Canada’s bizarre trans-waxing controversy

Female waxers are being branded ‘transphobic’ because they refused to wax a trans-woman’s bollocks.

Brendan O'Neill

For proof that the woke war on common sense and decency is now completely out of control, look no further than the Canadian trans-waxing controversy. A born male who identifies as female, and whose male genitalia is still intact, is suing female-only waxers on the basis that their refusal to wax his bollocks – sorry, her bollocks – is an act of discrimination. Yes, this person believes that because he identifies as female he should therefore have access to every female service, including the most intimate female services. Any female beautician who refuses to tend to his testicles is being ‘transphobic’, apparently, because they are denying his womanhood. Even though he has a penis. And testicles. And is a man. That’s hate speech, I know.

This is the case of Jessica Yaniv, born Jonathan Yaniv, who has filed complaints against more than a dozen female waxers with the Human Rights Council (HRC) in British Columbia. Yaniv claims that the women’s refusal to give him a Brazilian – that is, to handle his penis and testicles and to remove his pubic hair, activities these women did not want to carry out – is discrimination. Yaniv says that self-identifying as a woman is sufficient to be treated as a woman and to get access to services typically reserved for women. In the words of the National Post, the HRC hearings revolve around the question, ‘Should a business be allowed to deny service on the basis of gender identity?’ Or perhaps, ‘Should a woman be forced by law to touch a penis she doesn’t want to touch?’ – that’s a franker, more honest way of putting it, though it’s obvious why people don’t put it like that, given it would expose the fundamental misogyny at play in this demented case.

Two of the women who refused to touch a penis they didn’t want to touch – sorry, who behaved transphobically – have already been forced out of business by the HRC actions. One is an immigrant from Brazil, who operated a female waxing service from her own home, where her young children live with her. Because she refused to let a born male into her home and to service his pubic region, she is out of work. A legal representative for the women who have been taken to the HRC says his clients have become ‘depressed, anxious and sleepless’ as a consequence of being talked about as human-rights abusers, transphobes and deniers of gender identity.

Many of the women who have had action taken against them are migrants. Some speak English as a second language. One is Sikh, and also works home, and she has a religious issue with waxing male genitalia. That this ‘human rights’ action is even taking place is utterly perverse. The question immediately arises as to who is really been discriminated against here: a born male who went to female waxer after female waxer to see if they would wax his testicles, or the women who find themselves either in a council hearing or already out of work simply because their religious, cultural or outright personal preferences mean they do not want to service male genitalia. Yaniv says if the case is lost then a dangerous precedent will be set for trans people. In truth, the real danger is if Yaniv wins the case, because that would set a precedent whereby the law could require that women must touch penises or risk losing their jobs. It would be profoundly misogynistic.

There is a temptation to view Yaniv as simply an eccentric trans activist. But in truth this case is entirely in keeping with the cult of gender self-identification where one can now become a woman simply by declaring it. The logic of such a flight from reason, of creating a situation where anyone can be a woman regardless of how they were born or what bits they have, is that blokes will intrude on women’s spaces. There will be born males in female changing rooms; burly trans-women, who have benefited from the testosterone carnival that is male puberty, taking part in women’s sports; born males putting themselves forward for all-women shortlists in politics; and people actually saying ‘I am a woman and therefore you must wax my testicles’. Pure Newspeak. ‘Wax this woman’s testicles’ – can we hear ourselves?

This is the logic of gender self-ID. It’s the logic that has seen male rapists being sent to women’s prisons because they now self-ID as women. It is the logic that means a trans-woman who went through male puberty can now be winning gold medals in the women’s world cycling championships. It’s the logic that leads to people using actual phrases like ‘female penis’ without ever thinking to themselves, ‘What the hell am I talking about?’ The Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy, who has been central to drawing attention to the Yaniv case and to critiquing the cult of gender self-ID and its dire impact on women’s spaces, describes it well. In an interview on my podcast a few months ago she talked about how gender self-ID necessarily erases women-only spaces and also devastates the idea of womanhood itself. After all, if anyone can be a woman, then being a woman becomes a pretty meaningless, hollow affair.

