Free speech
Self-censorship: the modern scourge

Self-censorship: the modern scourge

Grow some balls, people, and express that unpopular opinion.

One of the greatest scandals of our times is the spectacle of biological men pretending to be biological women. Whether it be demanding entrance to changing rooms used by teenage girls, elbowing out females from women’s political organisations, or being allowed to shower alongside women, non-females are making ever-more invasive forays into areas that actual females once saw as their own.

There should be a national outrage at the escalating demands of the wilder fringe of the trans movement, who I like to believe are only a vocal minority, but there isn’t, and we all know why. People are scared of losing face, fearful of appearing bad and uncaring among their liberal friends. To criticise the trans movement is the equivalent of announcing at a posh party that you voted Brexit: it puts you on the side of stupid, evil reactionaries.

This is why feminist liberals and writers, who so gaily denounce mankind as a whole on a weekly basis, mostly keep quiet on the issue of the trans movement. ‘OMG. What would the neighbours think? SCREAM!’

There have been a few lone voices who recognise the anti-woman nature of the extreme end of the trans movement – notably and commendably Janice Turner of The Times – but otherwise there has been silence. Others who have questioned the trans orthodoxy, like Germaine Greer, have themselves been silenced (and not even by trans people, but by conformist students). Many of those who dare to speak out are doing so ‘anonymously, for fear of reprisal’ – to extract one sentence from a Times report on Monday about a biological male becoming a Labour Party women’s officer in Kent.

Cowardice, silence and self-censorship are all-too-common features of ground-level politics today. People are also afraid to speak out against Islamism for fear of being denounced as racist. Any criticism of Islam is frequently labelled a ‘hate crime’, which is why many fear to criticise the religion, lest they get an unexpected visit from the police. This fear of being called racist is one reason why rape gangs in the north of England could go unpunished for years.

Elsewhere, both men and women fear to speak out against the strange direction taken by modern feminism, which increasingly demonises mankind in its entirety. One result of the panic over ‘rape culture’ is that innocent men are now being jailed on remand for months – a consequence of the shift of blame in rape cases towards guilty until proven innocent. Further afield, people with a pale complexion dare not question the neo-racist ideology that ‘white people’ are to blame for everything, and that ‘kill all white people’ is a perfectly normal thing to say.

Some individuals are rightly scared to speak out against modish opinions for fear of losing their jobs, or of reprisal or a knock on the door from the cops. What is unforgivable, however, is the silence of grown-ups who fail to speak out when all that is at stake is their social standing.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Do you want to live your life as you wish, or according to the internalised wishes of others? Shortly after the Brexit vote, I happened to be at a literary party in London where I mentioned that I voted Leave. The result was stunned silence, but I wasn’t shown the door – there was merely mild embarrassment before someone changed the subject. I have Remain friends who still recognise me as a human being, just as I still regard them likewise.

Grow some balls, people. Don’t be a slave to the herd mentality. I’m utterly tired of hearing the phrase, ‘Of course, I wouldn’t say this in public’. A healthy society is one in which ideas are openly exchanged and challenged. A diseased society is one in which words go unspoken and taboo subjects go underground, where they fester, becoming first grievance, then conspiracy theory, and then hatred.

The only thing worse than a society in which the state censors people is a society in which people censor themselves.


Online arguing – why bother?

The thing about being in company with people who have different political opinions to yours is that exchanges of views rarely descend into abuse or someone mentioning the Nazis – at least when everyone is sober. The same cannot be said for political discussions online.

I know a freelance journalist who has begun to spend an inordinate amount of her working hours getting into political squabbles about Brexit on social media. I keep trying to remind her that this is an utter waste of time: no one ever changes their mind through online quarrels. Viewpoints by all parties are merely entrenched and everyone leaves the exchange feeling miserable, angry and offended.

People’s minds are changed by what they read, what they see around them, and through face-to-face discussion, when you and your interlocutor recognise each other as actual people.


The Manchester Guardian view on Elvis Presley: An envoy for Dwight D Eisenhower’s values?, 24 November 1957

The world’s biggest rock’n'roll star is not simply a product of the age but seems a messenger for its disturbing spirit.

Ever since Dwight D Eisenhower returned to the White House earlier this year, a notable voice has been missing from the chorus of free jazz, skiffle and rock’n'roll stars who have denounced his divisive, deplorable and dangerous politics. We refer to Mr Elvis Presley. His silence is as striking as it is contemptible, and only highlights the parallels between the singer and the president.

Mr Presley’s songs echo Mr Eisenhower’s obsession with petty score-settling, as embodied in ‘you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog’, lyrics that literally drip with adolescent vengeance and distasteful bile. ‘Love Me Tender’ promotes the rape culture that is so endemic in our world; ‘That’s All Right’ reflects the smug complacency of casino late-capitalism; while ‘Jailhouse Rock’ is outrageously offensive in its detachment from reality. There is certainly no party in any county jail in the United States in the year 1957 – only overcrowding, the death penalty and conditions unfit for our so-called Western ‘civilisation’.

Ultimately, we condemn Mr Presley in the strongest possible terms for his failure to voice a political opinion which agrees with this newspaper. Not voicing an opinion on a subject is just as unacceptable as voicing the wrong one.

Patrick West is a spiked columnist. His new book, Get Over Yourself: Nietzsche For Our Times, is published by Societas.

For permission to republish spiked articles, please contact Viv Regan.

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