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Kathleen Stock won’t be the last A new age of authoritarianism has only just begun

There is no quick cure for censorship (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


November 1, 2021   5 mins

Our understanding of censorship is plagued by a common misunderstanding: that its most potent form is enforced from above. In reality, the most concerning threat to liberty does not take the form of draconian legislation introduced by our political institutions; it is more insidious than that. Censorship in the West now stems from the kind of bottom-up forces that keep birds from straying from a flock, or fish from their school.

In complexity theory, the term ‘emergence’ is used to describe a complex, higher order that arises out of the seemingly uncoordinated behaviour of individuals. The principal threat to liberalism today is an emergent authoritarianism, not a top-down form of the kind we find in China or Turkey.

Consider the case of Kathleen Stock, a philosopher and feminist who defends the right of women to restrict access to some women-only spaces to those who are biologically female. Stock was last week forced to resign her position at the University of Sussex after being subjected to a campaign of harassment from trans activists and their fellow travellers. Her decision to quit was not preceded by a demand by her bosses to step aside. Instead, a number of her colleagues at Sussex, as well as students and administrators at the university, created the toxic environment that forced her out.

Having experienced a milder form of the same treatment for criticising the excesses of ‘anti-racist’ activism, I completely understand why she left. Even though the university belatedly stood up for Stock’s right to free speech, pressure from her peers — especially when combined with an activist-led disciplinary process — creates a repressive climate for those who dare to dissent.

This is, of course, not confined to the UK. Across the Anglosphere, cancellation campaigns are soaring: the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)’s ‘Scholars under Fire’ database records a fivefold increase in attempts to terminate American academics between 2015 and 2020, with students often leading the charge. But what makes the news is just the tip of a vast iceberg when it comes to hostility and self-censorship.

My own work shows that in North America and Britain, around three quarters of academics in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) are on the Left. Three-quarters of SSH faculty in Britain endorse political correctness because it protects minorities, while just a fifth oppose it for stifling free speech. In the struggle between what Teresa Bejan calls ‘equal speech’ and free speech, many come down in favour of the former.

Even though it’s likely that most academics have been horrified by Dr Stock’s treatment, they still have an instinctive sympathy for disadvantaged identity groups — including those she is alleged to have hurt. So when activists smear Dr Stock as a transphobe, they make her radioactive to an important share of colleagues and students, who pull away out of a combination of moral disapproval and fear of guilt-by-association. Even in anonymous surveys, I have found that barely 1 in 3 North American and British academics are comfortable sitting down to lunch with a female academic who supports banning trans women from women’s shelters.

Cass Sunstein writes that the more one’s workplace doubles as a social community, the stronger its ability to force dissenters to conform to sacred values. And it is this which partly explains why Dr Stock was so vulnerable in the first place. Collegiate interaction and collaboration are a staple of academia. ‘Being a good colleague’ is not just an informal norm; it is often part of an academic’s formal appraisal. Peers review our presentations and papers, as well as the applications for grants and promotion that can make or break our career. Fellow academics also populate most levels of university governance, from a departmental teaching coordinator to the faculty Senate.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that biases and taboos pervade the system. Since over 40% of American academics wouldn’t hire a Trump supporter and a third of their British counterparts wouldn’t hire someone who voted to leave the European Union, the unorthodox keep their views to themselves. 70% of American conservative SSH academics say they self-censor, as do a third of British academics overall. The situation is similar in other ideologically-slanted industries such as journalism or the arts  — if anything, academics, once you control for their ideology, are more pro-free speech than others.

That, however, is not saying much. There can be little doubt the campuses remain ruled by what Sunstein terms ‘outrage entrepreneurs’, the secular preachers of today’s cultural socialism — an ideology which holds that cultural narratives and signifiers reproduce group inequality. These outrage entrepreneurs compete to spot signs of the devil (i.e. racism, transphobia, sexism) all around them. Often this takes the form of redefining innocuous words, such as ‘master bedroom’ or ‘spooky’, as racist, while competing to erase the memory of ‘problematic’ historical figures.

In this sense, it is far from a new phenomenon. Just like the fundamentalist preachers who drove the Great Awakenings of American Protestantism or the Azusa Street Revival in the early 20th century, a new priesthood is powering cultural socialism’s Third Great Awokening.

