Notes and Comment Blog

She stated she would not be comfortable

Feb 25th, 2016 4:30 pm | By

Fran Cowles has written a piece explaining that she did not no-platform Peter Tatchell.

In an email to the event organiser, I personally declined an invitation to attend the ‘Re-Radicalising Queers’ event held at Canterbury Christ Church University on 15 February, where Peter would be giving the keynote address and sitting on the panel. I stated that I would not be comfortable, as I believe that Peter has not always acted in the best interests of trans, Muslim and Black communities, who experience disproportionate levels of discrimination and marginalisation within the LGBT movement and wider society. In addition, I provided the evidence which informed my opinion.

She doesn’t make clear why she felt it necessary to explain at all, rather than just declining or saying she couldn’t. But let’s assume she was right to feel it necessary, and look at what she said. Her explanation for not attending the event was that she believes that Peter has not always acted in the best interests of trans, Muslim and Black communities.

But who does always act in the best interests of anyone? How can we even know what that is? Why is failure to act in the best interests of various groups (they’re not “communities”) a reason to shun someone? Maybe she just thought that would be the most professional-seeming way of wording it, but to me it just exposes the extreme flimsiness and pettiness of her putative reason. I think what she means is that she’s heard that Tatchell isn’t a perfect “ally” to everyone in the universe, coupled with the fact that she thinks it’s the job of the left to shun everyone found to be not perfect.

It’s pathetic, childish stuff, and a very weak excuse for trashing Peter.

She goes on to do more of that.

Peter has arguably used questionable tactics in the past to achieve his aims, and, at times, used his public profile to advocate political positions which are not in the best interests of those he claims to represent. In my case, he has used his platform – which is considerably larger than mine – to denounce me as an LGBT activist purely because I do not wish to engage with him and do not agree with some of his views and tactics.

I don’t think Fran Cowling knows for sure what political positions are in the best interests of the people Peter advocates for (as opposed to claiming to represent, as Cowling snidely puts it). I don’t think her apparent certainty on the subject is a good reason for her to trash people who have risked a lot in advocating for a despised minority.

And that last bit is dishonest, because Peter has said very clearly that he went public because she trashed him to other people, not at all because he she doesn’t wish to engage with her him. She’s a bit of a coward as well as dim.

And then there’s a lot of paint-by-numbers garbage, all to justify demonizing him yet again for signing that letter last year defending freedom of speech. If that’s the left of tomorrow, it’s sad.

Edited to correct absent-minded transposition.

Maryam challenges Sam

Feb 25th, 2016 12:01 pm | By

Maryam Namazie went on Sam Harris’s podcast yesterday.

I gather from Maryam’s Twitter that feathers flew.

I’m listening now; I’m 18 minutes in. As you can see, it’s two hours.

The Twitter dudebros are furious at Maryam for disagreeing with their hero. She doesn’t care.

Next week she debates Tariq Ramadan in Oxford. Now that should be awesome!

Zuckerberg, stop silencing atheists

Feb 25th, 2016 11:30 am | By

A petition to Zuckerberg, which is apparently getting through to Facebook and improving the situation, so worth signing.

This week only, more then 9 of the biggest Facebook groups of atheists and secular Arabs were closed after reports campaigns led by Islamist groups containing hundreds of thousands of members. They are abusing the Facebook report facility to remove all pages that oppose their ideology.

While Arab atheists, with absolutely no exaggeration, already face all kinds of oppression, torture, restriction of speech and even sentences to death in their countries (we mention Raif Badawi, Mohamed Cheikh, Achraf Fayad as examples ), Arab atheists are facing a huge risk of losing the remaining freedoms that are practiced secretly or online, wich are , including the freedom and the right of thinking and discussing freely, a basic right of a human being, hence being alive!

Social media is the only space we can freely speak through, But with Facebook’s policy that signifies reports by the number of reporters, Facebook is allowing Islamists to create groups with the sole purpose of closing our atheist and secular pages, and unfortunately Facebook facebook have being at their side !

We, as secular and Arab atheists, are asking Facebook’s administration to change its policy, to revise it’s Reporting system in order to prevent this from happening again , and to restore all our groups and pages !

There’s an update:

The petition.

If you sense anger

Feb 25th, 2016 10:55 am | By

Well that’s awkward.

“Be careful discussing sensitive topics,” professors at the University of Houston were warned in a faculty meeting about the new “campus carry” gun policy.

