Due to some mystery lurking deep within the algorithms of YouTube, I was recently presented with a recommendation to watch this video, dating from 1984, of Graham Chapman appearing on a British television program called “Opinions.” I was intrigued because of something I saw in the text summarizing the video. Not yet five minutes in, I stopped it in disgust.
If you recognized the first part of my headline, you too have been exposed at some point to the perverse humor of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Now considered iconic, the BBC program — whose crew also made at least two films — was as iconoclastic as the standards of 1970’s British television would allow, which is to say very.
Graham Chapman was one of the Pythons. He was an open homosexual when that perversion was still taboo, but breaking taboos was what the Pythons were about. (John Cleese, another Python, first used the sh** word on British television, and was the first, as he proudly noted at the time, to drop the F-bomb at a televised memorial service. The occasion was Graham Chapman’s memorial in 1989. The F-bomb was met with gales of laughter by the mourners.) Chapman’s homosexuaity is not why I stopped the video in disgust. It was his acrid and unfunny promotion of debunked Malthusianism that irked me, along with his equally corrosive, catty, and venomous mockery of Christian and natural-law morals — which, in fairness, he probably experienced only in the attenuated form of his family’s bourgeois, capitalist, and Protestant mores.
Chapman’s Malthusianism fits in nicely with his unabashed promotion of sodomy. If you are for population control, which Chapman clearly was, homosexuality would have at least one morally cogent argument to recommend it — especially if you are also an Epicurean in your morals. It is, after all, the ultimate in separating venereal pleasure from procreation.
Reflecting on what I had heard of Chapman’s “Opinions” commentary, I could not help but think of the rise of Islam in the land that gave us Monty Python. Signal of this is the election earlier this month of Sadiq Khan as London’s first Muslim mayor.
Unlike Chapman and his fellow travelers, Muslims are not adverse to having babies — lots of them.
According to a 2011 census, Britain’s Muslims are (or were then) only 4.8% of the total population. But Islam is the fastest growing religion in the U.K. According to the Guardian, “almost a tenth of babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim – nearly twice the proportion in the general population.” The Spectator tells us that Muhammad (with its variant spellings) is the most popular boy’s name, not only in London, but in all England and Wales.
Accompanying this Islamic ascendancy is a decline in “Christianity” (which category includes all who call themselves Christian, hence the quotes) and a rapid growth in the “no religion” demographic (25% of the populace).
According to the US-based Pew Center, “if current [U.K.] trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.” Further, “The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK — the “unaffiliated” — will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.”
I wonder, though, if those forecasts of the growth of Islam are not too conservative. The Islamic population more-than doubling by 2050 is impressive (or scary), but does this figure fully consider birth rates? I doubt it. British “Christians” and ex-Christians do not have a replacement birth rate. Muslims have more than a replacement birth rate, and the popularity of the Prophet’s name for boys is only one indication of that.
Back to Graham Chapman and the Pythons. According to Wikipedia,
The members of Monty Python were highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate.
They were highly educated, but in what? Well, in the anti-Christian hokum they spouted — along with, probably, a very healthy dose of genuine liberal arts, history, and the writings of philosophers ancient and modern, all of which provided them with more than sufficient knowledge to poke fun at the monuments of Western civilization and to stage a spoof football game of Greek versus German philosophers.
No doubt that high education included the population control myths I’ve referred to already as Malthusianism. The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus was an Anglican clergyman and, yes, an Englishman. His foolish ideas on population growth, first articulated in his 1798 “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” are still popular across the Anglosphere (and elsewhere), even though they have long since been debunked (see here and here). Obviously, the Pythons drank deep of Malthus’ intoxicating brew, as did many of their contemporaries.
But Malthus was only part of a dangerous cocktail that includes also Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Bentham, Mill, Russell… and, of course, Henry VIII, the Anglican Schism, and the manifold Protestant heresies that infected Mary’s Dowry.
Hopefully, with the help of grace, the U.K. will wake up from its ideological stupor, overcome the Islamic menace, and become her Catholic self again.
And that, my dear readers, will be something completely different.