Magazine article The Spectator

Harriet Harman vs Socrates

Magazine article The Spectator

Harriet Harman vs Socrates

Article excerpt

Since apologising has recently been all the rage, refusing to apologise, as Harriet Harman has done over the NCCL's connection with the Paedophile Information Exchange, comes as a very pleasant surprise. Ancient Greeks would have understood exactly what she was doing.

Socrates' Apology (written by Plato) had nothing to do with apologising. Quite the opposite, in fact: apologia in ancient Greek meant 'defence speech', and Socrates' apologia was Plato's account - there were many others - of Socrates' defence of his life and conduct against the charge of corrupting the young and introducing strange new gods.

When he was found guilty and, as was the custom in cases where there was no fixed penalty, the prosecution and defence both made suggestions for punishment, Socrates proposed free meals for life at state expense, on the grounds of the benefits he had brought the city. The jurors voted for the prosecution's proposal of the death penalty.

Mutating the mutanda, that is precisely what Miss Harman has done: defended herself by giving an account of her dealings, or rather lack of them, with PIE. …

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