Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 14, 2021
 
La révolution mange ses enfants

In 1789 the French Revolution happened. By 1793 the revolutionists had gone from guillotining royals to guillotining rival revolutionists, causing one of them to declare: "La Révolution est comme Saturne : elle dévore ses propres enfants", frequently cited as "the revolution eats its own children". Browsing US news I had to think of that quote, when I heard that about trans employees of Netflix insisting to cancel a show of David Chappelle, because Chappelle had said that trans women aren't real women in that show. Chappelle is very much Team Woke and makes very progressive stand-up comedy, but argued in defense of JK Rowling that a feminist can feel about trans women the same way that African Americans feel about white people putting on blackface. So the woke revolution is now turning the guillotine of cancel culture against its own children. Probably because it has run out of "royals", I mean, when was the last time you saw a right wing stand up comedian on Netflix?

Ultimately there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that content should be censored just because it is offensive to somebody. "Inoffensive" isn't exactly a quality attribute for content, especially not for stand up comedy. Everybody locking themselves into echo chambers where they never even hear a dissenting opinion is exactly what is wrong with media right now. And obviously there are questions where both possible alternatives are offensive to somebody. It gets worse if the divide isn't along the clearly established frontier line of the culture wars. Who has the greater right not to be offended, extreme feminists or extreme LGBTQ+ activists?

We should also get away from the idea that the end justifies the means. A lot of people are okay with Trump being banned from Twitter. I doubt that the same people would be okay if Twitter banned AOC. The question shouldn't be who deserves to be banned, but rather whether we feel it is okay if a private company holds so much political power. Twitter's ban of Trump hurt him more than two impeachment trials. Do we really want to fight elections by making sure that the respective political opponent doesn't even get heard? And do we want big corporations to decide which politician gets heard and who isn't?

Comments:
Twitter isn't a public utility. That it happens to have become the de facto choice of people who seem to think it is or should be does nothing whatsoever to change that. If any political authority believes the people it represents should have the right to address the world through a series of short, unmediated statements then that authority should set up an actual public utility for the purpose and regulate it accordingly.

Netflix isn't a state broadcaster, either, although given the degree to which all media is to some extent state-regulated, the boundaries are a little fuzzier there. It's probably fair to say that most media outlets will tend towards the kind of moral choices that feed their bottom line, though. If cancelling Dave Chappelle does that, then it would be more of a political decision to support him than cut him loose.

As for the "there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that content should be censored just because it is offensive to somebody." I've never bought that. What it actually means is "it's fine to be rude to people if you're powerful enough to get away with it".
 
Bhagpuss - while I completely agree with your statement, I find it ironic when I see that argument being used by (other) people in defence of Twitter banning someone they don't like, when that sort of behaviour isn't the view they take of private corporations in general.

Also, I think it's part of the job of comedians to be rude and offensive to someone (at least those who aspire to be anything more than early Saturday evening light entertainment). They're following in the tradition of court jesters, or mythological trickster figures, as long as they're punching up at the powerful rather than punching down at the helpless for cheap laughs. And I'd argue that in the media world as it is, identity activists are not "the helpless" even if they claim to speak for them.
 
Railways started out as private enterprises, then were nationalised and turned into public utilities in many countries, and then went back to being private. The state has some responsibility as a "trust buster", so breaking up some of the digital monopolies or forcing them to follow certain rules (like TV stations) would be completely normal. As I said, the moment Twitter started banning left wing politicians, nobody would defend them anymore.
 
Haha I think Dave Chappelle would be very offended if you referred to him as Woke. Idk how much of Dave you follow but he is definitely not someone I'd say who actively champions progressive talking points.

Anyways I get your point and partially agree. Both the extreme left and extreme right wings, especially in the US, cannibalize their own members and hold others to what are basically purity tests. Only the furthest to the extreme are "true" leftists or conservatives and everything not that is to be shunned. And of course those goal posts are constantly moving further left and right.

That being said I do not agree with all the fear mongering over social media banning Trump. Yes Trump is banned on Twitter. You'd be banned from your local grocery story as well Tobold if you went into it and broke their store policies.

I'm fairly confident that if Biden advocated for violence that leads to an insurrection and attempted coup of government he'd be banned off of Twitter as well.
 
It is interesting that those that oppose such removals frame these issues in terms of being "offensive," while for those that are in support of removing Trump from Twitter and perhaps Chapelle's most recent show from Netflix the adjective of choice would perhaps be "harmful." I would probably fall more into the latter camp.

