"Quick! Do something!" urges the messenger. "They're going to kill Brian!"
"Right!" declares Cleese, "We must do something. Because they're going to kill Brian!"
"For God's sake, it's perfectly simple. All you've got to do is to go out of that door now, and try to stop the Romans' nailing him up! It's happening! cries the messenger impatiently "Aren't you going to do anything?"
"Yes. Once the vote's been taken," replies Cleese.
And so it goes on. The greater the messenger's urgency, the greater the denial, the greater the reluctance to act.
"We could sit around here all day talking, passing resolutions, making clever speeches. It's not going to shift one Roman soldier!" declares Cleese eventually.
"This calls for... immediate...discussion!"
And with that the revolutionaries go back to their debate while Brian is prepared for crucifixtion.
Listening to Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week programme on Thursday night was a revealing experience. In the light of the Westminster terror attack our host delivered a blistering ‘attack’ on the forces of terror who perpetrate such cowardly acts.
Were they bothered? Were they worried? Were they even listening?
Mr Neil bristled with indignation. He was angry, very, very angry. Who wasn’t? An Islamic terrorist had slaughtered four innocent people in broad daylight in the centre of the capital city of England.
Just let that sink in for one moment. This was not some godforsaken middle east hell-hole long since bereft of democracy, humanity or the rule of law; this outrage had happened on a Wednesday afternoon, in the centre of London. No wonder Mr Neil was beside himself with anger.
And though I understood his sentiments entirely his performance struck me not only as futile, but as a prime example of everything that is wrong with the establishment’s approach to terror.
“You’ll never defeat us,” cried Mr Neil, “We’re made of stronger stuff,” or words to that effect. Stirring words indeed. But, at the end of the day, that’s exactly what they are: words.
Perhaps the host had forgotten a similar speech he had delivered in the aftermath of Nice or was it Brussels? (Difficult to tell such is the occurrence of these attacks). He had then declared a similar resolve: “We stand together,” etc. etc.
As I watched Mr Neil’s impassioned monologue I indeed wondered if he remembered making roughly the same speech from the same sofa six months before.
If I may, allow me to paraphrase what I deduced to be the main tenet of Mr Neil’s speeches (note the plural): Democracy will never be defeated by terrorism. Aye, and so say all of us. It didn’t work in Northern Ireland. It hasn’t worked in the Basque region. Yes, it causes death, destruction and pain, but ultimately it never prevails. That much we know.
Where Mr Neil and myself depart company is in our assessment of the actual threat. For the host, the threat is entirely confined to ISIS and those who sympathise with its jihadist aims. Understandably, Mr Neil and his friends in the establishment media take comfort in the fact that the enemy has been so readily identified, at least militarily.
And he’s probably right about defeating this gang of evangelical jihadists – western (and eastern) power could and should overwhelm this rabble sooner rather than later.
But what if ISIS is not the real threat to our democracy?
What if ISIS is merely the symptoms and not the cause of the atrocities taking place upon the streets of Europe? What if the real threat to democracy is not such a readily identifiable target? What if the threat is much more nebulous?
Unlike Mr Neil it is my belief that the enemy to western democracy is not a gung-ho bunch of Islamists infused with a toxic mix of testosterone, hatred and propaganda. If only it were. The threat to democracy is, in fact, right outside our windows, sir.
Mr Neil’s blind spot is one he shares in common with the entire political and media elite. The war against ISIS is a defection, a way of making the inexplicable explicable. The real threat, the entity to which our resources should be turned is the emergence and subsequent appeasement of a theocratic culture opposed to every facet of the democracy so cherished by Mr Neil.
Well I have news for you, Andrew. It’s already here. And it’s growing. Day by day:
Sharia courts, halal slaughter houses, unlimited proliferation of Mosques and faith schools in towns such as Birmingham, Luton, parts of West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and London, the United Kingdom is sliding ever further into segregation and separation a path that can only ultimately leads to one place: theocracy.
Don’t believe me? Check your history books. It really is that simple.
As I write Canada has just passed a law criminalising ‘Islamophobia.’ Yes, you read that correctly: Canadian citizens are no longer able to criticise an ideology inherent with many practices abhorrent to western liberal values. With our ‘hate’ laws, we in the UK are not that far behind our Canadian friends.
Imagine if you will a law that criminalised criticism of Nazism or Communism…. Somehow though, I doubt Mr Neil will be making an impassioned speech
against this sinister turn of events. It’s ISIS, right?
I dread to think to where Mr Neil and his fellow Liberal travellers will turn when ISIS are finally eradicated. A very rude awakening awaits.
It is at this point Mr Neil, his friends at the BBC and their Twitter posse usually resort to smearing – anything but engage honestly with the reality unfolding on the streets. Easier to talk about the ‘war’ with a faraway gang of lunatics than deal with the exponential expansion of an antithetical culture in our midst.
He means well, Mr Neil, but you can guarantee that President's Trump so-called 'Muslim' ban was met with nothing but derision from our host. In the eyes of Mr Neil, ceasing mass immigration from known terrorist incubating states is tantamount to inhumanity, marks one out as deranged.
A trite speech on the other hand written by professional speechwriters, overflowing with platitudes, will meet with not only Mr Neil's full approval, but also with the full approval of his employer.
Closer inspection reveals that it's the means not the ends to which Mr Neal and co. object. If the goal of ISIS is the spread of a global caliphate governed theocratically in the shape of such phenomenon as shariah courts, then it seems to me that those crazy desert dudes are already more than halfway to achieving their goals. It's their method of obtaining these goals that seems to offend the This Week host.
For example, with almost 3,000 cases of FGM recorded in the UK last year without a single prosecution, I'd say the gradual move from democracy to theocracy is coming along just swimmingly. Perhaps it's the time scale. It seems Liberals are all in favour of theocracy, provided it takes place at a fairly leisurely pace.
If only ISIS would drop the heavy artillery and stop random attacks; if only they'd talk to Liberals instead of slaughtering them, all their desires would be granted. Mr Neal, his BBC friends and his pals in Westminster are more than ready to cede western heritage and culture to Islam, if only ISIS could be a little more patient.
As moving as mein host's speech was, I have prepared a more pertinent one which he's welcome to deliver anytime he likes:
"Dear terrorists, we'll never buckle under to your threats, we'll never be cowed by your bombs, your grenades or your machine guns. Never! We don't give in to bullies! We stand firm against those who wish to do us harm! If you want to establish a European Caliphate, violence is not the way to do it!
On the other hand if you infiltrate through stealth (immigration? hint, hint) then we will be more than happy to accommodate the caliphate, FGM, halal and all the other wonderful things you wish to enrich us with. Only please don't kill us. All you have to do is ask."
And so, round and round we go and where we stop, nobody knows.
Subsequently Mr Neil's speech has been described as 'Churchillian.' Quite an accolade. But with one crucial difference: The battle to come will not be fought on any foreign beach, nor faraway desert for that matter. It will be fought on the streets of England, in its towns and cities.
Thus, on the This Week sofa, Mr Neil delivered his speech, and very well he did so. Had he directed it at the real issues facing this country it might not have been in vain.