Bondage is the woke syndrome

Sound the alarm! Woke warriors have just been handed a terrifying new weapon

On the AI device programmed to detect politically incorrect jokes. Plus: has the National Trust found an unlikely new source of support?MICHAEL DEACON COLUMNIST16 November 2021 • 6:00am

According to reports, the BBC’s head of news has told her team of journalists that they should “get used to hearing views you don’t like”. This comment will doubtless have left many of them shocked and distressed. Still, I don’t think they should worry too much – for one very simple reason.

A machine has been invented to ensure that you never hear views you don’t like again.

“Themis”, as this extraordinary device is called, was unveiled at Dubai Design Week. And apparently, it sounds an alarm whenever anyone in the vicinity makes an offensive remark or joke.

Zinah Issa, its creator, told the Telegraph that Themis could be programmed to “detect offensive terms and sentences through the microphone”. This would be a tremendous boon, she argued, because her research had shown that “people are less likely to speak up when they get offended, unlike settings where people could be held accountable”.

It certainly sounds like an exciting technological breakthrough. I only wonder what its target market is. British universities might seem like an obvious choice. But in reality they would have no need to spend money on such a device, because their students already perform the exact same function free of charge. Often, in fact, the students will sound the alarm before an offensive remark has even been made, and block the potential offender from speaking in the first place. No matter how ingenious this Themis device may be, it surely can’t compete with that.

I suppose the young may be tempted to deploy the device at dinner with their parents and similarly unenlightened older relations, for example over Christmas. Then again, the risk of being turfed out into the cold without any pudding may prove a deterrent.

Still, there’s no denying that Themis is an impressive innovation. Ideally, though, a competitor will release a rival device that goes off whenever someone starts virtue-signalling. With both devices present at the dining table, neither young nor old will dare open their mouths, and Christmas dinner will for once be eaten in peaceful silence.

The unlikely saviours of the National Trust

Ever since the National Trust embarked on its current mission to educate the British public about the wickedness of colonialism, a number of members have threatened to quit. It seems, however, that there is hope for the embattled institution. Because it’s apparently attracting legions of new members from an unexpected source.

At the weekend, the Guardian ran the latest instalment of “Dining Across the Divide”: a regular feature in which two readers with opposing political views are invited to discuss their differences. This time, one of the participants was a 63-year-old man from Portsmouth. And, during a discussion of statues, he made an eye-catching comment.

“Like a lot of middle-aged gay people,” he said, “my partner and I have given up bondage and joined the National Trust.”

It is of course the duty of a newspaper journalist to keep abreast of the latest societal trends. But I must confess that this was the first I’d heard about this particular phenomenon. Until I read the Guardian’s article, I had no idea that the National Trust had become a magnet for 60-something bondage enthusiasts. Certainly I do not recall reading any reports of Chartwell being overrun by coachloads of pensioners dressed in latex catsuits, or of the gift shop at Corfe Castle stocking souvenir nipple clamps. If a National Trust member had told me he was interested in S&M, I would have assumed that he meant scones and museums.

Still, the Guardian is a respected source of news, so I have no reason to doubt the veracity of its interviewee’s claim. It’s only a pity that the interviewer didn’t ask him to expand on it, because I’d be intrigued to know the reason behind this sudden influx. Perhaps the bondage enthusiasts have heard that some stately homes used to belong to slave drivers, and are hoping to examine their whips.

At any rate, whatever the source of their interest, it sounds like great news for the National Trust, and I wish these new members nothing but the best. After all, it is not my place to sit in judgment. We are all entitled to our private enthusiasms, whether it be spanking or Regency sideboards.

In any case, the National Trust’s leadership will no doubt be eager to capitalise on this promising new source of revenue. Some of its older properties may well have dungeons or torture chambers that could be hired out for parties. Stocks and pillories are bound to prove popular, while the rack should bring in a fortune.

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