Trump was banned from Twitter for perpetuating dangerous misinformation in a time of crisis. Whether you accept this reason at face value or suspect some more political motivation merely using it as an excuse, it does place the material harm caused by his behavior front and center. And (speaking as a statistically insignificant survey of one here) if Twitter were to show AOC spreading a similar amount of harmful misinformation, I would absolutely be in favor of her being banned from the service as well.

In the case of Chapelle, I can definitely see how transgender people would be opposed to a show that reinforces the notion of "trans women aren't women," when that very idea is a cornerstone in the trans panic defense. Hearing Chapelle make such remarks probably also offends them, but I think it is more the issue of lending a platform to the perpetuation of an argument that can be used to justify the murder of trans people that is the sticking point here. Is that enough of a reason to remove the show from Netflix? I don't know, I haven't even seen it. But even from what little I know of the situation, framing the push to remove it as merely an overreaction of "some LGBTQ+ activists being offended" seems a bit of an oversimplification to me.

By the way, I like the idea of a municipalization of tech services like Twitter or Netflix. But, aside from this being somewhat contrary to current political trends, I wonder how much of their user base these services would retain, if they were to be transferred to public ownership.
 
We should also get away from the idea that the end justifies the means. A lot of people are okay with Trump being banned from Twitter. I doubt that the same people would be okay if Twitter banned AOC.

Talk about a straw man argument.
Twitter is a private entity with terms of use: you break those terms of use, you get banned.
Honestly the problem I have with Trump getting banned is that it took way too long: if *I* were to go on twitter and write the same texts inciting hatred and violence, *I* would be banned in the blink of an eye.
He was definitely given a very preferential treatment compared to what I would get.
 
I don't know how you get from "trans women aren't women" to "therefore we should murder them". Chappelle certainly didn't suggest anything like that, and neither did I, nor JK Rowling. Everybody should be able to live his sexuality, as long as that doesn't hurt anybody else. How somebody dresses or feels should never be justification for murder.

But I can totally understand people who get upset if for example they see a naked person with a penis in the women's section of a Spa in Los Angeles. They had a reasonable expectation that "women's section" meant "penis-free section", not "section for anybody who identifies as a woman". And I can understand that feminists who are proud of their "women's rights" achievements against men would be upset if a man claimed those benefits for himself by "identifying as a woman".

Note that "identifying as gender" is the only case I can think of where this argument is used. "Identifying as black" was tried by some people, and didn't fly. You can't come to the Mexican - US border as a Mexican and say that you "identify as American" and be let in. You can't practice medicine just because you "identify as a doctor".
 
I don't know how you get from "trans women aren't women" to "therefore we should murder them".

The argument that Trans Women are not real Women is literally used by bigots as an excuse to attack Trans Women.

Since we are just throwing out hypothetical situations that may or may not ever happen what about people born intersex? Are they not allowed to go to spas because god forbid someone see a penis?


 
So the woke revolution is now turning the guillotine of cancel culture against its own children. Probably because it has run out of "royals", I mean, when was the last time you saw a right wing stand up comedian on Netflix?

I don't think there exist very many right-wing comedians, although interestingly enough Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, had tried his hand at the art in the early days.

But in the broader Anglo media ecosystem, most UK newspapers are right-wing, and Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, Joe Rogan, Laura Ingraham, and a considerable array of right-wing pundits continue to exist and thrive. Substack has emerged as an alternative blogging platform for the less mainstream writers out there, and some are pulling down seven-figure revenues for their trouble (e.g. Dominic Cummings, Scott Alexander). Parler exists as a right-wing alternative to Twitter - its user base is comparatively tiny, but if this yearning for free speech were truly felt, the competitor's infrastructure is in place, available and scalable.

For all the hyperbole about 'cancellation', I wish it were at least done effectively. Why do I still come across vaccination-conspiracy and QAnon rubbish trending on Twitter? Is there a Commissar I can appeal to?


 
Tucker Carlson is a clown, not a comedian. :)

But what you are describing is exactly what is wrong with the media world. We have left wing media on which left wing comedians wage culture war against the right, and we have right wing media on which right wing pundits wage culture war against the left. We don't have neutral media where inside one show you could encounter different points of view.

The "cancel culture" is more about left wing media eliminating people who aren't sufficiently left, and right wing media eliminating people who aren't sufficiently right, thus destroying the middle from both sides. Which is why it is both inefficient and bad.
 
What an incredibly shallow analysis of the situation. So what happened to the trans Netflix employee who complained publicly about Chappelle? They were suspended from their job. And while they were reinstated later, do you think they'll be publicly complaining again? Probably not. So who got cancelled here? The rich comedian with the Netflix special or the employee of Netflix whose job was threatened?

