Guest post: We continue to think up simple solutions to complex problems

Nov 2nd, 2021 11:50 am | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on How can Manchin.

It’s fine to be optimistic, but since we’ve already passed several tipping points, it is probably unfounded. We can’t solve all our problems with solar panels and wind farms because emissions control will not solve our problems. Global warming isn’t the problem, it’s the fever that tells us there is an underlying problem. We can fix emissions all we like and still careen to ecological disaster at a breakneck pace. And, even if I thought we would reduce our emissions, we needed to do it a long time ago, say, about the 1980s…earlier would have been better, but there was still time to fix things by the end of the 1980s. By the beginning of this century, we were already in too deep, but we could slow down global warming. At this point? Maybe we can slow it down or keep it to a lesser warming, maybe we can’t.

Here’s a simple proposition: when the economic system comes into conflict with the ecological one, it is the economic one that must give way. If it does not, we are like crash dummies heading toward the wall. That will mean some serious long-term thinking, and some serious action that goes beyond rhetoric. This is what no one wants to hear, so we continue to think up simple solutions to complex problems, simple solutions that promise to leave everything essentially as it is, no lifestyle changes necessary.

The simple truth is, we can’t solve this problem while there are 7 billion people in the world. Every solution we come up with will “hurt the poor” (even those that won’t, or will even help, like mass transit). As Jesus said, the poor will be with us always, providing a convenient excuse for middle class drivers of luxury automobiles that don’t want to do more than change their fuel source.

To have an impostor

Nov 2nd, 2021 11:24 am | By

They just don’t see it. They just don’t see that it’s her idenniny, and thus unassailable.

Among those quoted by CBC was Janet Smylie, a health academic of Métis heritage at the University of Toronto, who wrote a chapter in a 2017 book on Indigenous parenting edited by Bourassa.

Smylie told the broadcaster she had done her own research into Bourassa’s ancestry. “It makes you feel a bit sick,” she said. “To have an impostor who is speaking on behalf of Métis and Indigenous people to the country about literally what it means to be Métis … that’s very disturbing and upsetting and harmful.”

But it’s her iden

Ok I’ll drop the sarcasm now and ask straight up: if this is unacceptable then why is it not merely acceptable to claim to be a woman when you’re a man, but so approved and embraced and proselytized that we’re punished for not believing the claim?

The differences between human populations are pretty trivial compared to the differences between women and men. There’s one overarching difference without which none of us would exist to have differences: the different role in making more of us.

The differences between people of indigenous ancestry and people of settler ancestry are superficial. The differences between women and men are basic. So why is it that we’re being harangued and bullied and punished into pretending to believe that men are women if they say they are, while people who make false claims to being indigenous are seen as shocking frauds? Why are women who pretend to be black or indigenous punished while men who pretend to be women are stunning and brave? Why is one an impostor and the other a star?

Wearing a shawl is proof

Nov 2nd, 2021 10:50 am | By

An investigation challenged her claims.

A Canadian official and academic specialising in Indigenous health issues has been placed on administrative leave from her university after an investigation challenged her claims of Indigenous ancestry.

Carrie Bourassa, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, has described herself as having Métis, Anishinaabe and Tlingit heritage. In 2019 she appeared at a TEDx talk wearing a blue embroidered shawl and holding a feather, where she identified herself as “Morning Star Bear”.

However, an investigation by CBC television alleged that Bourassa was entirely of European descent.

But how would the CBC know better than Bourassa? How does the CBC know she doesn’t identify as of indigenous descent? We know that identifying as is all it takes to determine what one is, so what’s the problem? Why has the University of Saskatchewan placed her on leave?

She recently stepped down from her roles as scientific director for Indigenous peoples health at the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). Bourassa had been described by the CIHR as “a Métis woman, a highly regarded Indigenous researcher” who “has been a selfless leader and a tireless champion for all Indigenous peoples in this country”.

And saying makes it true, so what is this story even about?

The CBC investigation has drawn comparisons with the case of Rachel Dolezal, an American academic and activist who was accused of passing herself off as black. A Métis professor who worked with Bourassa told CBC she was “the modern-day Grey Owl” – a reference to Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, the British-born conservationist and writer who passed himself off as a Native American in the early 20th century.