An unofficial forum of professors suggested that teachers may want to “drop certain topics from your curriculum,” and “not ‘go there’ if you sense anger,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

A new Texas law will allow people to carry concealed handguns on university campuses.

So the academics should draw up a list of topics that could make a student angry, and avoid those topics in favor of other topics that have zero potential to make a student – any student – angry.


Jeffrey Villines, a Ph.D. student in the university’s English department, shared a photo of what he said is a slide from a “recent campus carry dialogue at UH, in response to faculty concerns about dangers from armed students.”


The Houston Chronicle notes that advice given at the faculty forum “echoes concerns voiced by professors across the state that allowing guns into the classroom will limit academic freedoms and inhibit discussion of sometimes touchy subjects.”

Jeff Villines argued that campus carry policies may have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression, silencing “discourse through fear of violence.”

“To be clear,” he wrote, “Step 1 of 3: Terrorism involves the silencing of discourse through fear of violence. Step 2 of 3: Open carry is advertised as a means of resisting or preventing terrorism. Step 3 of 3: Teachers advised that any problems with Open Carry can be resolved by silencing discourse.”

This has worked to destroy access to abortion in much of the US, by the way. Doctors are afraid to provide abortions, and reasonably so. If I were a doctor I would be far too cowardly to provide them.

Texas is a scary place.


Silencing dissenters

Feb 25th, 2016 10:28 am | By

The Ex-Muslims of Britain send a message to the NUS:

NUS: Revise Safe Space and No Platform Policies to Facilitate not Restrict Free Expression and Thought

We are deeply concerned by the increasing attempts by the National Union of Students (NUS) and its affiliated Student Unions to silence dissenters – including feminists, apostates, LGBTI rights campaigners, anti-racists, anti-fascists and anti-Islamists – through its use of No-Platform and Safe Space policies.

We stand against all prejudice and discrimination. We agree that free speech does not mean giving bigots a free pass. A defence of free speech includes the right and moral imperative to challenge, oppose and protest bigoted views.

Educational institutions must be a place for the exchange and criticism of all ideas – even those deemed unpalatable by some – providing they don’t incite violence against peoples or communities. Bigoted ideas are most effectively defeated by open debate, backed up by ethics, reason and evidence.

The proviso about inciting violence is of course where the arguments over particulars bite the deepest. I disagree with people who draw the line only at direct orders to go right now and kill specific people…and I also disagree with people who make overwrought claims about violence and genocide. That’s probably the plight of most people. I wish it were the case that relentless demonization never does motivate physical violence against people, but I don’t think it is the case. On the other hand any harsh words could motivate violence, and it won’t do to try to rule out the very possibility by ruling out the harsh words, because that would be the end of free inquiry and discussion.

At any rate, the NUS has been erring way too far on that side, using peculiar and unreasonable criteria.

I’ve emailed Maryam to add me to the list of signers.

We’ll take the next question

Feb 24th, 2016 5:20 pm | By

Nathan Lean is harassing Asra Nomani on Twitter. Yesterday she asked him a very pointed question at a forum, and he refused to answer. She asked him why, when he rightly speaks out against hate-speech directed at Muslims, he talks so much smack himself.

Today she tells us this:

After refusing to acknowledge my humanity as I stood before him, Nathan Lean, from Georgetown University’s Saudi Prince Waleed Bin Talal Center, is now harassing me on Twitter, posting a screenshot from my Facebook page, mocking my feminism, casting aspersions on my relationship with Maajid Nawaz, a married man, and on and on. Does Georgetown really support slut shaming?

In the FB post, I stand up for my humanity from personal attacks by a man with the name of David Fox who is also acting unscrupulously on my page. I am sharing all of this with you, my friends, because in the name of saving face, many people have resorted to violent ends, and Mr. Lean’s stability now causes me concern. I have reported my concerns to Georgetown University, which is doing nothing. I will continue to add documentation of the harassment I am receiving so that somebody — you all — know.

He’s got a nasty, ugly way of talking.

Lean is a researcher at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. The Center, as the name hints, has generous Saudi funding. That doesn’t mean Lean is bought by Saudi cash, but would he be there if he were critical of Saudi Arabia? I doubt it.

Guest post: They were proud, because they were real women

Feb 24th, 2016 5:04 pm | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on She described the situation as feminist because it is her choice.

while (some other) feminists made homemakers ashamed of that choice.

