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Orwell Prize Winner Janice Turner’s latest article deserves its own thread

(71 Posts)
NotBadConsidering Sat 11-Jul-20 09:41:47

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/59a66a62-c2e8-11ea-ac82-8308736f5ec7?shareToken=ec44efc7f098f76d0a75ed74f472a978

The section about what happened in 2017 is shocking. But the whole article is Janice at her brilliant best.

I would also add that I read the Billy Bragg article in The Guardian, and not only was it a load of rubbish, but the comments were overwhelmingly in support of what Janice is saying here, showing the Guardian is way out of touch with its readership.

OP’s posts: |
PenguindreamsofDraco Sat 11-Jul-20 09:59:17

It's a brilliant article. Brava Janice and thank you.

highame Sat 11-Jul-20 10:01:51

John Woodhouse wrote this in response to the article. We need numbers and that is beginning to happen Isn't it ironic that these poor suffering trans bullies feel so unsafe in normal work situations but have no trouble screeching at anyone with a different point of view and hitting women in Hyde Park. They are particularly clever in reformulating any opposition as right wing fascism. We need many more very public surveys of opinion to smoke them out as the troublesome and loudmouth bigots that they are. Face up to them and they will hide away behind their key boards. We need critical mass to say stuff you BillyBragg. Useless musician and idiot thinker. Go back to your cliff top in Dorset and shut up.

Great article by Janice Turner

larrygrylls Sat 11-Jul-20 10:04:57

Good article but the whole ‘privilege’ concept is a way to silence different classes of people.

I am not convinced that people on here are really pro free speech, just pro free speech when it agrees with them.

Muttonindistress Sat 11-Jul-20 10:08:14

Does anyone have a link to the Billy Bragg Guardian article? I’ve been so disappointed (bloody furious) at him on Twitter and I’m hoping the comments under the article might cheer me up.

NotBadConsidering Sat 11-Jul-20 10:09:50

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/10/free-speech-young-people

Look at the comments with most recommendations. The Guardian doesn’t understand its readers at all. It’s heartening.

OP’s posts: |
boatyardblues Sat 11-Jul-20 10:19:19

larrygrylls

Good article but the whole ‘privilege’ concept is a way to silence different classes of people.

I am not convinced that people on here are really pro free speech, just pro free speech when it agrees with them.

The interesting thing about the trans issue is that it has made me much more clear about the importance of free-speech. I had a conversation with in laws about this a year or so ago and my response was on these lines: it is important that we all have free speech. Other people may have utterly repugnant views that I disagree with, but I defend their right to free speech. There are law to deal with stuff that crosses the line into incitement or worse. I’m not OK with the baying mob shutting people down and stifling debate because democracy cannot thrive, or survive, under those conditions.

Also the realisation that stating simple biological fact is heretical in the 20th century has been a sobering one. 🤷‍♂️

TorkTorkBam Sat 11-Jul-20 10:20:08

The only way you can test if you are truly pro free speech is to discover whether you are truly capable of listening to people you strongly disagree with and if you can then bear the idea of other people listening to those views.

boatyardblues Sat 11-Jul-20 10:20:10

21st even. I need more coffee & a spellchecker.

larrygrylls Sat 11-Jul-20 10:27:50

Tork,

I agree. The Orwell quote at the start of the Guardian article (even though the writer disagreed with it) sums it up eloquently.

larrygrylls Sat 11-Jul-20 10:32:08

Boatyard,

Aside from incitement to violence, when does free speech become a ‘baying mob’? It is not N easy line to draw.

For instance, do you think the term ‘cis woman’ should be banned? I understand why people don’t like it, but is dislike or even repugnance a reason to ban something?

OvaHere Sat 11-Jul-20 10:39:17

I am not convinced that people on here are really pro free speech, just pro free speech when it agrees with them

I don't I've ever been keen on people losing jobs or engagements for speech but I admit it's difficult to be a free speech absolutist across the board.

