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The hounding of Kathleen Stock Her union's betrayal signals the death of solidarity

This was more than a defeat for free speech (YouTube)


October 13, 2021   4 mins

On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to chair a public event on “Hate, Heresy and the Fight for Free Speech” in London. I expected it to be a lively discussion; I’ve made two radio series celebrating the importance of disagreement. But I also expected it to be civilised, with respect shown for people, but not for bad ideas.

What I did not expect is that I would have to start the event by reading out a statement from one of the speakers because she had been advised that it might not be safe for her to leave her home and appear in person.

The speaker, as you may have guessed, was Kathleen Stock — a Professor of Philosophy who has been subjected to a campaign of harassment by anonymous trolls claiming to be students at Sussex University, where she teaches Philosophy, demanding for her to be sacked for her alleged views on transgender rights.

I say “alleged” because I have read her recent book, Material Girls, and it’s hard to see how it could be described as transphobic. “Trans people are trans people. We should get over it,” she writes. “They deserve to be safe, to be visible throughout society without shame or stigma, and to have exactly the life opportunities non-trans people do.” Certainly the book hardly amounts to “transphobic shit”, the term written on stickers that were recently plastered across Stock’s university building.

At the Battle of Ideas event, we did achieve an exchange of reasonable views about free speech and hate speech. Some contributions were critical of Professor Stock, and some were critical of the idea that more freedom of speech is always a good thing. Those on the panel and in the room who asserted that untrammelled debate is generally positive were forced to justify their views.

It would have been better, of course, if Professor Stock had been able to take part in the debate, rather than send a written statement. I think the people who attended in order to criticise her views felt somewhat cheated by her absence, as well as those who were more sympathetic to her position.

Since the campaign against her gathered momentum last week, University of Sussex has issued statements in support of academic freedom of speech and expression, and of challenging one’s own ideas by listening to others. Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell said the university would not tolerate harassment and intimidation, or be pressured by calls to sack Professor Stock.

But not everybody has been so quick to defend academic freedom, free expression or the right not to be fired for holding unpopular views. Sussex University Students’ Union has issued a statement saying it does not support the University’s stance, and expressing disappointment “that our Vice-Chancellor is lending support to views which have been causing severe distress to students, and that the University did not reach out to our trans and non-binary community.”

In today’s climate, perhaps we should not be surprised by the decision of yet another student union to disavow the importance of academic freedom. What was striking, however, was the decision of the Sussex branch of UCU — the trade union representing academics in the UK — to follow suit. Yesterday, it issued a “statement In Support of Trans And Nonbinary Communities at Sussex”, in which it called on the university to enshrine “the dignity and respect of trans and nonbinary staff and students”.

“We urge our management to take a clear and strong stance against transphobia at Sussex,” it warned. It later clarifies its authors “oppose all forms of bullying, harassment and intimidation of staff and students” — and that they “do not endorse the call for any worker to be summarily sacked”. The statement then goes on to endorse the Students’ Union support for the protesting students, who by Stock’s account have been largely menacing.

It is, of course, important to defend the right to protest, though harassment and intimidation of individuals — as experienced by Stock — clearly goes beyond the free expression of dissent. Freedom of speech, after all, is important precisely because it underpins all other freedoms: without being able to say what you think, freedom of thought is impossible. In Professor Stock’s words, which I read out on her behalf: “Young people are frightened to say what they think. In a weird reversal of the suffragette motto “deeds not words”, on campus and in middle-class life more generally there is an intense corrective emphasis on words not deeds.”

But the union’s statement was not just a defeat for free speech — it was a stark sign of how far union politics has fallen in recent decades. Like freedom of expression, employment rights were won by centuries of collective action. Because most of us need to earn a living, there is generally a power imbalance between employer and employee, and joining together in a trade union is a way to counteract that imbalance. It’s easy to replace one unruly employee, but not so easy to replace an entire workforce who have walked out in support.

Solidarity, then, is a very simple idea. But it seems to have gone out of fashion — or, even worse, been forgotten. The point of defending a fellow employee’s right to keep their job is not that you agree with their ideas, or that you like them. The point is that you have more power by standing together than as individuals. You will, you should, differ from your workmates in all sorts of respects — sex, gender identity, race, age, political views, tastes and habits. What you have in common is a shared interest in protecting each other from abuses of power by those who have power over you.