I heard this trope from my mother and sisters for years – but none of them were ever ashamed of that choice! They were proud, because they were real women. I am sure there were women out there who were ashamed of that choice, and perhaps feminists who made them so. I haven’t actually met any, but I haven’t lived in such a way that I know absolutely everyone, or even more than a tiny fraction of everyone, so I can accept that.

The problem is, this is presented as it stands. It never receives the proper response, which is that women who chose to be homemakers have for a very long time done everything they could to make working women ashamed. And since they are usually the ones getting the positive attention in the magazines, newspapers, and other venues (the Mommy wars?), and women are still expected to give birth to, clean up after, and chauffeur children, it is definitely an issue. In addition, there is still a lot of noise about how women “have” to work because of the economy and how horrible that is – usually coming from the left, who (rightly) want a better distribution of wealth and use that old trope to try to shame Washington (men) into propping up the social safety net. There are a lot more support systems for homemakers than for mothers who work outside the home, as well, and almost no support systems for childless women who work outside the home.

So, go ahead and acknowledge the fact that (some) women feel ashamed of making that choice, but please don’t leave it standing as a trope on its own without noticing that a lot of homemakers do their best to shame working women. My mother never let a day go by without throwing some crack out there about “real women”, by which she meant women that were girly women, didn’t do “man” things, did not work outside the home, and had no fewer than six children (conveniently, the number she herself gave birth to). I spent a dozen years in therapy, by the way, and a lot of it was from this sort of crap – being made to feel not just less female (I don’t give a rat’s ass about that), but also a lot less human.

Highlighting how mainstream feminism constantly forgets about trans women

Feb 24th, 2016 11:51 am | By

The Independent reports breathlessly on the history-making excitement of more pushing women aside so that trans women can be in the center. It’s the story of Anna Lee running for NUS Women’s Officer, again.

A student at Lancaster University looks set to make history by becoming the first-ever openly trans woman to run for a top national role with the National Union of Students (NUS).

That would be great…if only it were a different top national role.

Anna Lee, who is currently vice president of welfare and community at the university’s students’ union – as well as featuring on the women’s campaign committee (trans* rep) at NUS – is aiming to become women’s officer with the national student campaigner.

But it’s that one.

Isn’t it fascinating how eager people are to shove women out of the picture?

Highlighting her determination to get to where she wants to be, Miss Lee said: “When the transphobic ‘feminists’ come and try to tear me down, I will just fight harder and, with the help of amazing activists, we will show them, together, that the NUS women’s campaign demonstrates a progressive approach to inclusive feminism, not only ensuring the campaign is proudly trans inclusive, but that our campaign is a place where feminist activists can thrive – whether they’ve been involved for five years or five minutes.”

See that’s one glaring reason she shouldn’t be the Women’s Officer – she hates feminists. Not a good fit.

Highlighting how mainstream feminism constantly forgets about trans women, she added: “Let alone a queer trans disabled lesbian woman.”

First priority: bash feminism.

She described the situation as feminist because it is her choice

Feb 24th, 2016 10:28 am | By

This is both hilarious and disgusting – the New York Times solemnly reporting on a male composer who gets extra super-duper creative by dominating his wife. The Times says this is “kink” but it sounds much more like the same old arrangement there always was.

The OkCupid message Mollena Williams received in December 2013 was, in some ways, standard. It was complimentary: “Wow — your profile is great.” It was confident: “I am an artist, very successful (probably member of the top 10 or 20 in my genre in the world).” It was polite, signing off with “warm wishes.”

But something was a bit out of the ordinary, speaking to its author’s interest in domination and submission. The central desire? “I would like to tame you.”

The writer was Georg Friedrich Haas, whose powerfully emotional, politically chargedmusic and explorations of microtonality make him one of the world’s leading composers. His work had brought widespread acclaim, but his personal life was troubled, with three failed marriages in his wake, when he met Ms. Williams, a writer and sex educator who specializes in alternative lifestyles. Shortly after he messaged her, the two began a relationship and were married last fall.

I hate to be the one to break bad news, but a man dominating a woman isn’t an alternative lifestyle. It’s about as conformist as a lifestyle can possibly be.

In a joint appearance with his wife, who now goes by Mollena Williams-Haas, late last year at the Playground sexuality conference in Toronto, then in an interview this month in the online music magazine VAN, he has “come out,” as he put it, as the dominant figure in a dominant-submissive power dynamic. Mr. Haas has chosen to speak up, both because Ms. Williams-Haas’s sexual interests are widely known (her blog, The Perverted Negress, is not shy about kink and bondage) and because he hopes to embolden younger people, particularly composers, not to smother untraditional urges, as he did.