Chappelle's argument that being a trans woman is like putting on blackface falls apart if you spend two seconds thinking about it. The suggestion is that being trans is dressing up as a woman for a bit before going back to being a man. Putting on blackface is offensive, but people don't do it because they want to become black. Trans women believe they are women, the ass who puts on blackface is just being an ass and knows it.

And Chappelle's argument that he has a trans friend... which he spends quite a while establishing during the special, which I actually watched... well, if I said something racist about African Americans and then defended myself by saying I had a black friend, you can guess what the response would be.

Chappelle glosses over the power he has. He plays the black card and sets himself up as a victim of trans people, but he is rich, and having money gives you your own power and immunity. He always makes a big deal about walking away from a 30 million dollar TV deal, but he could do that because he had money already. It wasn't a choice between that deal and unemployment. He could walk away because he didn't need the deal to put food on the table. And when you have that luxury you live in a different world from the average person.

Finally, cancel culture is a BS concept from the get go. It is called "speech has consequences" and has been true for as long as language has existed. The medium has changed as our words can travel further and, online, they are tough to erase, but it is still the same basic concept. As for Twitter banning people who violate their terms of services... would that be like a blogger deleting comments that didn't meet their standards? If the shoe fits.
 
@Wilhelm: While you have always been extremely condescending and insulting in your comments on this blog, I don't remember ever having deleted one of your comments. I only delete spam, and direct personal attacks, and the latter hasn't happened for many years.

The Netflix employees were not suspended because they were trans, or because they were against Chappelle. They were suspended because they crashed an upper management meeting with a noisy protest. It's a bit like the "Insulate Britain" people blocking the motorways in the UK. The people who are against that aren't against insulation, they just don't agree with the means that group uses. As I said the end doesn't justify the means.

"Speech has consequences" hardly applies to shows streamed on Netflix. These aren't live shows. Presumably there is an editorial process that decided that this show was okay. At no point does Chappelle try to provoke violence against trans people. He just states that there is a conflict between feminist activists and trans activists, and takes a side. If he had taken the other side, there would have been feminists trying to get his show cancelled. "Speech has consequences" on a Netflix show you don't like would be unsubscribing from Netflix, or writing a letter of complaint. Showing up with a sign saying "Cancel Chappelle" is cancel culture.
 
I don't know how you get from "trans women aren't women" to "therefore we should murder them". Chappelle certainly didn't suggest anything like that, and neither did I, nor JK Rowling. Everybody should be able to live his sexuality, as long as that doesn't hurt anybody else. How somebody dresses or feels should never be justification for murder.

"Should" being the operative word here. It should not be. It is though. And an uncomfortably effective one at that, at least in the USA, although presently some states are trying to limit this. As for the process how you get from one to the other, I could type this out, but it would probably be faster and easier for both of us if you just google "trans panic defense" and proceed from there. And that way I also don't have to try and keep my personal opinion out of the explanation, like as not failing abysmally.


But I can totally understand people who get upset if for example they see a naked person with a penis in the women's section of a Spa in Los Angeles. They had a reasonable expectation that "women's section" meant "penis-free section", not "section for anybody who identifies as a woman".

Whenever I hear the issue of women's spaces (be it bathrooms, spas or whatever) being brought up in this context, I want to ask: given the choice, who should be allowed to share in these spaces, a trans woman who looks and presents like a lingerie model, except for the penis, or a trans man who looks and presents like a lumberjack, except for the vagina. This is overly reductive, I will be the first to admit, and a clear answer one way or the other wouldn't solve the issue. But weighing presentation against gonads, at least once in a simplified, hypothetical context, could reveal some interesting results. And if, as I sometimes fear, the instinctive answer for a lot of people is going to be "neither," well, then we have a deeper problem.


Note that "identifying as gender" is the only case I can think of where this argument is used. [...]

Well, people don't use the exact phrase "I cannot work on [day], because I identify as a member of [religion]," but the sentiment seems similar enough to me. Though I look forward to the explanation why the comparison is totally not valid. :)
 
You are totally right, “I am Jewish/Muslim/Christian” is mostly based on self-identification. I find it interesting that you wouldn’t say “I identify as Christian”, but would most of the time go with the much stronger “I am Christian”. I would also say of myself that “I am a man”. So maybe the expression “I identify as a woman” is somewhat self-defeating, as it admits that it is less than “I am”.

Personally I believe that bathrooms would be better designed as unisex. In countries that are less prudish than the USA, saunas are unisex. But as soon as you accept the notion of gender separation, you will always run into problems with people that are somewhere in between.
 
I did not say that you had deleted any of my comments, though you have, I was pointing out that you, like Twitter, have a stated terms of service for behavior on your platform and feel entitled to delete comments if those terms are violated. I was pointing out your hypocrisy. That your own posts and comments could very well be described with the same adjectives you ascribe to my comments is just icing on that particular cake. As they said when I was 8 years old, "Takes one to know one."

