Tag Archive for Free Speech

At long last, TERFs, have you no sense of decency?

"Free Speech", by Randal Munroe, CC-BY-NC

I can’t remem­ber where I heard this, but some­one once said that defend­ing a posi­tion by cit­ing free speech is sort of the ulti­mate con­ces­sion; you’re say­ing that the most com­pelling thing you can say for your posi­tion is that it’s not lit­er­ally ille­gal to express.”

The trans­pho­bic and whore­pho­bic streak of the Guardian/Observer/whatever con­tin­ued this week­end, when over a hun­dred peo­ple signed an open let­ter con­demn­ing the “cen­sor­ship” of trans­pho­bic and whore­pho­bic fem­i­nists. The death throes of this kind of fem­i­nism are becom­ing more appar­ent every day, and when ide­olo­gies die like this, the few dog­matic fol­low­ers left try to claim that peo­ple not tol­er­at­ing their big­otry are “cen­sor­ing” them.

Of course, of the three exam­ples they’ve given, they’re all com­plete bull­shit. Kate Smurth­waite wasn’t cen­sored by Gold­smiths Fem­Soc; the Com­edy Soci­ety can­celled her gig when she only sold eight tick­ets. Nei­ther was Ger­maine Greer cen­sored; her event went ahead with nary an inter­rup­tion, while Cam­bridge University’s LGBT+ Soci­ety hosted a pro-trans event in response. And, of course, they bring up Julie Bindel’s no plat­form­ing by the NUS LGBT and Women’s Cam­paigns. I’ve long been crit­i­cal of the polit­i­cal approach of No Plat­form, believ­ing it to always end up being used against us. Still, under the safety approach of No Plat­form, Julie “threat­ened to shoot trans women for get­ting safer sex work pol­icy past Lib Dem Con­fer­ence” Bindel shouldn’t be given a platform.

Sarah Brown, Zoe O’Connell, and Nat­acha Kennedy, to name three peo­ple, have blogged in response to the letter’s frankly bizarre claims. In par­tic­u­lar, there’s a com­mon theme among the three women expos­ing the log­i­cal dis­con­nect that these peo­ple with news­pa­per columns are writ­ing to news­pa­pers to protest their being cen­sored by… peo­ple with plac­ards and Twit­ter accounts? And indeed, these peo­ple are mak­ing a huge mis­take in con­fus­ing free­dom of speech with free­dom of asso­ci­a­tion and free­dom from con­se­quences. A uni­ver­sity union or a news­pa­per isn’t obliged to give some­one a plat­form. And if Rupert Read wanted to not be crit­i­cised by his prospec­tive con­stituents for his polit­i­cal views, he shouldn’t be a can­di­date for polit­i­cal office. They prob­a­bly know that; as Sarah’s already said, “those who signed [the let­ter] and have a his­tory of trans­pho­bia and whore­pho­bia know what they’re doing and are being deeply cyn­i­cal here”.

With all that out-of-the-way, I’m going to focus on today’s post by “Terry Mac­Don­ald” from the bas­tion of trans­pho­bia and whore­pho­bia and for­merly left-liberal pub­li­ca­tion New States­man, titled “Are you now or have you ever been a TERF?

» Read more..

Il n’est pas Charlie

Liberté Guidant le Peuple

We stand squarely for free speech and democ­racy”, said David Cameron last Wednes­day at Prime Minister’s Ques­tions, not more than an hour after the attacks on the French mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo. This is a rather strange propo­si­tion for the leader of a party who pro­posed to rein­state the ban on “extrem­ists” from appear­ing on tele­vi­sion and have been try­ing for the past few years to rein­tro­duce the “snooper’s char­ter”. Indeed, the Tories have gone rather native in the Home Office, in con­trast to five years ago when we were all crit­i­cis­ing Labour for restrict­ing our civil liberties.

Sev­eral hours later, the House of Com­mons then debated a somewhat–but not sufficiently–diluted Counter Ter­ror­ism and Secu­rity Bill, in which Tory and Labour front­benchers alike praised the bill for being an impor­tant tool in the fight against pae­dophiles and ter­ror­ists: the two words that friends of this blog have pre­vi­ously high­lighted as result­ing in uni­ver­sally awful legislation.

After this brief sojourn into hypocrisy, Cameron took a flight to Paris where he stood side-by-side with the world’s auto­crats and despots in the name of free speech. Whilst there, he lent his name to an agree­ment for more sur­veil­lance pow­ers. One would think that Charb and his seven col­leagues would not want that in their name. But Cameron went one step fur­ther, and pro­posed the worst idea to reg­u­late a spe­cial­ist field since Labour tried to ban cof­fee eigh­teen months ago: a ban on encryp­tion.

» Read more..

My speech on digital freedom to the Liberal Democrat Conference

Mak­ing your first speech at a polit­i­cal con­fer­ence is tough, espe­cially when you know that the media are watch­ing you as well as del­e­gates there. That didn’t stop me, as a first-time con­fer­ence attendee, from mak­ing a speech to the Lib Dem Spring Con­fer­ence in York last Sun­day, on the Dig­i­tal Bill of Rights motion. Hav­ing been per­suaded to by Julian Hup­pert and Tim Far­ron to men­tion dig­i­tal free­dom at Con­fer­ence, I decided to make such a speech, which I repro­duce below:

» Read more..

Rhys Morgan, and an attack on free speech

Rhys Mor­gan hit the head­lines a few weeks ago due to his work in pub­li­cis­ing Stanis­law Burzyn­ski’s frad­u­lent alter­na­tive med­i­cine prac­tices. I hold him in some high regard as, at his age, I wasn’t too heav­ily involved in skep­ti­cism (although a friend of mine was, and was par­tially the rea­son why I later became active in the athe­ist movement).

Also in the news was a dis­pute between Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don and their athe­ist soci­ety, after an image from the web­comic Jesus and Mo was used to pro­mote one of their face­book event. Obvi­ously, this caused Mus­lims on cam­pus to com­plain about the offen­sive­ness of the image. It’s noth­ing new; Leeds Athe­ist Soci­ety was forced to can­cel a show­ing and debate of the con­tro­ver­sial film Fitna back in 2009 for the same rea­son. » Read more..

%d bloggers like this: