30 January 2018

The Left’s sinister curbs on free speech in the name of ‘niceness’


Roy Wilkes is a schoolteacher, recently the subject of disciplinary action by his own trade union, the NUT, which accused him, according to the Times, of “grossly discriminatory (transphobic) statements… that were damaging to the mental health of members” and which “brought the union into disrepute”.

Mr Wilkes’s actual statements (he seems to have pointed out that the clothing choices of children aren’t always synonymous with gender preference, and that blocking puberty isn’t always a good idea) needn’t bother us here. The point of interest about Mr Wilkes’s case is that one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Not when you read of his shock at the disciplinary action:

[H]e was a longstanding member of the Labour party and of the union. “I have fought all my life for equality and against discrimination,” said Wilkes.

But “I’m a member of the party” is no defence against thoughtcrime, comrade! I presume Mr Wilkes doesn’t teach literature: even Parsons understood that accusation by the party is equivalent to guilt, and he’s only a character in some book.

An exaggeration? After all, Mr Wilkes was “cleared”; he merely had to suffer the indignity of being tried for professional misconduct, for his “transplaining and quite possibly mansplaining” activities.

But have a read again at the specific form and language of his accusation, and the supportive statements made in its favour; something much worse than insisting that everyone think the same thing about gender is at play.

The union said Mr Wilkes made “grossly discriminatory (transphobic) statements… that were damaging to the mental health of members.” [My italics.] A union member agreed, saying that “transphobic posts on the union’s Facebook page have been really impacting my levels of dysphoria.”

Let’s take both those parts separately. Five years ago, were I to be forced to define a word like “transphobia”, I’d have offered something like “Being deliberately hateful about people whose stated gender identity may be at variance with their genetic inheritance and/or biological manifestation”, and I’d further have defined “hateful” as: “For example, bullying such people on the street, or forcing them from a job.” I believe in kindness, so I’d detest acts which would fall under such a definition. Live and let live, right?

Wrong! “Live and let live” is the opposite instinct of this new generation of Left-inspired sexual revolutionaries. Transphobia, in the case of Mr Wilkes, is being defined — and I’m sorry for the feelings of whoever made the claim, because I’ve no wish to hurt anyone — to mean “anything I don’t want to hear.”

But the really clever bit lies in the union’s “evidence” of a crime: that the alleged transphobia was “damaging to the mental health of members.”

If I accused you of damaging my mental health: how would you prove that you hadn’t, that your words weren’t the cause of such a change?

The short answer is: you couldn’t.

The slightly longer answer is: the NUT is well aware of that. Ergo the redefinition of “being unpleasant to people/disliking an ideological position” into pseudo-medicalised “-phobias”; ergo the claims of untestable causal links between these “phobias” and the mental state of the accuser. Accusation by the party is equivalent to guilt, remember; that’s always been the Left’s desire. This pseudo-medicalised untestable causality is the machine which enables them to achieve it.

Why are liberals (by whom I mean all of us who define ourselves as anti-socialist) so self-defeatingly reluctant to deconstruct our opponents’ language? Their intention — to take power over language and use it to alter reality — are all there, in plain sight, in the words that they choose to use.

And why don’t we react with fury, that a teaching union should so overtly persecute a Left-wing teacher? Tell the truth: if you read about Mr Wilkes this week, I bet you shrugged, and turned the page. That’s the way things go these days. Nothing we can do about it.

First they came for the Labour party schoolteachers… When we’ve reached the stage that Labour party veterans are hauled in front of the disciplinary committees of their own trade union, charged with holding beliefs that five minutes ago were taken for granted, and charged in such a way as to make refutation impossible — then I was wrong, earlier, to say I don’t know whether we should laugh, or cry: it’s more than clear which emotional response is appropriate.

Tears, however, are insufficient. As insufficient as the paltry response of our walking-dead government to the cultural phenomenon of Corbynism. You could give every 18-year-old in the country a free house, Mrs May, and it would have negligible impact on your electoral support.

Corbyn’s anti-capitalist ramblings are secondary to the lure of his hard-Left cult: it’s not an accident that Momentum has a messianic tinge, nor that young people seem starry-eyed about an old man whose political achievements consist of support for thug states (the sort that kill gay people, coincidentally) mixed with an unwillingness to state the truth about economic arithmetic. A failure to accept the rules of arithmetic (like the sum of two and two) and a willingness to fraternise with the psychopathically violent: what does that remind you of?

To take this cult apart requires ideological clarity. We need government ministers who are willing to talk openly about socialism and its ills — such a willingness seems to have withered away during the decades of the “what works” soup that passed for Blairite thought, and we’ve unintentionally produced a generation of Britons who associate totalitarianism with “being nice.” It’s quite possible to describe socialism’s manifold failings without coming across as some swivel-eyed “let them all die” heartless free-marketeer.

And no more free passes: deconstruct and illuminate the true meaning of the Corbynite language of oppression. Words are being re-engineered in front of our eyes into a tool for political control.

Don’t take my word for that: ask Mr Wilkes. How vocal do you suppose he’ll be about his honestly held beliefs in the future? And what makes you think that you’re special? Momentum won’t stop with the teachers once it’s in power: we’ll all be the targets of its particularly brutal style of political (re-)education.

Graeme Archer is a writer and statistician.