And so UCU’s behaviour, in refusing to side with Stock, is a tragedy in itself. What you lose by calling on employers to discipline or sack your workmates for their opinions is power. Suddenly, something that unions were created to deter can be used against those whose views are deemed intolerable. Once you have handed over the control to decide which opinions may be expressed, or even thought, not just in the workplace but on social media or perhaps in private, it will be near-impossible to reclaim.

It used to be a maxim of union politics that dignity and respect cannot depend on handing more power to those in power. At best, the prize will be a constrained respect from your peers, policed by fear of punishment from above. At worst, it will end in the indignity of powerlessness, and the shame of knowing that you willingly chose that dependency on the powerful, because you preferred it to solidarity with those such as Kathleen Stock whose ideas were different from yours.


Timandra Harkness presents the BBC Radio 4 series, FutureProofing and How To Disagree. Her book, Big Data: Does Size Matter? is published by Bloomsbury Sigma.

TimandraHarknes

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

So my question to the author is what’s to be done about this type of bullying and cancellation which is now common in academia? Would the author care to write an article with practical suggestions about how society can fight back or identify organizations that are fighting back?
In fairness, I think the more pertinent question is whether Unherd is willing to commission the author to write such an article? Based on its track record to date, I’m fairly sure the answer is no. There seems to be a feeling on this site that publishing such an article is somehow taking sides, but I don’t think that’s true. If this type of cancellation and its negative effects is worth repeatedly writing about then it’s surely worth writing about how to protect people from this type of treatment or give them legal redress.
If all we do is describe the problem and complain nothing will change.

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
Richard Parker
RP
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Agreed. Our lack of a collective response is the main enabler of this nonsense: if it were opposed and laughed out of the room, I don’t think it would long survive. We seem to have become so atomised that we can’t bring ourselves to support one another for fear we will be next up for the firing squad.
Sixty years ago this year, Hannah Arendt wrote very eloquently about the result of this sort of atomisation and deracination. It certainly wasn’t an outcome you’d wish for.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Yep. Courage is the first virtue and few in any position of any authority seems to possess it, although kudos to the University of Sussex for, so far, not buckling.

As with so many others, UCU seem to think it better to go along with herd, follow the mob, avoid criticism, and hang the consequences for individual members because who wants to be seen as transphobic? It’s same reason some venues recommend or even (purportedly – they can’t actually) require the use of face coverings – just follow the crowd, avoid criticism, and hang the consequences for the individual because who wants to be seen as a granny killer?

If Hannah Arendt were alive today she would be horrified that it’s happening again, this time on a global rather than just a national scale; and that means that there are no Allies or Red Army to act as Deus ex machina to save us. It’s down to us, as individuals, to find the courage to use our intellect, empathy and voices to very fullest extents to face this all of this down. It won’t need everyone to do it but it will need as Samuel Adams, put it “an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men”. God help us.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Well, kudos to the Vice-Chancellor: not sure about some of Professor Stock’s colleagues.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Does nobody remember Martin Niemoller’s poem “First they came for the Jews”.
Any colleagues not giving unequivocal support to Prof Stock should read it and hang their heads in shame.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I believe the Free Speech Union offers legal assistance to people experiencing cancellation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Weil
Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

After Speech Union? Is that the After Dinner Speech Union? I think you meant the Free Speech Union. Yes, they’re an organisation that is successfully pushing back by fighting individual cases – I hope they’re onto this one.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Yes, typo. Corrected now, thanks.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

I think that is a typo for Free Speech Union. I am a member of FSU, and would recommend anyone (not least interested people such as read UnHerd) to join. They are actually doing something about cancel culture, not just wringing their hands.