How does anyone know Belaney too didn’t identify as a Native American? If people identify as something then they are that thing. That’s the new rule; hasn’t the CBC heard?

CBC reported that people who worked with Bourassa had expressed disquiet about her account of her ancestry, and some examined her genealogical records, which reportedly showed that her ancestors were of Russian, Polish and Czechoslovakian descent.

Yes but that has nothing to do with her identity. Identity is like the soul, and transcends literal items like genealogical records.

In an email to CBC, Bourassa said she had been adopted as Métis by a friend of her grandfather and had subsequently been adopted into other communities. She accused the broadcaster of running a “smear campaign” against her, adding she was “shocked and dismayed at the recent attack on my identity”.

There you go. She knows what her identity is, so who the hell do all these broadcaster and administrators think they are, challenging her?

Theocratic interlude

Nov 2nd, 2021 10:06 am | By

I wrote about Biden’s visit to the pope for The Freethinker.

It’s appalling that it’s become some kind of normalized tradition that US presidents are supposed to drop in on the pope, even if they’re not Catholic. Trump did it and he’s not Catholic or Protestant or atheist or anything else, he’s just empty, but still he toddled along. Obama did it, and he even let the pope return the favor.

Hart: The Pope and the president | Chattanooga Times Free Press

Not appropriate.

We’ve got to talk AROUND them

Nov 2nd, 2021 8:50 am | By

Helen Joyce NAILS it. No we can’t have dialogue, no we can’t get together for a good searching conversation that will lead to a truce, no we can’t split the difference, we just have to win, that’s all.

Ask le bon David

Nov 2nd, 2021 8:29 am | By

Whence all this drivel about the authentic self?

Also throw in Hume. Specifically, the Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section VI: Of Personal Identity.

1. There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our SELF; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. The strongest sensation, the most violent passion, say they, instead of distracting us from this view, only fix it the more intensely, and make us consider their influence on self either by their pain or pleasure. To attempt a farther proof of this were to weaken its evidence; since no proof can be deriv’d from any fact, of which we are so intimately conscious; nor is there any thing, of which we can be certain, if we doubt of this. 

2. Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very experience, which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of self, after the manner it is here explain’d. For from what impression cou’d this idea be deriv’d? This question ’tis impossible to answer without a manifest contradiction and absurdity; and yet ’tis a question, which must necessarily be answer’d, if we wou’d have the idea of self pass for clear and intelligible. It must be some one impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But self or person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are suppos’d to have a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, thro’ the whole course of our lives; since self is suppos’d to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and joy, passions and sensations succeed each other, and never all exist at the same time. It cannot, therefore, be from any of these impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is deriv’d; and consequently there is no such idea.

3. But farther, what must become of all our particular perceptions upon this hypothesis? All these are different, and distinguishable, and separable from each other, and may be separately consider’d, and may exist separately, and have no need of any thing to support their existence. After what manner, therefore, do they belong to self; and how are they connected with it? For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are remov’d for any time, as by sound sleep; so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions remov’d by death, and cou’d I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate after the dissolution of my body, I shou’d be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is farther requisite to make me a perfect non-entity. If any one, upon serious and unprejudic’d reflection thinks he has a different notion of himself, I must confess I can reason no longer with him. All I can allow him is, that he may be in the right as well as I, and that we are essentially different in this particular. He may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continu’d, which he calls himself; tho’ I am certain there is no such principle in me.

4. But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement. Our eyes cannot turn in their sockets without varying our perceptions. Our thought is still more variable than our sight; and all our other senses and faculties contribute to this change; nor is there any single power of the soul, which remains unalterably the same, perhaps for one moment. The mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations. There is properly no simplicity in it at one time, nor identity in different; whatever natural propension we may have to imagine that simplicity and identity. The comparison of the theatre must not mislead us. They are the successive perceptions only, that constitute the mind; nor have we the most distant notion of the place, where these scenes are represented, or of the materials, of which it is compos’d.

It’s called the bundle theory of the self. It’s had a rather large influence.

