Compelled belief

The Times on how Essex University got it so wrong:

Forster’s apologies came as Essex University published the damning report of an 18-month independent inquiry by barrister Akua Reindorf. It found that Essex had failed to uphold free speech, labelled Phoenix and Freedman transphobes, and subjected them to mass complaints in what Phoenix has described as a “mob atmosphere”. The two professors believe that men cannot become women by surgery and that it is important to protect women-only spaces in institutions such as prisons and refuges, views which are anathema to some trans activists.

That puts it the wrong way around though. It’s not that they “believe” that men cannot become women by surgery so much as it is that they don’t believe that men can become women via surgery (or anything else). People don’t have affirmative beliefs about all the impossible things, because there are too many and we don’t have time. We take the simpler path of just not believing impossible things. A bunch of very confused people have started insisting that men can become women via surgery or by merely saying so, but the rest of us just don’t share their peculiar and incoherent belief. It’s theirs, it’s not ours, that’s all. There’s no need for us to expend extra energy believing that men can’t turn into women, we just don’t believe they can.

The pair were this week sent unredacted copies of Reindorf’s report and were shocked at the detail in it. Phoenix discovered that a flyer was circulated with “violent and profane” imagery, including the image of a gun, and the words Shut the F*** Up TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), a pejorative term for someone considered transphobic.

And apparently the people in charge at Essex just thought that was ok, deserved, appropriate?

Freedman, who is Jewish and an adviser to the UN, was “disinvited” from speaking on a panel on antisemitism at Essex to mark Holocaust Memorial Week because of her views on transgender issues. A member of the university staff later tweeted comparing her to a Holocaust denier. “Essex [University] did nothing about the academic who compared me to a Holocaust denier,” she said. “When I read the unredacted report it confirmed to me what I already knew — which is that there were complaints about me being interviewed for a job at Essex. The undercurrent of vindictiveness and nastiness made me feel I was going a bit mad. It has had an impact on family life and mental wellbeing.”

All this because we can’t believe something we consider impossible.

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