­ers’ to pro­tect us against this nasty, nar­row mind­set, even in the lift? Or on the bus?

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