Project Fear

A hundred years ago this evening, in Berlin, things weren’t going so well for Rosa Luxemburg. Captured by the Freikorps, who tortured her in a luxury hotel then killed her and dumped her body in a canal. All under the orders of her fellow-leftists, the SDP or Social Democrats, creating a rift on the German left which enabled another kind of socialist – the National kind led by Adolf Hitler – to rise to power, with disastrous consequences.

There’s much to admire in Luxemburg, not least the quote for which she is best known:

Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.

Though a revolutionary socialist herself, she bravely stood up to Lenin and his thuggery. But as a brilliant article published yesterday didn’t try to hide, in the last two weeks of her life she herself promoted and endorsed violence. This was the result.

Let’s hop forward a hundred years to an altogether milder time:

Boles voted Remain himself but now advocates what’s being called the Norway+ option. The plus – meaning confecting some kind of customs union – being unnecessary in my view. But broadly along the right lines. In my view. The whole caboodle is also up to the EU, something Jeremy Corbyn failed to mention in talking about the incompetence of the government as he finally called a vote of no confidence for tomorrow.

But I wanted to talk about Project Fear, because I feel sure there’s a link to climate, as I made clear a few weeks after the original #peoplesvote:

I still believe that. Whatever happens now. Project Fear can fail.

Having said which, a descent into violence any sensible person should fear. Or increased censorship of “the one who thinks differently”. Or, most likely, the two together, feeding off each other.

The GWPF was pointing to Paul Homewood’s excellent article that day in July 2016: Project Fear From Lord Krebs. Clever use of a topical term. We as climate sceptics knew what it felt like to be early targets of the unimaginative mongers of fear and demonisation. (Look how Krebs had been willing to defame his old student Matt Ridley a year or two before, just because he was beginning to step out of line.)

How did I spot the strange conjunction of the murder of Luxemburg and the death of Theresa May’s Brexit deal this evening in the Commons? I dug out Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich, A New History before Christmas in search of what was happening in 1919, not in Berlin but in Munich, especially that classic line “Of these men, only the Foreign Minister was clinically insane, cabling Lenin and the Pope about the whereabouts of the key to the lavatory door.” That was about a brief Bavarian leftist regime during that chaotic period.

I was looking for some parallel for today’s out-and-out insanity on the left. For that look no further than this report yesterday from a dedicated feminist and member of the Green Party whom I follow on Twitter on the limitations of the official report into the disgraceful and disgusting David Challenor affair.

This ties to the Lindsay Shepherd Twitter censorship story Paul mentioned earlier on Jaime’s thread of the same theme. But even worse was happening in the Green Party in Coventry in the UK. Could that be Cliscep relevant?

Whatever, it’s no time to give in to Project Fear, or violence, its evil step-sister.

63 thoughts on “Project Fear

  1. The first link about Rosa Luxemburg is to an article on the site of Deutsche Welle, the German state broadcaster. It’s difficult to imagine the BBC describing anyone as “a brilliant Marxist theorist,” let alone someone who tried to overthrow the state. But Germany seems to be better at tolerating dissent. See the favourable media treatment given to the climate scepticism of Vahrenholt and Lüning (their site http://diekaltesonne.de/ has English translation.) Something about German history suggests they wouldn’t look kindly on a Bob Ward type.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “today’s out-and-out insanity on the left.” Is that the green thing, or the fact that a majority of Britain’s professional left wing politicians support a corrupt international organisation which has made socialism illegal?

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  2. Project Fear? Here is a NASA climate scientist misrepresenting a climate science paper and getting two thousand retweets in two days:

    twitter.com/ClimateHuman/status/1084906996967460864

    NASA climate scientist: ‘Few realize that by the end of this century vast swaths of the tropics will become so hot+humid that the human body will not be able to function, nearly every day of the year, unless we mitigate like crazy. ALL those people will be forced to migrate.’

    Few realize it because Kalmus’s source, Mora et al (already a somewhat dodgy study), didn’t say anything anywhere near that doomwankish.

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  3. Yes, of course there’s a close analogy between the Brexit project fear – we must stay in the EU otherwise we face catastrophe, and climate project fear – we must take action on climate change or we face catastrophe.

    The language and analogies are even the same. See for example these two headlines from (where else?) the Guardian.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/03/brexit-deal-theresa-may-cliff-edge

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/oct/08/world-leaders-told-they-must-act-over-climate-change-cliff-edge

    On the subject of Matt cartoons, I liked this one from the previous day.

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  4. Luxemberg, it seems, like the greatest of the 20th Century intellects, was many things to many people and embodied – necessarily I believe – completely contradictory ideals.

    For Evans, it was important to go back to the political writings to counteract the “sentimentalization” of Luxemburg as a “sensitive, poetic flower.” In fact, said Evans, “she is a badass revolutionary, who is quite bristly and extremely forthright and dedicated in her views, an incredibly towering intellect.”

    “Concentrating on her poetry or concentrating on her death, you are not giving true credence to her life,” she said. For Evans, it’s natural that so many people read different things into Luxemburg. “It’s the mark of someone who has left an interesting and complete body of work.”

    Whether her advocacy of violent revolution was a primary, direct cause of her murder, or whether it was an opportune moment for the state to rid itself once and for all of a thorn in its side, we shall probably never know.

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  5. Geoff: It was the green thing, as you call it, that was in my mind. The fact that Aimee Challenor at once cried “transphobia” when they were finally suspended from their positions of responsibility in the Green Party – and was then welcomed by the Lib Dems and retained in a key role for Stonewall. That they have made no public apology to the ten-year-old raped and tortured by their father whom they appointed to be their election agent after he had been charged with this terrible crime. And that the mainstream media is still so timid on such an atrocity. This is more than a left thing and I apologise for that shorthand. (I also apologise for the awkward use of ‘they’, ‘their’ et al as the pronouns in this comment. By such measures we all become part of the madness.)

    I do personally see a link between the craziness of Project Fear in the climate area and the susceptibility of the Green Party to fall for something so at odds with science in this sphere. But I would also understand hesitation of getting into all that on this blog.