We wrote in more

Nov 1st, 2021 5:25 pm | By

The Guardian media editor on the BBC and That article:

The BBC has rejected complaints that it published a transphobic article and has instead given a commitment to covering different viewpoints in the name of impartiality.

The corporation has faced protests outside some of its regional newsrooms, petitions from trans campaign groups and disquiet among many LGBTQ+ staff members over a piece published online last week entitled “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women”.

On Monday the BBC said it stood by the article about the experience of some lesbians, adding it had been subject to a rigorous editing process, and that it met its editorial guidelines.

One BBC source said the broadcaster has received 4,819 complaints about the article but a further 5,520 people wrote in to note their approval of the piece.

Ha! I was one, and I bet some of you were also.

The Guardian understands the article had been the subject of debate for some time before it was published and was subject to extensive back-and-forth editing. Bosses were acutely aware of the likely reaction to it on social media – and among the BBC’s own staff, who are often deeply split on the issue of trans rights.

Please stop talking about “trans rights” without spelling out what you mean by the phrase. We controversial gender critics don’t want to take any human rights away from trans people, but we don’t consider it a “right” for men to claim to be women and then take everything set aside for women for themselves.

How can Manchin

Nov 1st, 2021 12:15 pm | By

I too keep wondering how Manchin can justify putting his personal political survival ahead of the planet.

Late in the evening on Friday 15 October an alert appeared on my phone that seemed at last to portend the end of the world. Two weeks before the UN climate summit in Glasgow – a make-or-break moment for American leadership and international ambition – Senator Joe Manchin had decided to gut our country’s best, and perhaps last, attempt to save itself. With three decades left to decarbonize the global economy, and a window of Democratic control unlikely to recur for years, Manchin’s benefactors in the coal and gas industry had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, killing the Clean Electricity Performance Program that would finally have brought their lucrative global arson spree under control.

My rage might consume me if I couldn’t set it down here: not only is Joe Manchin devastating the constituents he claims to work for, consigning them to a future of constant, devastating floods. Not only is he shilling for an industry that has ravaged his home statesnaring West Virginians in a resource trap. Not only is he making a choice that could single-handedly warm the planet by several tenths of a degree, precipitating millions of avoidable deaths and dimming the prospects of my entire generation.

The truly maddening thing is that he refuses to look his decision in the face, hiding instead behind the debunked and convenient lies furnished by his donors, who maintain that they can burn coal into mid-century without risking a catastrophe.

And the even more maddening thing is that he’s doing all this for his own petty self-interest. 7 billion people v one guy, and not even a guy with several more decades ahead of him (he’s 74). 7 billion people plus all the other life forms.

Short tight pants

Nov 1st, 2021 11:50 am | By

If fit for gander then fit for goose, yeah?

The International Handball Federation has responded to widespread accusations of sexism by changing its rules around women’s uniforms to allow bike shorts and tank tops instead of bikini bottoms and crop tops.

The sport’s global governing body has been the subject of international pressure since July, when the European Handball Federation made headlines for imposing a €1,500 fine on the Norwegian women’s beach handball team for wearing shorts like their male counterparts during the Euro 21 tournament in Bulgaria. At the time, the EHF described the shorts as “improper clothing”.

Yes because it’s “improper” for female athletes not to show off their tits and groins while competing.

At some point over the past month the IHF has quietly altered its regulations for beach handball, which now stipulate that “female athletes must wear short tight pants with a close fit”. Male athletes can still wear regular shorts as long as 10cm above the knee “if not too baggy”.

Jesus. Women are required to wear SHORT TIGHT PANTS WITH A CLOSE FIT while men can wear just regular shorts. How do they justify this in their own minds?

[Norway’s] minister for culture and sport, Abid Raja, described the ruling as being “completely ridiculous” and women’s sports associations across Europe also called for the resignation of the presidents of both the IHF and the EHF.

Even now, there are differences in terms of requirements for women to wear uniforms that are “body fit” and “tight” when there is no corresponding rule for men.

“Look, bitches, we want to ogle your bums and cracks, OKAY?”

Female athletes have spoken out against uniform double standards numerous times. Women are required to wear more revealing outfits in several sports, including track and field, beach volleyball and tennis.