But the mind blower here is you insisting that somehow a pre-recoreded show isn't speech. I mean, I know you can be pedantic, but that is some galaxy class level narrow minded thinking.

And following on that there are only specific, acceptable methods of protest... cancelling your subscription or writing a letter to the editor... now we're into the totalitarian mind set. Somehow if I hold up a sign that says "Cancel Chappelle" I have crossed a line. How about if I change it to "Ban Chappelle?"

I am not sure how we even have a discussion if those are your baseline arguments.

My view is pretty simple. Chappelle's content is speech, and it doesn't matter if it was vetted, per-recorded, or dubbed into Hindi, and if trans people want to protest or call for him to be cancelled, that is also speech, and both have consequences. You say what you say and you live with the consequences.
 
@Tobold If AOC was using her Twitter account to promote a revolution a la Lenin to overthrow the current government, she should be banned. But she does not.

On the other hand, Trump's lies incited violence against the US government. In this aspect he is much more like ISIS/al-Qaeda - which, guess what = are also banned from Twitter. And I don't see many free-speech advocates mourning the banning of Islamic terrorists from social media.

 
As often,I love how you clearly articulate your opinion, even if I partially disagree.
- the employee should obviously has the right to stay his opinion, and politically fight for it
- humorist and satirist should have a larger leeway for provocation than other
- comparing black face used to mock black people to trans people is offending, but is not illegal as it is not a call to harm
- private media fully has the right to select who they chose to share the voice with
- when there is a monopoly of a media, (TV for exemple, in Europe), there shall be some regulation forcing them to have at least some equilibrium
My conclusion : public forum own by private company should be regulated when they are in a monopoly situation ( Twitter, Facebook, Youtube), as I am not fully comfortable having private interest being able to decide which has the right to say what, based only on their financial interest. At least in Europe, I believe the regulation was written when such Forum where not a major source of information for a big part of the citizen, and should be regulated more tightly.
 
I didn't say it wasn't speech. I said that the consequences of speech shouldn't be cancellation. We frequently disagree, but at no point in time have I gone to Wordpress and asked them to cancel your blog. You would be rightfully upset if somebody who got offended by something you said managed to get your blog cancelled.

You saying that "cancel culture" doesn't exist is ridiculous. There are millions of examples of artists having been prevented to exercise their business not because customers boycotted their content, but because some offended party managed to persuade a platform to not show the content anymore. I would be totally okay with trans people organizing a boycott of Chappelle's content, but asking Netflix to take the show offline is cancel culture and is bad.
 
Speaking of Netflix cancellations, can you still watch for example "The First Temptation of Christ" on Netflix, or has it been cancelled as a result of the right-wing mob attacks?
 
I haven't seen the special, and the only trans friend I have is a man that started as a woman. However, there is a principle that I have seen discussed about the basic moral obligation of comedians, especially popular ones with a big audience and thus a lot of influence, and that it goes something along the lines of "You don't punch down."

For example, the reason that blackface and mistral shows were morally reprehensible is that the performers were making fun of a group of people that were already oppressed by the society they were both a part of. Whether it was the direct intent of the humor or not, this reinforced the idea that blacks were lessor people than those in power and thus deserving of oppression. It was an example of "punching down."

Trans people are a minority in this country that are still heavily persecuted, especially in some regions. For example, they experience physical violence at much higher rates than most demographic groups. From the outside, a rich popular comedian doing a set where he makes fun of trans people seems really likely to be an an example of punching down.

Now comedians aren't obligated to be morally motivated at all, they are only obligated to be funny. There is plenty of humor to mine from every day life. However, if you are considering a skit that attacks a group of people, the smell test for whether it's morally defensible or not is whether it feels like you are punching down (attacking the oppressed) or punching up (attacking oppressors with humor). A king that does a comedy routine about how stupid peasants are is an asshole. A peasant making fun of his king is a hero.

A rich (powerful) and popular (influential) comedian making fun of trans people is probably an asshole. But I haven't seen it yet, so I reserve judgment.
 
Trump's lies incited violence against the US government

What you are saying is that the correct legal procedure aka impeachment of a president inciting violence against the US government failed, and that it is now up to a private company to establish justice with their terms of service. All I am saying is that I wouldn't want to live in a country that works like that. I would like insurrectionists, child molesters, and people guilty of hate speech to be pursued and punished by the law. I would like people who are suspects of these crimes to be considered innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, and not being punished by private organizations using far lower standards of proof.