    My reaching for Burleigh on the madness of the left paving the way for Hitler was not mere historical or intellectual interest. The “punch a Nazi” crowd – where “Nazi” quickly becomes “anyone who disagrees with me”, such as a woman who questions the denial of biology – need to be asked if they’ve read this history and what they make of it.

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  6. Paul: that Matt cartoon is superb. One of the things I would have tried to bring out in a longer piece on Project Fear is the quivering cowardice of many MPs – because for once they are going to have to make some choices with very unpredictable outcomes and thus approval ratings or their opposite! The smell of fear in the Commons has been very real in the past few days – and very amusing.

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  7. Jaime:

    Whether her advocacy of violent revolution was a primary, direct cause of her murder, or whether it was an opportune moment for the state to rid itself once and for all of a thorn in its side, we shall probably never know.

    Fair point. My polemical presentation was necessarily simplified. It’s striking to me as well that the other, male revolutionary killed that night was delivered by the Freikorps to the morgue but the woman was dumped in the canal and her body only discovered months later after a thaw. (Gove’s biggest blow against Corbyn for me last night was on his not protecting his own women MPs. That connection is real to me, though happily Jo Cox was an outlier in our political culture right now.)

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  8. I think you are spot on, Richard. Politicians are going to be making the decisions, not taking them. I think they have become far too complacent. They will be held directly responsible for the choices. They can no longer pass the buck onto the faceless, untouchable, boogy man and claim it’s not their fault and there will be no golden handshake from the EU if they “screw up” for the “greater good” (although I’d keep a firm eye on what happens to those who make pro-EU decisions at the expense of the country).

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  9. Also slightly off topic, but here is a recent report on how to move conservatives toward climate beliefs: Ghelbach et al Abstract:

    People feel motivated to maintain consistency across many domains in life. When it comes to climate change, many find themselves motivated to maintain consistency with others, e.g., by doubting climate change to cohere with friends’ and neighbors’ beliefs. The resulting climate skepticism has derailed discussions to address the issue collectively in the United States. To counteract these social consistency pressures, we developed a cognitive consistency intervention for climate skeptics. We first demonstrated that most people share substantial faith in a variety of scientific findings, across disciplines ranging from medicine to astronomy. Next, we show that conservative participants who first acknowledge several general contributions of science subsequently report significantly stronger beliefs in climate science (as compared to conservatives who are asked only about their climate science beliefs). These findings provide an encouraging proof-of-concept for how an inclusive climate conversation might be initiated across the political divide.”
    My post does into the details and provides a modest suggestion for improvement:
    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/your-climate-beliefs-are-about-to-be-nudged/

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  10. I would suggest the following tweak Ron:

    When it comes to climate change, many find themselves motivated to maintain consistency with others, e.g., by believing in climate change to cohere with colleagues’, friends’ and neighbors’ beliefs. The resulting climate change groupthink has derailed discussions to address the issue collectively in the United States.

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  11. True Jaime, they are surprisingly self-unreflective. Nor do they remark on how unable are liberals to distinguish the weak case for global warming from other branches of science, while conservatives do well to make that distinction.

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  12. Ron,

    They reference Kahan’s work without seeming to grasp its true implications, i.e. that indeed *both* sides in the polarised US on climate change believe what they believe because of ‘who they are’ (i.e. cultural values), not ‘what they know’ (i.e. knowledge / reasoning capability). Indeed you’ve seen what they apparently cannot, yet what their own sources should be informing them about. So regarding mass belief in the US, neither side is positioned as they are because of any acquaintance with fundamental truth, so to speak. The authors are blatantly one-sided in their interpretation of this effect, and also in their ‘confidence of science test’ they fail to address any other conflicted domains, but present only safe / unchallenged topics for comparison. Kahan finds through addressing a range of conflicted domains, that while indeed generic confidence in science across the public is high, for socially conflicted topics (in the US) it’s also the case that everyone resists the science that challenges their cultural values, and supports the science that aligns to their cultural values. So in presenting only safe topics you will always get a high score from either side no matter what, which will hence always compare unfavourably with a *single* conflicted domain (in which one is using the current ‘consensus’ as a gold standard) if that’s all you present. In a further emphasis on the fact that this is neither a knowledge deficit problem or indeed a lack of trust in generic science problem, the more knowledgeable folks are about climate change detail on *both* sides of the divide, the *more* (not less) polarised they are, i.e. their knowledge (and maybe cognitive capability too as it happens) are in service to their cultural identity, for *both*. In short, the authors seemed to have emphasised the angles that support their priors, instead of taking into account the full range of science available even from their referenced authors (it’s fine to not use stuff if you think you can justify why, and say so). In extending to non-US countries (to my knowledge Kahan doesn’t do this), further challenges come, for instance the very different situations in different countries. Such as that Merkel is the ‘climate chancellor’ and her party the biggest cheese behind climate change mitigation, and they are *right* of centre. While formal political objection elsewhere was originally very weak, the failure of the energiewiende has produced resistance on both the left and far right. This screws the hierarchical / egalitarian thing (maybe why it didn’t work out for them), but also helps show that the sides are in a very real sense arbitrary, which emphasises that they are nothing to do with truth but merely culturally convenient (i.e. locally) alliances and resistance (the latter due to either opposing cultures or the mass phenomenon of innate [i.e. not reasoned] skepticism, which is cultural values dependent). And all this is without even needing any knowledge of which side is nearer to the truth or not. They can be forgiven for not going further and demonstrating where the chief cultural consensus lies (despite a rather obvious massive authority propagation of the emotive catastrophe narrative). But surrendering so easily to bias by leaving so much unsaid that would change very much the flavour of their paper, is not good. Not to mention of course, quoting the 97% thing without even a reference; presumably they know the reference can be torn to shreds so would weaken their foundations. So many attribute, as these authors do, so much (i.e. in terms of inaction) to ‘the pervasiveness of climate skepticism’, while having such weak stabs at why it is so pervasive. If it were just a matter of ‘believing in science’, there wouldn’t be *any* conflicted domains to start with because as the authors’ note, everyone has high confidence in science. In practice they often interpret it through a cultural lens. So just reminding them how cool science is will only have a limited and not lasting effect. I guess the upside is that at least they’re having to pursue the cultural angle now, the evidence is just too overwhelming, so in theory it is maybe not too long before they can’t avoid too that culture works everywhere, not for just one group of people alone. Next comes which cultures are where and what are the alliance strings, which will lead to discomfit 0: Meanwhile their ‘innoculation’ won’t work in the real world, the point about even what they do acknowledge is that everyone gets their ‘science’ understanding on conflicted topics through their cultural network, their peers and cultural role models, which is why the polarization occurs in the first place. If you put even a few million of the US population in the lab you may get a somewhat more harmonised reaction (of whatever kind you engineer) for a while, and a few months after being let out (or less) they’ll all be back where they were. I don’t think they have a lab big enough to put the whole population in.

