Honi soit qui mal y pense

Britain’s famous Order of the Garter bears upon it the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” which is Old French for “shame upon him who thinks evil upon it.”  The order came into being in the mid-14th Century, during the reign of Edward III.  There are several stories about its origin, with the following being the most famous:

Various legends account for the origin of the Order. The most popular legend involves the “Countess of Salisbury” (probably either his future daughter-in-law Joan of Kent or her former mother-in-law, Catherine Montacute, Countess of Salisbury). While she was dancing with or near King Edward at Eltham Palace, her garter is said to have slipped from her leg. When the surrounding courtiers sniggered, the king picked it up and tied it to his leg, exclaiming, “Honi soit qui mal y pense,” (“Shamed be the person who thinks evil of it.”), the phrase that has become the motto of the Order.

This story — about evil thoughts being in the mind of the beholder — floated into my brain when I read a story about of England today.  A man went to a public park with his family, where there was one of those big, inflatable bouncy slides.  The boys were having fun, so the dad did what any self-respecting man with a camera would do — he took pictures.  Where this story veers wildly from an American outing, and becomes uniquely modern British, is the response to his picture taking:

The 39-year-old rubber consultant and father-of-three from Reedswood, Walsall, was with wife Tracey at the Wolverhampton Show when their sons asked to go on an inflatable slide.

He said: ‘I started taking photographs of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop.

‘She told me I could not take pictures of other people’s children. I explained that I was only interested in taking photographs of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.

‘I then showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point.

‘Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster. I repeated that the only people being photographed were my own children.

‘She then said I could be taking pictures of just any child to put on the internet and called me a pervert.

‘The incident took the gloss off the day and left a nasty taste in the mouth.’

He added: ‘The two police officers confirmed that I had been perfectly within my rights to take photographs of my own children in the park.’

Britain shows every sign of being a deeply unhealthy society.