Among the ways in which freedom is being chipped away in Europe, one of the less obvious is the legislation of memory. More and more countries have laws saying you must remember and describe this or that historical event in a certain way, sometimes on pain of criminal prosecution if you give the wrong answer. What the wrong answer is depends on where you are.
Agreed, agreed, agreed.
My kids are taught in school that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent (they were guilty).
My council tells me that one woman in four is a victim of domestic violence and that a third of our food is thrown away.
CiF posters tell me that when the BNP vote goes up, racial attacks increase, or that thousands of British women were dying in back-street abortions before 1967.
For years I carried with me the tragic story of poor Hyacinth's lynching, so brilliantly described by Martha Gellhorn in "Justice At Night". She made it up.
An amateur historian, Jerry Brotton, claims that the Ottoman Empire was decisive in defeating the Armada.
All of these things I believe to be untrue. But I don't want people banged up for saying them (although I don't want my taxes to fund their propagation, either). Let us play the light of reason and historical enquiry upon such claims, as a high-pressure hose is turned upon anti-globalisation protesters.
Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend, as a famous mass-murdering dictator once said. Or was he the greatest revolutionary leader of the twentieth century ?