Judy Englander
JE
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

I’m a member and I’m retired. Just mentioning that in case some readers think it’s only for working people. If you support the FSU’s aims and work, then I urge you to join. Our subs add to their fighting fund to help people in the same position as Stock.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Jeremy Bray
JB
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Many thanks for that. I have just joined as a result of this exchange. I checked out a Guardian article which referred to various students resigning from an offshoot of the Free Speech Union. One of the resigning students clearly had a rather different idea as to what free speech involved than most of us as this extract from the article shows:
”After Walker said in one discussion that he would “punch a Nazi”, saw Peterson as a peddler of “bought speech” and felt that marginalised groups were often denied true freedom of speech, Iman emailed him about “a few things that you mentioned on the call that I wanted to pick up with you for clarification”.
Punching a Nazi I presume meant anyone whose views he disapproved of given that members of the German National Socialist party are pretty well all dead by now.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Bray
Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

So glad you joined the FSU. It shows that comments sections aren’t only for discussion but for exchange of information. That quote from the Guardian is shocking. What on earth did the student think he was joining, I wonder.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

It shows that comments sections aren’t only for discussion but for exchange of information.
I’m so glad this exchange is happening. I’m an American but I’ll look into the FSU with a view to contributing if not participating. Sadly, I’m not sure if there’s an analogous organization in the US. The ACLU used to be the place to go but now it’s dominated by progressives.

Judy Englander
JE
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, there is or will be – FSU are already getting involved with US cancellations and say they’re setting up in your country. You could go to their website and send a message to ask about it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Thanks.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I stopped hiring people (aside from engineers) who had university degrees. I started doing this many years before I was aware of the ideological changes at universities — I just found them to be better employees. Should enough businesses do this, the students who are going to universities ‘in order to get ahead’, will stop going.
People need to stop thinking of themselves as sacks made of meat for transporting sets of skills to the workplace to be utilised by their employers. While there are some professional skills that are necessary for certain jobs — you really do want your dentist to have a dentistry degree — most of the time the skills are not all that important compared to what you really need in an employee which are matters of character — intelligence, good judgement, courage, patience, candor, honesty, an attention to details, the ability to get along with others, and hopefulness (as opposed to optimism) are all on my list. Your business may need a different set, but I am sure there is a set for you too. If you have the right character, but don’t have quite the right skill set, I can train you up in the skills. If you don’t have the character, then I don’t want you no matter what your skills.
I kept interviewing university graduates who weren’t mature enough for me to know if they would be good to hire. It was as if I was interviewing 13-15 year olds, but these people were in their early 20s. I thought that this problem was local to my part of the world, but I am getting the sense that this is a global problem. Our universities are now what our high schools used to be, and the people are graduating them with the same unformed characters they had when they were 15. Maybe the good ones interviewed someplace else, but I am coming to doubt that.
At any rate, the current crop of high school students are learning that going to university is no longer a certification ticket to the good life, and can saddle you with crippling debt. Once they stop going to university in large numbers, the universities will be left with a majority of students who have the making of genuine scholars (or at least thought they might have — discovering that scholarship is not for you is a perfectly good use of your time at university).

michael stanwick
MS
michael stanwick
2 years ago

I would contemplate hiring anyone from the hard sciences – physics, chemistry, geology, biology (mostly), astronomy/cosmology, maths etc.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago

What you describe suggests a process of deterioration in the maturity of university graduates, and a process has to start somewhere. Do you have a sense of when this began, accepting that it will have been gradual, in contrast to for example trans activism that could start with one person and evolve rapidly?

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think the work of the Free Speech Union in the UK as well as the legislation directed at universities is a good start. Raising the profile of the issue does help – although I agree that I have read many articles with same story being repeated over and over again.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A new organisation, History Reclaimed, might interest you.

J Bryant
JB
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Thanks.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Has anyone mentioned Counterweight? Helen Pluckrose co-author of Cynical Theories heads this excellent organisation.
https://counterweightsupport.com

Christopher Barclay
CB
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

This article is about a specific issue: unions’ decision to put politics over supporting their members’ employment rights. The remedy is equally simple: those of us who are members of unions should take more notice of union elections and policies. Those who are not union members should consider the possibility of becoming a member and acting before a union assumes the right to play politics with your employment rights.

Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

And, by the way, Kathleen Stock is not remotely transphobic. It’s a manufactured charge.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Correct. Neither is Jordan Peterson or Dave Chappelle. And Hungarian football supporters were not in the main racist either at Wembley or in Hungary. The wokist Defenders of the Faith need to manufacture charges to demonstrate their prowess.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