I would completely agree with the statement that Chappelle is an asshole. Often deliberately so. I fully understand that people are upset with him. But I don't think that anybody should have the right to demand that offending-but-not-illegal asshole content should be banned. Put a warning sticker on it, call for a viewer boycott, whatever. But don't suppress legal forms of expression, because that is a slippery slope towards the worst form of dictature.
 
I find it interesting that you wouldn’t say “I identify as Christian”, but would most of the time go with the much stronger “I am Christian”. I would also say of myself that “I am a man”. So maybe the expression “I identify as a woman” is somewhat self-defeating, as it admits that it is less than “I am”.

This assumes that transgender people start out with the statement of "I identify as a man/woman," which to my experience is not the case. Usually the starting point is a statement of "I am a man/woman," which someone then contradicts, citing some requirement on gonads, chromosomes, hormones, skull shape or combination thereof, which then leads to a discussion about whether gender is a fundamental coexpression of (some specific variant of) biological sex or a social construct, possibly going for a side trek through the idea of gender performativity theory, and at long last terminating at the bedrock of personal gender identity, which then produces the statement "I am a man/woman because I identify as a man/woman."

You have the luxury of simply stating "I am Christian" to no contradiction because no one particularly opposes the statement. If there suddenly were a bunch people who were of the opinion that you cannot be a Christian unless you have a silver cross surgically implanted in your body (or some other equally arbitrary requirement) and were zealously vigilant about policing people who "incorrectly" claim to be Christian, I would expect a sharp uptick in the usage of the phrase "well, I identify as Christian."
 
@Tobold

> it is now up to a private company to establish justice with their terms of service.

They are not establishing justice, they are refusing service to people who break their terms of service. It is their right and they have used it many times in the past.

> All I am saying is that I wouldn't want to live in a country that works like that.

Facebook and Twitter are not countries. And if you do not agree with their policies, you can very easily "not live" in them. As a matter of fact, the outsize influence that Twitter and Facebook have is because a lot of people are voluntarily allowing them. This is very different from governments, where it may very hard to leave them - Eastern European countries literally shot people trying to escape "to the West".


 
"The "cancel culture" is more about left wing media eliminating people who aren't sufficiently left, and right wing media eliminating people who aren't sufficiently right, thus destroying the middle from both sides. Which is why it is both inefficient and bad."

As whistleblower Frances Haugen's ongoing revelations persuasively demonstrate, Facebook works exactly like that. The algorithm rewards sensationalism, controversy and clashes, which are reliably provided by right vs left culture wars. These things translate into engagement, and the platform is very reluctant to cancel anyone, even under Congressional pressure, because then the fighting might die down. In a sense, Facebook is your perfect model of a centrist platform.

Are you happy with the results? Or is it that some questions, particularly those about valid ways of being human, defy convenient compromise?

"I would be totally okay with trans people organizing a boycott of Chappelle's content, but asking Netflix to take the show offline is cancel culture and is bad."

The point of a boycott, by definition, is to threaten something economically in order to force its demise or radical change. Why not be honest and explicit about that demand? Waving a placard, if need be?

Please also acknowledge that it's not just trans people who consider Chappelle's comparison to blackface to be ignorant and harmful. There are plenty of cis people who agree. Once upon a time, there were white abolitionists. There were male suffragists. There were straight people who helped campaign for gay marriage. All of that supposed 'woke nonsense' helped move society to a better place by eradicating injustice masquerading as the obvious common-sense status quo.

And I suspect the economic threat from cis allies is why such demands work - when they do. There are plenty of uncancelled bigots out there - like the aforementioned Messrs Carlson and Rogan - and we just have to live with it, because they're sufficiently lucrative and their media and hosting platforms have made the calculation to keep them. Media companies do not act out of the goodness of their hearts.
 
@Unknown - not sure I'd agree with the statement that "most UK newspapers are right wing". Firstly, the term "right wing" usually implies someone is an extremist, beyond the pale of normal politics. The British National Party is "right wing", (most) Conservatives are not. Unless we're going to start referring to Tony Blair and Joe Biden as "left wing", then referring to anyone right of centre as "right wing" only exposes a bias.

