JUST Desserts

UPDATE! Tuesday morning’s meeting of the House of Commons Justice Committee has been moved to Room 415 of the Wellington Building in order that it can be televised. So you can see me, Lindsay Shepherd and John Robson live across the planet on ParlVu at 8.45am Eastern here.

(You can find a preview of John’s remarks here.)

Programming note: Tonight, Monday, I’ll be checking in with Tucker Carlson live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. If you are in the presence of the receiving apparatus, I hope you’ll dial us up.

~Parliamentary note: As I write, I’m still scheduled to give evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights, along with Lindsay Shepherd and John Robson, bright and early tomorrow morning, Tuesday, at 8.45am in Ottawa. However, over the weekend there were dramatic ructions around “JUST”, as the committee is apparently abbreviated. On Friday, Faisal Khan Suri of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council appeared and decided to link Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette to “conservative commentators”. Michael Cooper, the Tory Vice-Chair of the committee (and presumably the chap who issued the invitations to Lindsay, John and me) then told Mr Suri he “should be ashamed” and read a portion of the Christchurch shooter’s “manifesto” in which the killer said he liked the Chinese political system and rejected “conservatism”.

Everyone else got the vapors, and by Saturday evening Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party leader, had removed Mr Cooper from the committee for the following crime:

Reading the name and quoting the words of the Christchurch shooter, especially when directed at a Muslim witness during a parliamentary hearing, is insensitive and unacceptable.

So the Insensitive One has been booted and, assuming the hearing proceeds, I’ll either be looking across the room at an empty chair where young Cooper used to be or facing some entirely new member. For the moment, the meeting remains open to the public, so if you’re in the general vicinity of Canada’s capital do come along and say hello. We’ll be in the Wellington Building, just across the street from Parliament.

~Speaking of winning strategies for Tory parties, following Theresa May’s impressive nine per cent of the vote in the Euro-elections, she’s now looking at a mere twenty-six seats in the next UK election. This same poll is also the first general election survey in which Nigel Farage’s seven-week-old Brexit Party is in the lead. If that were to hold on the big night, Nigel would be just twenty seats shy of a majority in the House of Commons, and the Democratic Unionists would halve that shortfall, putting him in the car to the Palace fairly early on Friday morning.

As I told Canada’s House of Commons a decade ago re the “Human Rights” Commission, sometimes an institution’s conduct is so appalling that it is necessary for it to cease and die. I am increasingly inclined to think the UK Tory Party’s behavior since June 2016 puts it in that category.

~Naomi Wolf was last heard of (by me) recommending that Al Gore dress in “earth tones” for his 2000 presidential campaign. I recall he wore a beige suit for his big interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” and as a result blended into the wood paneling of his library so perfectly that the interviewer appeared to be talking to the Invisible Man – which, in a sense, he was. Apparently there are those who take Miss Wolf seriously in matters other than sartorial, and so she has a new book out called Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love, which was on course to garner the usual fawning notices from the log-rollers of the lit. crit. industry. The new book leans heavily on the author’s alleged researches at the Old Bailey in London and purports to reveal for the first time the routine execution of men for sodomy in Victorian England. For example:

[Fourteen-year-old Thomas Silver] was actually executed for committing sodomy. The boy was indicted for unnatural offense, guilty, death recorded.

Just for the record Thomas Silver was convicted of “unnatural offenses” against a six-year-old boy. Be that as it may, Miss Wolf’s book relies on that odd phrase “death recorded” rather heavily – dozens of times, in fact.. The other day she turned up on BBC Radio 3 expecting just another routine plugtastic interview from an ideologically sympathetic host. Instead the presenter, Matthew Sweet, disarmingly mentioned that “death recorded” was an English legal term created in 1823 to permit a judge to record that the convicted man had been sentenced to death but that the sentence was not passed because the judge wished to pardon the prisoner. If you look at its first usage, you can see that the term “death recorded” is in fact short for “Sentence of DEATH Recorded, but not Passed”.

So, considering he’d raped a six-year-old, young Master Silver was treated rather sympathetically by the judge. For good measure, Matthew Sweet informed Miss Wolf of the date the “actually executed” Thomas Silver left prison and got on with his life.

In other words, none of Naomi Wolf’s “actual executions for committing sodomy” ever happened. There is no evidence that anyone was executed for sodomy in Britain under Queen Victoria, least of all fourteen year-old boys. As you’ll know if you followed my serialization of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Victorians had a somewhat subtle view of “unnatural offenses”: While abhorring sodomy, they nevertheless recognized that it often involved older men preying on the young, and/or respectable men preying on the lower classes, and such considerations guided the decisions of the authorities. No one who knew anything about Victorian England could seriously think that they executed boys barely into their teens for sodomy. You would have to be a complete ahistorical doofus to believe such a thing; you would have to have a complete lack of imaginative capacity.

That sound you hear below is Naomi Wolf realizing the entire thesis of her book has fallen to pieces:

I’m often very rude about the BBC, because of their woeful political coverage. But the above is a good example of the Beeb at its best – an unfailingly well-informed presenter ever so politely yanking the floor out from under someone entirely deserving of it. You can hear the full show here.

~Many years ago, for a radio show about the prolific hit composer Harry Warren, I was looking for a version of a favorite song, “Lulu’s Back in Town”. And I had the Mel Tormé version to hand, which is certainly terrific, but, riffling through the library, I came across this:

Something about the quirky aged voice with just the spare guitar accompaniment appealed to me. Had a ragged authenticity, and all that. He was a guy called Leon Redbone, and I assumed from the sound that he was some fellow from the Mississippi Delta, maybe been playing around New Orleans for years.

In fact, as I didn’t quite realize at the time, he was twenty-five when he made the above record. But he’d figured out that in a business of eternal youth there was a certain market for a premature geezer in retro garb. Despite playing him on air many more times over the decades, I wound up knowing hardly anything about him beyond the assumptions I made above. He died the other day, and turned out to be not old at all, shy of seventy in fact. And not some Louisiana backwoodsman who’d found his way to Bourbon Street, but an Armenian born in Cyprus who moved to London, and thence to Toronto, and finally to America. It was in Canada that, courtesy of the Ontario vital statistics office, Dickran Gobalian became “Leon Redbone”. I had no idea. An entirely self-invented man, and brilliantly so, and semi-Canuck to boot. Amazing.

And now I gotta sew a button on my vest, shine my shoes, slick my hair, git myself a boutonnière, and head to Ottawa…

~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with the news of my parliamentary appearance in Ottawa, of challenging times for one of my favorite bloggers, and of how a Mahdist rifle made its way to New South Wales. Our Saturday movie date marked the passing of Claus von Bülow – the film critic’s critic, and our Song of the Week considered ovine husbandry tips from Rodgers & Hammerstein. If you find yourself feeling a bit sheepish this Monday morning, we hope you’ll want to check out one or two of the foregoing as a brand new week begins.

Thank you so much for all the Mark Steyn Club subscription renewals this last month. As our third year begins, I know very well that I would not be here without the support of our members around the world, for which we are all profoundly grateful. For more information on the Steyn Club, see here – and don’t forget our special Gift Membership.

Catch you on the telly tonight with Tucker live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.