And they are succeeding beyond the wildest imagination of illiberal leftists such as Herbert Marcuse or the censorious student radicals of the Sixties. FIRE’s huge survey of 37,000 American university students shows that 75% of those in Liberal Arts colleges believe that shouting down a speaker with whom they disagree is sometimes acceptable; 70% of all students think a professor who says something that offends them should be reported to the administration.

Given censorious attitudes like these are so pervasive, it seems unlikely that they will grow out of their illiberalism. Indeed, this seems almost certain given the findings of a recent academic paper on white liberal Americans and their approach to toleration. The General Social Survey has been asking the same questions since 1972 about who should have the right to publicly speak. While American ‘liberals’ remain more tolerant than conservatives overall, the trend toward rising toleration — in relation to platforming racist speakers — began to go into reverse around 2000. Since the turn of the millennium, toleration has been steadily dropping. As Sean Stevens notes, Smith College students in 2000 and 2016, filling out the same survey, became 20-30% less favourable to free speech.

It is somewhat baffling, then, that classical liberals are optimistic about the future; they have taken to congratulating themselves lately because much of the mainstream media is largely onside, while new organisations such as the Academic Freedom Alliance or Free Speech Union are doing excellent work defending victims of cancel culture.

But these are more a palliative than a cure. The demographic momentum of decades of cultural socialist control over education shows no sign of waning. The treatment of Dr Stock surely demonstrates that things will get worse before they get better.

In order to turn the tide of emergent authoritarianism, the Government must step in when institutions violate the laws and values forged during the West’s period of expanding liberty. Legislation such as the UK’s Academic Freedom Bill is required to proactively uphold civil liberties and guard against political discrimination. Beyond this, governments must restructure school curricula to ensure that students learn as much about the struggle for liberty and the evils of utopianism as they do about the fight against prejudice.

But even this is not sufficient. Ultimately, emergent authoritarianism will continue to spawn new outgrowths until we recalibrate the taboos around race, sexuality and gender that have been widening for decades. Taboos activate our disgust reflex, leading to a black-and-white approach that is anti-intellectual, and must give way to a more nuanced and proportional form of social sanction of the kind we apply to those who mistreat people on the basis of other characteristics.

This means applying the principle of charity in interpreting people’s intentions, allowing for second chances before doling out the maximum penalty, and creating space for forgiveness. Until we achieve this, there will be plenty more Kathleen Stocks in the coming years.


Eric Kaufmann is Professor of Politics at the University of Buckingham and author of Taboo: How Making Race Sacred Led to a Cultural Revolution (Forum Press, 4 July).

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Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

The (UK) government should be prepared to stop funding universities that don’t stand up to this authoritarianism.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Bingo! Comment of the day.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Francis
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Sussex University should be closed down and their actions investigated.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Why the extreme response? If we took that approach every time an institution made a mistake, our country would be in ruins.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Where was the effective support for Professor Stock from other academics ? Much like under Communism and the Nazis; people looked the other way.
Northcote Parkinson said the 19th century don had a degree in Classics and probably Maths as well as speaking three to four modern European Languages.
It is much easier to spout political diatribes than undertake scholastic work requiring the ability to translate ancient records.
What about scholars trying to decipher Linear A Script ; this could shed light on the earliest Minoan Civilisation and perhaps the fact that women were far more influential in this society than later civilisatioms. Far too difficult.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

It was effective to a point in that she was not sacked and her academic freedom was openly backed by the uni. I guess she resigned, mainly because her own trade union condemned her.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

Surely it would not be a good idea to resign, money-wise. Presumably, if she could show that her work was impossible there would have been a quiet meeting and she would have taken a fee to go without comment?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Union comprised academics.

Rod Hine
Rod Hine
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I have just resigned from the UCU for their craven cowardice, and written to the VC of Sussex to say that my grandchildren will go to Sussex over my dead body. Perhaps I am guilty of virtue signalling by saying this, ha ha! I joined the Free Speech Union some months ago, seeing which way the wind was blowing.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

Mistake???
ROFL

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

No, collective punishment is not acceptable. Rather the university should expel each and every person identified as harassing Prof Stock and should also pay a significant fine for not acting sooner.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Julia H

Yes, they know who the agitators are and they don’t deserve to have ‘graduate’ on their CV

Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

She could also stand for her ideas and get fired instead of resigning and moaning about it

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

That’s a nuclear option. Why not take issues on a case by case basis? It’s become too fashionable to say “defund” or “break up” institution x on account of the crimes of a small section of it.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Although isn’t one of the problems that massive fees have turned students into fee paying customers and that’s why they’re getting away with so much. Removing govt funding would only make universities more reliant on fees wouldn’t it??