But the urges aren’t untraditional. They’re so.very.traditional.

Their marriage can seem, in this regard, distinctly old-fashioned, and not in a Marquis de Sade way. While the terms they negotiated at the start of their relationship do not prevent her from pursuing her own professional and personal life, Ms. Williams-Haas devotes much of her time to supporting the work of a man — “Herr Meister,” she has nicknamed him — for whom a “good day” is one in which he composes for 14 or 15 hours.

Ah they finally noticed!

“She makes my life as comfortable as possible,” Mr. Haas said.

Ms. Williams-Haas, who described the situation as feminist because it is her choice, said, “I find intense fulfillment in being able to serve in this way.”

And that right there is what’s so fucked up about “choice” feminism, aka libertarian or liberal or third wave feminism. No, not every “choice” is feminist just because it’s a woman making it. Michelle Duggar isn’t a feminist.

She conceded the discomfort many may feel with a black woman willingly submitting to a white man. “It’s a struggle to say, ‘This is genuinely who I am,’” she said. But she added, “To say I can’t play my personal psychodrama out just because I’m black, that’s racist.”

Right. So if she started actually calling herself his slave, and he called her that too, it would be racist to give that the stink-eye? Please.

And that’s especially true when they’re out there proselytizing. If it were just their private games at home then whatever, but here they’re making a case for it – and I say that’s revolting.

Mr. Haas said that he felt liberated after what he described as a lifetime’s and three divorces’ worth of suppressing what he once considered “devilish” desires. The change has altered his music in ways both quantifiable and more ineffable. He said that his productivity had roughly doubled since meeting Ms. Williams-Haas, which will delight his fans.

Well as long as he feels liberated, that’s what counts.

Goddy arrows

Feb 24th, 2016 10:03 am | By

So we can’t escape the influence of the Duggars after all. The “Learning Channel” is still advertising them to us as wholesome fresh-faced Good People who keep women chained to the stove and permanently pregnant.

After costarring on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, Jill and Jessa Duggar have landed their own series Jill and Jessa: Counting On, premiering on the cable channel on Tuesday, March 15, Us Weekly has learned exclusively.

Following their three-part special of the same name that aired on TLC last year, the series will follow the lives of the two sisters as they deal with life’s challenges, including raising their own families. The episodes will show Jessa and husband Ben Seewald bonding with son Spurgeon, 3 months, while Jill and husband Derick Dillard balance caring for son Israel, 10 months, with working as missionaries in Central America.

Missionaries – as if anyone anywhere has anything to learn from narrow, ignorant, indoctrinated zealots like them.

Girls should better utilize their time

Feb 24th, 2016 9:43 am | By

A Gujarat village has forbidden unmarried female humans to use cell phones.

The Gujarat village of Suraj in India has reportedly banned girls and unmarried women from the use of cell phones, threatening fines for possessing or using a phone unless the call is from a relative and received on a parent’s phone, according to Hindustan Times.

Because they could use their phones to make appointments for fucking.

“Why do girls need a cell phone? Internet is a waste of time and money for a middle-class community like us. Girls should better utilize their time for study and other works,” said Devshi Vankar, sarpanch (elected head) of the village.

Oh yes? Why just girls then? I suspect Mr Vankar is bullshitting us there, trying to pretend he has a respectable reason for treating girls but not boys like infants.

Read the full story at Hindustan Times.



Ad hoc principles

Feb 24th, 2016 8:53 am | By

The Senate Republicans yesterday formally announced that they’re refusing to do their job.

President Obama, don’t even bother.

That was the clear message from Senate Republicans on Tuesday as they decided to formally ignore any nominee the president appoints to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—the panel responsible for vetting court picks—emerged from a private meeting Tuesday afternoon and declared there was a “consensus view”among them not to grant an Obama nominee a hearing, much less a vote, before the presidential election. The committee members then sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell putting their decision in writing.

They should be impeached. They’re violating their goddam oath to uphold the Constitution.

McConnell’s second-in-command, Senator John Cornyn, said members of the Judiciary Committee were “unanimous” in their view that there should no hearing for Obama’s nominee. “The reason for that is, it’s not about the personality, it’s about the principle,” Cornyn said.