Gymnastics and figure skating.

Sondheim and Gilliam not pure enough

Nov 1st, 2021 10:19 am | By

The children stamp out another artistic endeavor.

A forthcoming production of Into the Woods at The Old Vic was cancelled after staff expressed discomfort at Terry Gilliam’s involvement, reports claim.

The former Monty Python star had been due to direct a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical at the London theatre in April alongside Leah Hausman.

On Thursday (28 October), it was announced that the production would no longer be taking place, with no reason for the cancellation given.

However, The Stage now reports that The Old Vic pulled the production following unrest from members of staff who felt that Gilliam’s comments to the press regarding the #MeToo movement, trans rights and racism were at odds with the theatre’s ethos.

Well ideological purity is an obvious must for co-directing a play.

Puritanical Quotes. QuotesGram

Sondheim is said to have initially approved the production after being impressed by Gilliam’s ideas for the production.

Oh well who cares what he thinks.

We needed to do more to become truly inclusive

Nov 1st, 2021 9:41 am | By

The Times picks up the Girl Guides-Ace story:

Girlguiding has been criticised for promoting asexuality awareness, causing some parents to threaten to withdraw their daughters from the group.

The organisation, which provides activities and regular meetings for girls aged five to 18, posted a tweet in support of Ace Week, an awareness event for asexuality, acknowledging all members and volunteers who identify as such.

But there is such a thing as “Ace Week” according to whom? Asexuality is a thing that requires an awareness week how, and according to whom? People “identify as such” according to whom? Is there a week for every kind of No Thank You there is? One for people who don’t like pickles? One for cinnamon, one for swimming, one for math, one for politics, one for lacrosse, one for zippers – you can see how quickly we would run out of weeks, can’t you.

It’s not at all clear that there even is such a thing as “asexuality” as a permanent condition aka an “identity.” There is more or less libido but – wait for it – it’s a spectrum not a binary. Isn’t it? And anyway even if there are some people who have Permanent Absolute Zero libido, how is that “an identity”? Why would it need “a week”?

Angela Salt, chief executive of Girlguiding, said: “A year ago we did a consultation with members asking how inclusive we were as an organisation. Our membership — made up of girls, parents, carers, volunteers and staff — told us that we haven’t got it right, and we needed to do more to become truly inclusive.”

“Inclusive” of what? Or whom? What does yattering about “asxuality” have to do with being more “inclusive”? By all means be more inclusive of girls from poor families, immigrant families, brown families, lesbian and gay families – but what does “asexuality” have to do with any of that? Not a single damn thing.

“In response, we launched our new diversity and inclusion strategic plan to make Girlguiding a place where everyone feels welcomed, like they belong and free to be themselves, whoever they are and wherever they are from.”

She must be joking. Tweeting about “Asexuality Week” will scare people off, not make them feel welcomed. Does she seriously think there are masses of girls out there feeling unwelcome at Girl Guides because those girls are “ace”?

When and why did the authorities hand the word “inclusive” over to Stonewall?

Eyes front

Oct 31st, 2021 5:06 pm | By

Now to cheer us up after the agony of a commenter who won’t reply to replies, dogs in Canada on their bus to school.

A School for Dogs In Canada Has Their Own School Bus | Hans Howe


Oct 31st, 2021 4:51 pm | By

Housekeeping note.

I don’t have official rules. I think the tacit ones are obvious enough, in general. I guess however I need to state one rule, or not so much as a rule as a strong preference which, if flouted enough times, may lead to deletion of comments.

That rule or preference goes like this: we’re having a conversation here. That too is obvious enough, surely? We go back and forth. We exchange views. I like it that way, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

So thanks very much but I don’t want drive-by corrections by someone who never ever replies to replies to the corrections. If you won’t engage then I don’t want your corrections. That’s why I deleted Skeletor’s most recent correction. Conversation or don’t bother.

I don’t think that’s too harsh. I’ve told Skeletor more than once that I don’t like the drive-by no-replies unilateral approach, so please stop ignoring responses, but I’ve been ignored. Enough.

