Puritanism and then Liberalism were two great progressive forces with two inherent weaknesses. They presupposed God, and then the equally intangible ‘Right’ were on their side. They were useful ‘weaknesses’ to have. It’s hard to argue against God or Right. They are also inherently totalitarian in a bossy, self-righteous kind of way.
The simple 'Do to others as you would have them do to you,' has been codified into abstruse lists that would make a medieval churchman proud. Some of these new, specific strictures puts the whole business on a par with Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Thus you can no longer wear any costume you like to celebrate Halloween. To suggest that you might is a sacking offence. You shouldn’t wear Mexican Sombreros. No one in their right mind would dress up as Hitler or a Waffen SS Guard, though the great scholars have yet to pronounce on the merits of dressing up as Stalin or Mao or a zealous Red Guard.
The whole business of ‘cultural appropriation’ is riven with inconsistency. You can be criticised for dressing up as a Geisha for a promo or party, an Indian chieftain or squaw. As far as I know Vicars and Tarts remain on the menu, along with Nun stripograms, though Yoga has been considered a form cultural appropriation.
Then there is the question of what to do about the All Blacks, the current Rugby world champions. Will there come a time when their on-field chant, the Haka, taken from the indigenous peoples their ancestors replaced be seen as ‘cultural appropriation? Presumably it should. It fits the criteria, along with shamrock, berets and kilts.
Sometimes the new puritanism is querulous in the manner of Violet Elizabeth Bott. "I'll thcream and thcream 'till I'm thick." And if nothing else, just watch this clip of the glorious Violet Elizabeth Bott.
Sometimes the bullying is arrogant and harsh. The most outrageous example of this comes from this radio clip, which after two minutes tarnishes the tolerance it’s meant to defend.
And sometimes the bullying is both sinister and daft. Pupils at Colston Girls School in Bristol have been told not to leave the school in their uniform because they are being accosted by protesters – not against anything these twelve year old girls have actually done, but because their school is named after a dead man who derived his wealth from the slave trade. On that basis you may as well call in ISIS and have them smash half the great buildings across the western world, the various foundations and grants. It seems to me that a Statute of Limitations should be drawn on ‘Victim-hood’ and more attention focused on living victims today. But redressing the past by token gestures is by far the easiest option.