Nick Clegg and Paradigm Shifts

12 Sep

I’m sure there’s lots of Land Law and Equity going on out there too – but Nick Clegg’s speech script reference to ‘bigots’ illustrates the ‘paradigm shift’ idea too well to ignore.

In context, he’s fairly clearly referring specifically to the Conservative Party (but presumably not Mr Cameron – no, really not, this time), but as he will perfectly well have known (is that (1) why he changed the words to something else, or (2) why he [or whoever] leaked the original wording ?) this gets taken to be his attitude towards anyone who disagrees with him about homosexual marriage. Since the current row is not so much about homosexual marriage per se as about allowing it to take place specifically in churches [and other places of worship, one supposes], that’s quite a few millennia of Christians [etc] being dismissed in 6 letters.

My interest is not the rights or wrongs of all the different facets of this – as Mr Obama said in a similar context ‘It’s above my pay grade’ – but that we are now in a place where (so far as I can tell) Mr Clegg’s comment has aroused little real controversy. For many years the moves towards legalisation of homosexual behaviour seemed to proceed slowly – Wolfenden, Lemon, Parris, R v MOD exp Smith – and then suddenly people who disagree are now ‘bigots,’ at any rate provided the speaker leaves themselves a get-out about ‘not their sort of word.’

In other words, a Kuhnian paradigm shift in social attitudes.


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