Stephen Pollard: I am not, nor ever have been, a married man

Since when was it defamatory to accuse someone of not living in sin, as it used to be called
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The Independent Online

Have you managed to keep abreast of the many twists and turns of the most important story of 2004? I'm struggling. I just don't know whose version of events to trust. Has there been a cover up? If there was, just how far did it go? Were the rules of decent behaviour ignored? How did they think they could get away with it, when it was always obvious that the facts would emerge?

Have you managed to keep abreast of the many twists and turns of the most important story of 2004? I'm struggling. I just don't know whose version of events to trust. Has there been a cover up? If there was, just how far did it go? Were the rules of decent behaviour ignored? How did they think they could get away with it, when it was always obvious that the facts would emerge?

I refer - as if you didn't know - to the big issue of the moment: have Julia Sawalha and Alan Davies married? If you read the tabloids, they have. In secret. Not, however, according to the couple themselves. Indeed, they so didn't get married that, according to the latest reports (which might well, of course, turn out to be as flawed as the original story) they are considering suing for libel those papers who alleged that there was, indeed, a marriage.

Think about that for a moment. I neither know nor care what two F-list celebs get up to - or don't - in the privacy of the registry office. But libel? Since when was it defamatory to accuse someone of not living in sin, as it used to be called?

Then there's Britney. Once upon a time, she was seen as a role model to teenagers everywhere, with a career built on such harmless antics as tongue-sandwiching Madonna and dressing up in a schoolgirl uniform, hips gyrating to the beat and bare flesh thrusting away. And then - the hussy! - she did something truly beyond the pale. She married someone.

Perhaps it's just a youthful indiscretion. She would never, surely, intentionally do something as revolting as marrying, sullying the pure image which has earned her the admiration of parents across the globe.

I entered my fifth decade recently. Middle age is setting in; I'm not sure I should be allowed out in public any more. It's a minefield out there: the world is changing beyond my ability to keep up. Behaviour which used to be the norm is now condemned as offensive. Ideas which were once regarded as normal are now quite beyond the pale.

Try telling a group of friends that, overall, you think the police are a good thing and that you admire people who, for very little money, put their lives in danger to uphold the law. You might as well say you've been reading some BNP literature and think they might have a point.

Admit that you try to live your life by a set of rules which might impinge on your ability to do whatever you feel like doing, whenever you feel like doing it, and you are clearly in urgent need of counselling to release the "inner you", have a dependent personality (almost certainly a product of child abuse), and have most likely never had an orgasm. That you might simply believe in God is, it goes without saying, impossible. Something must be wrong with you.

Admit that you think that human beings should take responsibility for their own actions and earn praise or punishment accordingly, and you are - there can be no more damning a condemnation - a "moraliser". Not only do you have no empathy or understanding for your fellow human beings, you are a racist, homophobic, xenophobic bigot. Your views are so beyond the pale that no civilised person should even give them the courtesy of a response. Ostracism is the only suitable response.

Friends of mine with four children tell me that they are regularly told that they are selfish - their fecundity is responsible for destroying the earth's resources. The beast of a husband has clearly browbeaten all remaining independence out of his wife. And he must be a misogynist who sees his wife as a chattel, fit only for breeding his offspring.

It works in reverse, too. If you don't go along with ideas which are now de rigueur then you are harking back to a golden age which never was.

Argue that classical music is dying, not because of the price of CDs or cuts in school music lessons, but because there were, after Schoenberg, very few composers willing to write music to which the public would ever want to listen, and you are a philistine.

Say that you think most native American and Aboriginal art is not fit to be compared to even the worst paintings to come out of Delft School and you are not just racist, you are a cultural imperialist.

And the last time I wrote - Robert Kilroy-Silk, eat your heart out - that Western civilisation was the pinnacle of man's achievement, and that it was not merely possible but essential to judge those countries which fail to behave by the rules of civilised behaviour, I was told ... well, you know what I was told. You may well be thinking it yourself.

So, I am all of those things. But I plead one thing in my defence. I am not, nor ever have been, married. There are some lows to which even I would not sink.

www.stephenpollard.net

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