Doesn’t that sidestep the argument though? So *what* if the accusations are baseless? I want to get to a place where anyone can say anything. Seeing free speech dying in the UK, I’m tempted to include ‘shouting fire in a crowded theatre’ – the usual exception. If a stampede resulted in death or injury, the person who shouted would be liable. Otherwise, the only limit to free speech should be market forces – as when I boycott Ben and Jerry ice cream for lecturing the Home Secretary on immigration.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I doubt many of the activists have read her book. In my opinion it’s an exercise of power over the university authorities – activists flexing their muscles in the first week of term, to show them who is boss. A power-play, pure and simple.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Linda Hutchinson
LH
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I think that you’ve hit the nail on the head; this is often a show of power, and unfortunately universities (and, let’s be honest, most of our cultural institutions) have just waved a white flag and given up. Some, of course, may actually believe what they are saying, but most are cowards who will not challenge this gross power-grab by immature young people who should be guided and helped to think clearly and constructively about solutions to the many problems that we do have, and not make up non-existent problems.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago

I note that my comment is suddenly ‘awaiting for approval’. I will type it again:
I doubt that many of the activists have read her book. In my opinion it’s an exercise of power over the university authorities. – activists flexing their muscles in the first week of term to show them who is boss. A power-play, pure and simple.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Caroline Watson
CW
Caroline Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

A phobia is a fear of something that an individual believes exists. It is impossible for anyone who knows that mammals cannot change sex to be ‘transphobic’. I have read Kathleen Stock’s book and I felt that she went too far in pandering to the nonsense. As this is the result, it would have been far better if she had just declared that there is no such thing as ‘gender’ outside linguistics and that people can dress up as anything they like but they do not become that thing and no one else should have to pretend that they do.

Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

There’s no such thing as transphobia. To state that a transwoman is not a woman with two X chromosomes, but a surgically and / or hormonally mutilated man with a y chromosome and a personality / psychiatric disorder, is an accurate statement of the facts and therefore cannot be anything-phobic.
The agenda of course is to make it illegal to voice certain truths.

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

^ This!!!!

Fiona Bruce would have had a fit if someone were to have said that on the last episode of QT.

michael stanwick
MS
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

If you are emphasising sex and cognitive functioning I would not centre sex on chromosomes. Biology is not concerned merely with human beings but all organic lifeforms. As such there are species that do not use chromosomal sex determination mechanisms but male and female are still identifiable.
Sex is reproductive role and is identified by structure and function. The function of males is to produced small motile gametes and the function of females is to produced large immotile gametes. Each has different structures to produce and develop these two types of gametes.
In law, the case of Corbett v Corbett (1970) established sex is biological and transgenderism is psychological.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

Kathleen Stock clearly supports trans peoples right to enjoy a normal life free from harassment and can no way be regarded as a promoter of hate against them. She has simply made the point that self declared trans women should not automatically be classified as women and entitled to enter spaces where biological women might as a result be uncomfortable. A reasonable stance for which she has been vilified.
Has she received the fulsome support of her colleagues for the right to express her views. Well certainly not from the local University Union who instead issued an incoherent statement which appeared to be more of an attack on her than otherwise. A quick look at the biographies of the Equalities reps on the UCU Sussex executive committee provides these two gems:
Samuel Solomon:“My next large critical research project is on the relations between typesetting/printing labour and English-language LGBTQ+ literary production in the late twentieth century. An article from this project, focusing on the writing of Marxist-feminist organizer, typesetter, and poet Karen Brodine, was published in GLQ.”
Arabella Stanger: “My work reaches across dance, theatre and performance studies, with an emphasis on the exploration of performance as sociopolitical practice. I am particularly interested in thinking at the intersection of materialist thought, critical race theory and indigenous studies for theorising the ways bodies move: from the choreographic practice of dance artists to what might be termed the choreographics of the everyday.”
Is it any surprise that Stock’s chances of getting support from her Union are negligible when you read stuff like this?
Unfortunately, the only solution that immediately comes to mind that such deadwood should be cleared out of Universities is itself an illiberal attack on academic freedom to spout rubbish. While conformist left bigotry reigns in Universities dissenting academics will remain at risk. The public should perhaps not be required to fund such illiberal ideological thinking. Defunding Universities that fail to maintain liberal values might be considered. A call that would certainly garner more popular support than defunding the police.

G A
GA
G A
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

LOL at those excerpts.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  G A

As my mother was wont to say about useless activities – “it keeps them off the streets” (I don’t think she was actually aware of what it meant, though).

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Those extracts detailing projects on which tax payer funds are spent makes my blood boil. Talk about entitled ivory tower clap trap. If I were in charge I’d sack them and put them on a brick-laying course or on a team filling pot holes.