Guest post: Misgendering as validation

Oct 31st, 2021 4:40 pm | By

Originally a comment by Sastra on Your instructions.

Beth Clarkson #1 wrote:

Why are people so traumatized by misgendering?

I can grant that the transgender are indeed traumatized, but not that this is the natural outcome of Dysphoria, or of “feeling like your insides don’t match your outsides.” What might normally be expected when referred to as a “she” instead of “he” is a sense of sadness, or mild frustration. What occurs instead seems to be something akin to a panic attack, or perhaps the sort of outrage someone might feel encountering a bully kicking their grandmother.

That’s culture, I think. It’s a socially-induced reaction following a template of expectations, and in extreme forms close to what’s been called “social media induced psychosis” — “ a connection … between the gradual development and exacerbation of psychotic symptoms, including delusions, anxiety, confusion and intensified use of computer communications.” It started percolating on corners of the internet like Tumblr and Deviant Art. Now it’s gone mainstream, through the schools, a kind of feedback loop between those who react to being misgendered (or the thought of being misgendered) and those who respond with concern (or the facsimile of concern.)

The more traumatized you are, the more obvious it is that you really, really are trans. Preferred pronouns may not be as validating as the unpreferred kind.

It’s all about the Rainbow Badges

Oct 31st, 2021 4:27 pm | By

Haven’t we talked about this? Isn’t there some murmuring in certain quarters that Stonewall isn’t the boss of us? Aren’t there questions being asked about who made Stonewall God in charge of how Incloosiv everyone is?

Stonewall to judge NHS on LG inclusion:

NHS trusts will be judged by the controversial charity Stonewall on their LGBT “inclusion” in a £220,000 taxpayer-funded project.

The Telegraph has learnt that some 40 NHS trusts will be “benchmarked” on diversity after NHS England awarded the contract, titled NHS Rainbow Badges, to five LGBT groups.

Trusts will be given a bronze, silver or gold award depending on their ”inclusive cultures” and “trans status monitoring”, with assessors hired on a higher starting salary than nurses and paramedics.

Ah that’s an interesting detail. People who will be running around hospitals checking on how incloosiv they are will be paid more than the people who do the hard dangerous work.

Medics taking part are urged in official guidance to “pledge” via social media or a blog post “about how you will be an effective LGBT+ ally”, in order to “earn” a Pride flag pinned badge.

It comes as hospitals are to be given new guidance by the equalities regulator on preserving single-sex wards, after The Telegraph revealed some trusts said sex offenders who identified as women could be placed on female-only wards, and branded dissenters transphobic.

Stonewall says trans patients should be “admitted to wards and use facilities which match their gender” and says it is “completely inappropriate” to suggest trans patients pose a risk simply because they are trans.

But it’s not simply because they’re trans, as of course Stonewall knows. It’s because they’re men. Men can pose a risk to women.

As part of the new scheme, two “NHS Rainbow Badge Assessors” and a project manager have been hired, on between £28,900 and £30,000 per year, more than the starting salary for most nurses and paramedics.

It is understood the awards could expand to allow more NHS bodies to sign up, with health chiefs viewing this as a pilot project led by the equality charities Stonewall, LGBT Foundation, Switchboard, Consortium and Glaad.

An NHS spokesman said: “We know that some people are put off seeking care because of their sexuality, so this project is intended to help everyone feel able to come forward for help from the NHS.”

So now women will be put off seeking care because of their vulnerability to men. Brilliant.

Claims, yet again

Oct 31st, 2021 3:51 pm | By

The perils of being too friendly.

Biologist claims “yet again” that a man is not a woman. Scandalous!

We’ve seen this before

Oct 31st, 2021 12:08 pm | By

Sums it up with great clarity.

2 / Either – – It’s OK if lesbians get assaulted. – OR: There is a priest class of human who uniquely amongst humans could never and would never abuse anyone (i.e. that those women are lying).

3/ – OR: The assaults did and do happen, but overall it is better to keep quiet for the sake of protecting a marginalised community. We’ve seen this before.

4/ When women and children reported abuse in the Catholic church, many felt that ‘christians don’t do that’, it was more important to not give the church a bad name etc. When rape was reported in the SWP those loyal to the party protected the party by blaming the victims.