And then, actually looking at the main UK newspapers: at the upper end of the market we have The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and The Telegraph. The Guardian is famously left-leaning, The Independent slightly less so but still tends far more to a metropolitan elite/soft left world view. Times and Telegraph are firmly in the Conservative right of centre camp. So that's two for each.
Mid-market tabloids: Daily Express and Daily Mail. OK, both pander to the small-minded, anti-immigrant, EU bashing crowd. They are the Karens of the newspaper world, and the term "right wing" pretty much does apply to their editorial policies.
'Red top'/working class tabloids: Mirror, Star and Sun. Again, the Mirror has been consistently left-leaning since forever. The Sun, usually pro-Conservative but supported Tony Blair's Labour government for quite a while. The Star seems to be aimed at the ranty "I don't vote for anyone, they're all crap" pub bore and definitely is not a supporter of the current Conservative government. Still, I'd count it as more right than left because that's how a pub bore's attitudes tend to play out.
Overall score then is balanced at the top end of the market, the two "mid market" papers both being right wing, and trending to the right but nowhere near exclusively so at the bottom.
 
Tremayne,

I was using 'right-wing' as 'right of centre and beyond'. I tend to go to 'far right' when denoting the extremists. Same for the left, of course. I don't think that's unusual, but if so, it's an honest difference in usage rather than any (intentional) funny business on my part. So I would consider The Times to be a right-wing paper, without calling it an extremist one, and I'd concede the Independent as left-wing. I'd consider Clinton, Blair, Starmer, and Biden to be centrists, Sanders to be left-wing, Corbyn to be far left. Cameron and Johnson to be right-wing, Trump and Farage to be far right. Read from that what biases you may.

I think Blair's successful courtship of the Sun was unprecedented for a Labour leader, and it's perhaps worth noting that Gordon Brown, upon ascendance to the top job, promptly lost the paper's endorsement. But let's not do Blair and say we did. I don't think I need to persuade you that Rupert Murdoch's Sun is right-wing in its editorial line.

But if we are talking quirks, it has to be said that the Guardian has been fairly dreadful on trans issues in particular by the standards of a left-wing outlet. It platforms trans-exclusionary feminists regularly, and just today its leader writer (Susanna Rustin) put out a tortured piece linking the limits of gender transition with, uh, climate change.

Apart from that, I agree with your taxonomy, but 2/3rds satisfies the claim of 'most' pretty well, particularly as against any suggestion that right-wing megaphones are being silenced to extinction. I could always throw in the FT and the Evening Standard to swing it.
 
it has to be said that the Guardian has been fairly dreadful on trans issues in particular by the standards of a left-wing outlet

Which is actually the theme of my post. The Guardian is pro-feminist, you guys are anti-feminist. :)

Hypothetical example: A country introduces quota for women in the board of directors of large companies. Instead of actually promoting women, some of the old white guys in the board of directors of a large company put on some lipstick and say they "identify as women". Would that be okay for you? Sounds silly, but there have already been cases where affirmative action in universities have led to people trying to pass as black, and then saying they "identified as black", in order to get those positions. I think feminists are understandably worried enough to want to reserve the rights they achieved to biological women.
 
It would depend on the reason they were banning those people. Trump didn't get banned for espousing right wing political views, he got banned for inciting violence.
 
At least in the U.S., incitement to violence is not a legal form of expression. Twitter is protecting itself by not allowing someone to use its service to commit a crime. Whether the perpetrator is punished is irrelevant, it doesn't want to be an accessory to a crime.
 
"Which is actually the theme of my post. The Guardian is pro-feminist, you guys are anti-feminist. :)"

You're wrong insofar as trans-exclusionary feminism is only a subset of feminism as a whole. Perhaps we can say that we are pro-Judith-Butler-feminism and you (and rather too many Guardian columnists) are pro-Kathleen-Stock-feminism. The latter, of course, only makes sense as a feminism at all if one refuses to accept trans women as women a priori.

"Hypothetical example: A country introduces quota for women in the board of directors of large companies. Instead of actually promoting women, some of the old white guys in the board of directors of a large company put on some lipstick and say they "identify as women". Would that be okay for you?"

Frankly, if I know my old white guys, they'd be much more inclined to go along with the quota (presumably appointing to the board the kind of women who know how the game is played) than being forced to parade around their posh country club as the Designated Lipstick Guy.

But let me ask you outright - is that what you think a trans woman actually is? A man putting on drag to obtain some advantage?
 
But let me ask you outright - is that what you think a trans woman actually is? A man putting on drag to obtain some advantage?

In most cases not. The problem is that
a) the condition is completely self-described and it is impossible to prove what exactly made a man identify as a woman, which *might* include dishonest reasons.
b) our society has decided in the past that we would like to create safe spaces for women. We decided that women athletes shouldn't have to compete against men. We created laws against indecent exposure to protect little girls from seeing penises. A trans women, regardless of what her motivation is, transgresses on those safe spaces society created for biological women.

It is hard to say what exactly goes on in the head of a trans woman. And it is also hard to say what exactly goes on in the head of a man who likes to indecently expose himself to little girls. How can you decide whether a given case is the former, rather than the latter? Why should society treat the former as a protected minority, and the latter as a criminal?
 
