Joanna Cherry highlights the SNP’s free speech problem
The MP has been no-platformed by an Edinburgh Fringe venue
The silence speaks volumes. Where are the politicians showing solidarity with a colleague who has been no-platformed by a leading Edinburgh venue? Joanna Cherry is an Edinburgh MP, a human rights lawyer and a powerful voice for women’s rights. It’s another example of the demonising of women who hold perfectly legitimate views, allowing them to be picked off and isolated from mainstream politics.
Anyone who claims to believe in basic freedoms should be horrified. So where is Humza Yousaf, leader of the SNP and Cherry’s long-standing colleague? Where is Stephen Flynn, the party leader at Westminster, where Cherry is an MP? The fact that she doesn’t support the SNP’s gender reforms should pale into insignificance when a fellow politician is turned into a hate figure for expressing opinions that are neither illegal nor offensive.
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This is a cross-party issue, affecting elected representatives from other Left-of-centre parties, so where is the outrage from the Labour and Lib Dem leaders in Scotland and the rest of the UK? Even Sir Keir Starmer, who has so signally failed to stand up for one of his own MPs, Rosie Duffield, must by now be aware of what’s going on — and that the law is being broken.
Starmer is a KC, like Cherry, and leading lawyers have spoken out about the decision to cancel her appearance at The Stand. Roddy Dunlop KC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, wrote on Twitter the decision was “plainly unlawful”. Michael Foran, lecturer in law at the University of Glasgow, agreed that it was “unlawful discrimination”.
Such things should not be happening in a democratic country, governed by the rule of law. On this occasion, the venue has put out a mealy-mouthed statement, blaming the cancellation on the fact that a number of key staff, including management and box office personnel, “are unwilling to work on this event”. They say they are ensuring that their employees’ views are respected, a position that suggests those views are reasonable.
They are not. Every time this happens, the objections are based on things the victims of no-platforming have not said. None of the individuals who have been targeted, who include poets and authors as well as politicians, have called for legal rights to be removed from transgender people. They have not demanded that trans people should lose their jobs, be prevented from holding meetings or stopped from carrying out academic research. They are simply upholding the rights of another group, women and especially lesbians, to whom all these things are being done in the name of “trans rights”.
The framing is deliberate because the reality — forcing women to accept biological males in women’s sports, refuges, changing rooms, toilets and prisons — doesn’t sound so appealing. At protests organised by trans activists, we don’t see placards demanding “let men use women’s toilets now” or “make women share cells with rapists”. Instead, we see banners claiming that feminists are calling for “genocide” and comparing a belief in biological sex to Nazi eugenics.
It couldn’t have happened without the collusion of leading politicians, whose silence in the face of widespread bullying of women undermines their claim to be progressive — or just decent human beings.
Joanna Cherry is one of the bravest, most principled and funniest women I know. The fact that a venue called The Stand hasn’t taken one on her behalf is an indictment of the intolerant culture gripping Scotland, and the political heavyweights throughout the UK who have failed to call it out.
Well said, Joan Once again gender ideology is being exposed for the nonsense it is. Either The Stand will have to make a grovelling apology and reinvite Joanna Cherry or they’ll have an unpleasant discrimination case and a hefty fine. Watching with interest …
the SNP is the Jock Taliban
Logically there are only three reasons why individuals and business owners would participate in this patently absurd trans mind virus:.
They are too stupid and/or naive to discern that they are participating in a madness that history shows is an inherent weakness of human beings, in which reason is abandoned and the residual dumb evolutionary parts of our brains dominate: the idiot mob
They are afraid of the consquences of not conforming to the ideology of the idiot mob
They are attempting to profit from superficially supporting the idiot mob
The greatly disturbing realisation is that this descent in to madness is not only happening in a modern age where we thought that reason and the scientific method had prevailed, it is actively being propagated by the captured institutions that have come to be trusted as sanctums of reason and objective truth.
