Carry on Carey

By Christopher Clarke

How to lose friends and alienate people? One answer is to write a right-wing article in a student newspaper. This piece is not however a self-help guide for social suicide, it is in fact a response from an irritated (as we often tend to be) right-winger who seems to be perpetually at odds with his own student union and newspaper. As I write, KCLSU has launched a petition, in support of a Roar! campaign, with the aim of removing Lord Carey from the Strand window walk of King’s alumni. Why? Try not to spit out your coffee as you read it:

Lord Carey disagrees with gay marriage.

There it is. I said it. Assemble the barricades comrades! The SU needs you if it is ever going to win the war on freedom of speech! In a statement, the SU said: “As student officers of KCLSU we condemn Lord Carey’s outdated, hurtful and offensive comments at the recent Conservative Party Conference and urge King’s College London to remove his image from the Strand Campus window display.” Furthermore there is the kindly acknowledgement that Lord Carey’s “views were his own and offered in part of an open debate”.

Having read Lord Carey’s speech in full, something Roar! failed to do having misquoted him; I can wholeheartedly confirm that it was not bigoted in the slightest. During the speech, Lord Carey states that his opposition to gay marriage is not an attack on Civil Partnerships who, rightfully, have the same legal rights as married couples. No, the bone of contention with Carey is that for him, and many others whether religious or not, is that marriage is between a man and a woman, has been for time immemorial and should remain exclusively so. How dare Lord Carey not bow down before their ever progressive march onward?! It is a miracle that the world has not stopped spinning.

A Civil Partnership and a marriage are equal under law in the same way that men and women are equal under law; there is equality but difference. What Lord Carey said, and what Roar! and the SU have subsequently failed to grasp, is that equality and difference are not mutually exclusive concepts. Civil Partnerships rightly hold the same rights and responsibilities as marriage does, but to define a union of two gay people coming together as a marriage is to change the meaning of the word marriage itself. The redefining of marriage will never supersede natural difference, a difference that has no normative connotations, it will only succeed in making trendy individuals pat themselves on the back and applaud how socially revolutionising they are.

It is at this point that it is important to say that one’s belief in the legitimacy of gay marriage is not at all the issue here; and to clarify, the above paragraph is simply highlighting the position of Lord Carey; a position that has hitherto been withheld from the Roar! pages. My dismay at the SU and indeed the newspaper (which ran the title of ‘Archbigot’ as their headline), is at their incredibly audacious monopolisation of the concept of bigotry. Too often we confronted with the view that if you do not conform to the views of the liberal London elite, then you are the undisputed heavyweight bigot of the century. What Carey said was not prejudice or bigoted in any way; his crime was not conforming to the moral standards that leftist organisations place upon others. And herein lies my point, true bigotry rests with the people who do not accept that others have perfectly legitimate views, purely on the basis that they disagree with their own. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is the mantra student organisations should hold dear.

Following the ensuing carnage, the Students’ Union decided it was going to attempt to land a political punch with a knee-jerk reaction calling for, nay, demanding through a petition, that his picture is removed from the Strand building. I’m just surprised it took this long for us to gasp, tut and wring our hands about something said at the Conservative Conference. Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and the man who oversaw the ordination of women priests in the Church of England, believes, in his own words, that: “same-sex relations are not the same as heterosexual.” In the speech which provoked this reaction, Carey did not even say homosexual relationships were wrong, as mentioned before, he simply pointed out that they were different.

The SU seems terribly concerned with the image that the College emits, informing us that pictures of individuals on the Strand building which, for now, include Lord Carey, are “chosen because they are the pinnacle of what King’s represents”. Yet is it just I who is concerned with the image that the SU is putting out with this campaign? Instead of defending not what Carey said, but his right to say it, the SU now actually appears weak having given in to demands from a vocal minority. It is indeed a high and mighty view from atop of the bandwagon.

Ultimately, the image that Lord Carey represents to me when I see his picture as I walk to lectures is not a bigot, but an extremely successful King’s alumni. Surely obtaining success and reaching the pinnacle of our chosen professions should be the ethos that King’s should seek to represent and foster within all students. And as such, I do not see how ripping down the picture of a successful and influential alumni represents the beliefs of King’s College London; particularly on the sole basis that the SU disagrees with some of his views.  Perhaps it is telling that in his speech on gay marriage, Lord Carey says that “no amount of calling us bigots will resolve the matter.” Very true Lord Carey, but try telling your old university that.

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