We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Boycott Wickes (but not for the reason you think)

A year ago, Fraser Longden, the Chief Operating Operator of the DIY store Wickes, was in the news. On 16 June 2023, Internet Retailing magazine ran this story: “Wickes hits back at boycott campaign over COO’s comments that trans-critical shoppers ‘are not welcome’ in stores.”

I was aware of the boycott but did not join in. We do buy stuff from Wickes on occasion. It is useful that they open at 7am and close at 8pm. I certainly was not going to give up that utility because the company had gone woke. If I were to boycott all the companies who waste their substance by hiring “inclusion and diversity” teams and whose senior staff members gush about it to the media, I would have to live like a hermit. Still, it was foolish of Fraser Longden to first tell Pink News that “Creating a culture where everybody can feel welcomed – can be their authentic self, can be supported – is about modernising our business” and then tell the same Pink News that, in his estimate, ten percent of the UK population are “not welcome in our stores anyway”. I did not know whether my position on these issues, which I like to think of as nuanced, would have allowed him to welcome me through the rainbow-festooned portals of Wickes. Nor did I care. Wickes can hate me and still sell me screws.*

No, the thing that has made me decide to boycott Wickes happened a mere seven months ago, but I must have missed the story at the time. On 4 November 2023, the Telegraph reported, “DIY giant Wickes fails to shut down website accusing it of being ‘woke’”

The DIY giant Wickes has been accused of stifling freedom of speech after its boss tried unsuccessfully to shut down a website criticising it as “woke” after its boss told trans-critical “bigots” to shop elsewhere.


In response [to Mr Longden’s comments], Timothy Huskey set up the protest site featuring the headline “Woke Wickes” and claiming “the UK calls for a boycott of Wickes” due to its “highly controversial sexual agenda”, claiming that the company “hates” customers who think there are only two genders.


In July, the home improvements store’s lawyers contacted Nominet, the body which oversees UK domain names, to complain that the website was abusing the company’s trademarked name, contained “malware capabilities” and was being used for “phishing”, a reference to the use of emails and online platforms for fraudulent behaviour.

Papers filed with the watchdog also said the site was set up for commercial gain and intended to “unfairly disrupt” Wickes’s business.

In response, Mr Huskey, who is American, said he set up the site as “legitimate criticism” of Wickes, and made it “abundantly clear” it is not connected to the company, even offering visitors the address for the company’s official website if anyone wanted to shop with them. He insisted it was not used to make money or for any phishing fraud and contained no malware.

The adjudicator, who ruled on the dispute, found the use of the word “boycott” in the protest site’s name meant visitors would not think it was linked to the official Wickes’s site.

They concluded the company’s claims the site was malicious or set up for “phishing” fell “well short of what is required to support its serious allegation”.

They added that Wickes had not proven that the criticism on the website was “of such an exceptional nature” to merit the site to be shut down. They were also satisfied it was not set up for commercial or illicit purposes.

Wickes’ use of obviously spurious claims about malware and phishing to attempt to silence a critic enrages me. I am glad the attempt failed; https://www.boycottwickes.co.uk/ is still there. Mind you, so is Fraser Longden. Obviously the earlier boycott did not damage their bottom line that much. And I do not delude myself that my little mini-boycott will leave their accountants a-tremble. Mr Longden is right about one thing, most grand resolutions fizzle out when it’s 6:30pm, everywhere else is closed, and you desperately need a screw.

Nonetheless, given that companies will count an expensive advertising campaign a success if it increases custom by one or two percent, they would be wise not to do things that cause even a few of their customers to get into the habit of looking elsewhere first. That is how most of my “boycotts” end up. In 2019 Nigel Farage had a milkshake thrown over him for the first time. Someone in Burger King’s social media team proved their worth by putting out a tweet saying, “Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying”. The net worth of most companies’ social marketing teams is negative: until then I had often used the Burger Kings at motorway service stations because, like Wickes, they remain open when other outlets are closed, and because a family member gets a discount, but their encouragement of political violence led me to declare a boycott. Predictably, my resolve wavered. I have eaten several Burger King burgers at motorway services since then, when BK was the only place selling food open, or because it was what other members of the party wanted. But five years of looking elsewhere first adds up.