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  13. P.S. no social analysis can determine the truth of a contested science proposition, but it can sometimes (if enough data is available) tell you who is wrong. Because all strong cultural consensuses are wrong, and hence those who are adherents of one in a particular domain, are wrong. Note this doesn’t tell you what is true, only that a particular group are wrong. So really rather than ‘which side is nearer to the truth’ I mean, ‘which side is wrong’.

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  14. P.P.S. if a (wrong by necessity) cultural side has a cultural alliance with another group, then those who oppose the latter will be pulled in on the right side, but for cultural not ‘truth’ reasons, which is why there is a mass cultural divide in the US.

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  15. Yr social pressures via Alynskys,’ Oreskes, Jim Hansen et Big Al.
    Phfft. Heed them not! .

    ‘Not only sands and gravels
    Were once more on their travels,
    But gulping muddy gallons
    Great boulders off their balance
    Bumped heads together dully
    And started down the gully.
    Whole capes caked off in slices.
    I felt my standpoint shaken
    In the universal crisis.
    But with one step backward taken
    I saved myself from going.
    A world torn loose went by me.
    Then the rain stopped and the blowing,
    And the sun came out to dry me.’

    H/t Robert Frost.

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  16. andywest,
    You are posting some very interesting ideas.
    Can you please expand on your idea about the majority?
    Thanks,

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  17. So Project Fear had some substance for the dinosaurs. I thought I’d single out three MPs who’ve been mulling over what should come next on Brexit but are also known to think more widely. The wider thinking definitely involves climate, or environmental issues, for the last two.

    First up, this in the Telegraph on the afternoon of 15th, the day of the “meaningful vote” that this blog post was originally at least a third about. (Off topic below the line is fair enough in such ambiguous circumstances.)

    Frank Field, the veteran MP, says he will vote for the Prime Minister’s deal because he fears “losing Brexit” if it collapses.

    Mr Field resigned the Labour whip last year and is now independent.

    He said: “I’ve changed my mind because for all the weaknesses of this agreement the Government has put forward to us, for all of its failings, I believe we now risk losing Brexit.

    “That doesn’t excuse the Government for their incredible incompetence, it doesn’t mean that some of us when this stage is over won’t push for a Dardanelles type inquiry to find out why we landed at this late hour in this desperate position that we are.

    “But I do not wish to live my time as an MP for Birkenhead aiding and abetting those whose real aim is to destroy.”

    If Frank Field took seriously the fear of losing Brexit if May’s deal didn’t go through, then I do. Is that irrational fear?

    Note also his strong words on the “incredible incompetence” of the Government. Somehow I found that easier to take from Field than the Labour leader. Not least because now wasn’t the time to make a meal of it.

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  18. RICHARD
    While waiting for your second and third examples of MPs who are “known to think more widely,” (really, that many?) I thought I’d add my tuppence ha’penny worth:

    Why not just give in? Look, we wanted to leave because the EU is a corrupt, antidemocratic, psycho-rigid quasi-fascistic bureaucracy, whose only modus operandi is twisting the opponent’s goolies behind closed doors. And with Teresa May, it works. So we say: “ok, you win, we stay. Bureaucracy beats democracy every time. And you’ll see what a loose cannon in a shitehouse can do.”

    Only phrased more politely.

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  19. Yesterday I happened upon José Manuel Barroso’s summary of his achievements in the last half of his decade-long reign as President of the European Commission. He prefaced it with this English translation of a quote from Jean Monnet, inventor of the ratchet method of achieving ever-closer union:

    When you find yourself in a storm, the only way out is to stay true to your course. The one thing you don’t do is change direction.*

    This is, of course, the last thing you should do when finding yourself in a storm. But hey! It’s the EU. Normal rules don’t apply. Until they do.

    ===
    *The French original was «Quand vous êtes dans l’orage, il faut le traverser, et surtout ne pas changer de direction – c’est le seul moyen d’en sortir bien.» So for once it’s not a wholly invented inspirational quote. It’s just stupid, is all.

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  20. Geoff: Yep, it’s been hard work searching for the other two. But Field’s final line

    “I do not wish to live my time as an MP for Birkenhead aiding and abetting those whose real aim is to destroy.”

    still gets to me. And it ain’t over till it’s over.

    The defiance you express is part of why I wanted to repeat my words of July 2016: Project Fear can fail. Because the month before it did fail. That can never be erased from the record. And there’s this

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  21. Keir Starmer has been in full flow on the Labour (not necessarily Jeremy Corbyn’s) push for a second referendum at the Fabian Society this morning:

    However, the plotters have their timing challenges:

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  22. RICHARD DRAKE 17 JAN 19 10.03AM

    I do personally see a link between the craziness of Project Fear in the climate area and the susceptibility of the Green Party to fall for something so at odds with science in this sphere. But I would also understand hesitation of getting into all that on this blog.