I've found myself torn on the recent David Starkey cancellation. I greatly dislike him and found the manner in which he described black people repugnant. Was it right that he lost virtually all his positions? My gut reaction was that it made his position untenable.

A week later I'm still not sure if my instincts are right or not. So yes, the concept of free speech is much easier when it aligns with something you stand for and much harder when it's something you have a visceral reaction to.

Freespeecher Sat 11-Jul-20 10:45:21

larrygrylls

C'mon dude...

Thinkingabout1t Sat 11-Jul-20 10:50:07

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
It breaks my heart that Billy Bragg is making a fool of himself, trying to ‘correct’ George Orwell’s famous statement on free speech.

Billy, George Orwell knew what he was talking about (not that he needs my approval!). I used to think you did. You have fallen at the first fence on this one: if you mustn’t offend anyone, it’s not free speech. It’s just polite social chat.

BernardBlackMissesLangCleg Sat 11-Jul-20 10:54:18

regarding the 'cancelling' of david starkey, the hypocrisy of the organisations giving him positions is the problem here i think

he's always been pretty open about his views

ideally being an open racist would mean that you would not be put in positions of power and responsibility over others, but many institutions were happy to do this for starkey.

but then when a critical mass of people noticing was reached they were equally happy to snatch those positions away. displaying both cowardice and hypocrisy

truthisarevolutionaryact Sat 11-Jul-20 10:55:47

It's a great article and fantastic comments.
And it's a good thing that (as is seen repeatedly on this board) women are constantly discussing and agonising over free speech and the complexities.

NotBadConsidering Sat 11-Jul-20 10:55:54

Back to Janice’s article, this bit stood out:

The Orwell Foundation tells me that when I was shortlisted in 2017, because my submitted articles included an investigation into the global spike in teenage girls identifying as trans, it was threatened with pickets and considered hiring private security to protect staff. So this year it had to formulate a plan in case of fallout because I had won.

Shocking.

OP’s posts: |
OldCrone Sat 11-Jul-20 11:08:21

larrygrylls

Boatyard,

Aside from incitement to violence, when does free speech become a ‘baying mob’? It is not N easy line to draw.

For instance, do you think the term ‘cis woman’ should be banned? I understand why people don’t like it, but is dislike or even repugnance a reason to ban something?

The short answer to your last two questions is "no".

When MNHQ first drafted the guidelines for FWR, they only banned terms which TRAs found offensive, such as "TIM". The banning of terms like "cis" and "TERF" was to balance this, otherwise it was only feminists who were being censored, not TRAs (who mostly don't even post on here).

The overwhelming consensus amongst those of us who do post on here was that there should be no censorship or special rules for this part of MN.

I agree with the majority on here that free and open debate is preferable to censorship, and obviously that means allowing those I disagree with to speak freely.

Bluepolkadots42 Sat 11-Jul-20 11:23:40

I like to think I believe strongly in free speech.
I have been lurking on numerous threads about trans-rights and the trans community- there were lots when JK Rowling published that blog- and I was keen to read threads covering both sides of the debate to ensure any conclusions I drew were informed.

One thing that did spring to my mind- particularly when reading comments from posters who expressed real concern about rises in the number of children identifying as trans- was whether people say 40 or 50 years ago were making similar comments except about gay people? I suspect 50 years ago it was very rare for children to openly say they identified as gay because of the social context at the time, (but that doesn't mean they didn't exist) however there would surely have been more gay people in their late teens/early 20s being open about their sexuality leading to some form of concern for some members of society. I don't really know where I'm going next with this rambling thought- but interested in others' views.

RedToothBrush Sat 11-Jul-20 11:24:37

Love Janice.

Orwell is my hill to die on.

Silencing of free speech, whether it be on the right or the left, inhibits the power to hold people to account because censorship is a top down power that is ultimately enforced by the state.

We strangely have a situation at present where the law is being misapplied to the general population through institutions over stepping the limits of the law, but the most elite in government are actually above the law when it comes to their behaviour and are not held to account because the culture mob are too busy hunting witches for their heretic beliefs rather than focusing on real abuses of power.