The suggestion that these Canadian female waxers are ‘transphobes’ because they refused to wax a dick confirms the cynical, sinister nature of that term ‘transphobic’. It really is just a way to demonise and punish anyone who refuses to bow down to the ideology of genderfluidity. It is stick used to beat those who refuse to buy into the Orwellian notion that war is peace, freedom is slavery, and a penis can be female. You can now be a bigot simply for believing in reality itself, in this case that people with penises are not women. Pressuring women to handle male genitalia against their will is dreadful and it suggests woke politics has now crossed the line from irritating to disgusting.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


J King

25th July 2019 at 2:48 pm

First thought in response to the list of crud at the end. Why do people freak out at the idea of mtf in women’s toilets. Seriously..have you been in there? There’s these magic rooms called cubicles where we go in by ourselves, remove the necessary clothing, use the toilet, readjust the clothing and then leave. There’s also nearly always a freaking queue. And why does everyone freak out about mtf using the women’s toilets and not ftm using the males? I mean obviously all humans with penises can’t be trusted so surely ftm persons are more at risk of being sexually attacked than afab persons are? I mean they’re in the men’s toilets on their own.

Chris Marshall

24th July 2019 at 11:00 am

A hero?

I am astounded that Trans people, advocates and allies want to be associated with Yaniv. It is an old story: she has a long history of tweeting about assisting 10 year old girls in public toilets with tampon use and much else besides. She is exactly the kind of Trans Woman who gives rise to the argument against the dissolution of women’s spaces. Women and other humans who have highlighted the antics of Yaniv have been banned by Twitter, doxxed, been reported to their employers, disciplined and threatened with job loss.

Workers offering any service that involves bodily contact, or takes place in the client’s home or the worker’s home and is not part of a necessary medical procedure provided by a professional medical facility should NEVER be obliged to accept work, for whatever reason whatsoever.

There are so many ways in which Trans people do face discrimination out there in the big bad intolerant world, why focus on this?

gershwin gentile

22nd July 2019 at 12:58 pm

You might want to check out the coverage Tim Pool (who I think BON subscribes to) did on this.

I would have done the waxing after getting the dinlo to sign a waiver, then I would have torn his sack off.

Amelia Cantor

22nd July 2019 at 10:05 am

“After all, if anyone can be a woman, then being a woman becomes a pretty meaningless, hollow affair.”

Yeah. Now try:

“After all, if anyone can be British or American, then being British or American becomes a pretty meaningless, hollow affair.”

If the first proposition is true, so must the second be. And vice versa. But O’Neill accepts the first and denies the second.

Contradictory, much?

John Reic

22nd July 2019 at 7:28 pm

you’re comparing biological gender, to A nationality on a passport

so when people want to have their birth gender changed on a passport for respectful reasons as they’d be embarrassed when asked to produce their pass port, they could then say they’ve decided they can go to anywhere as thats’ their home country on their passport

Amelia Cantor

23rd July 2019 at 11:34 am

I’m comparing national identity to a label on a birth certificate.

If trans-women weaken and destroy the concept of “woman-ness”, then immigrants weaken and destroy the concept of “British-ness” or “American-ness”.

It’s pretty simple, but I’m used to wilful obtuseness from hate-filled rightards.

Robert Reid

23rd July 2019 at 6:43 pm

Before attempting your first use of analogous logic, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with common fallacies related to it. You’re making a rather obvious false equivalence, therefore your argument is unsound. You’re comparing an legal distinction to an empirically verifiable biological one.

I’m near certain you would respond with something to the effect of gender =/= biological sex, but you would again be wrong. Contrary to currently fashionable myth, the word “gender” has always been synonymous with biological sex (since ~1500 AD, in English).

Before directing comical epithets like “rightard” toward people you couldn’t possibly know, you should probably not demonstrate the attributes you’re assigning to others. Would you care to try again with a valid analogy, or are insults the only thing you have?

Amelia Cantor

24th July 2019 at 10:31 am

“Before attempting your first use of analogous logic, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with common fallacies related to it.”

A patronizing mansplainer!

“You’re making a rather obvious false equivalence, therefore your argument is unsound. You’re comparing an legal distinction to an empirically verifiable biological one. ”

But rightards such as yourself would say that nationality is an “empirically verifiable biological” concept.

“Contrary to currently fashionable myth, the word “gender” has always been synonymous with biological sex (since ~1500 AD, in English). ”

And what is the core meaning of the word “nation”, perchance? It comes from the same root as natal and nativity. I.e., historically speaking, a nation is formed by birth and biological kinship.

And just as that outdated notion of “nation” has been replaced, so will, inevitably, the outdated notion of “biological” gender.