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Return to evening schools. Barnes Wallis, J R Mitchell, De Havilland, Camm, Chadwick , etc, all the great aeronautical engineers iof of the 1930s and 1940s obtained their degrees/professional qualifications through evening school while working.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

The point is that woke ideas don’t require thinking or ability. The ideas themselves are easy. Some people are disadvantaged, therefore everyone else must be advantaged and they become the common enemy.

This is the kind of thinking I had at primary school. Our group used to gang up on the kids who brought the best food to school because they were advantaged. The ‘swots’ were the biggest enemy because their parents were often doctors or important people. We really used to make their lives miserable.

But then, at the age of about 16, I grew out of this phase and got interested in making myself advantaged.

And here is the problem. Those students of today do not see individuals as advantaged, they see generations as advantaged. To get back at whole generations is enough to make a career.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Though older generations in modern UK are advantaged, as they/we were able to buy property with our salaries and have decent pension schemes. That’s becoming rarer and rarer and that’s a real injustice.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

To say something is an injustice implies that some actual or natural law has been subverted. However, there is no law that requires that something should forever remain the same real price though the ages.
In 1950 people spent on average 30% of their income on food by 2016 the average spend just over 10% and the choice is enormously greater. Life expectancy is much greater today than in the 1950s. The range of goods available now is unimaginably greater than in 1950. I remember the primitive TVs of those days and an iPhone was a science fiction concept rather than an ordinary consumer good. All these advances came about through improved technologies.
Houses, however, are built very much in the same way and land is relatively scarce with the rise in population. The supply and demand balance is less favourable than it once was. Not that it was all that easy to buy a home even then – hence the enormous post-war council house building schemes. Some things – well a lot of things – are better and more affordable than they once were and others less affordable. Justice has nothing to do with it and it is a social disservice to suggest that it does.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Pros and cons. My boomer parents didn’t have a bean but got lucky and bought their council house. They also got fairly good pensions. Other than that their life hasn’t been easy at all. They grew up with rationing, outside toilets, my mum’s options at school were ‘secretarial’ or ‘housekeeping’, my dad had a hard manual labour job and worked long hours with minimal safety equipment. They often had times where they dreaded a knock on the door and often went without so us kids could have a treat or 2. The idea they had it easy is ludicrous

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Those who grew up in the slums and workhouse before WW1 had it even tougher.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

That is so true. The most advantaged were often picked on BY the disadvantaged as much as the other way around

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

Agreed. The Woke have ‘weaponised’ a version of ‘Original Sin’ and profited from it. Profit in terms of woke jobs, woke books, the thrill of ‘knowing’ purity.
The push of ‘guilt’ and the pull of ‘self benefit’. It’s tough to resist – for those who have bought into the ideology and for those who are the victims of it.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

First of all, this is an excellent post and I agree 100% with you.
But we have to avoid fighting extremes with extremes because then it becomes a name-calling thing and nobody wins. If you care about something there is a danger that you get called ‘woke’ or that you are accused of ‘virtue signalling’. In another stream today, I took the side of the elderly and was accused of being Left and of virtual signalling.
I believe that there are disadvantaged people in the world today. Most of them are outside the UK. There are degrees of disadvantage-ness and we don’t have the really serious cases in this country. The things that we discuss are relatively trivial but still important to those who are involved.
I care about old people because I am an old person. Old people are not treated with the respect due to them. To call someone a ‘silly old sod’ is not a hate crime. Am I therefore woke? Or am I a silly old sod?