*I meant the type of screw that comes in Metric, Imperial or Whitworth. Although having started that line of thought, I did not have the strength not to follow the Wikipedia link that told me that all screws have inherent male gender.

Adam Zivo on how LGBTQ activists helped sabotage their own support in Canada

“New polling data shows that support for LGBTQ rights is dropping precipitously in Canada”, writes Adam Zivo in the National Post, “and while many queer activists will inevitably blame the far right for this development, the fact is that they themselves helped sabotage their own public support.”

The article continues:

Their abrasiveness and militancy has alienated the public, and though a strategic shift is needed, I fear that community leaders will fail to understand this until it is too late.

According to this year’s edition of the Ipsos LGBTQ+ Pride Report, which polled adults in 26 countries, support for queer rights has decreased across the globe since 2021. Several metrics suggest that the starkest changes occurred in Canada.

This year, only 49 per cent of Canadian respondents believed that people should be open about their orientation or gender identity (down 12 points from 2021), while support for LGBTQ people publicly kissing or holding hands fell to 40 per cent (down 8 points). Fewer Canadians want to see openly gay or bisexual athletes (50 per cent, down 11 points) or more LGBTQ characters on screens (34 per cent, down 10 points).

Decreases in the popularity of groups supposedly protected by activists happen so predictably that I have concluded it is what the activists, consciously or unconsciously, wish to see. It gives them something to do.

The Garrick Club needs to get itself some masks

“University of Oxford museum hides African mask that ‘must not be seen by women’”, reports Craig Simpson in the Telegraph:

A University of Oxford museum will not display an African mask because the culture which created it forbids women from seeing it.

The decision by the Pitt Rivers Museum is part of new policies in the interest of “cultural safety”.

The museum has also removed online photos of the mask made by the Igbo people in Nigeria, which would originally have been used in a male-only ritual.

Masks are a central part of Igbo culture, and some masquerade rituals carried out by men wearing the ceremonial objects are entirely male-only and carried out in secret away from female spectators.

The new policy, a first for a major British collection, comes as part of a “decolonisation process” at the Pitt Rivers Museum, which is aiming to address a collection “closely tied to British Imperial expansion”.

I am not necessarily against the curators’ decision. Most of us can think of items that are literally or metaphorically sacred to us that we would not wish to see displayed to the crowd. What I do not understand is why the desire of long-dead Igbo men to conduct certain rituals away from the female gaze is to be respected, but the desire of living British men to do the same is to be scorned.

Related post: In defence of all-{insert variable of choice} clubs

In defence of all-{insert variable of choice} clubs

The Guardian is all a-froth because the Garrick Club, one of the historic gentlemen’s clubs of London, is still, well, a club for gentlemen as opposed to ladies.

In response, the Telegraph’s William Sitwell advocates for freedom of association:

“All-male members’ clubs reflect our natural tribal desires – get over it or get your own”.

… that central charge of archaic, sexist exclusion is nonsense. First because of the idea that there is something wrong with men wanting to be in the company of other men.

It is possible to be a decent male member of society – who champions equal opportunities in the workplace, changes nappies, generally strives to be a domestic god and is (joyfully) surrounded by women and small children at home – and, at the same time, enjoy a lunch with the boys. In the same way that others might want to hang out at the golf club, or in the snooker room. Or similarly how members of the LGBTQ+ community might wish to hang out in a club or bar or pub with their folk, or players in an all-female hockey team might wish to spend an evening with each other sipping champagne in a hot tub.

Humans are tribal, gravitating towards those whom they look, act, feel and sound like. But that is not incongruous with supporting positive discrimination in society, promoting the visualisation of minorities in fashion or policing or politics.

For the values that represent you formally are not necessarily jettisoned when you’re having fun. Which is what clubs are for.