You white rightards are on the wrong side of history. You’re dying out and being replaced. A new nation is arising and, funnily enough, birth is playing a core role in the fight against white supremacy and white racism.

Rachel Thomas

29th July 2019 at 2:26 pm

A better comparison would be “After all, if anyone can be black/ white then being black/white becomes a pretty meaningless, hollow affair.”


21st July 2019 at 3:38 pm

One more time with feeling;
You CANNOT possess a Right that Commands my Action.
Your rights can Only affect me in the Negative; I may not prevent you from exercising your rights.
The only possible exception would in the nature of Failing to Render Aid; if your life is in peril and I can keep you from dying without risking my own then the Law should require that I do so.
Otherwise – I CANNOT COMMAND you and you CANNOT COMMAND me.
Unless you want to get into the rights of a slave owner.

Winston Stanley

21st July 2019 at 4:29 pm

I hear you, but there are no natural rights. Rights are accorded by society, they do not have a presocial existence. There is no pseudo-God in nature that accords rights. Rights are decided democratically and we partake of them through the social contract. Along with rights come certain responsibilities, such as paying taxes and abiding by the law. All law places limits on our rights, and it tends to go a lot further than not allowing us to wilfully neglect a citizen in peril of death. But all of that is to be democratically decided.

At least that is the theory. In practice we are born into societies over which we personally have minimal control, if any. We are disenfranchised by representative democracy in lieu of direct democratic control over our society. We are burdened with institutions that allow the state to presume that it has any authority over the demos. All rights and responsibilities should be decided democratically, not by the state.

Winston Stanley

21st July 2019 at 4:52 pm

“Only affect me in the Negative; I may not prevent you from exercising your rights.”

We may democratically decide upon rights of citizens that affect you in the positive. Eg. if we decide that all citizens have a right to equal service in shops regardless of race or ethnicity. If we pass a law that obliges you to serve all citizens in your shop without regard to race, then we have affected you in the positive. We have placed a responsibility on you.

It is for us to democratically decide on rights and responsibilities. There is no law in nature that says that society shall only pass laws that affect you in the negative. You are free to argue that society should act in that way, and to vote in that way. But it is for all of us to decide, collectively and democratically whether and how our laws should accord you with responsibilities.

Again, that is the theory, in practice we are disenfranchised by the “representative” two-party system. As we see with Brixit, there is nothing that the states hate so much as genuine democracy, direct democratic control by the demos over our own society. The state intends “democracy” to be an illusion to give itself legitimacy and to keep the demos under control. We do not live in democracies, we live under fake “democracies”.

Winston Stanley

21st July 2019 at 5:10 pm

The bottom line in that there is no “truth” about society that exists independently of society itself and of the decision or inherited structure of the society. Lots of people like to make out, not saying yourself obviously, that there is some pre-existent “truth” by which society must abide. Left and right and all asunder can play that game of make-believe.

Positive responsibilities fall into that camp. Some can claim that it is “true” that society should accord positive responsibilities. Some can claim that it is “true” that society should not accord positive responsibilities, beyond maybe saving a life. But there is no pre-existent “truth” on the matter. It becomes “true”, either way, only once we make a democratic decision on the matter, and then only in a provisional way. We are always free to democratically change our policies on rights and responsibilities.

I never ceased to be struck by how often, and how many, people try to play the pre-existent truth game. It seems to have been handed down from religion. One would think that in this day and age, people would grasp what is going on, and they would have to courage to admit and to embark on the social project on that basis. That would be modern rather than Medieval.

I put it down to fear, of other people and of what laws we might democratically make. We remain a frightened, deceitful species in some ways. We vie for our own security and interests through lies about pre-existent truth. People do it all the time. It remains to be seen whether we will ever mature into an honest, courageous species.

Winston Stanley

21st July 2019 at 5:39 pm

And that is the truly democratic scenario, when we admit that there is no pre-existent truth on rights and responsibilities. All claims of pre-existent truth seek to put limits on democracy, to shut down the democratic process. We see that with “liberal democracy”, the idea that certain rights are “inherent” or “inalienable”. The attempt is to make certain policies structural, permanent and beyond democratic remit.

The “left” can play that game, but it would be a mistake to think that the “right” does not also play the game. One might claim that a right to impose positive responsibilities is pre-existent, the other that a right to freedom from positive responsibilities is pre-existent. But it is the same game of supposed pre-existence. Both can and do tend to claim that their desired scenario about rights and responsibilities has some pre-existence with which society must abide.