They would of course have the freedom to publish books about those subjects, appear on any media outlet that would have them or via their own vLog.

The sales of their books would supplement their income allowing them to perhaps buy a large coffee at their local capitalist Starbucks.

Francis MacGabhann
FM
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Well, since we’re all about free speech, here’s my two pennyworth. Trans women are not women, Kathleen Stock has a perfect right to say what she likes, and trade unions are there to protect workers, not to be taken over by activists and used to shove dodgy political dogmas which wouldn’t garner half a dozen votes under their own flag in an election. How do you like them apples?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

Bravo!

Michael James
Michael James
2 years ago

The mass cowardice of university staff under liberal-democratic regimes gives us some insight into how easy the Nazis must have found it to take over the professions in Germany and purge them of Jews and Communists.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael James
Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Trade unions have never tolerated dissent. That’s where the left learned intolerance.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

Thanks to Timandra Harkness for supporting Prof. Stock, when all the institutions that should have been rallying around are to busy sucking up to the trolls. The folk in control of the UK’s civic institutions really are spineless. The secret of how the tiny pressure groups make UK civic society a slave to their bidding is to cast themselves in the role of victim. That way they can bully whoever they like, as much as they like.

Charles Lawton
CL
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Agreed, although it’s just as bad in the USA google Colin Wright an Environmental Biologist who has been appallingly treated.

Last edited 2 years ago by Charles Lawton
nickcroft99
nickcroft99
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

There is an excellent interview with Colin Wright on the Triggernometry Youtube podcast, well worth an hour of your time – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncF-ZbfVR2w

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

The Stock case is potentially illustrative of a generational fundamental ‘big picture’ that is in the making, but being missed because it is operating silently and remains undebated. The (translucent) elephant in the room is… China. The west *has* altered China over the last four decades, but, unacknowledged it seems, is the fact that equally China has more recently perniciously altered cultural sensibilities of younger generations (millennials and zoomers) in the west. This generational gap is visible in the divide of attitudes of those over 40 vs those younger, on views about imbibing, adhering to and enforcing collective viewpoints through intense cultural pressure (a la cultural revolution), vs embracing and tolerating a big ecosystem of diverse viewpoints. Millennials and zoomers it seems are uncomfortable and intolerant of the latter, something which is natural to those over 40. This, to me, is pure CCP – tinged with varieties of Confucian outlooks. I’m not trying to stoke an intergenerational war, merely stating what I see.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Aptly put. And could I just add to that by recommending The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt to any UnHerders who have not read it. Similarly, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Haidt and Greg Lukianoff.

These books clearly explain the difference in thinking between generations.

R MS
R MS
2 years ago

Look, this isn’t difficult.
Like the unions in the 1970s, the universities and their related unions today are left wing institutions captured by activists and incapable either of governing themselves properly or of introducing reforms to ensure free speech and free debate and free academic research can flourish. That leaves government regulation as the only remedy. As Thatcher did in the 1980s, so we have to do here.
It would be nice if it wasn’t so. But it is.
The activists say there is no debate to be had. Of course that means they are right by definition. It takes two to tango.
So time to get on with it.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  R MS

IMO, this is correct, if partial. This is not confined to universities but also in major institutions and businesses.
I agree with you that government intervention is necessary. I follow the line of Eric Kaufmann who argues for government intervention regarding protection of freedom of expression in institutions. See this excellent discussion involving Kaufmann on this subject, if you haven’t done so already…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxToF8UUjyo

Al M
Al M
2 years ago

It’s hard to see what government intervention will do. You now have the situation where leftist idealogues have taken control and are in positions of power. People like Kathleen Stock are not breaking any rules, but the nutters persecuting her most certainly are. You won’t remove a climate of intimidation without removing all the individuals who prosecute it. First thing should be the expulsion of students who have intimidated or libelled their teachers.

G A
GA
G A
2 years ago

I don’t see any of her colleagues defending her (although maybe this is my failing). That to me is scarier than union action. Unions are just another way of extracting money from people. They’re irrelevant.

Jane McCarthy
JM
Jane McCarthy
2 years ago
Reply to  G A

I suspect that many are privately supporting her, but daren’t make a public statement, because then their own jobs would be on the line. In short, they feel unsafe. We already have ample evidence of what happens to academics, or anyone else who offers support to a “cancelled” person. These are very psychologically scary times.

