Friday, 24 March 2017

"Silencing"

So Nigel Farage has said that
people are afraid to speak out about terrorism because they might be accused of "racism".  He has already demonstrated that his ideas on this subject are at variance with the facts; the Westminster attacker was, like Farage, a 51-year-old man from Kent. In other words he was not an immigrant although Farage was, predictably, one of the first to argue that immigration was the reason for the attack. 

Pretty vile stuff I'm sure you will agree, using the death of a policeman and three other people as an excuse to ramp up his racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Yet his main goal is clear; for racist hate-speech to become legitimised. What has hitherto been regarded as unacceptable hate-mongering is what he wants to be regarded as legitimate. He wants to normalise racism.

Cut to so-called "radical" feminists who engage in hate-speech against trans people, which usually involves spreading outright lies or confected faux narratives about us. Beatrix Campbell has used the same kind of rhetoric as Farage in her infamous letter to the Guardian, so have other anti-trans campaigners like Julie Bindel and Germain Greer. Arguing that they must have the right to express transphobic views quickly became a media consensus last year, something that continued even after Milo Yiannopoulos had bullied a trans student in a university in Wisconsin.

The rule seems to be that, if it is hate-speech about trans people, then that is a "free speech" issue. If it is hate-speech about any other group then that is a "hate speech" issue. 

There are two issues here; firstly that the racist hate-speech of Farage should not become normalised in the way that hate-speech against trans people is. His goal is clearly to normalise racism, and probably subsequently many other forms of discrimination and
violence against other minorities. The extreme right clearly consider this an issue which can be used to legitimise their own race hate, and have expressed solidarity with people like Germaine Greer's transphobia.

The second issue is the normalisation of transphobia in the media and the media's current policy of allowing only cisgender people's voices in this "debate" legitimising the coalition of anti-trans voices, now actually formalised, from the alt-right Nazis and "Christian" fundamentalists to so-called "radical" feminists. This alliance is reflected in "radical feminist" Julie Bindel's association with hate-rag the Daily Mail. How she can call herself a "radical" or a "feminist" while writing in an extreme right-wing alt-paper that scapegoats minority groups, especially immigrants is beyond me. Perhaps her brand of feminism is only actually radical in name? Perhaps it isn't even feminism any more?

Whether it is Jenni Murray, Julie Bindel, Elinor Burkett or Milo Yiannopoulos, transphobia in the media has become normalised and the same arguments used to legitimise it that Farage is currently using to try and legitimise racism: "People shouldn't have to fear discussing this subject." "Free speech." "Isn't Murray/Bindel/Yiannopoulos/etc brave to speak out?!" "We only want to debate your existence."

Aside from the obvious issues of media access and silencing of trans voices in mainstream media, the main reason people describe Jenni Murray as "brave" for speaking out is that they know she will be challenged on social media for her views. Didums. This is not a "free speech" issue, it is a "freeze Peach" issue. It is about the right of those privileged enough to have access to mass media being able to spread their views and not called out on their lies, disinformation, inaccuracies and misconceptions.

One of the many consequences of this spate of mainstream media transphobia has been the shooting of a 12-year-old trans girl in a school in Manchester. The news that she has agreed to take part in a restorative justice programme and face her attacker is an act of real courage. This girl has more courage in one of her toenail clippings than Jenni Murray has in her entire being.

The fact that these transphobes are using the same tactics as a fascist to justify their harmful views, should give some people pause for thought.

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