Once we admit that no social rights or responsibilities are pre-existent, we open up democracy to take remit of all decisions on rights and responsibilities. And then, people have to think of some other criteria than pre-existence by which to favour and to argue for rights and responsivities. Then we get into questions like utilitarianism, the greatest happiness of the greatest number. But that too is not a pre-existent criteria, it is a perspective that we may freely choose to adopt.

The appeal to pre-existent truth gets us nowhere. Everyone just makes contrary claims about what the pre-existent truth is. We need to get beyond that nonsense, to an honest and rational scenario in which people are willing to consider the benefits and drawbacks of rights and responsibilities, the pros and cons, and to collectively come to a decision about what is the optimum scenario for us to adopt. If we wish to adopt an utilitarian “optimum” scenario, it is not pre-existent or pre-determined that we should.

Religions go for the pre-existence stance, and all morality tends to. Set laws by which we must abide. But circumstances change. Feudalism and the rights of landowners worked well for centuries, but the economic base developed and feudal property rights became a hindrance to further development, so we dump them and adopted capitalism. We have to find what works for us in a given situation, at a particular time. If capitalism becomes an hindrance to further material development than the day may come when we will do well to dump capitalist property rights. There is no eternal or pre-existent truth. There is what works in the circumstances, and what we collectively decide that we want to do.

Winston Stanley

21st July 2019 at 6:11 pm

It is easy to interpret anti-racism as a reflection of the economic base. The profit-based capitalist system always to needs to expand in order to function and to survive. They need more workers to expand productivity, especially in these times of low productivity growth. Deprived of overt empires and colonies, the capitalist states bring in migrant workers to expand their domestic workforces and markets, to support the accumulation of capital. Anti-racist morality allows the capitalist states to do that, it is ideational superstructure to the present stage of the development of the economic base.

But trans rights? How does that fit in? Hmmm. Well, it functions to reinforce the recognition of diversity and of the rights of diverse persons and communities. It thus reinforces the overall diversity morality that the capitalist state relies on in order to function at its present stage of development. But it also calls the entire diversity morality project into question among some sections of the society.

The efficacy of the policy to reinforce the diversity morality depends on the ability of the state to enforce its extended perspective and to gain some wide acceptance for it. It is not clear how conscious the capitalist state is in this scenario of what the function might be of its extension of diversity morality to trans. Likely liberals are simply running with the diversity morality, intuiting the extension of the perspective to further groups of people.

As the article shows, it can have some quite amusing consequences.

Winston Stanley

21st July 2019 at 6:54 pm

We can certainly see the influence at play of changes in the economic base, when it comes to trans rights.

The capitalist state used to have a racist ideational superstructure during its imperialist and colonialist stage of development, to justify the domination by Europeans of other peoples. It is only with the loss of empire and colony that the capitalist state, with its reliance on the domestic absorption of migrant workers, has switched to an anti-racist superstructure, to new ideas and a new morality, to allow for the continued accumulation of capital.

Similarly, in previous stages of development, the state relied on “men being real men and women being real women”, to have lots of babies and to raise the next generation of workers. The state does not need to do that these days, it can just draw in migrant workers to expand and to replenish its workforce. So the state can allow abortion, feminism, homosexuality, trans, all the things that previously hindered its plenishment of the workforce.

That tells us why the old “real men/ women, dutiful families” morality is no longer necessary. The development of the new, diversity friendly morality vis a vis trans, gay, abortion etc. seems to just be an extension of the liberal principles of individualism that underlie capitalism. It is an extension of the liberal ideational superstructure. Anti-racism was necessary to the capitalist state, trans rights is rather an extension of established liberal, individualist principles and of the newer diversity morality that the capitalist state relies upon for mass immigration.

Though, as Walter alludes, individual rights and responsibilities tend to interact in a complex, even contrary manner.

Gabriela Garver

21st July 2019 at 10:30 pm

Mr. Stanley, to quote a wiser head:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…” Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

Man is made in the image and likeness of God. As such, we were gifted intellect, memory, free will and imagination (among other things). Any law that compels speech and an individual to violate their conscious by, say, being compelled to handle the genitalia of the opposite sex is an immoral law and does not have to be obeyed. It’s tantamount to a sexual power struggle (and crime) below the level of rape. It’s a form of molestation of the females in question, below, say, of the level of forcing the waxers to provide sexual services to the male clients with their hands.