There is no such “principle.” It doesn’t exist. They’re making it up, aka lying.

It’s not a surprise, Russell Berman goes on, they said all along they wouldn’t, but it wasn’t clear at what point they would refuse to do their job. Would they hold hearings and then say No?

Or would they ignore the nominee altogether rather than risk giving an otherwise qualified person an opportunity to make their case in public? On Tuesday, they confirmed they would follow the advice of conservative activists, who are urging senators to avoid any discussion of the merits of Obama’s choice and stick to the principle that because the presidential campaign is already underway, the public should decide who gets to replace Scalia on the court.

That’s not a “principle.” The presidential campaign is always underway, and there is no rule or practice about not filling a court vacancy during a campaign.

I guess not lying isn’t in the Book of Republican Virtues.

The hijab had come to stay

Feb 24th, 2016 8:25 am | By

Tarek Fatah wonders what on earth the city of Ottawa thinks it’s doing “celebrating” the hijab.

This Thursday, the City of Ottawa will be holding a public event celebrating the Islamist hijab; an article of cloth that many Muslim women consider akin to the medieval chastity belt.

He says we need to understand the history of the Islamist revolution in Iran to get what this is all about.

On March 7, 1979 the Islamic Republic declared that henceforth all Iranian women would not be allowed to step outside their homes if they did not have their heads covered by a chador (a black, blanket-like shawl) or a hijab.

Many Iranians first thought of this decree as a joke, but when it became clear the ayatollahs meant business and would imprison any woman found “naked” with her head not wrapped in cloth, there were spontaneous protests across the country.

But the mullahs had the power, and the protests failed.

The hijab had come to stay, and over the years spread its tentacles across the globe as a political statement, hated by many Iranian women, but loved by Islamist followers of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan’s Jamat-e-Islami in North America.

This Friday, Iranians will go to the polls to elect a new parliament.

Not up for discussion or a vote in this election is the oppressive hijab that many Iranian Muslim women have been fighting against, risking arrest — and even lashings.

If it were, few doubt the law of the hijab would die an instant death. But no opponent of the hijab is permitted to stand for election.

But there is Facebook now.

With the advent of social media, however, the fight against the hijab has taken a new form.

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad created a Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” where thousands of Iranian women are posting videos and pictures of themselves, without the mandatory head covering.

The page has garnered more than 750,000 likes and has drawn the ire of the Iranian government.

So why is Ottawa “celebrating” the fiendish thing?

Let’s have a few photos from My Stealthy Freedom:

Celebrate that, Ottawa.

Taking it back

Feb 23rd, 2016 6:25 pm | By

Peter Walker posted about a new occupation of Malheur.

There’s a new occupation of Harney County. They’re here to take back the land. They’re calling on millions to flock to their cause.

Follow the link to see all his photos of the occupiers.

Expressing cool solidarity

Feb 23rd, 2016 12:02 pm | By

The linguist Deborah Cameron asks an important question:

The question feminists should be asking about women calling each other ‘dude’ or ‘you guys’ isn’t why they’re talking like men (they aren’t), it’s why they can only express cool solidarity with other women by using prototypically male address terms. Aren’t there any female terms that would serve their purpose just as well?

In principle there are, sure. In practice, there aren’t any yet.

I propose Bletchley.

The average age of his victims was 11 years old

Feb 23rd, 2016 10:43 am | By

The Guardian reports:

In Australia, 853 people have made a claim or substantiated complaint of child sexual abuse against one or more Christian Brothers, with 75% of victims under the age of 13 at the time, a royal commission has heard.

The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has turned its attention to the Christian Brothers as the third round of its hearings into the diocese of Ballarat began on Monday. A religious community within the Catholic church, the Christian Brothers primarily worked in educational facilities for children.

Where they had a selection of children to predate on, and a veil of piety to hide behind. Perfect setup, innit.

The commission’s data showed that the highest number of claims of child sexual abuse were against a brother identified only as Brother CCK, who had 46 complaints made against him about incidents in Victoria and Tasmania. The average age of his victims was 11 years old and the abuse occurred between 1963 and 1987, including in Ballarat.

Another Brother, Stephen Farrell, a Christian Brother at St Alpius Boys’ School in Ballarat East, had allegations of sexual abuse made against him from six people, with the abuse allegedly occurring between 1971 and 1974. In 1997, Farrell was convicted of nine counts of indecent assault against two boys aged nine and 10 at the school but his two-year prison sentence was wholly suspended.

If you’re a guy with a taste for raping children…what do you do? You have a think about where a lot of children can be found, then you have a think about how to get away with it.

One, Brother Edward Dowlan, “made little attempt to conceal his behaviour”, Barlow said, frequently placing his hands down boys’ pants while they walked around. In a previous commission hearing about Ballarat held last year, the commission heard from a witness that he was raped by Dowlan.

It was a survival of the fittest environment, Barlow said, describing how the Brothers beat him, including bashing him on the head, when he was 15 years old.

He said he tried to stick up for the younger children who he knew who were being abused by the Brothers but was not taken seriously, even when he called his mother from the school and told her what was happening.

“Looking back at my time at St Patrick’s we were in a dysfunctional and closed environment where the abnormal was normal,” Barlow said.

“As 15 to 16 year olds, we had no idea really of the outside codes of ethics, morality and justice, so it was not a notable thing for us to see that these things were happening.”

So perfect for the predators. Not so great for the prey.

Ignoring the persisting dynamics

Feb 22nd, 2016 3:07 pm | By

The Open Letter by itself wasn’t enough, Alana Lentin also had to put out a “press release” about it, as if it were important. It’s more of the same shite but put into the third person to make it sound newsy and official and impersonal, the way Bill Donohue does with his absurd press releases.

(London, February 22) – Peter Tatchell’s actions in bullying and inciting a media furor against a student who criticized him in a private e-mail reflect a disturbing intolerance toward dissenting views, said 116 human rights activists and scholars in an open letter published today. The media coverage of the concocted controversy also feeds a national moral panic over inflated claims of “no-platforming” – a panic that actually contributes to silencing marginal voices.

See how that works? It sounds like journalism, but it isn’t, it’s just more bullshit from Alana Lentin, along with some of her friends who said things for her to quote.

‘Each generation has a moral panic about the one that follows it,’ said Sarah Brown, UK campaigner for LGBT equality and one of the 116 signatories. ‘Older activists and journalists are bullying a young person in the press, without a right of reply, over opinions expressed in private, all in the name of “free speech”. It seems some folks are short of both moral fibre and a sense of irony — but I’m pretty sure it’s not the young people.’

Not in private though, according to Peter Tatchell – he says she was showing them to other people.

‘If you think you are an ally, take criticism,’ said Roz Kaveney, writer, critic, and poet, and longtime advocate for transgender rights. ‘Allies who don’t take criticism get in the way at best. And allies who can’t take criticism display an arrogant sense of superiority.’

No matter how empty, stupid and malevolent the “criticism” is? Nope, not going to do that.

‘This incident points to a growing tendency to minimise the effects of discrimination on marginalised groups,’ added Alana Lentin, Associate Professor of Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University in Australia. ‘Among liberals, for example, “postracial” celebrations of the end of racism are increasingly common, ignoring the persisting dynamics of white supremacy.’

You know what another growing tendency is? The one to minimise the effects of discrimination on women, ignoring the persisting dynamics of patriarchal dominance. I wonder why Alana Lentin didn’t mention that one.

I don’t really wonder. That was sarcasm. I think she didn’t because she’s part of it because it’s central to current trans politics: ignore the marginalization of women so that trans women can freely demonize and shun women and feminists.


“Simply expressing religious opinions about homosexual acts”

Feb 22nd, 2016 12:28 pm | By

Yet another Open Letter to Peter Tatchell – perhaps the most confused to date.

I am hosting this open letter on Peter Tatchell, Censorship, and Criticism written by concerned activists, writers and scholars. The letter has been signed by over 100 people. To add your signature, please email Here is a link to a press release put out today, February 22 to accompany it

As human rights activists, writers, and scholars, we strongly condemn the actions of Peter Tatchell in bullying, vilifying, and inciting a media furor against a student who criticized him in a private e-mail. These attacks exemplify a pattern; Tatchell has repeatedly shown intolerance of criticism and disrespect for others’ free expression. They also exemplify a broader problem. A moral panic over inflated claims of ‘no-platforming’ reflects a persistent, deep resistance to diversity in intellectual and public life.

What? Objecting to no-platforming and/or related forms of shunning reflects resistance to diversity in intellectual and public life? As opposed to shunning itself doing that?

