Blaise Tapp: Can we no longer agree to disagree?

It is fair to say that we live in a world where minding one's ps and qs is as important now as it ever has been, largely because everybody is on red alert to take offence.

Wednesday, 7th November 2018, 3:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th November 2018, 3:09 pm
PA Wire

The chances are that you might get the hump reading this or be deeply upset by the colour of my trousers or my choice of daily newspaper.

To be fair, people have always got upset by the actions of others but the difference is that there are now so many digital channels through which we can vent our collective spleen that anger and dissent really does punctuate our lives.

We inhabit an age of division, where the tolerant centre ground seems to be disappearing from under our feet and is being replaced by the increasingly shrill voices on the left and right.

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Both think the other side is preposterous and, more importantly, wrong, meaning that constructive debate is fast becoming as outdated as phoning up your mates for a chat.

There is a growing army of people, of all ages I hasten to add, who, rather than agreeing to disagree, go out of their way to get as cross with their adversary as is humanly possible.

The stiff upper lip is now as much of a thing of the past in British life as the bowler hat - we now feel it is our divine right to make a scene, usually via our keyboard or smartphone.

But it is not just social media which has empowered so many to take a stand as many of this new generation of victims are turning to the law with their complaints.

At the risk of sounding like the chap at the end of the bar - the one with the red nose, who pays for his three pints a day with loose change - the term hate crime didn’t exist when I was a lad, but now it is almost all embracing.

I have always had a slight issue with the term because there is no such thing as a ‘nice’ or ‘love’ crime is there?

The list of hate crimes is a long one because, according to the Metropolitan Police’s own website, a hate crime is when somebody commits an offence against you ‘because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference’. It is pretty broad.

One police and crime commissioner has claimed that his force was legally bound to investigate an allegation of a hate crime after a pensioner beeped her car horn at a lady who was taking a long time to refuel her car.

But it seems that lines are now being drawn because a growing number of the country’s leading police officers have spoken out at moves by some to make misogyny a hate crime, meaning that more than 50 per cent of the population are potential victims.

These chief constables, including the head of the Met, Cressida Dick, argue that their under pressure officers should be allowed to focus on fighting violent crime and burglaries rather than historical allegations or misogyny, where a crime has not been committed.

All of us, men and women, are already protected by a raft of legislation meaning that anybody who commits a crime against us risks prosecution.

We cannot expect the police to fight every battle for us.