I notice you don’t seem to think there’s such a thing as “truth.” A statement that “there’s no truth” contains an internal contradiction since if that statement that “there’s no truth” is correct, there is at least one truth, namely, that there is no truth. Therefore, there is truth. We may disagree on what the truth is, but in order for us to even argue about “the state of affairs,” we have to both agree that there is such a thing as “the state of affairs.”

Winston Stanley

22nd July 2019 at 12:12 am

“I notice you don’t seem to think there’s such a thing as “truth.” A statement that “there’s no truth” contains an internal contradiction since if that statement that “there’s no truth” is correct, there is at least one truth, namely, that there is no truth.”

I did not say that “there is no such thing as truth”, I said that there is no pre-existent truth about what rights and responsibilities society should accord to citizens. That is for us to decide collectively and democratically. There is no contradiction in that.

Your quote from Jefferson. I do not “believe” in a Creator. You are free to do so and to vote on that basis. Just as I am free to deny your God and to vote on the basis of what I think is for the best. I do not “believe” in “inalienable rights” and the appeal to a Creator does nothing to convince me. Again, we can vote as we see fit, as I acknowledged. I am happy to debate the idea of pre-existent “inalienable rights” if you want to.

Most in UK now have “no religion”. About a third now identify as Christian, and there is no agreement among the various churches and groups with which they identify. Even among Christian there is no census about what rights and responsibilities might be accorded to humans by a Creator. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that they would agree with any detailed schema that Jefferson may have had in mind.

So, you can say, “My God says so”, much as a Muslim or a Hindu or whatever might say that. But that gets us nowhere. Most of us in UK do not have a God and there is nothing like any consensus among Christians on rights and responsibilities.

Your point about law and conscience. All agreed law bypasses the consciences of some individuals. That is life. A functioning society does not depend on unanimity, it requires majority consensus. Eg. a society may democratically agree that all doctors should be willing to refer women to the abortion facilities that they desire. Some doctors do not want to do that. So do not be a doctor in that society. A hard saying but that is how it works. At other times, teachers in schools were not allowed to “promote homosexuality” in the classroom, and it was contrary to their conscience to teach children on that basis. But again, that was the law. And the law was changed democratically. If we do not like laws then we try to change them but there is never any pretence that laws do not bypass the consciences of some.

I agree that trans rights have complicated implications and that the matter should be discussed and decided upon democratically, like all others. Indeed that is my general point.

We can debate your God and religion if you want to or we can just accept for now that we differ on that point. It is up to you. Or we can debate pre-existent rights without reference to a God. Whatever you want to do.

Thank you for your opinion.

Winston Stanley

22nd July 2019 at 12:36 am

To illustrate. There was no pre-existent truth about whether I would make a cup of tea when I had finished the previous post. That is not the same as saying that there is no such thing as truth. In the event I decided to put the kettle on. Then it became true that I would do so, when I decided to and did. There is no pre-existent truth about choices that we are yet to make. They become true when we make them and act on them.

Rights and responsibilities are like that. They fall under free decisions and free acts of will that we make as humans. We may democratically choose to accord these or those rights and responsibilities as we collectively and democratically see fit. There is no pre-existent truth about what decision we “ought” to make. Rights and responsibilities create the social “ought”, it does not precede the socially accorded right. Of course you are free to “believe” that Nature or God prescribes rights and we can debate that if you want to.

To be brief. I would argue that an “ought” statement cannot be deduced from “is” statements (any conclusion can only contain what it is in the premises) but only from another “ought” statement, which itself must be either merely assumed or else deduced from a further “ought” statement. And that in turn from a yet further, ad infinitum, which is impossible. All “ought” is ultimately assumed, it makes no connection with what “is”. “Ought” is precisely that which is not.

What we do as free human is intuit what we think is for the best in a complex situation. That is all that we can do. There is no pre-existent “truth” about “ought” to which we “must” conform. Rather we create the social “ought” when we agree on policies – which can always be changed by democratic consent.

We can do God if you want to.

Winston Stanley

22nd July 2019 at 12:59 am

To give another, perhaps clearer and better example on the conscience point. It did not use to be the law that shop keepers had to serve blacks. And blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. There was segregation in the US into the 1960s. But we democratically agreed on laws that accorded all the right to be served in shops, regardless of race, and which accorded shop keepers the responsibility to serve all alike without regard to race. And we legalised and gave all the right to inter-racial marriage, and imposed on registrars the responsibility to register such marriages.

