Thursday, February 17, 2022

Hate Spech versus Free Speech In UK

Authored by Judith Bergman via The Gatestone Institute,

"It isn't hate to speak the truth." — J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, Twitter, June 6, 2020.

"An entire generation are puzzled by the idea that anyone has the right to say things they don't agree with...for most people, true free speech has ceased to exist.... On some issues, such as the transgender controversy, it is virtually impossible to say anything without attracting the attention of the Thought Police." — Peter Hitchens, author and journalist, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.

"Among millions, the idea that you can defend someone's right to say something you disagree with is now puzzling. They have no idea why anyone would do that. For them, the debate is over, they have won, and those who oppose them are stupid and wrong." — Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.

"They also view my doubts about the theory of man-made global warming as 'denial' of a fact which they

regard as proven. To them, this is little short of sabotage of efforts to combat this peril." — Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.

"All of them believed that they owned the truth, that they were profoundly good and that those who got in their way were therefore evil as well as wrong." — Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, found herself denounced as transphobic. She received not just a storm of social media abuse, but death threats, for saying that biological sex is real and that biological males should not be allowed into women's spaces simply by declaring themselves to be women. Pictured: Rowling accepts the "Ripple of Hope Award" from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, on December 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)

Freedom of speech not just under attack from the woke left in the UK, according to a recent YouGov poll, it has lost that fight and mortally wounded is on its death bed. When a representative sample (so the polling company claimed,) of Britons were asked what should be the priority, defending the right to free speech or protecting peoples' feelings, 43% of respondents said protecting people from offensive or hateful speech should be the priority, while only 38% said the focus should be on protecting free speech. Generally, men and conservative voters were more concerned about protecting free speech, while women, younger people and Labour voters were more concerned about blocking offensive or hateful speech.

The poll also suggested that self-censorship is thriving: 57% of those polled said they have stopped themselves from expressing political or social views for fear of judgement or negative responses from others." According to the poll:

"In most cases, those holding what might be considered the 'un-progressive' view more frequently omit their opinions on that topic. For example, those who believe immigration has generally been a bad thing for the UK... those who disagree with the statement 'a transgendered woman is a woman' feel they have to frequently keep bottled up."

In recent years it has been proved beyond doubt that polls are not only inaccurate, they are highly likely to reflect the vews espoused by the individual or organisation that commissioned the surevey. From personal observation I would say that while working and lower middle class people are more careful about what they say when in unfamiliar company, among like minded friends and family people are as outspoken as ever. Where free speech is most under attack is in the media, the universities and the debating chambers of political institutions, the very places where it should be most robustly defended.

Recent years have offered many examples of the dire conditions of suppressed free speech in the UK. Opinions that a person's biological sex takes precedence over "gender identity" -- that identifying as a woman is not the same as being born a woman, or that transgender men competing against women in sports creates an unfair playing field -- provoke some of the fiercest backlash.

Professor Kathleen Stock, for instance, from Sussex University, ended up resigning after being denounced as "transphobic" by students and receiving death threats for her views on transgenderism. According to one report:

Stock criticized the idea that "One aspect in particular that baffled her was the claim that a person's belief about their psychological identity, whether they are male or female, is more important than their material sex at birth — not least due to the impact such categories have on medicine, sport, science, education and more."

Stock decided to

resign from her position after her own lecturer's union sent a letter urging the university's management to "take a clear and strong stance against transphobia at Sussex."

Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology at the Open University, resigned from her position in December after receiving abuse from colleagues and the university. She had, among other problematic matters, spoken out about "the silencing of academic debate on trans issues" as well as pointing out the problems of housing transgender women in women's prisons.