It all depends on which shoe is on which foot, of course. The words all depend on who is talking and who is the talked-about. I don’t have a single, firm, no exceptions view on no platforming and other shunning, because I think it depends, and has to depend. I think it’s ludicrous to shun Peter Tatchell while I don’t think it’s ludicrous to shun, say, Roy Warden. I think some protests are more reasonable than others. But I think it’s flagrantly absurd to claim that objecting to shunning people over minute differences reflects resistance to diversity as opposed to advocacy of diversity. I don’t buy the claim that you get more diversity in intellectual and public life by shunning Peter Tatchell.

UK media have attacked Fran Cowling, National Union of Students (NUS) LGBT+ Officer (Women’s Place), for allegedly ‘no-platforming’ Tatchell from a conference on “Re-Radicalizing Queers” held at Canterbury Christchurch University. These reports are simply untrue.

The facts are these. Cowling was invited to attend the conference by the event organizer, another Canterbury Christchurch student. She declined. Her decision not to attend was informed by her belief that Peter Tatchell has engaged in problematic tactics and politics regarding Muslim, Black and trans communities, for which she provided evidence. Without permission, the other student forwarded this confidential email chain to Peter Tatchell.

Waaaaaaaaaait a second there. Slow down. Cowling was invited to attend? Well if she was invited to attend, why did she feel any need to “provide evidence” of anything? Why didn’t she just say no, or no, I can’t, but thank you? Why did she need to tell the organizer about her “belief that Peter Tatchell has engaged in problematic tactics and politics regarding Muslim, Black and trans communities”?

And note the awful, stupid, thought-free wording of that claim – note the pious way of lumping all those people together as “communities” and pretending Tatchell dissed all of them. Note the creep-word “problematic.”

In the following days, Peter emailed NUS demanding further evidence for this claim. NUS assured him he had not been ‘no platformed’ and that Fran’s decision was not an organisational one. Tatchell persisted, however, and on the afternoon of February 11 he demanded that Fran Cowling apologise to him and to the University for her private e-mail. Less than 24 hours later, NUS received a press request from the Observer: Peter had forwarded them the emails. They asked why he had been ‘no platformed’.

In the massive furor that followed Fran Cowling has been smeared, bullied, trolled, and harassed in the national press and on social media. Tatchell has personally vilified her and encouraged others to do so, writing in the right-wing Telegraph that she posed a threat to “enlightenment values.” Yet Tatchell was never censored. He spoke at the conference; he took his case to the Telegraph and Newsnight; he has not been “silenced.”

But he’s been accused of being “problematic,” and we know where that leads. It leads to being silenced. It leads to being discredited among the people Tatchell works with – his “community” if you like.

Peter Tatchell has little credibility as a free-speech defender.

  • Tatchell has a long record of urging that public platforms be denied members of ethnic and religious groups, especially He has called for banning so-called “Islamist” speakers from Universities. He has even demanded mosques apologise “for hosting homophobic hate preachers” and give “assurances that they will not host them again.” Tatchell claims the right to decide who qualifies as a “homophobic hate preacher”; what counts is not inciting violence or any tangible threats to LGBT Londoners, but rather simply expressing religious opinions about homosexual acts. The peculiar urgency with which Tatchell targets Muslims lends credibility to the charge of racial insensitivity.

Wow. So Alana Lentin is saying “religious opinions” about “homosexual acts” are not something that should be protested or apologized for, while Peter Tatchell is. And then calling him racist for good measure.

This is not my Left. I shun it.

Not just a few

Feb 22nd, 2016 10:58 am | By

From the Huffington Post UK:

A transgender student is set to make history and represent the UK’s female students by running to become the National Union of Students’ women’s officer.

Anna Lee, a student at Lancaster University who describes herself as a “queer trans disabled lesbian woman”, is the first openly trans woman to stand for election in a national role. Lee is currently her students’ union’s vice president for welfare and community, and says she is “passionate” about equal rights.

There’s a Facebook page for her campaign.

“I never believed that running to be national women’s officer was a possibility,” she said in a Facebook post. “I felt that I had hit a glass ceiling. Now, I find myself in unchartered waters, and some shards of that glass ceiling will undoubtedly hit me.

“I know the Women’s Campaign is ready. I know NUS is ready. I’m not convinced that the rest of society is.”

I don’t see why it should be. Why not have a national trans people’s officer instead? Or two of them? I don’t think a trans woman should seek to represent women, because trans women don’t have the common or garden version of the experience of growing up female in a still sexist world. They have the experience of being trans, instead.

