The cheerful prejudice of the town-dweller
18 January 2010
An odd, apparently light-hearted conversation from the weekend has been bothering me.
At a dinner, a bright, opinionated woman from London, on a weekend in the country, had been amused to see roadside signs objecting to a wind turbine development outside the village. What was wrong with these people? She wondered. She put up with noise in London – why shouldn’t they? Those who still thought – she put on a comical, sub-Archers accent – “Not in moy baaaack yaaard!” were ridiculous, out of touch.
Moments later, she was explaining that she was developing the ground floor of her London house into the garden. She hated gardening and was not the slightest bit interested in trees, birds or any of that stuff.
What strange times we live in, when it is perfectly acceptable and normal for someone entirely uninterested in her natural surroundings to sneer, unthinkingly and with genuine contempt, at those who are – all on the grounds of environmentalism.
There is nothing unusual here. Indeed, the majority of town-dwellers would share the same views as this woman. Normally, though, a society disapproves of unthinking prejudice. Today, in this area at least, it gives ignorance its blessing.