New Forms of “Hate Speech”
Culture wars, gender wars, the future of free speech, decolonising the university curriculum, hate speech laws, Critical Race Theory… the list goes on and on. We seem to be living in a cauldron, a maelstrom in which each month brings some new crime or social offence and with it calls on the government to bring in fresh laws to counteract it.
Free speech is important to men in particular because as Ciara Kelly wrote in the Independent on Nov 22 2020: Men are the only group in society that it is acceptable to insult.
Hate speech does not apply in such cases.
Even this may be changing as some women now incur the wrath of the trans activists for certain forms of speech.
The first of these was J.K. Rowling. More recently Natalie Bird was barred from seeking office by the Liberal Democrats for 10 years after she wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan: “woman: adult human female.” The Lib Dems decided this statement of fact was “transphobic”. She was followed by Rebekah Wershbale of the UK Labour party who was cashiered for a similar offence. Both women are fighting back.
Men are the only group in society that it is acceptable to insult
Society may be squaring off in a confrontation between those who favour free speech and those who don’t; or perhaps it is fragmenting in a whole variety of ways.
There are some hopeful signs. In May 2021 Baroness Falkner, the new head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK, has defended the right of women to question trans ideology and recently has said “white privilege” is “divisive” and an “unhelpful way of looking at society”.
It is hard to imagine IHREC issuing a similar statement here.
In Defence of Masculinity
Then there are the issues around men and boys which have been ignored for decades. What Will Knowland, the teacher sacked from Eton, has described as the crisis of masculinity especially in all boys’ schools, needs to be addressed urgently. He went on “These institutions, many of them are embarrassed to exist and they need to think hard about why that is.”
But there are also signs that a fightback is occurring.
An article in Quillette last May tells of a growing international movement of men and women dedicated to resisting the anti-masculinity narrative. There are now YouTube channels and podcasts for men and boys such as Order Of Man and The Art Of Manliness which are attracting big followings and provide a formidable global support network, while prominent dissident academic figures like Camille Paglia have called for greater acceptance of masculinity within society. Male students in the US are suing their universities for anti-male discrimination.
Hundreds of lawsuits seek justice on behalf of male students accused of sexual offences in federal courts. Title IX for All, an online archive, currently tracks around 500 such suits, many of which have led to favourable rulings.
A growing movement of men and women dedicated to resisting the anti-masculinity narrative
All of this is encouraging. Parents are drawn into conflicts which involve their sons. As the Quillette article tells, Homeschooling is experiencing a steady rise, reaching 11 percent in the US, and concerned parents have begun to establish action groups such as Parents Defending Education and Bettina Arndt’s Mothers Of Sons initiative.
One mother with a son at Eton has written about how young boys are having their identity demolished and asks “What do we—the parents and fee payers—know of all this? The answer is: only as little as the school is prepared to reveal.”
Her son, she wrote, had come to feel that “Physical, Social and Health Education—rather than being a discursive course aimed at helping boys cope with the inevitable pressures and temptations of life as a young man—has become the vehicle for radical feminist ideology and transsexual encouragement, where opinions about gender theory are presented as fact.”
It was in order to counter this that Knowland created his video The Patriarchy Paradox for which he was sacked.
Freedom of Speech
Much will also depend on whether freedom of speech survives in a robust form. This too is engaging many minds around the world. Free Speech has strong defenders such as Jordan Peterson, Douglas Murray and others. The emergence of the Free Speech Union in the UK over the last 18 months is another indication and it has had many successes in its brief existence. In a Claire Byrne Live poll from 2017: ’Do you support placing limits on free speech to protect people from being offended?’ The results were: No – 65% Yes – 19% Don’t Know– 16%.
In a recent book, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defence of Truth, Jonathan Rauch has argued: On the value of free speech even when it is hateful, blasphemous, seditious, obnoxious that it should still be protected, this is the single most counter-intuitive value that the human race has ever come up with and that the only thing that saves it is that it also works, that it is also the single most successful social principle that has ever been devised.