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I agree with your point. I get flak from left and right alike for taking issue with reactionary views. I can be called woke and transphobic in the same day. We have lost the sense of respect for people who hold different views and become gradually more and more reactionary as a nation. Social media hasn’t helped because we don’t know each other. Needs to be some sort of give and take to find a solution that addresses concerns of different groups of people.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Fair and reasonable.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

Yes, and this is the very site which is supposed to encourage free speech. Not really free because you are only accepted if you say the right thing. I joined in January this year and will not renew. There is no point because everyone knows they are right and that is that.
Also I find that people are happy just to moan and blame somebody without trying to suggest a real alternative. With the calibre of the anti-woke comments here, woke is bound to win.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

I have occasionally wondered whether these articles really describe what is actually going on in the mainstream. Aren’t these the concerns of a small group of obsessives hugely amplified by modern media?

So I thought I’d ask my grandson (16 this month).

Q: Do you get much of this woke stuff pushed at you at school?
A: Oh yeah, every assembly has something about racism or gender identity. One teacher called a special assembly when her daughter came out.
Q: What do you think about it?
A: Most of its obvious. You don’t need to be taught to be nice to people. Some of its just barmy. We were taught recently that there’s a gender that likes both male and female but isn’t comfortable in their own body. What’s all that about?
Q: Is there a problem with racism or homophobia in the school?
A: Not that I’ve ever seen. It’s more now all the kids that need attention coming out as gay/bi/non binary/whatever. Some think it’s cool.
Q: Do none of the kids call out this BS in lessons?
A: God no, you could easily be suspended or expelled.

He doesn’t attend some progressive hellhole. This is a mainstream comprehensive in a mid size English town.

I don’t think it can be stopped, it’s so endemic to the system. It’s possible to object to something specific, like CRT being put on the curriculum, but what do you do with a teacher who organises a special assembly to celebrate her daughter’s sexuality? (Yes, I know, I have several suggestions as well).

Should we try to organise?

I have an annual get together with a group of Uni mates. We’re all in our mid 60’s and have been moderately successful. It’s just a booze up, but at the last one I had a mild rant about CRT. It was pretty clear most of them knew nothing about it and those that did thought I was being over the top. Beyond the relatively small readership of publications such as these, there is no groundswell of real support for a fight back

Does it matter? That’s a tougher question. My instinctive reaction is “yes of course” but every generation thinks the one following is degenerate.

You’d have been ostracised pretty quickly in my school if you’d promoted gay rights, so cancel culture is hardly new – just the targets have changed.

Nobody wanted to be non binary, but plenty were skinheads, hippies or punks. All involved some weird behaviour and all grew out of it. It certainly doesn’t seem to be preventing my grandson being a pretty solid young man.

Yet I do think it is more than that. The level of anger everywhere seems new and growing. Nearly all sources of information are distrusted (unless they chime with what you already believe). There are so many paradigms for looking at the world, it’s becoming almost impossible to debate issues as there’s no base of common values understood by both sides (thank you post modernism).

It’s obviously been coming for years but these things tend to happen slowly until they happen quickly. I’m coming to the view that whatever car crash is at the end of this is probably now unavoidable and, unfortunately, is likely to happen in my lifetime.

The real question is how to prepare for it and minimise it’s consequences for you and yours. I’ve no answer but would welcome suggestions.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I am reminded of a conversation I overheard many years ago, between two school pupils (as we called them then) when Mao was on the rampage.
Did you say you’ve read the Little Red Book?
Yeah.
What do you think of it?
I thought it was rather naive, actually.

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

“The level of anger everywhere seems new and growing”

I agree. In my case I feel angry because I know I’m being gaslighted (along with the general public) but the government, with its big majority, refuses to do anything meaningful about it. It’s literally maddening.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Winston Smith wrote: “If there was hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.”

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

That’s all we have on our side. Numbers. So stopping us organising is no 1 priority.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I’m more encouraged by your grandson’s reaction to the indoctrination. I wonder if the pendulum won’t swing back quite fiercely in reaction to this over zealous cultural policing.

Antonino Ioviero
Antonino Ioviero
2 years ago

“Cass Sunstein writes that the more one’s workplace doubles as a social community, the stronger its ability to force dissenters to conform to sacred values.”

I don’t have a problem with this at, say, a Catholic university, where it was founded on such principles and everyone knows what the boundaries are.

Where I have a problem is at a publicly funded, secular university, a shifting political code being enforced.

That a feminist lesbian academic is chased out of one such institution shows things have descended into a purity spiral.

Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
2 years ago

The quote from Cass Sunstein: “the more one’s workplace doubles as a social community, the stronger its ability to force dissenters to conform to sacred values” strikes a chord with me. Although I have made good friends in my workplace, there has always been a marked difference between my work life (mixing almost exclusively with middle class graduates) and my home life (friends and family almost exclusively working class or lower middle class non-graduates). The difference between these two worlds has been accelerating over the last few years. I have always kept my feet firmly with friends and family – that is my social community, not the workplace. Maybe the problem is that too many people base their social lives around the workplace and forget their true home. That doesn’t absolve the actions of those that want to enforce their political or cultural code in the workplace, but maybe does explain why so many people now feel vulnerable to the cancel culture. I know that careers and livelihoods are at stake, but at least knowing that your friends and family will never demonise you for wrongthink offers some comfort. Wokery has not infected the general population yet, at least not in my home community, and I don’t think it ever will. It’s one of the marked differences between the “somewheres” and “nowheres” that David Goodhart talked about.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

The (UK) government should be prepared to stop funding for universities that do not stand up to this authoritarianism.

Michael James
Michael James
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Buit soon those who decide on the funding will agree with the authoritarians.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

In this case, the university authorities stood up to it. Individual academics, their trade union, and students condemned her.

Brendan Newport
Brendan Newport
2 years ago

What isn’t covered though is that the fourteen thousand undergraduates and six thousand postgraduates at The University of Sussex have pretty much wasted their student loans and maintenance grants. Last years graduates who aren’t in work already and the current 3rd years due to graduate next summer have pretty much doomed themselves. The second and first years? Nope, they are probably now at what by any definition is a dead-end institution.
Even the science graduates will be under suspicion – not helped by the words of the universities Student Union Women’s Officer and microbiology student who wouldn’t back Dr Stock. What use will a degree from Sussex be now? The brand is tainted, and any young graduate (or postgrad with a Masters) is going to struggle with the slightly-raised eyebrow at their alumni. Who in HR even in the public sector is going to take a chance on employing a Sussex graduate, for fear that they might be one of Stock’ masked harassers – only too willing to resort to death/rape threats if they feel slighted? How will a Sussex graduate fit-in to a new work environment, particularly if it includes female employees? Perhaps the student population should have thought about providing a bit of support. They might not have agreed with Dr. Stock. They might not have even liked her. It would though have been in their interests to be seen to rebel against her abusers. Now though it’s too late, and they are now at a University with a reputation for attacking anyone who might intellectually challenge them.
Nope, UoS is now a spent penny, its reputation for research and free thinking trashed, likely irretrievably. And ‘Doc Stock’? Well ‘Material Girls’ is in reprint, the first edition having sold-out. A follow-up book will likely see a scramble between publishers (who keep their ‘woke’ staff in-check). A government advisory job perhaps? Speaking tours (with sufficient security)? A role at a prestigious university intent on hoovering-up those students smart enough to avoid the ones that have gone down the ideology line? I suspect though that she will thrive far better than her former University, its staff and students, who have now committed themselves down a path that Evergreen College in the US has taken.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan Newport
Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
2 years ago

I half wish your comments were true – Not because I would wish to see the current and future alumni of UoS to suffer in the job market, but because it might make UoS and others realise the damage being done to its ‘brand’ and put a stop to this nonsense.
However, I don’t think the UoS will become a spent penny. You ask ‘who in HR even in the public sector is going to take a chance on employing a Sussex graduate’. But my experience is that this woke nonsense has long since jumped from academia and the public sector and into the private sector. The HR departments of many private sector organisations will see no issue in employing even the most woke Sussex graduates, including the trans activists. In fact, many employers in the private sector will seek to take on such people to demonstrate their commitment to diversity in their organisation (which all helps when bidding for public sector contracts).