    I’m all for getting into these dangerous waters. The nightmare story of one monster infiltrating himself into two minority parties in Britian is not the stuff of world-shattering headlines, but it highlights certain peculiarities in modern western culture. Forcing society back to a windmill-powered Middle Ages is not the only perverse idea held on the left these days. The German Grünen defended paedophilia in their manifesto a few years back, and Dany Cohn Bendit, the Franco-German head of the Greens in the European parliament until last year, boasted of his paedophiliac experiences in his autobiography, as have France’s most popular novelist Michel Houellebecq and ex-minister Fréderic Mitterand (nephew of the other.)

    The point is not to criticise paedophiliacs, but to wonder why our cultural leaders in the chattering classes decided to draw a rigid line at children and the animal kingdom, so that any activity over the line is a horrible crime, and even mild poking fun at anything this side of the line is an utterly unacceptable hate crime.

    Am I condemning or condoning rogering your household pets? Neither. Carry on, clisceppers. We’re all libertarians here. But if the Green Party and the Liberals can be blamed for anything, it’s not for falling a prey to Challenor’s avuncular charms, but for believing a liar on the strength of – what? – faith in someone they wanted to believe in?

    Which brings us back to climate science.

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  23. Thanks Geoff. I think 😉

    Very strangely (for me, anyhow) I got into my car around 10:35am, flipped to BBC Radio 5 live and heard an interview with Challenor Junior all about the person now known as Aimee’s decisions prior to and after their father’s conviction for child rape and torture and 22 year sentence. Emma Barnett was polite but reasonably pushy with the poor child – for as many ‘gender critical’ feminists have said, he/she was from the family from hell. Those that cynically promoted and used this damaged person have a great deal more to answer for.

    The second MP I was thinking of citing back on the 18th was David TC Davies, surely the Tory MP causing the most unexpected devotion among the ranks of those radical feminists trying to ask questions of extreme transactivism, as represented by AC and others older, and to my mind more evil. But Davies I’ve also met at the end of a GWPF meeting – indeed I complimented him on an excellent video he’d just released on the CAGW issue. And the Monmouth MP is also a firm Brexiteer, who’s gone from voting for Theresa May’s deal last week to advocating a WTO-based exit after that defeat. A few links on that next.

    (And apologies for the snail’s pace. If these edits get lost in the churn of New Comments, no worries.)

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  24. Here’s Tory MP David TC Davies in the House of Commons in June 2015, as made known through YouTube under the title The Truth About Climate Change – British MP Exposes Government Sophistry.

    Here’s his view on Brexit before last week’s vote, as reported by BBC Wales:

    David Davies, Monmouth MP, who also campaigned for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, said: “I don’t believe anybody knows what will happen if this deal gets voted down.”

    He said the deal “is the only way I can see that we will be out of the EU, clearly out, definitely out, with a trade arrangement by the end of March”.

    But he added: “I’ve got to be resigned to the fact that clearly it is not going to go through.”

    And here’s his view afterwards:

    The Conservative MP for Monmouth David Davies had voted for the Brexit deal on Tuesday, but in an interview with BBC Wales Live said he now had changed his mind.

    The Brexit campaigner told BBC Wales Live: “There is no mood now for any form of compromise. I was 100% in favour of pulling out of the EU, but I recognised that not everyone shared that view.

    “What we have over the next few weeks and months is a parliamentary fist-fight between those who want to have a clean, hard, WTO Brexit – and I stand with them – and those who want to stay in the European Union and forget about what the referendum said.”

    Lastly, here are two key female voices on the ‘gender critical’ side of the transgender debate talking about the same Tory MP [update 16 Feb 19 – I’ve replaced the two tweets with an image, because Banned Feminist, now known to be Venice Allan, has been banned for the fourth time]:

    I’ve met both Joani and ‘Banned Feminist’ (who, unlike Jaime Jessop, has been permanently banned by Twitter at least three times – and that’s just the ones I know about!) Joani broke the Man Friday story at the Hampstead Heath men’s bathing pond in the Daily Mail in May – Female protesters break into a men-only north London lido – a breakthrough moment for the wider public debate and very amusing to boot. She once whispered conspiratorially to me: “I’m a climate denier too.” But that’s very unusual for the gender critical radical feminist crowd. Banned Feminist is a rad fem and lesbian who began on the Momentum side of the Labour Party and has had to go on quite a journey since. I think she’s a wonderful person and she loves David TC Davies to bits.

    A man of genuine courage in our body politic. In all the complexity of the three issues raised, I wanted to pay tribute to him.

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  25. Some tweets today on a few prongs (arguably) of my concerns above.

    Brexit, violence and misdirection:

    Brexit end-game. Excellent discussion between two thoughtful protagonists (humble, even), one of whom is a well-known climate sceptic:

    The simplest way of explaining that climate change is not a crisis:

    Willis is also quite right on the reasons:

    Last but not least, an out-of-control English police force serving and becoming the mouthpiece of the extreme trans lobby, trying to get people sacked who have committed no crime:

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  26. Thanks very much for alerting me to both. James Kirkup in the Spectator ends his piece thus:

    This is the same instruction that saw West Midlands police treat a speech by Amber Rudd in 2017 as a ‘hate incident’. The instruction, however, does not appear to oblige forces to actively investigate reported incidents. Humberside Police said nothing more about their decision to interview Harry Miller.

    He isn’t the first person to have such an experience. I know of several other people who say they have also been interviewed and warned by police about their entirely legal comments online about gender issues.

    What to make of this? I’ve written a lot about this subject, because I think it raises many disturbing questions about the way we conduct ourselves as a society and a democracy, about the way the political process registers and responds to different groups’ valid concerns and questions. I keep writing about it because I think that more people in positions of authority should take a closer (and more public) interest in numerous failures of policy and politics.

    And when I write about it, I take pains to do so in a calm, measured and careful way, because this debate desperately needs deliberation and calm reflection, instead of anger and outrage.

    But it is very, very hard indeed to remain calm about the story of Harry Miller. In Britain today, a police force may have sought out a man who has broken no law and spent more than half an hour warning him about his ‘thinking’ and his expression of his opinions – for no other reason than someone said they believed that man’s lawful actions were motivated by ‘hatred’.

