The repugnant ‘newspaper’ The Daily Mail has chosen today, the internationally recognised Transgender Day of Remembrance, to publish an article that has attacked transgender students and their allies at Cardiff University as being fascists.
The article, which despite being printed on page 17 of today’s issue was promoted on the ‘newspaper’s’ front page, compares students, who earlier this week protested the appearance of feminist and known transphobe Germaine Greer at Cardiff University, as being fascists for trying to prevent the spread of hate speech.
The article is written by Brendan O’Neil, a journalist known for his extreme thoughts and opinions. In the past he has opposed the legalisation of same sex marriage, has criticised the notion of tackling global warming by lowering carbon emissions, and even considers efforts to combat racism in football as ‘a petty poisonous desire to police the working classes’.
O’Neil believes passionately in free speech, he believes that nothing should be barred from being said, a will use those arguments to justify sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic hate speech, as he does in this article.
He begins his article by stating that ‘Britain’s universities have changed. They’ve turned from citadels of intellectual enquiry into sprawling camps of conformism, where anyone who dissents from what is decreed to be the correct thought process will be cast out into academic darkness.’
He places the blame for this change in universities squarely on the shoulders of students, claiming that the ‘bright eyed students’ are now ‘proselytising zealouts’ and refers to them as ‘student Stasi’. It’s amazing that he would equate trying to erase disinformation and hate speech with an evil secret police service, but I guess to him being told that certain terms are harmful is the same as taking away his rights.
He uses the article to complain about people with known racist views being prevented from talking at universities, he complains about men being asked not to be involved in abortion debates, he complains about the fact that some universities have stopped playing Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines record because of its close rape connotations. Some people would argue that all of these things are good things, that they’re the right steps forward towards making a better, safer and healthier environment, but not Brendan O’Neil and the Daily Mail.
This blatant refusal to see that certain speech and views can be harmful extends to the language O’Neil uses to speak about transgender people. He references Greers views, stating the ‘men who have sex-change surgery do not become real women’ without even trying to disagree with those views or say that trans women aren’t ‘men’. He enforces this by later saying that such views are considered ‘harmful’.
Those quote marks aren’t from me quoting the article, that’s how he describes transphobic views, he puts harmful in quotation marks to show that he doesn’t believe it to be harmful, that it’s only an opinion. Well Brendan, that’s quite simply bollocks. Transphobic views ARE harmful, fact. If they weren’t the suicide rate of the trans community wouldn’t be 12 times higher than that of the general population, and we wouldn’t be remembering over 270 people killed because of those views today.
Transphobic views being harmful is in no way an opinion, and to try and describe it as such is both ludicrous and insulting. But he doesn’t stop there with it, he even goes on to show his support for Julie Bindel who was prevented from speaking at Manchester University for her transphobic views. He even feels the need to quote those views just to include another shot at the trans community.
He claims that it’s only ‘different or daring thinkers who are silenced by censorious students’, but the things he’s complaining about aren’t ‘different’ or ‘daring’, it’s opinions that have been proven and accepted by most people as false and ludicrous.
If someone wanted to talk about how all men are animal rapists, or all German people are cannibals, or that the only cure for cancer is prayer, or that people who have a disability are being punished for something in a past life would those views be given a platform to speak on and viewed as ‘different’ or ‘daring’? No, they’d be called out for being completely ridiculous, unfounded and in some cases hateful.
That’s exactly the kind of thing that O’Neil and the Daily Mail are trying to defend though, they feel that anyone can say anything, claiming it to be true and no thought should be paid to the effect of those words. They seem to consider putting thought into what should be given a public platform should be seen as fascism.
‘The word fascist must never be used lightly. But to destroy with fire words you don’t like? That is fascistic and the very opposite of the freedom of thought that should prevail on 21st century campuses.
‘As we have seen, the New Fascists, and the academic apologists who cave into their censorious demands, from on alternative thinking and seek to eradicate dissenting thought.’
It is worth remembering what kind of ‘newspaper’ the Daily Mail is though, it’s the kind of paper that calls a woman trying to highlight sexism as a ‘feminazi’, it’s the kind of paper that calls refugees fleeing from war ‘boat people’ and even gives Katie Hopkins a platform.
With that I’m not surprised they’ve chosen to label the transgender community and their allies as ‘fascists’ for wanting to end the kind of hate speech that has led to literally hundreds of deaths this last year alone. What I am a little surprised about is the fact that they chose today to do it, that they would show an image of the trans flag next to the term ‘fascists’ on their front page on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. They chose to use that image and that language on the day that we mourn the deaths of over 270 transgender people, most of whom were violently murdered by people exposed to so much transphobia that they saw those views as normal.
But maybe they’re right, maybe wanting to stop the rapes, beatings, stabbings, shooting and murders of transgender people around the world is being a fascist, because as we all know fascists have historically wanted nothing but equality.