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago

Recruiters in large organisations don’t get worked up like we do. They need people to do jobs/ Sussex Uni has long had a left-wing rep. Water off a ducks back IMo

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

That is true. HR depts are where all these nutters end up. At my company they cut masses of jobs, but expanded the DE&I department because apparently it is far more important to support BLM and pontificate about Pride and black history than it is to do a competent job or make money

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

I am not sure. Oxford and Cambridge have brought back all sorts of entrance tests/ exams. There are Cambridge Pre- U and STEP Exams. The top 8 to 10 departments in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering and Economics requre Further Maths A Level, often at A grade. Further Maths has largely become the the preserve of public and grammar schools with a few comprehensives in affluent areas which were former grammar schools In the numerical subjects there are about four tiers, the top 8 departments in universities, then Red Brick, Russell Group, Minor Universities and then ex Polys.
The future top tier management will largely be from the top 8 universities, especially with numerical subjects with the added bonus of of being an officer in the Armed Forces( Short Service Commission). Outside of which glass ceilings will be hit very quickly.
The massive social inequality will be created by those outside of the top 8 universities/departments who hit the glass ceiling at about 30 years of age.
Academics debts of ÂŁ30K or more and no ownership of homes and no financial support from families will re-create debt bondage.
At the end of the Roman Empire say, after 250 AD free Romans were so lumbered by debt that they voluntarily entered into being slaves in order to be fed and housed.
They say knowledge is power. The knowledge to avoid debt bondage may become the greatest knowledge for future generations.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago

Seems extreme. Recruiters are usually a lot more focused on ability to do the job.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Prima facie example of this – Quinton De Kock resisting taking the knee and then castigated by his peers, journalists, etc, who would all consider themselves liberals, until he surrendered, apologised and took the knee.
Forcing compliant behaviour, like communists and fascists.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago

Kathleen Stock doesn’t need to seek forgiveness. She did nothing wrong.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Doesn’t help that most university administrators are invertebrates. Why were there not mass sackings and expulsions?

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago

Perhaps even “inveterate invertebrates”?! I only joke but actually I don’t think you’re right here. In this case, the university authorities stood up to it. Individual academics, their trade union, and students condemned her.

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago

When, exactly, did they begin standing up to it? Very, very late in the day, it seems, when the damage was done.

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago

The campaign group Sex Matters has reported that Edinburgh University Staff Pride Network has issued an email (using university resources) that could be construed as threatening academics who signed a letter sent by SM to the Equality and Human Rights Commission asking them to investigate UK Universities’ imposition of radical gender orthodoxy.

I really think legal challenges to this threatening behaviour are the only way forward now.

SM has also produced an informative guide called ‘Pronouns at work’ which sets out the law in relation to beliefs and very neatly provides a response to this creeping trend. Essentially compelled speech in favour of a contested belief which is not shared by all staff members is unlawful and should not be promoted in the workplace. That message needs to get out there, especially in the public sector.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Julia H

Henceforth my pronoun of choice will be the Royal ‘We’.
‘They’ won’t be amused…

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

You’ll have to practice the wave for when you’re out in public.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Are ‘classic liberals’ part of the hard left? I thought that classic liberals were starting to push back against ‘progressives’.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
2 years ago

Yes, a classic Liberal is Paddy Ashdown, not Leon Trotsky.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Well I am! I seem to have more in common with conservatives these days.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago

I am in the centre, leaning left and found a debating forum on Facebook that more or less matched most of my views and allowed lively debate – except my questioning about the development of transgender views over my lifetime, which led to my ban after about 6 months there as a regular contributor.
The issue is that debating trans issues in a way that does not closely match the approach taken by trans activists makes them “feel unsafe”, they scream blue murder to this effect and so debate is not possible.
I don’t know a good way round this issue. Two possible ideas to push:
a) the notion of “transphobia” is inevitably subjective, stigmatising and inevitably a repressive weapon in debate – so trans supporters need to see their way to not use it. In return…
b) we should show some genuine willingness to understand the torment of transgenderism, reading real-life stories and developing some compassion. Some give and take. Any thoughts?