Some shop keepers, priests or registrars may have objected in conscience to those rights and responsibilities if they were still tied to the thinking that underlay the old laws. But that was too bad. We democratically decided upon rights and positive responsibilities and we bypassed the conscience of those who disagreed. If they did not want to serve blacks or marry inter-racial couples, then they could simply not work in a shop or perform or register marriages.

There is no pre-existent “truth” that said that society could not bypass their consciences and accord them positive responsibilities to which they objected in conscience. There is never any pretence that laws that accord rights and responsibilities do not bypass the conscience of some. Unless there is unanimity in a society, it is to be expected that some laws will bypass the conscience of some.

Amelia Cantor

22nd July 2019 at 9:31 am

How appropriate that “Winston” and “Windbag” start with the same three letters.

Keep up the good work with the mansplaining, Windy.

George Dearden

22nd July 2019 at 12:35 pm

Enjoy reading your posts. I am struggling with the concept “pre-existing truth” . For example can we agree that there is a pre-existing truth that people exist before one is born?

Hana Jinks

22nd July 2019 at 4:37 pm


You’re rooted in the world, and I’ve already refuted all of this. Perhaps if you’d have accepted it at the time you wouldn’t have had to delete your posts.

You’re even starting to get trolled by the far-left.

Winston Stanley

22nd July 2019 at 7:42 pm

George, I am glad that you enjoyed the posts.

We are discussing rights and responsibilities. I deny that there is any pre-existent truth about rights and responsibilities, that is, that some “moral truth” pre-exists the decision of society to accord rights and responsibilities, some truth about what rights and responsibilities society “ought” to accord to citizens. That is, I deny that there is any “moral truth”, any “ought” that exists independently of the decision by a society to accord rights and responsibilities.

Obviously I do not deny that there is truth about “being”, or that “is” statements can accord with a state of affairs in the world that exists independently of us. One can say that it is true that the earth “is” going around the sun and that the earth “is” not flat or 6000 years old. Obviously that was all true billions of years before any of us were born. They are truths that are independent of us.

Some truths are not independent of us, they depend on our choices and our actions. The statement that I am sat on the sofa with the fan going and the headphones on is not independent of me and my choices, it depends on my choice to do just that. Those truths have no existence that pre-exist our choices, they are dependent on our choices for their reality. It would be a mistake to suppose that truths that depend on our choices are indepenent of us and our choices in the same way as cosmological truths.

Rights and responsibilities are like that, in so far as they depend on the choice that we as a society make to accord rights and responsibilities to citizens. Rights are social, they have no presocial existence. It becomes true that we have certain rights and responsibilities when we as a society decide and determine that we do. Those rights and responsibilities had no exstence that pre-existed our choice to accord them. Rights and responsibilities are not like cosmological truths that pre-exist humans and our choices. They are truths that depend on us and our choices.

That is my contention. My argument in support of that contention is as follows. (Forgive me if I do not spend all day on this section, as one could with all of the historical details.)

There is no pre-existent independent “moral truth”, like cosmological truths, according to which we ascribe rights and responsibilities. Rather, we decide upon rights and responsibilities ourselves and they become factual, and thus “true”, when we choose and enact them.

That may be demonstrated by the Relativity of rights and responsibilities to societies throughout history and across the globe today. And from the Discrepancy of opinion about rights and responsibilities within our own society and others. There is no agreement, through time and across the world about rights and responsibilities, and neither is there any Logical basis on which to settle the dispute. Therefore there is no “moral truth” according to which we ascribe rights and responsibilities, rather we create them ourselves as we see fit.

Relativity in time. Rights and responsibilities have varied in our own society, and others, through time. We used to have feudal rights and responsibilities, propertied land-owners and the feudal obligations of the rest of us to serve our “betters”. The economic base was feudal and the political and ideational superstructure, the rights and responsibilities of citizens, reflected that economic base. Feudal property relations became an hindrance to the further development of the economic base, so we dumped them, the rising bourgeoise took over, and we adopted capitalism. Today we do not have feudal rights and responsibilities but liberal rights and responsibilities that reflect the individualism of capitalism. Before feudalism, there was ancient slavery, and again, the rights and responsibilities, in so far as the mass of the population had any rights, reflected the slavery property relations. Rights and responsibilities have changed through time to reflect changes in the economic base.