Suppressing inconvenient facts requires skill and hard work

Are you ever tempted to give the mainstream media the benefit of the doubt? After all, in many areas of life cockup is more probable than conspiracy. I can sympathise with a journalist who is told to get 500 words out about an unfamiliar subject in twenty minutes and then gets it wrong or omits important details. One must also bear in mind that many Guardian journalists, for instance, still get their news from the Guardian. Similar naivety famously led the Independent and many other newspapers worldwide to claim on the day that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted that the three men he shot were black. As pointed out by Glenn Greenwald in that tweet, all these people had “reporting on current events” in their job description, but had evidently never even glanced at the TV footage of a trial watched by millions. However they were almost certainly deceived rather than deceiving. They would not have chosen to look so stupid.

See, I am capable of sympathy. Then along comes something to remind me that though many in the MSM are merely gullible and lazy, many others put a lot of conscious, careful effort into what they do.

Here is a Guardian report by Gloria Oladipo about a church shooting in the US: “Shooter at Joel Osteen church bought weapon legally despite history of mental illness”

→ Continue reading: Suppressing inconvenient facts requires skill and hard work

Wanjiru Njoya on the feminist double standard

“The feminist double standard was born. Women could invade men’s spaces, but men could not do the reverse. Girls could play for the boys’ high school soccer team if they were good enough, but boys could not play on the girls.’”

Wanjiru Njoya is correct, and the point is general. Defend the rights of others as you would defend your own rights. Because you are defending your own rights.

Help me make an inspirational poster

Taking a Christmas break from my customary snarkiness, I mean this without irony. I would like to make one of those motivational posters with an inspirational quotation or slogan on it. The slogan would express an idea that I already believe strongly, only I have not yet found the best way to express it.

The starting point is a slogan that has many variants, but the version I saw first and like best is:

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was always yours. If it does not, it never was.”

Knowing my audience, I shall link to the demotivational version as well. It’s a quote from B.J. Novak, who was probably a ray of sunshine until he played the temp in the American version of The Office.

So, the slogan for which I reach is similar to that one (the motivational version, not Novak’s), but is about acceptance rather than love. Something like:

“If you seek acceptance, don’t demand it, ask for it. If the other person says yes, you know you are truly and freely accepted. If they say no,

Then what? I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure if it’s even a good idea to mention the consequences of the other person saying “no”. I suppose I could say “better to be aware they do not accept you than to be deceived by them feigning acceptance out of fear, which will probably lead to them stabbing you in the back whenever they get the chance”, but that one’s a bit of a downer to put on a poster. The point I really want to make is that true acceptance cannot be had if the person being asked to do the accepting does not have the option to say “no”.

The reason I seek a more pithy way to express this sentiment than anything I have come up so far is that, as I said a few years back in a post called “To knock on the door is better than booting it in”, “Like some warrior cultures of old, the grievance culture holds getting what you want by asking or peaceably trading to be fit only for slaves. The superior person does not ask for what they want; they demand it.” This attitude is culturally dominant in both senses.

I can see why this disastrous misapprehension arose. There are circumstances where the only moral course is to demand one’s just rights as rights, with not the slightest hint of pleading. But there can be no right to be accepted, just as there can be no right to be loved.

“What we do is restrict freedoms”

– Irish Green Party Chairperson Senator Pauline O’Reilly, speaking on Tuesday, 13 Jun 2023 in the Seanad Éireann debate on the second stage of Ireland’s Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022.

I transcribed the words she speaks in the clip as follows:

“When you think about it, all law, all legislation is about the restriction of freedom. That’s exactly what we are doing here, is we are restricting freedom but we are doing it for the common good. You will see that throughout our Constitution, yes, you have rights but they are restricted for the common good.

Everything needs to be balanced. If your views on other people’s identities go to make their lives unsafe, insecure and cause them such deep discomfort that they cannot live in peace, then I believe that it is our job as legislators to restrict those freedoms for the common good.”

The official record of the whole debate can be read here. Note that, just as Hansard does for speakers in the UK parliament, the Official Report of the Oireachtas presents a slightly cleaned up version of what was actually said, though not enough to change the meaning.