Michael James
Michael James
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane McCarthy

In short, they’re cowards. If they don’t publicly support their colleagues, who do they think will support them if they’re victimised?

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael James
Ann Ceely
AC
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

It seems to me, as someone who was at Sussex 1966-69, that Students aren’t these days being taught to analyse before coming to a conclusion!

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

I honestly wonder if they are encouraged to think in the first place?

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Your point was illustrated by the performance of the Sussex University team on this week’s University Challenge. Their final score was 10 points. They could have doubled that score had they been, as you put it, “taught to analyse before coming to a conclusion” and not pressed their buzzers too early. (Having said that, 20 would still have been lamentable.)

William Hickey
WH
William Hickey
2 years ago

“They scream in pain as they attack you.”

Nancy Washton
DL
Nancy Washton
2 years ago

The larger issue is the extremity on both sides of the political/idealogical spectrum – I feel trapped between Orwells 1984 on the left and the Handmaids Tale on the right. Interestingly, having been an economic progressive and a classical liberal on social policy my entire life (50+ years) I have come to believe the lefts extremism is far more dangerous than the right. Reading Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind and digging through the literature has led me to conclude there is no “fix”. Society is following a predictable pattern of collapse into waring tribes (see writings by Peter Turchin) and all we can do is bolster our personal defenses and not give in to cowardice while our colleagues and fellow citizens are being immolated by the raging mobs.

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago

Around 40 years ago I was a young union rep and a much older trans woman asked to join the union and subsequently became active in the branch. She was quite obviously a man but was a nice person, helpful and obliging and no bother whatsoever. I liked her. Never gave it much thought after I left that workplace and certainly never had any animosity towards trans people. Until recently. I’m finding myself increasingly irritated by the demands of trans women and their so-called allies. It looks to me an awful lot like toxic masculinity, pushing aside women’s rights and demanding that women make space for them, including taking positions as women’s officers and heading rape crisis centres. Enough. Far from winning hearts and minds I’m thinking that I’m simply no longer prepared to go along with their delusions. They are not women. They don’t belong in women’s spaces. Especially not when their demands to occupy those spaces are made in such aggressive terms. If they can’t engage in polite, civilised discourse then as far as I’m concerned they can just eff off. Sussex University needs to boot these people out as an example to others of what happens when they cross a line.

Jane Watson
JW
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Julia H

I too had a dear friend and colleague who was living as Linda when we met, and for 10 years subsequently, then detransitioned (fortunately had no surgery) and went back to being Steve.

This is all fine and dandy for men, but young women who take testosterone (or worse) are soon changed drastically and permanently. They grow facial and excess body hair, develop an Adam’s apple, can go bald and become infertile.

It is well known that girls and young women on the autism spectrum are responsible for the huge increase in females seeking gender reassignment. This is tragic and has the potential to make already difficult lives unbearable.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

The least interesting thing about the Kathleen Stock saga is that her union acted in its own self-interest rather than to protect one measly dues-paying member. In the first place, God made parasites. That was for practice. Then he made teachers unions.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago

I posted the following on the other article about Stock. Forgive the repetition but Sussex is my old Uni, so I’m invested.

I think a baffling thing is that Transwomen are mostly fully endowed heterosexual men who expect born women (both straight and lesbian) to consider them as potential sexual partners.
I’ve been told that a lesbian who rejects the possibility of having a sexual relationship with a Transwoman is automatically branded a Transphobe. Presumably why the lesbian feminists (whom some accuse of being anti-men) are especially vilified.
If it’s transphobic to choose a sexual partner on the basis of their sex (as opposed to gender, if I’m following the argument) 98% of the population must be guilty.
And heterosexual men and women are normally attracted to ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ characteristics in their partners; it’s not just about genitalia (though they are assumed). So most straight women like manly men, and most men like womanly women?
So are Transpeople accidentally or deliberately ruling themselves out of the dating game? And is this a contributing factor in the increasingly angry behaviour of some Trans Activists?