    PS. You might be wondering about that limerick, the one that appears to have concerned the police officer and saw a law-abiding businessman interviewed and warned about his behaviour and his ‘thinking’. Here it is…

    And here is it indeed, and the second verse:

    Until I read those two articles I didn’t know the limerick-writer was Ellie. The first person she followed on Twitter, having joined in August, was me, the poor woman. (She’s gone on to greater things!) And once she started tweeting I was genuine in what I said to her courtesy of Twitter’s direct messaging:

    RE: Oh! Thanks for the retweet :)) …

    RD: A pleasure to retweet you. You’re the best newcomer I’ve seen. And that’s not flattery. My question was about who you follow in real life, though I accept responsibility for the contextual ambiguity. Favourite libertarians, feminists or anything else?

    RE: Really? Thanks! Although I’m still not sure I’m doing ‘it’ right! Just realised what hashtags are for 😬

    I’d already been thinking this week of using these lines of Ellie’s:

    Every cell is coded male
    From your birth until the grave
    You are simply a man
    Neither stunning nor brave

    as a way of getting into a ‘compare and contrast’ between the faux science of transgenderism and that of climate alarmism. Is every cell coded male? Is it even more clear cut to talk about the size of the gametes? Watch this space, if you have the cojones.

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  27. It’s a pretty stupid, ill-informed, judgemental and possibly somewhat bigoted limerick, but it’s rather sinister that the police got involved because a ‘victim’ chose to take offence. It’s even more sinister that a pretty stupid, bigoted and ill-informed cop interrogated the ‘suspect’ on the possibility of a ‘thought crime’.

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  28. Jaime: What’s amazing, in a way, is that Twitter has kept the doggerel, not deleted it, or the writer. Yet. Unlike ‘Prick News’ – a hilarious spoof of Pink News and its devotion to the cause of the T way above the LGB (because that’s where the big money is) – which only lasted a few days as a Twitter account in March 2018. I asked Skepticat who was responsible for the spoof. (Skepticat = Maria, beaten up at Speaker’s Corner the previous September. Her trans attacker was soon to be convicted in court in Hendon. By Jan 19 she was also ‘Account suspended’ on Twitter, something I spotted the same day I saw Jaime had been disappeared too.) Anyway. Maria thought it might well be Venice Allan, as her humour was kinda like that. It wasn’t as it turned out but that’s how I first heard of Venice. David TC Davies had already bailed her out that month by providing a room for her latest meeting in the House of Commons when the hard men of Millwall coudn’t cope with the heat, as told in the Sun on Sunday on 10th.

    Mark: Thanks. I definitely will need help in thinking through how dodgy science plays its part in both areas. I might say a little on that before bed.

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  29. There’s sex and there’s gender, so they say. ‘They’ include the extreme trans lobby – though they are also very inconsistent – and the radical feminists. What the rad fems get right is that sex isn’t a ‘social construct’ but a biological reality. (It’s more complicated than XX and XY chromosones as it turns out. There are some strange variations there. But the size of the resulting gametes after puberty – males having very small sperm, females much larger ova – is a clincher. No amount of hormone therapy is going to make up that difference.)

    Even Michel Foucault didn’t say biology is socially constructed, as Heather Brunskell-Evans of the Tavistock Institute put it at the first Venice Allan-organised meeting I had the joy of going to, in Bristol, in April 2018. (YouTube here.) But Foucault did lay the foundations for Queer Theory. So it was said. And on all that I will for now draw a veil of ignorance.

    One difference with climate, it seems to me, is that alarmism – we are affecting the climate in a way that is dangerous – is positing something new that we are told is backed up by science, but only after it has studied one of the most complex systems known to man. New in human history I mean. (There are legitimate quibbles on the new, I will later concede.) But to cast doubt on the dimorphism of the sexes within humanity is much more radical and the science underlying the general rule of generations for millennia is extremely simple. The sizes of those gametes. (There are gazillions of quibbles possible here as well. But one has to start somewhere.)

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  30. If gender is a social construct then it tears down decades of gay rights activism claiming they were born that way. Personally, I think they were born that way and gender is not a social construct, but can be influenced by society. For instance, I came across this thread in the reddit parenting section a while ago which works as a rather extreme example (although I still can’t be entirely sure it wasn’t a troll it’s that bizarre)…

    So, my 8 year old son was set on transitioning to a female and we wanted to make him happy, so we started on hormone replacement therapy. Now, 14 months into the transition, she has told me that she’s regretting her decision. My doctor had told me, if she decides to change back, that she can, but her puberty will have a late start. I really don’t know what to do. Can anyone give me some advice?

    At 8? Was this the advice given by doctors and psychologists, to start an EIGHT YEAR OLD on hormone replacement therapy? I did not know they started this young as, obviously, an 8 year old doesn’t quite have a realistic grasp on life yet.

    I have a friend who started his daughter at age 3, so I always thought it was okay.

    I’m all for being trans, but don’t you think 8 is a little young for hormone therapy?

    All my friends told me it was okay. That what matters is how she feels.

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  31. Richard,

    “Her trans attacker was soon to be convicted in court in Hendon. By Jan 19 she was also ‘Account suspended’ on Twitter, something I spotted the same day I saw Jaime had been disappeared too.”

    Eh? Gosh, what an uncanny coincidence! I was disappeared on January 8th of course.

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  32. Richard. I went back to your original post since the discussion seems to have wandered somewhat. Who’d have thunk relative size of gametes would appear as a topic? I will ask one of those little questions that (I at least) find so difficult to answer : how do you decide whether a negative prediction is realistic or a product of spin and part of Project Fear?
    I recall, just after the referendum, being told by former colleagues at UEA how Brexit was already adversely affecting cooperation with European universities. Not just fears, but closing down of planned cooperative ventures because of anticipated funding issues. When I reported this (without detail) I was not believed and accused of stoking Project Fear.

