“Hate speech” has no legal meaning

The Times (London of that ilk) reports that students are being told they can’t ban speakers for “transphobia.”

Feminists who believe that transgender women are still men should not be barred from speaking at universities because their views do not break the law, students have been told.

What an odd way of putting it. We’re not the ones using our “beliefs” as bludgeons here. It’s not a matter of believing trans women are men, it’s just a matter of acknowledging obvious and slightly banal facts. It’s the people who insist that trans women are women [in every possible sense] who are resorting to beliefs, not the people who say no, the word “trans” isn’t that magical. By the same token we don’t believe dogs aren’t cats and oak trees aren’t daffodils, we just recognize the facts of the matter.

The guidance has been written by the Equality and Human Rights Commission with the National Union of Students and university leaders.

The guidance says that hate speech has “no legal meaning. The criminal law balances the right to freedom of expression with the protection of individuals and communities from threats, abuse and harassment both on and offline. Where this line is crossed, the perpetrator may be prosecuted.”

Universities have struggled most with the issue of transsexual rights. Linda Bellos, a feminist, has had invitations to speak revoked, and there have been attempts to stop Germaine Greer speaking. In November Dame Jenni Murray, the broadcaster, pulled out of an event at the Oxford University History Society after demonstrations were threatened. All have been accused of transphobia for expressing the view that trans women cannot lay claim to full womanhood. The guidance makes clear that this view is “lawful” and that a decision to “no-platform” the speaker or revoke an invitation would breach their right to free speech and that of students to “receive ideas”.

The view is lawful; imagine that!

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