Friday, 20 February 2015

Open letters, free speech and religion

Heya everybody,

In an incredibly stupid and insensitive move, the British newspaper “The Observer” has published an open letter, signed by 129 people, against the “intimidation and silencing of individuals whose views are deemed ‘transphobic’ or ‘whorephobic’”.

Naturally, freedom of speech is necessary for democracy, one of the most basic human rights and also essential to prohibit the mistreatment of minorities. Few sane people would argue against that. Transgender people need free speech to be heard, and it would be hypocritical to deny this right to others. However, asking organisations and institutions to not give a platform to haters is part of the marketplace of ideas. Free speech comes with responsibilities and consequences, and if what you say is stupid or bad, you have to live with people calling you out on it. This is how free speech works.

XKCD cartoon – Free speech

Apparently, asking that people like Germaine Greer[1] or Julie Bindel[2] are not being given public platforms to spout their hateful, ignorant and inane views is “censorship”.

The power imbalance ignored by the signers of the letters could hardly be more breathtakingly large. Here we have Prof. Dr. Greer, along with columnist and political commentator Bindel, both white cisgender women, and the 129 signers of the letter, who apparently have no problems of getting published, against one of the most discriminated-against, weakest and powerless groups on earth. The difference is literally that transgender kill themselves (and not in small numbers!) over being bullied and discriminated against, while the poor letter supporters are being made to cry at night over the mean harassment they experience at the hands of those cruel transgender advocates.

Pff … okay – in order not to be misunderstood: Harassment, threats, trolling and especially threats of violence are completely and utterly wrong and can’t be defended. This has to stop. I feel sorry for all victims.

However, I believe the facts do prove that views against medical treatment for transsexuals as held by Julie Bindel cause despair and suicide. Consider this: if the former is correct, then people attempting to limit the public exposure Julie Bindel gets are actually trying to save lives.

Couldn’t the people writing the letter have been at least so sensitive to acknowledge the dire situation our society places transgender people in?

Okay, I won’t spend more time on this… smarter people than me have written on this issue: See here and here for some pro-transgender views and here and here for some views of the people who signed the letter.

Aaaand … to continue with free speech: Have a listen to Sam Harris’s podcast about the sad Chapel Hill murders in the US, exposing the dishonesty of Reza Aslan and Glenn Greenwald. The podcast also contains an audio recording of the Copenhagen shootings, where a gunmen opened fire during an event talking about freedom of expression. It sent a shiver down my spine! This is the kind of “silencing of individuals” we have to fight against.

Aaand … I’ve come to expect a lot of nonsense and immoral statements by the pope, but this one definitely topped my imagination: “Pope Francis says trans people destroy creation and compares them to nuclear weapons” (or here). What the pope doesn’t seem to understand (probably wilfully) is that with his position comes moral responsibility. This would include informing himself first about topics he expresses an opinion on. What the pope doesn’t realise is that transsexual people claim their brain, their mentality, is of one gender, while their body is of the other. This claim is supported by persuasive evidence. Transsexual individuals are not saying they are fully one gender, and wish to change themselves into the other gender. We only want to live the way we have been made! If the pope takes a subset of gender indicators and proclaims these to be the absolute, unchanging definition of gender, he at least has to provide some arguments.

So anyway, if I feel helpless and small again, I’ll try to remember that I’m apparently comparable to a nuclear bomb. ☺

Okay, and finally … I watched a video by Robert M. Spencer talking about Islam. I think his speech unfortunately includes a number of tendential political and religious opinions, which I don’t agree with, but I assume the facts he gives are straight. In the video, he talks about the crusades, which he calls a late and small-scale response to 450 years of the Muslim conquest and subjugation of a large part of the Christian world (including North Africa, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Palestine). The crusades ultimately failed, but they stopped the Islamic expansion to Europe for 200 years, thus possibly enabling the development of modern civilisation including enlightenment and humanism. I thought that was common knowledge, but learned this was not so when an acquaintance of mine countered me expressing disgust at Muslims killing people after a particular (probably accidental) burning of the Koran by saying that my ancestors participated in the crusades. Even if ancestors of mine were involved in a crime a thousand years ago, what possible bearing could this have on my views of morality today? Question upon question …

I wrote the above rather quickly, and I have a stupid cold (which is probably to blame for the rather opinionated nature of this post ☺), so I apologise for any mistakes or if anything was incoherent. Take care, and make sure you give yourself enough time to relax and enjoy yourself!

[1] The same Germaine Greer who has stated that trans women are not truly women because they don’t know what it is to have a big, hairy, smelly vagina (see here). I mean, this stuff is so childish and bizarre and stupid that it angers me that this apparently passes for public discourse. Oh, and it’s repudiated by Weyers, Verstraelen, et al. in Microflora of the penile skin-lined neovagina of transsexual women.

[2] The same Julie Bindel who states, against all evidence that the diagnosis of GD needs to be questioned and challenged and sex-change surgery is unnecessary mutilation, thus contributing to more suffering and pain of the transgendered community. There is so much evidence on the table that views such as hers lead to suicides. How many more Leelah Alcorn cases do we need? I’m sorry, I think it is fair to say that Julie Bindel does have indirectly have blood on her hands.