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  33. Jaime: I saw it had happened to both of you within a few minutes of each other. That was before you put up your post on here (or at least before I saw that post). It was pretty depressing. I’ve been thinking of doing a post here about the Twitter and social media situation more broadly. The nuking of all history is both cruel and dumb. But Alan is right that this post is already about too much!

    Alan: Thanks for the question on Project Fear. I very much wanted to deal with the issue of realism versus needless pessimism. More shortly.

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  34. DaveJR: Agreed that 8 years old is way too young to begin transitioning – and then de-transitioning. (And I agree with you that it raises suspicions of trolling.) One of the many things that convinced me that trans activism didn’t have enough empathy – when it needed a lot – was how those who have de-transitioned and want to talk about it are attacked as traitors, not sympathised with in the damage they have done to themselves, body and mind, in some cases for the rest of their lives.

    If gender is a social construct then it tears down decades of gay rights activism claiming they were born that way.

    At the second meeting I went to organised by Venice Allan, at Camden Town Hall, in June – the first where there were no protests and intimidation at the door – a keynote speaker, Sheila Jeffreys, who is lesbian herself, begged to differ on this. Having sex with other women is a choice freely made, for her. You’re not born that way. One heckler strongly objected to this. I didn’t feel any compunction to umpire! But one of the strengths of Venice’s meetings was that very different views were expressed. Sheila has followed the trans movement since the early 90s when the Yogyakarta Principles came into being at an international level, later endorsed by the Council of Europe. There are parallels with climate here too.

    I think you’re using ‘gender’ as interchangeable with ‘sex’ here. That’s true in much common parlance but drawing a distinction between the two is crucial to much of the trans debate. I’d prefer we kept gender as a term for linguistics only. But teasing out what is meant is a great part of the battle in these very heated debates.

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  35. Perhaps the most important example of realism vs needless pessimism at the moment is how we view ‘No Deal’ Brexit. James Delingpole came a cropper on the details when questioned by Andrew Neil on This Week late on Thursday night. Peter North was predictably unimpressed.

    But is not Christopher Booker also an expert on climate change? He recently wrote in the Telegraph that unrealistic expectations were going to make this the year of the Great Disappointment (playing on the title of his book on the EU with Peter North’s father Richard, the Great Deception).

    But will the EU become reasonable in its demands if we rule out No Deal at a possibility?

    I don’t have the answer to those questions. But I wanted to raise them.

    Like

  36. Richard,

    I’ve kind of lost the thread on Brexit having been bumped off Twitter. I like James. I like Andrew. They are both honest operators. James admitted to his car crash interview. Nobody really knows how ‘No Deal’ aka WTO Brexit will affect the nation. We know for sure how May’s surrender will affect us – we will become a vassal state of the EU and the votes of 17.4 million people will essentially have been ignored. James sums it up quite nicely:

    “My basic position on Brexit is one that I believe the majority of people who voted Leave share: all the other proposals currently being mooted from Second Referendum to Theresa May’s various withdrawal agreements (aka her “deal”) are a betrayal of the Referendum vote.

    No Deal is the only option which comes even close to what we Leave voters asked for. We want out; we don’t want to pay the European Union a penny in divorce money, let alone a ludicrous £39 billion which would be so much better spent (if it has to be) on British people rather than on a corrupt, sclerotic superstate which wishes us only ill. Yes, of course there will be teething problems if there is a no deal, but they are certainly not beyond the wit of government — and more importantly, of business — to manage.”

    https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/01/25/my-car-crash-interview-bbc-andrew-neil/

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  37. Jaime: I doubt you’ve lost the thread. I’m not convinced May’s deal isn’t the least bad option, given where we’ve ended up. Along those lines North Jnr penned A lighthouse in the fog: In praise of Theresa May two days ago. He certainly sees incompetence but some strengths. I’m truly an agnostic, but I do listen to those guys as well as thinkers like J Jones of Oxford.

    If No Deal turns out badly, or is judged by a large segment of the British people to have turned out badly, there will be pressure for a rapid deal with the EU which is bound to leave us in a much worse state than the current deal. Project Fear failed in June 2016 but it needed to be followed by Project Realism and Project Competence. Now the only choice is what’s nearest. And then avoiding violence. That’s something worth fearing.

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  38. Richard, not by any stretch of the imagination can May’s ‘deal’ be the least worst option. It puts us completely at the mercy of the EU, prevents us from striking free trade deals, cripples our economic competitiveness, hands over our military to EU control, deprives us of at least £39billion and leaves us as a vassal state until the EU consent to a new relationship, which itself would have to be significantly to their advantage. Most importantly, it comprehensively fails to deliver on the vote to Leave, replacing membership with something even more restrictive and a whole lot worse. For Peter North to describe May’s withdrawal agreement as “suboptimal” is the understatement of the century.

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  39. I’m in Jaime’s camp regarding May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement, for the reasons she gives. I voted to leave, but would prefer to remain in the EU than have the UK sign up to that disastrous document. But then that might be the plan….

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I should clarify that I’m talking about a revised Withdrawal Agreement, like Daniel Hannan:

    So what now? We have stupidly weakened our position over the past 30 months, but our least bad option is clear enough. We should scrap the backstop, propose an alternative legal guarantee against physical infrastructure at the Irish border, and ratify the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement.

    The EU might refuse to reciprocate, of course. It would be an odd decision…

    The EU might.

    Hannan is ruthless in his appraisal of what Barnier and co have been up to so far.