Tobold. Someone who is trans did not just wake up one day and decide to identify as the other gender. A trans women IS a women. No safe space is defiled. Like I said before if trans women are a problem because of their genitalia then what about someone who is intersex? What bathroom can they use if they never got surgery to modify their genitals?

I am a straight male. I did not decide one day to be sexually attracted to women and not sexually attracted to men. It's just how I've always been. It is the same for people who are LGBTQ.

Did you have to decide one day to be attracted to women? I'd guess the answer is no.

And again you're just creating hypotheticals to argue a strawman. Why would a little girl in a women's bathroom see a trans women's penis? Women aren't just going around flashing their vaginas at each other in the bathroom. Are you worried about Trans men flashing their vaginas to boys in the mens restroom?

And what about gay men? Are you worried about a gay man flashing his penis to a boy in the mens bathroom? Should we have separate bathrooms for them as well?

A criminal who is intent on getting into the women's bathroom to flash his penis at women is not going to be stopped by banning trans women from using the restroom.

Furthermore Trans Women and Men are already allowed to use the bathroom they want in many places. You can bet if there was this sudden rush of men dressing in drag in order to flash their penis at little girls you can 100% bet it would be all over right wing media practically non stop.
 
@Bigeye: I was referring to the very real incident at the Korean "Wi Spa" in Los Angeles in June of this year. A woman who had gone to the spa with her little girls complained about an individual with a penis, and was told that there was nothing that the establishment could do, as California law allowed trans women to do that. While the incident was later exploited by the extreme right and right wing media, and led to protesters and counter-protesters fighting on the street, the original complaint was just from a regular customer. So, real event, no hypothetical strawmen anywhere.

Note that the "trans woman" in question was later charged with indecent exposure, and found to be a registered sex offender.

And I am very aware that trans women don't just decide one day that they are a woman, anymore than a gay person decides that he is gay. The problem is that the way society made indecent exposure laws, a man can end up on a sex offender list, just because he was drunk and took a piss too close to a school. The state doesn't have to prove intent to persecute that man. But if you say exposing a penis is okay if the person in question identifies as a woman, you open up a lot of nasty possibilities for perverts to claim to be something they aren't. I think it would be a lot saner to make distinctions like who can go where in a spa based on actual genitalia rather than self-identification.
 
"It is hard to say what exactly goes on in the head of a trans woman."

I'm reliably informed that one or two trans women may have, over the years, expressed themselves on the subject. There are subreddits, videos, articles, books, dedicated psychology journals. Pick whatever epistemological level you like best. :)

"And it is also hard to say what exactly goes on in the head of a man who likes to indecently expose himself to little girls."

I'm... not thrilled by the implication that a trans woman's mind and that of the pedophiliac flasher are comparably muddled. One doesn't want to be an over-sensitive snowflake, of course, but it's hard not to feel a little taken aback.

"How can you decide whether a given case is the former, rather than the latter? Why should society treat the former as a protected minority, and the latter as a criminal?"

If you really do believe that people who say they are trans women are, in most cases, telling the truth then you are suggesting denying a subset of women their womanhood on the basis of the mere possibility of fraudulent behaviour.

That's not a standard we use with anything else. We punish fraud, but we do not also punish that which was falsely represented. (And the lascivious poseur in this case would by logical necessity be a cis man.)

The safe spaces you describe were not created for "biological women". They were created for women. If you accept that a trans woman is a woman, then she, too, is entitled to the protections of those spaces. Or would you rather pronounce her a man and consign her to the discomfort of men's spaces?

Would it change your mind if, in addition to the penis, she also had full breasts and a low waist-to-hip ratio, owing to changes induced by estrogen therapy? Think of the grievous danger to the sensibilities of little boys in that other sauna/bathroom/locker room.

I don't think it would be saner to reduce people's gender identity to the appearance of their genitalia. It would be more convenient for the majority, sure. But it would not be accurate (semantically and medically) or fair. I think we've come to understand, as a society, the basic liberal principle that the convenience of the majority must give way to the human rights of a minority. The rights of a woman who is forced to contend with a non-standard body are no exception.

And, of course, the mirror version of all this applies to trans men. Funny how we don't talk about them nearly as much.
 
I still call that a strawman because you are extrapolating a single incident and insinuating that it is indicative of a larger trend that should be thought about or addressed. Society doesn't generally regulate some thing based off of one or two incidents. In the US we've have regular mass shootings and that isn't enough to enact nationwide gun regulation. Why should this one incident determine how we treat all trans people?

There have been news stories about criminals taking advantage of mask mandates to carry out crimes. Should we ban mask mandates because a few criminals take advantage of the situation?
 
