For the union makes us strong

The Telegraph on the awkwardness of having a new union boss who uses a blocker to block a hefty proportion of union members:

Feminist academics have complained that their new union boss cannot uphold free speech because she has refused to listen to opposing views in the transgender debate.

Dr Jo Grady, who was elected on Friday as the new general secretary of the University and College Union, used a controversial “Terf-blocker” which is a tool on Twitter that allows users to block a list of accounts.

A very long list of accounts. I’m on it, which I know because a lot of people I’ve never heard of or interacted with (before seeing “Has X blocked you too?” tweeted) have blocked me. It’s a stupid reason to mass-block people: not for being rude or abusive but for having an officially disapproved opinion on whether people can change themselves into the opposite sex by saying so.

Ms Grady has defended her past use of a “Terf-blocker”, which she said is an “easy mechanism for blocking large numbers of accounts that have been identified as articulating transphobic views”.

Except that “transphobic” is the wrong word. We’re supposed to think “transphobic” is parallel to racism and misogyny, but the word includes people who simply don’t agree that people can change sex with an assertion. That isn’t phobic.

Prof Selina Todd, an expert in modern history at Oxford University, said that she and many colleauges consider “Terf” to be an “abusive term”.

Refusing to debate with people whose views you disagree with is not a suitable approach for a representative of academics, she said.

Prof Rosa Freedman, Reading University’s chair of law, conflict and global development, said that by using a Terf-blocker “legitimises” the narrative that anyone who expresses gender critical views poses a danger to transgender students.

“She is in a position of leadership and is supposed to defend all academics and academic freedom,” she added.

It’s in the job description.

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