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  41. Even with the backstop removed, the draft Withdrawal Agreement is a horror. During any open ended ‘transition’, we would still be paying at least £39billion for absolutely no guarantee of anything in return, we would still be subject to ECJ rule with absolutely no say in the making of future legislation, no ability to control our own borders, negotiate our own global free trade agreements; we would still be handing over control of our defence infrastructure to the EU, There would be little incentive for the EU to offer more favourable terms and it’s unlikely whether the UK would have a government in the next 10 years which had the balls to remove the UK from this crippling disadvantage even if, theoretically, it could. The damage would be done. Brexit is a unique opportunity. If we do not grasp it now, fully, aware of the risks, but with a positive attitude to the enormous opportunities, then I regret to say, the UK may become lost indefinitely, existing in name only as a quasi-permanent colony of Brussels.

    https://brexitcentral.com/without-major-rewrite-shes-not-demanding-theresa-mays-brexit-deal-will-remain-unacceptable/

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  42. Jaime, would it be better to remain then? I obviously greatly respect David TC Davies and he’s shifted from voting for the unrevised Withdrawal Agreement to advocating No Deal – as it’s called, erroneously, because there are bound to be a series of mini-deals surrounding such a scenario. The question is will the EU make sure the pain is minimal for the UK? See also the term magical thinking.

    There are times one has to admit one has been outsmarted. I’ve been silent on Twitter since 9th November, just before the WA was unveiled, because I didn’t think I had anything to add. The strange conjunction of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and the rejection of the unrevised WA got me back into it. And here’s a big reason why: the ‘stab-in-the-back’ idea about the German surrender ending WWI was incredibly powerful at that time in Germany. The anti-semites were already having a field day blaming Jews for it. Luxemburg, as a far-left Jew who objected to the war in the first place, unlike the SDP, naturally came into the firing line. (This way of explaining her demise is in line, by the way, with your earlier comment about her.)

    I continue to listen to some Remainers and one of those is Daniel Finklestein, who is also a Jew from a German background with an interesting perspective on extreme ideology:

    Danny doesn’t think a majority voted for No Deal (and I have to say I agree with him on that). But his point about politeness is also well made.

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  43. Richard,

    “Danny doesn’t think a majority voted for No Deal (and I have to say I agree with him on that). But his point about politeness is also well made.”

    It’s quite simple really. Any version of May’s WA will not respect the result of the EU referendum, therefore it is beyond doubt that a majority did not vote for any ‘deal’ which may eventually make it through the Commons. It is also beyond doubt that a majority did not vote to Remain in the EU and the electorate as a whole voted in the knowledge that they were having the final say on whether we Leave or Remain. The only option left is to Leave on WTO terms, which fully respects the result of the EU referendum, i.e. ‘No Deal’ (implemented) is the ONLY option left on the table at this late stage which preserves democracy in the UK. That’s just the way it is. You have this government to thank for that. Speculating whether or not Leave voters had it in their mind that they were voting to Leave with a ‘deal’ or without one is therefore irrelevant if one wishes to honour the result of our largest ever national democratic vote and thus maintain faith in democracy. The alternative, where we are kept in the EU or under the control of the EU against the wishes of the majority of the electorate, will, I think, turn out to be a grave miscalculation that will have very far reaching consequences, way beyond any short term pain from the jolt of Leaving on WTO terms.

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  44. While the EU controls trade, they’ve got the UK under their thumb. The UK entered negotiations like Oliver Twist asking for some extra food. The result is hardly surprising. The only real question is whether the sellout was deliberate, because there’s no way the UK would be left in any shape to turn their backs on the EU after accepting such “deals”.

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  45. I agree with Jaime that James is a likeable fellow, even when wrong:

    Where Jaime agrees with Danny Finkelstein is less clear, because she didn’t answer my question about whether it would be better to remain than sign up for May’s WA. (There are many strange agreements at moments such as this. That’s part and parcel of the situation. Facing up to them can I think help stop ‘stab-in-the-back’ thinking getting out of control if things go less well than some of us had hoped. For myself, Booker’s phrase the great disappointment still resonates though I hope for the best.)

    I’d like if I may to return to exploring what I called ‘out-and-out insanity’ in my original post and possible parallels with the climate mess.

    Lily is being ironic; she’s not a supporter of the person who printed the flyers, as can be seen from her pinned tweet:

    Note that Katie German Hall denies being male or female. I’d say the size of the gametes is decisive on that question. As far as non-binary is concerned I’d say, of course, we all are, there are no rigid divisions into masculine and feminine traits in all of humanity. As far as the requests for special language I’d say they are barmy. As is claiming not to be male or female.

    One parallel here is that on the back of spurious or misunderstood science activists seem to have been given licence, culturally, to make any kind of wild claim, even when (for example) it goes against the express findings of the IPCC.

    Here’s another parallel I see:

    “Climate change is happening” huh? This seems to me essentially the same banality as what Munroe Bergdorf shouted out at the first Venice Allan meeting I attended: “The transgender child exists!” Well yes but that begs all the real questions, most importantly what should one do about it.

    “Trans women are women” is another common claim that goes much further. For me it’s a bit like Barack Obama’s twitter account reporting on John Cook’s flawed study six years ago:

    Even with all its flaws it never said that. And there are also voices like Richard Betts in the trans debate. But it is if anything even more polarised.

    As I said to Mark Hodgson earlier I need help with this stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Richard, “Katie German Hall denies being male or female. I’d say the size of the gametes is decisive on that question”. Suggest you read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides for one type (thankfully rare) of exception to your rule.

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  47. There do seem to be some parallels between the trans ‘debate’ and the climate debate, between trans activism and climate activism. Somebody noticed a minor ‘thing’ – a tiny percentage of the populace who suffer from genuine gender dysphoria and they decided to make it a major thing, which required egos and activism and a social revolution. With climate change, somebody noticed a rise in CO2 concentration and a small rise in global temperature (not outside the bounds of natural variability) and they decided to call it potentially ‘dangerous’ and unnatural. The solution required egos and activism and a social and economic revolution. The climate debate is fraught with uncertainty, but lots of characters like to pretend that certainty exists. Likewise, there are very few immutable ‘facts’ in the gender debate, but there are truisms: a trans woman is not a biological female, a trans man is not a biological male. Trans activists, like climate activists, are using children as pawns in their game. Encouraging kids to transition, like encouraging kids to become climate change mouthpieces, is child abuse.

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  48. “Encouraging kids to transition, like encouraging kids to become climate change mouthpieces, is child abuse”. Way yeh go Jaime. I couldn’t agree more.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Richard Drake, that recently tweeted pic of Emma Thompson is from 2014, when she went by boat to every annoying luvvie’s favourite Arctic island, Svalbard, and waved a few placards.