Relativity across the world today. Different societies accord different rights and responsibilities to citizens today. Some states are liberal, some are communist like China and North Korea, some are Islamic like Saudi. Those different sorts of societies accord different sorts of rights and responsibilities. We have (?) freedom of speech, the others do not. Communist societies have (?) communal ownership property rights, we do not. Islamist societies have the right to preach theocracy and against democracy, we do not, we call that “extremism”. Etc.

Discrepancy of opinion. This section really could be endless, so I will keep it sweet. There are also differences in the rights accorded by liberal societies, eg, abortion, the right to wear religious dress in public, the right to use recreational cannabis, etc. Lib Dems want certain rights and responsibilities, Tories others, Labour has its own agenda. One only has to spend time on forums like this to see how people diverge in their opinions about rights and responsibilities. The classic example is abortion, where Christians and dogmatic liberals spend literally weeks insisting that their own perspective is the only one possible, and that there is some pre-existent “moral truth” with which all must agree. And liberals disagree among themselves, eg. the present dispute about trans rights and responsibilities.

The absence of any logical basis to settle the dispute about rights and responsibilities. The opinion of none has any more authority than the opinion of another. Anyone who enters the dispute becomes just another participant to the dispute. Some logical basis must be found to settle the dispute about rights and responsibilities. But no such logical basis exists. Any attempt to settle the dispute falls foul of the logical fallacies of Assumption, Ad infinitum and Circularity. I will keep this section sweet.

The dispute about rights and responsibilities hinges on what rights and responsibilities we “ought” to have. Some imagine that there is some pre-existent “moral truth” about what rights and responsibilities we “ought” to have, and that society “ought” to ascribe those rights and responsibilities to citizens. However, “ought” statements cannot be logically demonstrated to be true. They fall foul of the three basic fallacies.

There is a dispute about rights and responsibilities, some logical way must be found to settle the dispute. It would not do to merely Assume any “truth” about what rights and responsibilities society “ought” to accord to citizens. Rather the “ought” claim must be logically demonstrated, it must be proved, it must be deduced from certain truths that themselves can be demonstrated. But that is impossible.

An “ought” statement cannot be merely Assumed, it must be demonstrated if the dispute is to be settled. An “ought” statement cannot be deduced from “is” statements (any conclusion can only contain what is in the premises) but only from another “ought” statement, which itself must be either merely assumed or else deduced from a further “ought” statement. And that further “ought” statement must again in turn be either merely assumed or else deduced from a yet further, Ad infinitum, which is impossible. It is impossible to give an infinite chain of deductions. (Nether can any “ought” statement appeal to any other in the chain of reasoning which it would itself support, that would be Circular.) All “ought” is ultimately assumed, and it makes no connection with what “is”. “Ought” is precisely that which is not.

Thus there is no logical way to demonstrate “ought” statements, or to settle the dispute about what rights and responsibilities we “ought” to have, or which of them society “ought” to ascribe to citizens. There are only opinions about what rights and responsibilities we ought to have, and there is no logical way to distinguish between the contrary opinions.

Hence there is no pre-existent “moral truth” about which rights and responsibilities we “ought” to have, according to which we choose to ascribe rights and responsibilities to citizens. There is no logical way to establish the existence of any such “truth” or any way to determine what the content of that “truth” might be. Rather, we intuit what we think is for the best in a given situation and at a particular time, and we come together as a democratic society to collectively decide and enact that.

We democratically and collectively establish rights and responsibilities. It then becomes true that we have those rights and responsibilities. They do not exist prior to our choice to have and to enact them. Rights and responsibilities depend on our choices, they are not truths that are independent of us like cosmological truths. Rights and responsibilities are accorded by society, they have no pre-social existence.

Hana Jinks

23rd July 2019 at 5:45 am


You idolize being Greek. You covet the worldly authority and power that comes with being a top Greek, and are narcissistic to the pojnt of tantrums at the sight of truth waves.

Give-and-take between brothers is a two-way street.

Winston Stanley

23rd July 2019 at 3:19 pm

Hana, that is right, who needs Greek philosophy when you have Jesus? And sadly that was the end of Greek philosophy. Have you seen the move, In the Name of the Rose? You would have loved it back in the Middle Ages.

Hana Jinks

24th July 2019 at 6:10 am

When Jesus speaks of the Greeks, He’s referring to this world.

You’d love Heaven.

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