I don’t like this so ban it for me.

27 Oct



I don’t know how it came to this, but my post defending Germaine Greer’s proposed lecture at Cardiff University has caused me to be described as transphobic.

Given the current circumstances of my life I am strangely unmoved by this accusation, however what does cause me some annoyance is that it seems to have become increasingly difficult to say, I do not agree with this person’s views on a subject but I do support his or her right to express them, and I welcome the ensuing debate.

As I understand it, Greer wasn’t intending to speak about transgender people. However, because she has spoken negatively on this topic there is a view that she is not, apparently, permitted to speak on any topic at all.

The list of topics on which Greer has spoken negatively and with abrasion is very very long. It is this characteristic and dare I name it, talent, that provoked a revolution amongst women decades ago, and were it not for Greer, among other equally provocative feminists, we wouldn’t be getting our own mortgages and living as fluidly as we are, even though we have still a very long way to go.

With thanks to Jo Tamar, I’m linking to this explanatory post on the complexities of changing gender. I was vastly irritated by the tone, but if you can get past that it’s worth a look.

And this post, Who’s afraid of Germaine Greer, is also worthy of a read.

Accusations of transphobia, like all name-calling, serve to distract from the essence of my argument, which is that banning speech rarely results in a positive outcome, whilst engaging in debate can be creative and productive. It ought to go without saying that I don’t include hate and inflammatory speech, but I know it won’t go without saying so I’m saying it.

Students at Cardiff University wanted the authorities to ban Greer’s lecture. The University refused to do this, to its credit. Students could have, and should have, taken responsibility for expressing their disagreement and displeasure with Greer in any number of ways: boycotting, back-turning, protesting, writing, and speaking, however, demanding that authorities do their oppositional work for them was both idle and cowardly. I don’t like this so ban it for me. Well, ok, but don’t complain when you find yourself in a fascist state.




26 Responses to “I don’t like this so ban it for me.”

  1. Michael Jongen (@Michael_Jongen) October 27, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    I can forgive Germaine Greer a lot

    Liked by 2 people

  2. hudsongodfrey October 27, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    I’m not sure some of those transphobic accusations or suspicions thereof mightn’t have been leveled at comments I’d posted also. I’m fairly sure others copped a metaphorical slap for their dissent from a what’s recently become a more politically correct stance.

    Not in the least pretending to compare ourselves with Germaine Greer, but this is what you get sometimes if you try to explore challenging ideas. Put it down to the imperfections of language (here I am a poor artisan blaming his tools), or maybe the unexpected perspectives of others. Either way something is to be gained in knowing which of your ideas don’t resonate.

    I do however find an accusatory tone occasionally taken in a censorious fashion. One that says I might be unqualified to speak. Maybe I would if I were trying to speak inauthentically to somebody else’s experience, but I’m not…..

    If as a bloke feminism occasionally tells me I’m the problem then that abundantly qualifies me to be part of the solution. The same thing goes for transphobia or homophobia. In both cases the terminology is poorly chosen and the language lets us down to the extent that it isn’t just about a phobia, fear being only one aspect of the dislike society has for people of difference. And as part of that society I’m also qualified to say I don’t feel I have to rise to the bait, but I do feel we’d be fucked if we couldn’t listen to one another and change for the better.

    Liked by 3 people

    • LSWCHP October 27, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

      Aaaannnnnnddddd….maybe I contributed something controversial as well.

      What I wrote was my opinion, based on my experiences. I simply intended to add my perspective…which is one of many… to a discussion that interests me, without fanning any flames or deliberately being a jerk.

      With that said, accusing our host of transphobia based on the writing in this blog is insupportable.

      And Dr Wilson…I accidentally addressed you as Ms Wilson in my first post. I apologise… I meant no disrespect. Internet etiquette is a funny thing…:-)


      • hudsongodfrey October 27, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

        At the risk of repeating a certain line about opinions from The Big Lebowski…. If you’re going to have one, online or otherwise, it’s always better offered in the spirit of openness to modification in the light of how others respond.

        Seems to me that I want to hear your experience, but if I write from my own perspective it’ll merely beg the question as to whether something I can attest to resonates. As I’ve only just written elsewhere; I’m always wrong according to somebody and usually I can find two or three forming a quorum against me for every one who deigns to nod agreement.


        • doug quixote October 28, 2015 at 11:47 am #

          Just be grateful some of them actually get to the end of your more turgid posts! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • hudsongodfrey October 28, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

            I believe they read them as a respite from negativity 🙂


  3. 8 Degrees of Latitude October 27, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    People are altogether too precious about dissent when it crosses their own boundaries. Greer is welcome to speak about anything, frankly, as is anyone else. If what she says is offensive, say so if you wish, otherwise be a rational being and ignore it. As you point out Jennifer, banning free speech eventually ends up in proscription of public thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. kristapet October 27, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    I think you were very clear in your article on Germaine Greer, and the distinctions you made about where you were coming from.
    I think the mere mention of a controversial writer just brings out those who are threatened by the courage that these writers show and ‘dare’ to express what is not allowed to be spoken about, or even merely, holding a different opinion.And a bit of knee-jerking as well.
    Throw in “tall poppy syndrome’ too.