“But – when the transphobic ‘feminists’ come and try to tear me down, I will just fight harder and with the help of amazing activists we will show them, together, that the NUS Women’s Campaign demonstrates a progressive approach to inclusive feminism.”

The maths student’s pledges include fighting for a “statutory, gender neutral sex education” for students, decriminalisation of sex workers, and lobbying for a debate in parliament over tampon tax in SUs.

Lee accuses mainstream feminism of “constantly” forgetting about trans women, and says the NUS should be fighting for all women, “not just a few”.

She wants to be the women’s officer and the very first thing she does is bash feminism. What good is an anti-feminist women’s officer? She wants to be the women’s officer and she considers women to be “just a few”? She wants to be the women’s officer and she thinks women are some tiny trivial minority that doesn’t count?

This is where trans activism is right now: constantly bashing women and feminism, and demanding that feminism put trans women first. It doesn’t have to be that way, it never had to be that way, but that’s how it’s playing out. It’s sad and destructive and pathetic.

Meet Roy Warden

Feb 22nd, 2016 9:02 am | By

Peter Walker on Facebook:

From Roy Warden, organizer of Tucson’s “Justice for LaVoy” rally, March 5:

“I will bet that even now “patriots” are polishing 30-06 rounds (I know ex-military types highly proficient with the 50 caliber round) vowing to “make a name for themselves,” eager for history to record them as “the man who took the shooters down.” So, if I was a member of the crew who “took down” LaVoy Finicum. I would know this: no matter where you hide, you and your families will be exposed. Your ONLY hope is for “justice” to prevail. If I was you I would frog-march my sorry ass down and throw myself at the feet of the nearest U.S. Attorney and beg, literally beg for an indictment and a trial. Because; until you are tried and acquitted in your community by a jury of your peers, your lives will continue to be worth less than a bucket of warm spit.© 2/19/16 Roy Warden”

So Roy Warden is inciting murder.

One subthread on that post is about a guy called Gary Hunt who was at the illegal “occupation” of Malheur. He’s a fan of Timothy McVeigh and, according to the commenter who met him at Malheur, said “The only thing that McVeigh did wrong was not bombing at night.” She says the media ignored him, and she wonders why. She took a photo of him, which she posted on the thread.

And another sleuth pointed out that the SPLC knows Roy Warden. They wrote about him in 2006:

Brandishing insults and a gun, Roy Warden routinely threatens Latinos with death. Some observers fear the worst.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Sunday services were under way inside St. Augustine’s Cathedral. Outside, the summer air was still and quiet except for a few birds chirping in a courtyard near the entrance. But the serenity was doomed. A car pulled up, and a graying, bespectacled man carrying a handgun and a loudspeaker got out, two cameramen in tow.

Working fast, he positioned a collection of lawn chairs on the public sidewalk in front of the Catholic cathedral, then encircled the lawn chairs with what appeared to be a series of pink jump ropes and planted two American flags. With the bravado of a professional wrestler, he then stepped into the roped-off ring he’d constructed, threw down a Mexican flag, and ceremoniously stomped on it, grinding his heel for the cameras.

Then he turned on the loudspeaker and addressed the worshippers inside St. Augustine’s.

“You people don’t seem to understand forbidden territory, whether it’s a child’s anus or the American border! You just want to push on in, don’t you?” he screamed, his face flushed with anger. “We are going to be driving you back to Mexico real goddamn soon!” Spit flew from his mouth. “Get used to it! My name is Roy Warden, and I burn Mexican flags!”

Now he’s inciting vigilante murder of cops. (Cops don’t always get everything right, but they don’t always get everything wrong, either. They gave LaVoy Finicum plenty of time to surrender.)

With a fanny pack loaded with water bottles strapped to his belly, a Glock 9mm on his hip, and a bullhorn to amplify his outrage, Roy Warden, 59, emerged this spring as one of the country’s most controversial, volatile, and, many believe, dangerous characters of the anti-immigration movement. Along with occasional sidekicks Russ Dove, a former militia leader and convicted car thief, and Laine Lawless, the founder of the group Border Guardians who earlier this year urged neo-Nazis to terrorize Hispanics, Warden has burned and trampled Mexican flags in public, nearly started at least one riot, regularly wreaked havoc on Tucson City Council proceedings, and E-mailed a death threat to a prominent local public defender.

Ten years later, he’s still threatening and inciting.