A piece in today’s Times:
The Guardian has been convulsed after publishing an article by its longstanding columnist Suzanne Moore. Its appearance triggered a letter of protest to the editor, signed by 338 Guardian and Observer employees. Getting on for half the workforce thus believe that their readers should not have been allowed to see what Moore wrote.
What was so shocking about this incendiary piece? Moore supported the Oxford professor Selina Todd, who had been accused of “transphobia” and disinvited from giving a two-minute vote of thanks at a feminist event. Todd was targeted because she had addressed a meeting of Woman’s Place UK, a group that campaigns for separate services for women. And that, of course, is viewed as “transphobic” too.
Moore understandably observed that this showed “we have gone through the looking-glass” to be told by transgender activists that sex is merely assigned at birth rather than being a material fact. On the contrary, she wrote, “sex is not a feeling. Female is a biological classification that applies to all living species.”
Cue a blazing row at The Guardian’s editorial conference, with one trans member of staff claiming as a result to be too frightened to go to work. This employee subsequently resigned after reportedly receiving anti-trans comments from “influential editorial staff”. In these circumstances, this might have been something as terrifying, aggressive and life-threatening as being told “I am a woman and you are a man” (or vice versa). Raw bigotry indeed.
Moore’s column, said this member of staff, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” after a series of pieces pitting trans people against women. One example was said to be a Guardian editorial claiming that trans rights were in “collision” with women’s rights. Isn’t that merely to state what trans supporters are claiming in this row — that trans rights are under attack from those like Moore who declare women’s rights are distinct and inviolable?
The signatories claim that “the pattern of publishing transphobic content has interfered with our work”. No details are given to verify this claim. But aren’t these 338 uncollegiate colleagues doing their utmost to interfere with Moore’s work? Worse, since “transphobic” means not just wrong but cruel, bigoted and beyond the pale, are they not inciting hostility and worse towards her? As Moore wrote in her column, the consequences of previously being deemed transphobic on social media “has meant death and rape threats for me and my children, and police involvement”.
In response to Moore’s argument that women should not be silenced and need a voice, these signatories effectively declared that she didn’t deserve a voice to say just that.
Moore, who is considering her future with The Guardian, is but the latest in a line of feminists to have fallen foul of transgender activists. The irony is that her column was in other respects a hymn to wokery. She lamented that the “endless fighting, cancellations and no-platformings have obscured our understanding of who the real enemies are”. By which she meant conservatives. Pitching women against women benefited the “patriarchy” which feared nothing more than “women who no longer rely on male authority”.
Well, I’ve been fighting for years against this idea of the patriarchy on the grounds that it’s a ripe example of ill-informed, anti-male malice. As a result, when years ago I used to write for The Guardian I found myself denounced on the communal noticeboard as “not a sister”. Indeed, I’ve been denounced as some kind of “phobe” for an entire catechism of crimes against the orthodoxies of identity politics and victim culture.
These are the same forces that have now gone after Trevor Phillips, who has been suspended by the Labour Party after being accused of Islamophobia, a term that, ironically, became part of political life after the 1997 Runnymede Trust report on Islamophobia that he commissioned.
Both these witch-hunts show once again how the revolution eats its own. In the 18th century, the French Jacobins started by guillotining enemies of the revolution and then decided that certain revolutionaries were themselves enemies of the revolution.
Obviously, the attempts to silence Moore and numerous others who offend against woke dogma are a blow against freedom of expression, the bulwark of a free society. More sinister and profound, labelling such dissidents as enemies of humanity is designed to terrorise others into disavowing both them and their ideas.
This enforcement of dogma, complete with metaphorically burning heretics at the professional stake or subjecting them to Orwellian smears and character assassination, smacks of the medieval inquisition, French Revolution or Soviet communism.
In response to the furore over Suzanne Moore, there have been references to The Guardian being a “great liberal newspaper”. This is about four decades out of date. It stopped being a liberal paper when liberalism became corrupted by ideologies which permit no opposition and are therefore inimical to truth, freedom and reason.
Suzanne Moore wrote: “I self-identify as a woman who won’t go down quietly.” We may not agree with everything she says, and she may not welcome all of us as supporters, but those who stand for freedom against such sinister attempts at social and cultural control will be cheering her on.
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