Warnings are forbidden

The shunning is well under way.

Sarah Honeychurch, a fellow in the Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow University, was among more than 30 academics who signed the letter in last week’s Sunday Times. It registered “disquiet” over a programme run by the charity Stonewall in which “anti-scientific claims are presented . . . as objective fact”.

The guidance includes instructing academics on using gender neutral pronouns such as “zie” and “ey”, as well as insisting that “one in 100 are born with an intersex trait” and that trans women should be allowed to use female changing rooms.

Last week Honeychurch, an editor of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy, received a formal email from Chris Friend, the managing editor, stating: “Unless I have misunderstood the intentions of the letter or the convictions of your signature, I must ask that you resign your position as editor for HPJ.”

No must about it, of course. It’s like that “we are compelled” from the other day.

To be fair, it’s an idiom of sorts. It expresses moral urgency as opposed to literal compulsion. I’ve probably used it myself, and I’ve almost certainly seen it without objecting to it when it’s in aid of a moral view I agree with. But when one doesn’t agree, the idiom becomes obtrusive.

Another signatory of the Sunday Times letter, Michele Moore, honorary professor at Essex University, who has edited the journal Disability & Society for many years, is also facing calls to resign after warning that autistic and other children might be harmed if they are wrongly encouraged to question their gender, which could lead to taking hormones and later surgery.

A petition from 750 colleagues calls on her to step down. She said her career hung in the balance because of the campaign, but the journal’s publishers and people from around the world were being supportive.

I feel compelled to say “What a load of nonsense.”

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