5/ When abuse was first reported in Rotherham it was minimised, partly so as to not imply that Asian men would do that. People reporting a abuse by a Radio 1 DJ were also not initially believed etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

6/ Well here is the thing: abuse can happen in all communities. For each community it probably WAS really painful to look the truth in the face, but look we must. Each time the cycle repeats we all say ‘oh how terrible, we must believe women’.

7/ then each new time there is either a silence or, as we have here, a backlash against the victims who speak out. Of course not all men. Not all catholics, not all trotskyists, not all Asian men in Rotherham, not all radio 1 DJs, and not all trans women. Of course. But some.

8/ This is NOTHING to do with anyone’s right to exist or human rights. Catholic rights are human rights, trotskyist rights are human rights, DJs rights are human rights, trans rights are human rights. Abusing women is not a human right. It is abuse.

9 / What happened to #MeToo? to #BelieveHer? Or does that not apply to lesbians? Does feminism not have to include lesbians because they are fair collateral damage? Or is a group of people so untouchable that they can never be accused of abuse or ill-doing?

10/ I can’t stomach the thought that anyone would throw these victims under the bus like the girls in Rotherham were, like the girls in the hospices were, like the children in the church were. #IStandWithLesbians.


The hot cauldron of public debate

Oct 31st, 2021 11:00 am | By

A chat with Richard Dawkins:

His considerable reputation as an evolutionary biologist, atheist and intellectual was forged in the hot cauldron of public debate. With forceful clarity and occasional rattiness, he has for decades gone about slaughtering sacred cows like a bloodthirsty butcher. So if Dawkins is now afraid to speak his mind, I’m not sure where that leaves the rest of us. “I self-censor,” he admits. “More so in recent years.” Why? “It’s not a thing I’ve done throughout my life, I’ve always spoken my mind openly. But we’re now in a time when if you do speak your mind openly, you are at risk of being picked up and condemned.”

Well, we’re in a time where Twitter exists, as Dawkins knows. His speaking his mind openly doesn’t always come across well on Twitter. It can at times border on taunting, like when he kept referring to “clock boy.” (In case you’ve forgotten, a boy from a Muslim family made a clock of sorts for a school project and somebody thought “bomb!!” and things went crazy.) He did some borders-on-taunting of feminist women, starting with “Dear Muslima.” Things got heated. He never really seemed to get the point that his taunts (“speaking his mind openly”) at feminist women would trigger avalanches of abuse aimed at those women, because he’s a Name and has that power.

Dawkins is worried that the illiberalism of the left is helping to fuel right-wing populism, driving continued support to Donald Trump and the like. “Every time a lecturer is cancelled from an American university, that’s another God knows how many votes for Trump,” he says. He finds it particularly bothersome when his “own team” attacks him. “I’m much more hurt by attacks from the left,” he says. “When I get hate mail from my own people, that hurts in a way that getting it from creationists doesn’t.” It must have hit home then when Dawkins had his 1996 Humanist of the Year award withdrawn by the American Humanist Association (AHA) earlier this year.

The AHA bestows this prestigious annual award to an admired humanist: recipients have included Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie. It lists them all on its website, but if you scroll down to 1996, Dawkins’s name has been scrubbed. He’s gone. Why? Because of a tweet. Back in April, Dawkins caused offence when he wondered why identifying across racial barriers is so much more difficult than across sexual barriers. He wrote: “In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP [The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.”

Unacceptable. Taunting feminist women, acceptable; questioning gender idenniny, unacceptable.

He recalls reading the historian Jan Morris’s 1974 book Conundrum on transitioning to become a woman. “She felt herself to be a woman trapped in a man’s body,” Dawkins says. “I think that’s a real phenomenon. I have sympathy. But when trans people insist that you say she is a woman, you redefine something. If you define a woman as a human with an XX karyotype, then she’s not a woman. If you define a woman as someone who identifies as a woman, feels they are a woman and has maybe had an operation, then by that definition she is a woman. From a scientific point of view, she’s not a woman. From a personal point of view, she is.”