    Debate is an important freedom we need to protect. We are having a front seat view when debate is absent, as it is not present, in our current parliament, government proceedings.

    I think your writing, and some of those who respond to what you write, and what they write, is a breath of fresh air.
    Please keep doing it.
    I think that, maybe, what is being exhibited is ‘a reading, comprehension problem’, and also, perhaps, these reactive readers did not take the time to read your article carefully, and digest it, but, reacted to some of the vocabulary in it, and then just attacked you ‘for the sake of it’

    I am also impressed that the university did not ban Ms Greer from speaking – as far as the students are concerned, immaturity perhaps, and preconceived ideas and not being able to rise above their collective comfort zones is probably a large factor and not taking responsibility for themselves as you pointed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson October 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      Thanks, Kristapet. I was delighted that the post inspired debate and comment, that’s a big reason for writing in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kristapet October 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Ah! I get it
    I posted it on to Facebook

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anonymous October 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Always love your writing Jennifer. Dry to the point of acidity…just like a good wine. I agree with all the comments above. So glad you and your followers are there to point everything out on my behalf so succinctly!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Rachel Envy Gilmore October 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    she may say whatever she likes about us transgender folk BUT there is a line between an opinion and transphobia… she overstepped it and upset a lot of her followers in the proces… I am transgender and feel that people like her whom use every instance they can to discredit us just contribute to the “credibility” those others whom wish us harm… Our suicide rates are appalling on a per capita basis and most of it stems from the way we are treated and making us feel like 2nd or 3rd class people… we exist, we are real and have science to back our claims…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson October 27, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

      Thank you for leaving a comment, Rachel.
      Greer certainly has upset a lot of people. It isn’t for me to say where the line is for transgender women, as I’m not one.
      I can’t think of one justification for violence against and intimidation of transgender people.
      I do see your point that words used against you can be used to validate violence and denigration.
      Best wishes, Jennifer.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. doug quixote October 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    Jennifer, OT – your latest exchange with a drop-in troll and with HG on a thread from January 2014 revives my recommendation to close off further comment on articles from, say, six months after the last entry. I would have said a month, but revisiting some old articles may be fair enough.

    Please consider.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson October 29, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

      Thanks, DQ, that article was linked to by several commenters from The Guardian today, not quite sure why.
      Yes, six months is a good idea, will attend to it now.


    • hudsongodfrey October 30, 2015 at 1:17 am #

      You’d also keep down the bot spammers. Not that you probably aren’t running a decent shield as I notice they’ve abated.

      As for drop-ins who I disagree with (however trollish) persuading the like minded his one thing, but sooner or later one has to hold up one’s end of a conversation with someone who’d genuinely benefit from a change of scenery. The least we can do is to oblige them with a little disarming civility.

      And by that I only mean to say that we’re often guilty of intellectualising over quite serious matters. It isn’t as if should forget that when somebody says something slightly off colour it pales into insignificance alongside things Dutton, Morrison before him and Abbott have actually been doing.

      I would find it harder for example to troll somebody by taking the side I disagree with, and for that reason genuinely believe that trolls pick their targets. Perhaps they’re subconsciously looking for something that resonates with what they’ve been told is bad about us. If they expect to be banned or otherwise treated badly then they won’t get it from me. They’ll occasionally get a lesson in Malcolm Tuckerisms if they’re coming down with a case of Tourettes, but that’s about as bad as it gets.

      In the meantime we all ought to think on what some people take permission to hate about others and when those others are us how we can go about withdrawing permission.

      Besides my prose style is too turgid to read so I’m probably either attacked on suspicion of things I don’t actually write, or by dent of present the largest target of convenience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson October 30, 2015 at 5:53 am #

        Only DQ claims you’re turgid, HG.
        I don’t understand my anti spam thing. It seems to work very well in the present then permits access on posts from months ago.I have to go back & exterminate but it’s a task I keep postponing like cleaning out the garage.
        I like and agree with your take on trolls, btw.
        We get surprisingly few here on Sheep. I think only a handful over several years.


      • doug quixote October 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

        Poor HG!

        To be attacked upon suspicion of things you don’t actually write!

        As for trolls, ignore them and address your remarks to someone who shows some spark of reasonableness.

        Liked by 1 person

        • hudsongodfrey October 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

          Happened to Bill once, but it turned out to be De Vere.


          • doug quixote November 6, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

            Just so, HG. The actor from Stratford on Avon was never once arrested by the secret police of Elizabeth 1 and James 1. Now why was that?

            I suspect because the secret police/spies knew quite well who wrote Shakespeare’s plays, and that the actor from Stratford had little to do with it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson November 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

              I see the debate is alive and well…


            • hudsongodfrey November 6, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

              I suspect that many in power are particularly thick skinned as long as dissent in any form poses no material threat.

              Certainly I think the De Vere theory names one such very likely contributor though perhaps not the only one. It seems to mew that the likeliest scenario for who wrote those plays fails to get a run because it is the least appealing. It may not have been one person, but we cannot for some reason bear to think of genius as the product of collaboration.



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