This is absurd. If God is all-knowing and all powerful isn’t it a little presumptuous to intervene on his behalf, suggesting he’s incapable of doing so? Why waste the police’s time when a lightning bolt to the QI studio takes care of the matter? If everything plays out according to god’s intricate plan, isn’t it a little blasphemous itself to say “well, god, we don’t agree with what you’ve done here so we’re going to deal with it ourselves”? Not to mention that one should prove beyond reasonable doubt that god exists before one can be accused of having committed a crime against him. Her. It. Whatever. The whole issue is ridiculous, self-contradictory, and a waste of everyone’s time.
Or is it?
Ireland is not that far from us in many senses. We are not a fully secular society despite the precipitous fall in church attendees over the last decades. We also still have a church that is not above interfering in politics when it suits their agenda, and that still has a say in how far too many schools are run - church of England schools, but also the new shambolic ‘free schools’ initiative the Tories are intent on keeping on life support until a decent government shuts the whole idea down. Religious schools. Another oxymoron. Whilst one broadens horizons, the other narrows minds.
Add to this Theresa Mayhem’s snooper’s charter and her propensity for kowtowing to the extreme right in this country who want to dictate to us what we can do, when and with whom (UKIP didn’t collapse in the local election. Their voters simply returned to a Tory part that has moved further and further to the right to catch up with them), and all of a sudden the future looks very uncertain for writers who have the audacity to not follow the diktats of an extreme-right authoritarian.
In my internet history are searches for the best way to bury a body (concrete or cement? Is there a difference?); queries regarding child abduction; searches to find out if one can send firearms by UPS in the US and whether they deliver on Sundays (yes, if you’re crafty about how you package it and what you declare; no, which was very inconvenient for the assassin in A Gift of Opal); efficient ways to commit arson (have you seen the price of unleaded nowadays?); animal rights protests and direct action; the list goes on. On a personal level there is enough socialist/anti-fracking/pro-green material to define me as an extremist under the Terrorism Act (this is not a joke. Many green protesters and sympathisers come under this category. You don’t even have to take part in a peaceful protest for them to notice you). Many people are now very wary of what they use the internet for. In other words, their human rights to free expression and to self-education are being eroded.
Nowadays the internet is as important a tool for writers as the laptop itself. If we continue down this path of both keeping everything under surveillance and criminalising free thought, what will happen to writing? What will happen to writers? What will happen to the artists, to the rational thinkers? We can look to the events in Ireland and to the state of science and art in the US for an idea.
Reformed was the first novel I wrote. It’s got some really good reviews on Amazon. Please don’t buy it. It’s not my best writing, and anyway, you can read it for free on Wattpad - most of it, at least. I am in the process of uploading chapters. If you’ve not read it, it deals with the terrible consequences of living in a state that thinks nothing of supervising every aspect of an individual’s existence. It’s a sort of Matrix-meets-1984, amongst many other things. And looking at it now makes me think. Would 1984 have been released nowadays? Island? Brave New World?
Probably. But I worry that the window for such brilliant, subversive, free-thinking novels may be edging shut.