No one cares that the apology is fake

Nick Cohen on the ongoing passion for bullying people into silence:

The current issue of the literary journal The Dark Horse contains a grim and resonant essay by the poet Jenny Lindsay, which shows how Scottish poetry allowed the extremes to define it. In Anatomy of a Hounding she describes the process of humiliation and denunciation she has recently experienced.

…In June 2019 she objected to a writer for the Skinny, who said they believed in ‘violent action’ against Terfs (in this instance lesbian feminists at a Pride March). Lindsay contacted the magazine on Twitter and said:

Hello! One of your commentators here advocates violence against lesbian activists at Pride. I find it extraordinary that such views are given an airing in The Skinny.

It’s The New Progressivism – women are Karens, therefore lesbians are (obviously) Karens. Violence is appropriate for Karens. Why? Because they’re Karens.

You should be able to offer support to transwomen, as Lindsay has done during her career, while deploring incitement to violence against lesbians. Although the magazine privately admitted to her it had made a mistake, Lindsay was publicly accused of transphobia.

And you know what that means. It’s all-out war; no surrender is possible; the defeat must be total.

She was told about private forums where colleagues were denigrating her. Collaborators were warned to steer clear. A young poet she did not know was praised for saying she shouldn’t appear on stage with her at a conference. Other writers agreed, and said they would not share a platform with her. When Lindsay protested, they told her she was ‘punching down’: using her position of power to intimidate a weak, young man.

Because Karen. It’s really very simple.

The anonymous smears, the denigration, the false accusations became so much that the Scottish Poetry Library rather nobly spoke out. It issued a statement saying it supported freedom of expression, inclusivity, collaboration and a respect for pluralism. ‘What we do not support, and will no longer ignore, is bullying and calls for no-platforming of writers in events programmes and in publishing.’

Far from welcoming the library’s stand, Scottish PEN, which once stood for free expression and would come to the aid of writers in trouble, cut Lindsay off at the knees. It said it was ‘disappointed’ by the library’s statement and offered Lindsay no support. As JK Rowling has found, when the pile-ons pile up, Scottish PEN and other free speech organisations duck for cover.

Don’t do it to us, do it to her. Always do it to her.

Witch hunters will tolerate only two possible outcomes to their chase. Either they destroy the heretic by driving her out of work and making her name a by-word for ignominy. Or they force her into a total capitulation. The artist, politician, journalist or left-wing activist must engage in public self-flagellation. They must make an obsequious apology. They must accept that their critics were wholly right and beg forgiveness for the offence they caused.

I am always struck by how no one cares that the apology is fake and has been forced from the target. Sincerity is not required. Rather the accusers demand that their victims bend the knee and acknowledge their mastery. If rape is about power not sex, then witch-hunts are about power not truth.

Exactly. That’s how it was when they tried to do it to me, too. That’s why I was so disgusted by that post of PZ’s (that we were talking about a couple of days ago): it said I had to “own my mistakes” when I didn’t and couldn’t agree that they were mistakes, and I’m sure he knew that perfectly well. He was saying I had to agree with the frothing bullies who comment on his blog, or at least I had to say I agreed with them. But I didn’t agree with them, and he knew that. This means he was saying I had to obey their orders. Why? Why did I have to? And what would it even be worth if I did? What could he possibly think was the point of trying to force me to pretend to think what I didn’t think? Especially when it’s something so batshit crazy and silly and the reverse of what we all know?

But that’s where we are. We are all under orders to say we agree with the trans ideology, and to echo it on all occasions.

But more and more of us are saying “Shan’t” and slamming the door behind us.

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