Professors within academia and the board of some organisation representing psychiatrists declares that the tenets of trans ideology are real and that is enough authority for our health services to sanction surgically experimenting on children.
Government and individuals have become so trusting of academia and science that they stand by as the captured institutions assert imbecilc nonsense that concludes that it is correct to surgically remove the organs of children.
Science enabled us to escape the irrational and ideological. But Leftists have sytematically captured the academic institutions and now use our trust in them to again promote the irrational and ideological.
The vast majority are in the fear, profit or unaware section of the populace. This madness will end but every person that stands up and refuses to comply with this idiocy will hasten its demise.
I just have no clue why, when it is well known now that so called ‘gender critical’ beliefs, are protected by law, that more people aren’t protecting their rights by opposing discrimination in the courts/tribunals like anyone else. Does an MP and silk not have the money to do so?
The FSU are there to help and they have a good track record.
What a great advertisement fir the Fringe. Won’t be rushing to buy tickets until this BS is over.
The Scottish and Welsh Assemblies don’t have real ideas about how to run things – in fact, regarding the respective Economies of Scotland and Wales they are clueless. The Economy dictates the lifestyle of the people.
The Assemblies deal only in emotion. For Scotland the emotion is about being independent – how the country would survive without the English taxpayers is not even considered. In Wales it is the emotion of everyone speaking the language.
If things are wrong with the respect to the Economies then the fault can be placed with England.
This means in Scotland that 40% of voters will support the SNP because they want independence. Even if all SNP MPs go to jail, 40% will vote for the SNP.
One point missing from Ms Smith’s article is that said venue (which operates as a comedy club all year round) is majority owned by fellow SNP MP Tommy Sheridan. And that’s as good a reason not to give them money as any. Pity, as the venue normally has good shows both during the Fringe and throughout year; but they won’t see a penny from me ever again.
There was a comment on this thread by, I think, Steven Carr. I disagreed with it profoundly, even angrily, but it should not be censored.
If you want to know what a culture holds as sacred, look at what they will bend of break every other norm and rule and law in order to protect.
Transgenderism (as a first step to transhumanism) is the new god. That means all other laws and rules and customs may be broken in defense of the sacredness of trans. Human nature and human beings are 100% malleable — Rousseau’s tabula rasa taken to it’s logical endpoint. It’s a technological equivalent of the oldest lie in the world: “do this and you shall be gods”.
Surely attaining divinity is more important than pesky norms like freedom of speech.
‘Free speech’ means that if you post something here expressing the other point of view about Joanna Cherry, it will go into moderation.
Thats because you would be indulging in hate speech. The alternative, saying that trans women are trans women is not hate speech but fact.
Having read your first post I imagine it invoked a few apoplectic responses. It is probably those that have closed the thread.
That said, accusing a KC, speaking in defence of woman’s rights, of whipping up hate that could endanger the lives of an act on the Edinburgh fringe, arguably comes close to hate speech against said KC, as well as being ludicrous.
My posts were also taken down, which is bizarre.
“None of the individuals who have been targeted… have called for legal rights to be removed from transgender people. They have not demanded that trans people should lose their jobs, be prevented from holding meetings or stopped from carrying out academic research. They are simply upholding the rights of another group, women and especially lesbians, to whom all these things are being done in the name of “trans rights”.”
This passage is the crux of the real problem – one I don’t think the author understands. Why would it matter if the de-platformed had called for “legal rights be removed from transgender people” (whatever that even means)?
“Free speech” has never meant (for example) libel, yelling fire in a crowded theater, divulging military secrets during wartime, copyright infringement, false advertising, etc. In other words, “free speech” is defined in part by the other moral norms of the society in which the speech is occurring – there are always some things that we can’t say because other values transcend our right to say whatever we want.
In this case, the TERF-types who are “standing up for women’s rights” are themselves quite confused about the underlying moral principles that are being contested. If you believe that a politician should not be de-platformed for advocating for biologically-separate changing rooms, but that perhaps it would be OK to de-platform him for advocating that trans people are mentally ill and that employers should be free not to hire the mentally ill, then you don’t understand what it is you are fighting for.