To put it another way, you can change your gender but you can’t change your sex.

As a matter of “personal politeness” then, he’s happy to use whatever pronouns people ask him to use. “But I don’t like the idea that people can pillory someone like Jordan Peterson for refusing to be compelled to change his language,” he says. In this Dawkins senses something he doesn’t like: a quasi-religious faith that cannot be opposed. Or as he puts it: “Denying reality and it’s a heresy to do anything other than that.”


Updating to add discussions here last April of the AHA rebuke of Dawkins and the [cough] strangeness of drawing the line there and not at clockboy or Dear Muslima.

April 19th

April 20th

GP by Sastra April 20th

April 20th

April 21st

The right to organise against their oppression

Oct 31st, 2021 9:47 am | By

“Socialist workers” forsooth. Trotsky would spurn them. Behold SWP response to letter from Woman’s Place UK.

Trans people are facing a barrage of attacks. 

No they’re not. Some people disagree with their belief system, and explain why; that’s not an attack, let alone a barrage of them.

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) stands with the oppressed and unequivocally says, “Trans women are women,” and, “Trans men are men.” Trans people have the right to organise against their oppression and the right to protest against it. We stood in solidarity with the trans students and workers at the University of Sussex who were rightly outraged by Kathleen Stock’s views. 

They’re not oppressed though. Not believing wild claims about the self is not oppression. The students at Sussex were and are not “rightly outraged” by Stock’s views. (Any bets on whether the SWP knows a single thing about her views?) And what “workers” at Sussex had anything to do with the monstering of Stock? That word is obviously just thrown in so that the SWP can go on pretending to be an actual socialist party.

The attacks on trans rights are pushed by the Tories and the wider right—and go hand in hand with attacks on women’s rights. Our focus is fighting the right wing—and for a socialist society that uproots all oppression. 

Again: disagreement with fantasy-based claims about the self is not “attacks on trans rights.” Real socialists would find the whole idea laughably bourgeois and reactionary.

A climate of fear at the Corporation

Oct 31st, 2021 9:06 am | By

The BBC has internal networks of inquisitors.

It has that statue of Orwell with the now too familiar admonition: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Yes and no: people don’t want to hear “You’re ugly” and it’s not an important kind of liberty to say it. But that’s a quibble.

I’ve always felt that particular line stands for something important about the way journalism should be done.

I thought of it again last week, when a senior figure told me about ‘a climate of fear’ at the Corporation, surrounding stories on race and on transgender issues. A small but significant number of the BBC’s staff had appointed themselves would-be censors, he said.

But here at our national broadcaster I’ve been told about unacceptable demands to change or drop stories – demands made by members of two ‘internal staff networks’ which serve as support and discussion groups.

These are BBC Embrace, which represents Black, Asian and other ethnic minority staff, and BBC Pride, for LGBTQ staff. Delegates from these groups are accused of flinging around charges of ‘racism’ and ‘transphobia’. There are claims of ‘bullying, piling on and [using] threats of being cancelled’.

Note no mention of charges of homophobia or lesbophobia or misogyny. That’s all so last century.

Last week, BBC Online ran a brave and important story about lesbians feeling coerced into accepting trans women as sexual partners – feeling, in other words, that they had to have sex with someone who is biologically a man but identifies as a woman. The coverage included an interview with a lesbian named Jeannie who said she was attracted only to biological females. As a result, she had been labelled transphobic, a genital fetishist, a pervert and a ‘terf’ – a trans exclusionary radical feminist – for expressing this preference.

The piece repeated the claim, a contentious one of course, that lesbians are being pressured to ‘accept the idea that a penis can be a female sex organ’.

Thousands of people contacted the BBC to say they were glad to read about this difficult issue.

Yet I’m told the journalists behind the story had to ‘fight like hell’ to get it published. And that it was held up for several months because of internal opposition, with the campaign to censor it going all the way up to the BBC director-general.

Another investigation, about the influence of pro-trans lobby group Stonewall on publicly funded institutions, was also broadcast. Yet the journalist, Stephen Nolan, says he had been warned the subject of Stonewall was ‘untouchable’.

But he touched it.