So, to recap, a woman complains to the staff at the spa about the presence of a person with a penis in the women's section. Rather than making some statement of inappropriate behavior on the part of that person, she elects to go on a rant how "transgender people don't exist" and insult the staff and a bystander. The spa attendant, who knows that the spa has regular customers who are transgender and have never posed a problem, dismisses this raving as a bad case of transphobic Karen. The video of the incident goes viral, which transgender reactionaries take as an invitation to send death threats to every known trans woman in a ten mile radius. There are some protests and counter-protests, great fun and some injuries had by all. A later investigation finds the alleged perpetrator, a person claiming to be a trans woman, and also discovers that this person is a registered sex offender.

And your proposed solution is to effectively ban all transgender people from gender separated spas, rather than, for example, banning registered sex offenders? That is an interesting choice. (And yes, I understand that they are not technically banned, they could still go to the section of the opposite gender. But that is in effect a ban. Trans women do not want to go to the men's section for much the same reason that cis women do not. And if I were a trans man I would not have great confidence that the reaction to the presence of a person presenting as masculine in the women's section would be delayed until after they ascertain the state of that person's genitals. Screaming and shouting does rather detract from the essential spa experience.)
 
Are you saying that for example a president inciting a violent riot is not a problem, as long as this is a single incident?

If you accept that a trans woman is a woman …

Who said I accept that? With modern forms now often giving you the option of male/female/other, I would put trans women as well as trans men and people born intersex into the “other” category. I am pretty certain that the trans-exclusionary feminists think the same way. So like Chappelle, I’m on “team TERF” here.

What I find nasty and unacceptable is that homophobic Proud Boy who would like to beat up or even kill a trans woman is treated the same way as a progressive feminist who believes that self-identification isn’t enough to claim that you are a real woman. The woke cancel culture mob only has a single weapon and it targets everybody who isn’t a true believer with the same bazooka. Which is exactly the same what is going on with the Trumpists targeting moderate Republicans. I don’t think this trend will end well.
 
With modern forms now often giving you the option of male/female/other, I would put trans women as well as trans men and people born intersex into the “other” category.

You know what? That's actually good enough, at least for me and for now. (Alas, our gender-critical TERF friends might not be quite as on board with this as you think. In what I remember of their writings, including some by dear Joanne if I recall correctly, they very clearly paint trans women as malicious men attempting to invade and colonize women's spaces, and trans men as poor misguided women who have been tricked into mutilating themselves because of internalized misogyny. To me, that sounds like they are being placed into the old gender binary, just not in the categories they identify as.) I obviously still disagree with you to a point, but that quickly becomes a matter of degrees and delineations, and honestly I should have bowed out of this whole metaphysical debate much sooner, because it does not have much of an actual point. Your affirmation that you believe everyone should be allowed to live their sexuality was actually already enough. I apologize for prolonging the discussion unnecessarily.

Because which public bathroom or spa they can use is probably not the biggest concern for the average trans person. Whether they will be discriminated against in terms of jobs, housing, education, health care, etcetera might be. As might just how likely they are to become the victim of a hate crime, and how the justice system handles such crimes when they happen. And that is what brings us back to the beginning here, because, even leaving the whole metaphysical question of whether trans women are women out of it, a performer like Chapelle comparing being transgender to wearing blackface (in a manner that suggests this as a reasonably held belief) produces a negative image of trans people. As do offhand comments treating being transgender and pedophilia as roughly equivalent. And the prevalence of such negative images informs the behavior of members of our society towards the transgendered, and thus people propagating these ideas makes life just a little harder, a little less pleasant and a little more dangerous for the transgendered.

Now, lest my criticism of Chapelle be taken as approval of the actions of any Twitter rage mob: I have no doubt the man received any number of death threats over this, though this probably affects his social media manager more than him. I do not condone this, and anyone who sent him a death threat or any other hateful post, is, to my mind, a despicable little shitlord, at least for that moment. But to lay the responsibility for this squarely at the feet of trans activists or progressives or "the woke" seems a bit strange. Not only because such behavior is common across the entirety of the political spectrum, but because it is not even a new thing. Shaming has been around for ages, advances in technology have just made it bigger and more immediate, resulting in yet another hyperstimulus of the modern world. Beyond that it is just a matter of people being quintessentially human (i.e. raging shitlords when they think they can get away with it) with corporations stoking the flames of outrage because the engagement can be effectively monetized. I have yet to meet any person, regardless of political leaning, who is in favor of Twitter rage mobs. But that does not mean anyone has any real way of stopping them. I am more than happy to hear your suggestions, if you have any.
 
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