Vibeke Lawrie
VL
Vibeke Lawrie
2 years ago

 “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”  John Milton, 1629

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

I don’t think many academics are members of UCU. They have no industrial muscle because a strike by academics saves the university money – more money the longer it goes on.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

True, but it also leads to student dissatisfaction, sympathy protests and building occupations from the activist student cohort notwithstanding. This can and does affect the institutions’ NSS scores, ranking positions and potentially the bottom line. Not what’s wanted, especially when overseas students with big pockets are inconvenienced.

You are correct that membership of UCU is far from universal, both in academic and professional roles.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago

Cancel culture is the 21st century version of the 20th century Saalschlacht. Impossible to translate in English, but how cynical that the modern version started in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

I’ve noticed that too. I always believed the English-speaking world to be resistant to this garbage. Unfortunately, we’re now living in a time when stating that it is impossible for a man to fall pregnant is controversial. This kind of thinking bears all the hallmarks of a totalitarian take-over. Wokeism is a supremacist ideology, but one that we have for too long left festering in our institutions. Unfortunately, it keeps us divided and endlessly engaged in pointless discussions while those behind it quietly plot ways to extract more time and resources from us.

Alan Hawkes
AH
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

I understand that one argument from the intolerants among the students is that they pay the University over £9,000 p.a. and they want Professor Stock fired. In other words, the students have, perhaps unconsciously, taken on the role of a Victorian mill-owner, seeking to remove an awkward worker. What goes around, comes around.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

‘the university would not tolerate harassment and intimidation’ except if it came from Trans fanatics, in which case there would be a collective shrug of the shoulders.

David Harris
David Harris
2 years ago

It’s noticeable that it is public sector organisations that are mostly affected by this bullying activity. And of course they are the most unionised and left wing ones too. A disgrace to a democracy.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
2 years ago

Transgender people at best account for between 0.5-1% of the population. I believe with gay rights very much established and written in law, the seasoned campaigners whose whole existence and lifestyle became centered on protest and change have hijacked and mobilised their new cause, with the radical left and their identity politics cohort, with remarkable effect. The strategy of userping public services and political debate by bullying, cancelling, renaming, collapsing language into anything and everything that can hide and sow confusion has rendered its opponents unable to gain any traction to mount a credible fightback.Unions across the board have seen the ” Union of Woke” as a hugely effective tool to effectively rebrand dated and terrifying political ideals that historically have failed at a huge cost to life. The union failed in their duty to protect its member and did so while ensuring it promoted its own political stance in the process. Appallling on all levels. The left have no shame and their current modus operandi is by all means necessary, meaning good, thoughtful and often established academics, contesting the madness, get removed in the process.Cancelled.
This awful ideology is at the heart of education and trying to peddle its madness at every level, from primary school through to universities.
https://nypost.com/2021/10/13/parents-demand-superintendent-be-fired-for-alleged-sex-assault-cover-up/
The utter hypocrisy of these people is beyond the pale.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3739380/Up-shirkers-Union-boss-Red-Len-McCluskey-parties-night-away-1-200-night-Monte-Carlo-hotel.html
For me, the gloves need to come off and this pernicious political creed needs to be tackled head on and with all legal application necessary for its removal from its current position of influence and power. Our current governing party could do a whole lot more to untangle the snake oil merchants and their destructive and divisive merchandise from the crowd and send them packing for good.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Turpin
M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago

There is a lot of sycophancy towards unions – treating them as underdogs, as if they don’t have power. They have enormous power and there is a lot of abuse of that power. Did the UCU consult its membership in anyway, preferably by a private vote on a proposal, before issuing a statement effectively throwing Stock under a bus?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

In the socialist and fascist models, unions work alongside management with the aim of controlling the workforce. The unions have taken a view on how the wind is blowing.

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
2 years ago

This is no longer a question of free speech to debated by worthy earnest types with nuance and give and take. All that is pointless when the real issues are sanity and facts versus lies and madness. A new totalitarianism beckons. xx=/xy

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Smith
Snake Oil Cat
Snake Oil Cat
2 years ago

Trans women are cynical, predatory men trying to get access to women’s spaces. They have the same capacity for violence against women as Jack the Ripper. We are in a fascist model where the male leader has taken the power to go on TV and tell people that they mustn’t see their friends and that women must stay home with abusive partners. That is the management which the unions are working alongside.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago

How do you organise people who are not focused on a single issue and all think and speak freely in different ways? We’ve been there before, so we can learn from history that when people are picked off one by one the numbers can eventually become overwhelming.