Let’s put it in terms the TERF’ers will grasp immediately: why should women be paid as much as men when they are less productive due to maternity leave? The answer (most would say) has something to do with the equality of all peoples, the essential dignity of our common humanity, etc. But those are the same answers given by transgender advocates to justify the very things the TERF’ers oppose. The TERF’ers claim moral certainty, but the public senses this underlying moral confusion – which is why their seemingly ‘obvious’ arguments regularly don’t prevail.
Although I agree with the TERF-ers in broad strokes, I fear they will keep losing until they acknowledge that “radical feminism” often entails just as much denial of biological reality as does transgender advocacy – and then figure out why we should draw the line where they want it drawn, rather than where the trans activists want it drawn.
As confused an argument as i’ve read on Unherd.
When you say that “TERF-types” (sic) are “themselves quite confused about the underlying moral principles that are being contested” it’s the classic strawman argument. No such confusion exists, except you’d like to think it does.
Nor do “TERF’ers” (sic) claim moral certainty. There is such a thing as biological sex, determined in every single cell of the human body in utero. Those who wish to live their lives as a different gender to their biological sex are perfectly free to do so, within the legal framework required via the usual democratic process. If people wish to change the law, again they’re perfectly entitled to advocate to do so. Trying to silence those with a different view is the perfect example of confused moral certitude.
Do the Terf Club have a tent at Royal Ascot?
Thanks for engaging, but I actually don’t see a response to my argument here…? If I’m confused, I welcome the correction.
My argument is that TERFs (sic – is there a better term?) haven’t articulated why (for example) society should be legally remade to diminish or minimize the inherent biological differences between men and women when it comes to things like hiring policemen or nurses, but not when it comes to things like men competing against women in athletics. What is the *moral basis* for saying that sexual difference doesn’t matter when it comes to hiring policemen or nurses but does matter when it comes to swimming competition?
The question of “free speech” is a stalking horse for this underlying ideological confusion – would these TERFs-turned-free speech advocates speak up to defend the free speech rights of racists? For that matter, how many TERFs have supported, for example, restricting free speech when it comes to abortion clinics? Some, no doubt… but when their ox is being gored, suddenly ‘free speech’ becomes much more important.
The response to your first point is that being an effective police officer or nurse involves all sorts of qualities not related to the clear physiological differences between the sexes (size, strength and speed). In sport, however, the physiological differences give men a clear advantage over women.
On the other point, very few people take an absolutist view on free speech. Context is important. There are some contexts where society accepts people have the right to express offensive views and others where it doesn’t. In Joanna Cherry’s case, however, it’s very hard to defend the argument that she should be de-platformed, because her views, which are in line with the law as it stands, are not, to most people, offensive. Indeed, they are protected under the Equality Act.
Thanks for engaging, but it’s not just physiological differences between men and women that suit them to different occupations. The biological differences run much deeper.
In fact, if all these disputes really were just a matter of physiological differences, then what the pro-trans sporting unions are doing would be acceptable to the TERFs. This is because the pro-trans sporting unions see themselves as “fine tuning” the rules to account for the physiological differences – ie. to correctly exclude men-who-think-they’re-women and have clear physical advantage over women, and not to exclude men-who-think-they’re-women but don’t have clear physical advantage over women.
The reality is that the TERFs have fooled themselves into thinking that women and men aren’t really that different except for the shapes of the body parts, and hence are really arguing with trans-activists over whether the shapes of the body parts should matter. But both sides are overlooking much deeper differences.
Where’s Mary Harrington when I need her?
PS. All that said, it is frankly pretty exciting to be so downvoted! I don’t usually get to enjoy the frisson of rebellion.
As ‘The Lady Boys of Bangkok’ are appearing in the Edinburgh Fringe this year, the author of the article might have paid a little more attention to the fact that these people’s lives could be in danger if Joanna Cherry is allowed to whip up hate against them.
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