    If you wanted to attack her globetrotting hypocrisies (I’m not saying you do; this is a very OT comment), a far better target would be her 2016 trip by air to Baffin Island to celebrate the installation of some Greenpeace-funded solar panels. Those panels have been vandalized repeatedly since soon after they were installed:

    nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/65674nunavut_communitys_solar_panels_a_target_for_vandalism/

    I can’t find any solid info about why they are being vandalized but suspect it’s due to resentment at Greenpeace’s decades-long opposition to various traditional Inuit hunting practices plus perhaps a bit of outrage at poncey outsiders plastering poor communities with expensive gimmicks that are entirely useless from November until February and produce only marginally useful amounts of juice during their April to July peak.

    (That Nunatsiaq News article isn’t wholly reliable. When it said ‘the 32,290-watt panels’ it meant ‘the 32 290W panels’. Journalists, eh?)

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  50. Thanks to all for those excellent comments. I’ll start with Vinny’s first, not because it’s the most important but because it’s the easiest to respond to:

    If you wanted to attack her globetrotting hypocrisies (I’m not saying you do; this is a very OT comment), a far better target would be her 2016 trip by air to Baffin Island to celebrate the installation of some Greenpeace-funded solar panels.

    It’s not all that OT, because I did want to come back to Emma Thompson and her targetting of Tony Abbott. OK, I didn’t really want to “attack her globetrotting hypocrisies” as much as ask how odd it was for an English actress to go so far north to make a statement about an Aussie politician, because he had broken ranks among leaders in the Western world (wrong term really) or English-speaking world (too narrow) or whole world (too wide – the Chinese probably get more of a free pass). I wanted to get into the demonisation of opponents as a global phenomenon – because in the trans debate TERF takes the place of Denier and one feels that lessons have been learned from the last time. Evil ones.

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  51. Tonight I went to a fascinating meeting, the day after Holocaust Memorial Day, on genocide and surviving the destruction of ‘home’, with particular reference to Rwanda (25 year anniversary coming up in a few months) and the Holocaust, at King’s College London. On my way into the building I was given this (but in landscape, not portrait, orientation!):

    I went back to the young man giving out the leaflets and asked him what were the best arguments he’d heard against climate alarmism. He didn’t get the question and gave me some arguments for. So I repeated this one from long ago:

    The blog post I was pointing Brad and Dr Maslin to almost exactly four years ago is now among my GitHub pages. The conversation went on for a little bit after that but I raise it now because for me it speaks of priorities. Should I even have bothered to challenge the poor guy, given I was running late for something that certainly seemed in that moment far more important? (It started late, so I was fine.)

    And so it goes with all the subjects mentioned so far in this blog. And in all of life.

    I’ll come back to Jaime’s excellent summary of trans/climate parallels and Alan’s important quibble on the gametes tomorrow now. G’night all. Don’t forget to be thankful for what most of us have known in the last 25 years, despite the growth of climate madness in that time (and indeed of EU power grabs post-Maastricht), compared to one of tonight’s speakers, Jo Ingabire, and so many others.

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  52. I meant I’d comment later than 4:23am but this tweet from a Catholic lady in Minnesota caused me to lose some sleep:

    The video of Posie Parker it points to is incredibly moving. Here’s a little background. I’d been picking up (ie I’ve not been concentrating that much) that Posie, Venice Allan and others were currently in the States and had been getting flack from some of their rad fem allies in the UK for meeting up with some right-wingers. Here’s proof they made it, from Venice’s Facebook account:

    That’s from left-to-right Venice, Julia Long, Meghan Murphy (founder of Feminist Current, a well-known trans sceptic who’s recently been banned from Twitter and has come down from Canada), Posie and someone else I feel sure I should remember the name of.

    They are there for a meeting organised by the Heritage Foundation which took place yesterday (Monday): The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left. (Includes an hour-long video.) And to meet with members of Congress, as Julia Long explains here.

    But it’s Posie’s much less slick selfie-video than gets to me. It is child abuse that these mothers are trying desperately to save their children from and these women care.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. I mentioned earlier a parody account mocking trans extremism which only lasted a few days on Twitter in March last year. Here’s one that’s still going from November. [Update of 6 Feb: It’s now been suspended. I took the precaution of taking a screenshot.]

    That’s all very good but the last sentence brilliantly captures the ageism in so much of the discourse. (Any parallels there with climate? Nah, didn’t think so.) More importantly, it speaks of a serious attempt to create a new biology that gives trans activism the same kind of cover for political and legal abuses as climate activists have enjoyed for years. (Worse abuses than the climate case, in my considered view. But one doesn’t have to agree with that to take a look at the parallels.)

    A big part of creating a new biology, as I call it, is to take anomalies like rare intersex conditions (one of which Alan in effect raised a couple of days ago) and make them central to the cult. The same goes for women who are infertile for any other (more common) reason than being intersex. The difference with the nit-picking we all love so much in climate is that these conditions can cause tremendous heartache in and of themselves. So empathy is needed. Do trans activists show the needed empathy? You can probably guess my answer.

    At this point one turns to a fiesty person who ends their twitter profile with the memorable words: “Please don’t trans me when I’m dead.” I had the privilege of meeting @mrkhtake2 outside Westminster Magistrates Court in September. (More legal abuse from the ever-so-well-funded-yet-always-persecuted trans lobby but let’s skip that part.)

    Mrkhtake2 knows a great deal more about the real biology than I ever will. A recommended follow until Twitter bans her again.

    Jaime’s account of the parallels between trans and climate was very good and much appreciated. Sorry not to comment on it till now and to run out of time now.

    I also had a third MP I wanted to discuss, after Frank Field and David TC Davies, as promised to Geoff (or someone) way back. That I’m going do in a separate post called Post-strewth politics in a day or two. I’m sure you can’t wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Pingback: Post-strewth politics | Climate Scepticism

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