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Sir, I have no problem with your suggestions at all.
More light, less heat.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Francis
Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Francis

Thanks

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

I suggest listening to the few survivors of Eastern Europe or Japanese POW camps in WW2. When someone recounts their experience of massacres and hunger over a five to six year period followed survival in a refugee camp for a a few years, one has a glimpse into suffering.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Good point. Thanks

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

But were they “stunning and brave”?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

A some what glib comment about someone recounting their experiences of mass murders and hunger over many years.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

That’s precisely D Ward’s point.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

First world problem?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

Problems faced by humans since history began. Luckily absent in the Western World since 1945.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

As a guess, less than 50% of the active trans supporters are really bothered. The rest would just join in for fun. Perhaps when the fun-seekers get bored and find another cause the numbers of the real activists will be more manageable – meaning easier to negotiate with.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago

Given the widespread consensus that young people especially are going through a mental health crisis, I’d suggest anyone uncomfortable in their sex/gender needs therapy.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

Higher education (soi disant) has become a dumbed-down diploma mill. It’s supposed to be about the free exhange of ideas, not incontinence of feelings. It’s not actually respectable, to cut the pattern to fit the cloth.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

I think the Anglosphere should be referred to as the Anglosevere.

“Across the Anglosphere, cancellation campaigns are soaring: 
”

That wee description reminds me of Britain’s Foreign Secretary chap who in 1914, just after war was declared, said that across Europe the lamps are going out.

In Continental Europe, there are many technical universities, at which all the students and lecturers may well be happy. The students’ job prospects there ar brighter I would imagine than for the average attendee at an American liberal arts college. I don’t know if in Europe they have the American equivalent of liberal arts colleges. I wonder if in terms of maintaining the freedom to speak one’s mind whether it’s better to pitch up at a Continental European university. I just try to fathom what it is about the Anglosphere. Halloween is so paganed out now it’s starting to rival Christmas in its run-up, as well there are more masks for sale that fit adults’ faces than kids’. An American import that of late only just got more intense. But still on Continental Europe they resist this Anglosphere culture. At least the ramped-up intensity of it all. All Hallows’ even, they say.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Edit: perhaps it was just before was declared. And I cannot recall the chap’s name, the foreign secretary. I could look it up, but I cannot be bothered. Just now.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
2 years ago

Sir Edward Grey.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

It is interesting that there is mention of care/sympathy – understanding a person’s suffering – and then compassion. I would have thought compassion incorporates sympathy with the addition of taking action to alleviate the suffering.
My question is whether we are seeing – apart from other influences – the behaviour and ideology of a personality type that has come to dominate certain institutions? Compassion together with politeness make up the Big 5 trait of Agreeableness. Perhaps it is those with this Trait as dominant that are manifesting a morality impulse that is a conductor for their feelings of agreeableness and compassion?

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

How are the ‘outrage entrepreneurs ‘ agreeable ?
And how are transgender people disadvantaged ? They don’t even have to pay for their own expensive plastic surgery to have their bodies made superficially like those of the sex they quixotically aspire to belong to .

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

The history of the liberal identity has been one in which the emotional volume has been steadily turned up on this affective pair­ing[minorites viewed warmly and majorities coolly], while the chosen form of “minority” has been narrowed to concentrate on totemic racial, gender, and sexual categories. […] At the extreme, minorities are viewed as hyper-fragile children that must be protected from all harms, however microscopic or imaginary. The majority is hated and feared as a vicious predator against whom one must constantly stand on guard, and which should be attacked remorselessly.
Little wonder, then, that when someone from the majority actually or symbolically assaults a minority, … this resonates with liberal tropes and memories, activating uniquely intense outrage.
https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2020/11/liberal-fundamentalism-a-sociology-of-wokeness/
The hypothesis would be the outrage is driven by agreeableness. Agreeableness manifests in altruistic behaviour together with compassion, politeness and generosity and caring towards disadvantaged groups such as the chosen form of minorities. It is has an accompanying emotional positive valence and any attack on such minorities activates outrage – as Kaufmann pointed out.

Last edited 2 years ago by michael stanwick
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

We need to start treating the woke exactly as we treat other communists and fascists

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Cowardice. If people in these positions, like Professor Stock, merely slink away when pressured, then they apparently don’t believe strongly in their positions. Who will be left to dissent at some point?

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

I don’t believe that Professor Stock has done anything like ‘slink away’.

She has fought her corner, written articles, spoken on the situation on free- speech-supporting channels, and so on. I think she must simply be exhausted by the long-term harassment and industrial-strength nastiness.

If it is cowardice you are looking for, I suggest you aim that word at her colleagues who privately whisper their sympathey to her (and those in a similar position), but dare say nothing publicly. There, together with the spineless university authorities, are your cowards.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Well said.