I hope all the diversity-conscious readers of this website would not consider eating a Snickers bar. This is a Taliban-style act of homophobia far worse than a schoolboy joke about fudge, unless the joke is made by a black gansta rapper.
David Thompson, who has written a number of articles about the grievance industry, explains why in Phantom Guilt Syndrome:
U.S. gay activist groups took umbrage at an innocuous Snickers advert. The ad in question dared to suggest that some straight men feel uncomfortable kissing other straight men, albeit inadvertently and while eating a chocolate bar. The Mars Corporation, which immediately pulled the advert, was accused of “anti-gay prejudice” and told to “correct the intolerant message they sent to millions of Americans.” Apparently, tolerance is being redefined to mean continual affirmation and any suggestion, however flippant, that not everyone is comfortable with displays of same-sex affection is to be expunged from public life...
For some commentators, innocence and guilt depend less upon personal actions than on the racial, economic or religious group a person can be said to belong to. Hence we’re often presented with a menu of Designated Victim Groups, members of which may be afforded a measure of immunity from individual responsibility, while claiming privilege on grounds that something bad happened to someone else ostensibly a bit like them. Viewed in this light, disadvantage becomes analogous to virtue, irrespective of how it came about or why it persists...
An author and blogger by the name of Theron Marshman made these effects explicit while writing under the guise of Harkonnendog on a popular leftwing website: “Rape is a crime unlike others. In any rape case, but especially in a rape case where a black woman accuses a white man, the rapist should be considered guilty until he proves his innocence. And he must prove his innocence not beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any possible doubt… People claim this is unfair, but 400 years of slavery and countless millennium [sic] of male on female rape make this not only fair, but necessary.”
What’s striking here is the confidence with which the author insists that real-world particulars must give way to a quasi-Marxist categorisation of human beings, whereby guilt is assigned to types of people and on a fairly random basis: “Let’s just say the accusation of rape is false, that doesn’t take away the rapists’ genealogical guilt. Yes, they’re still rapists even if these particular men didn’t rape this particular woman. How many slaves have their forefathers raped? Nobody asks that question. I’ve no doubt these men would be raping slaves if they could get away with it. They are white and rich…”
Judging people on the basis of their ancestors' actions is ridiculous enough, but according to this author we are to be judged on what we would be doing if we could get away with it. Thompson gives other examples of phantom guilt syndrome, such as Decca Aitkenhead's insistence that the “precarious, overexaggerated masculinity” and murderous homophobia of some Jamaican reggae stars are in fact the results of slavery and the “sodomy of male slaves by their white owners.” Another guilt-ridden critic of the West has a radical solution to our oppression of the biosphere: "we" should put "something in the water", targeting "affluent populations first". Somehow, I don't think he means the Saudi royals. Thompson concludes:
I’ve often wondered at what point a political leaning becomes a performance, then a pantomime, and finally a mental health issue. At some point ideology can be so unmoored from external reality that it serves as little more than an expression of a person’s feelings about themselves.
Less of a mental health issue, I would say, than egotism and attention-seeking. And although it can be amusing, this misplaced guilt can be dangerous. Karen Armstrong, for example, feels so guilty about Christianity that she shamelessly whitewashes Islam at a time when, more than ever, we need to see its dangers.