By Hilary White

BRITAIN, July 26, 2007 ( – A few days before his election as pope, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger denounced a growing “dictatorship of relativism.” The pope’s rhetorical device, however, is increasingly becoming the lived experience of ordinary Britons visited and questioned by police for publicly expressing politically or religiously “incorrect” views.

In October 2006, the Daily Mail reported that a 14-year-old school girl, Codie Stott, was arrested by police and detained in a cell for three hours after she asked to be moved into a group of students who spoke English in class. Stott was denounced to police for “racism” by her teachers at Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester.

Codie told police that she had been placed in a group of five students who would or could not discuss the class work in English. When she asked to be moved to another group with whom she could communicate, the teacher responded, “It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police.” A week after the incident she was taken to Swinton police station under arrest. Codie told the Daily Mail, “They told me to take my laces out of my shoes and remove my jewellery, and I had my fingerprints and photograph taken.”

In May this year, a shopkeeper in Manchester was threatened with prosecution under the race hate statutes if she did not remove a number of soft toys that some consider racist in origin. Moira Pickering, 62, was told by police to get rid of her stock of traditional English dolls called “gollywogs”.  Gollywogs, based on a children’s literary character created by Florence Kate Upton, have been a staple of British children’s toys since the late 19th century.

Pickering told the Daily Mail, “I find sex shops offensive, I find cabbage patch dolls offensive, but I wouldn’t report them. Golliwogs have been going for years and I’ve always sold them. They sell very well. People are far too politically correct they go over the top.”

In early April this year, a father of a ten-year-old boy was astounded when two police officers arrived at his Cheshire home to question his son for calling another boy “gay” in an email.

“I could not believe what I was hearing,” Alan Rawlinson, aged 41, told media. “They told me they considered it a very serious offence. I thought they were joking at first… [T]his just seemed a huge waste of resources for something so trivial. I am furious about what has happened, it just seems the politically correct brigade are taking over.”

“If somebody had called the police about something like this in my day they would have laughed – they certainly wouldn’t have sent two officers out. It is completely ridiculous.”

Perhaps more ominously, accusations of direct interference by police with the electoral process for ideological reasons are starting to be heard in Britain.

The British National Party, a far right but completely legal political party, is preparing a package of evidence to present to the Electoral Commission alleging that this May, West Midlands police interfered in the Birmingham local election at the behest of opposition parties. The party alleges that the police cooperated with a campaign of intimidation when they visited and questioned each of the 400 people in the Birmingham ridings who signed nomination papers for BNP candidates.

The BNP, a nationalist party opposed to non-ethnically British immigration, has been at pains recently to shed its early association with white supremacists. But its opposition particularly to Muslim, African and Pakistani immigration, and its nationalist anti-EU position, has earned the BNP the status of most politically incorrect, and therefore most publicly vilified party in recent British history.

Some observers have said that the combination of racial tensions and violence springing from mass immigration in densely crowded areas, together with a growing police and media suppression of free speech have created fertile ground for the nationalist party that excludes non-racially British members and is known for its blunt and forceful condemnations of politically correct ideology.

This backlash may explain why the BNP took 20,000 to 30,000 votes in the Birmingham area, despite police questioning their supporters, arrests of BNP party volunteers and organised “anti-fascist” opposition. Last week the BNP moved into fourth place behind the three main parties in a Parliamentary by-election in Sedgefield, County Durham, the riding recently vacated by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  Read related coverage:

Read coverage from the Daily Mail:

Schoolgirl arrested for refusing to study with non-English pupils

Police order shopkeeper to remove golliwogs from window


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