The only ones outside this bubble are those financially able to fight and protect themselves by arguing to apply the law as it actually is rather than how others have written it.

It's a perfect 'divide and conquer' situation for Oligarchy. And yet professed socialist Bragg is too stupid to see this.

Freedom of speech includes the right to be morally wrong but this means that we do not give unaccountable and unlimited power outside the limits of law to censor either.

Where we have failed most is in the unnoticed ebbing away of justice, where the powerless are not equal in law because of economics. This means we are unable to enforce our rights via the channels we are supposed to, meaning that our rights on paper have little practical meaning to the poorest. The erosion of the justice system has been sanctioned directly by the state by austerity and the rise of the idea of the 'undeserving' and ideas of how if you do wrong you should lose your rights.

It is a complete loss of all understanding about human rights, equality and liberalism being centred on the very concept of the truth, the pursuit of the truth, the promotion of the truth as what enlightens us and makes us progress as a society. And how this ultimately frees society from its prejudices.

This is what upsets me most about the Liberal Democrats and Labour. They are working against the very principles upon which they were founded. It just leaves the Right to colonise and exploit the fact that middle class managers are rewriting law and justice outside the channels of power, how the poorest are most vulnerable to this power and leaves them to be exploited and how the most powerful are then left to run riot at everyone's expense.

The fact no one seems to see it is the most upsetting this.

The idea that the truth will set you free, is no longer true in the UK. It is the foundation rock of justice. It simply no longer exists.

NotBadConsidering Sat 11-Jul-20 11:31:32

The only reason FWR has its own special moderation rules is because TRAs bullied MNHQ, painted this place as a “hive of transphobia”, targeted advertisers and placed MNHQ in an unenviable position to try and keep the peace.

Or in other words, it was exactly as written in Janice’s article.

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RoyalCorgi Sat 11-Jul-20 11:31:32

Janice's article today is superb. It's one of her best.

More than anything, it exposes both the absurdity of Bragg's position and the fundamentally illiberal and authoritarian nature of the Guardian. If I was Kath Viner, I would read that and feel deeply ashamed of what I had done to a once-great paper.

BernardBlackMissesLangCleg Sat 11-Jul-20 11:31:55

Bluepolkadots42

wishing to conform with the stereotypes of appearance and behaviour typically associated with the opposite sex =/= being gay

does that answer your question?

RedToothBrush Sat 11-Jul-20 11:32:12

A week later I'm still not sure if my instincts are right or not. So yes, the concept of free speech is much easier when it aligns with something you stand for and much harder when it's something you have a visceral reaction to.

Oh absolutely.

It's deeply uncomfortable. I also think he shares views that many others do. His crime was to do so publicly.

The problem is, that at least he was transparent so if he discriminated on the basis of those views we could probably hold him to account. But others who have similar views within the institution may be discriminating but because they do it silently its unseen and much more problematic in terms of accountability.

Driving the problem underground whilst simultaneously driving up resentment due to a lack of free speech doesn't really help us in the long run.

OvaHere Sat 11-Jul-20 11:32:58

One thing that did spring to my mind- particularly when reading comments from posters who expressed real concern about rises in the number of children identifying as trans- was whether people say 40 or 50 years ago were making similar comments except about gay people? I suspect 50 years ago it was very rare for children to openly say they identified as gay because of the social context at the time, (but that doesn't mean they didn't exist) however there would surely have been more gay people in their late teens/early 20s being open about their sexuality leading to some form of concern for some members of society. I don't really know where I'm going next with this rambling thought- but interested in others' views.

I've considered this as have many others here. The questions for me are why there is such a divide in demographics - 4000% rise in female children/teens? What causes this disparity?

Ditto middle aged transitioners are overwhelmingly male - if a certain percentage of people are randomly 'born in the wrong body' shouldn't we see a more even spread across age and sex demographics?

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