According to that record, just after that clip ended she made another remark which I think needs to gain wider publicity:

One cannot do and say whatever one likes in our society, which is a society governed by laws. This is very fundamental to a legislative system. It should be one of the very fundamentals for any legislators who sit in this Chamber that they understand what we do is restrict freedoms.

Senator O’Reilly is wrong by every moral measure – but on that factual point she is not wrong.

“But I think what is happening to me is important.”

I do not know what this woman is accused of. [UPDATE: Commenter John did know, and linked to this Mark Steyn interview and this Mail story from October 2022.] It is always possible that things will look different if ever we get to hear the full story – not that Surrey Police seem inclined to tell us. But if this is half as bad as it looks, Caroline Farrow is right: it is important – and frightening.

To save space, and to keep a sequential record of them in case they disappear, I have written out the rest of the tweets in her thread as bullet points. The following was written by Caroline Farrow, not me:

  • On Monday afternoon my solicitor received a bizarre communication from Surrey police solicitors. He thought it had to do with my civil claim against them.

    After some miscommunication, they sent through a bundle for a court hearing.

    I am due in court tomorrow morning.

  • The police asked that “physical paperwork” relating to the court hearing against me in 2 days, was withheld from me.

    They wanted me to go to a court hearing without access to the accusations and alleged evidence.

  • Surrey police have applied for a stalking protection order as a result of material I have posted on Twitter.

    On page 1 of the bundle repeated misgendering is cited.

    Here are the prohibitions they are seeking tomorrow morning.

  • I will be assigned an “offender manager”.

    I will not be allowed to use any Social Media, Social Networking, Gaming, Dating (lol) site without this person’s written permission and having supplied them with usernames and passwords for all sites within 3 days.

  • In addition the following requirements are added:

    1. Allow Police Officers to enter your registered address(es), between the hours of 8am and 8pm, to conduct a risk assessment, monitor devices, and manage compliance of the order

    2. Provide your Offender Manager with any mobile, digital, or internet enabled devices for examination, review, and monitoring purposes, immediately upon request. You must also your provide your Offender Manager with any access PINs, passwords, or patterns. Examinations may be completed manually on scene, or could entail them seizing your device(s) for examination by agencies contracted by the police for that purpose. Failing to disclose the existence of a device in your possession to your Offender Manager will count as a failure to comply with this condition.

  • 3. Re-register home address every 12 months at a Police Station (within 365 days of last registration).

  • 4. Provide your Offender Manager with list of all mobile, digital, or internet enabled devices that you own or have access to use. The list must be provided within three days of the order being granted or within three days of any changes.

  • The police officer says this:

    I believe that while presenting a significant interference with the respondent’s privacy rights, it is an appropriate course of action in the circumstances.

  • Signed by Surrey Police Superintendent

    “I consider that in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 8 of HRA, an interference by this force as a public authority is in accordance with the law and is necessary.”

  • I left out another condition Surrey police are asking for.

    5. Possessing, owning or using more than one mobile phone and one SIM card, unless with written permission from your Offender Manager in the area that you reside. You must provide the telephone number and unique identifying numbers of all device(s) within three days of this order being granted or within three days of and supplying any changes within 3 days of any such change.

  • Reade #MeToo

    Tara Reade, the woman who accused Joe Biden of having sexually assaulted her when she worked for him as a Congressional aide, has “defected” to Russia.

    I first noticed her direction of travel when I saw a tweet by her in praise of Vladlen Tatarsky. Plenty of people had concerns about his killing without gushing over him in the way she did. I cannot find that tweet now. It was there. Perhaps she deleted it when she read the replies. At any rate, she has now gone fully Putinite.

    And her accusation against Joe Biden should still be taken seriously by the authorities. Note that “taken seriously” does not mean “automatically believed”. #BelieveWomen is a literally prejudiced sentiment on a moral par with #BelieveWhitePeople. Nor does it mean “automatically disbelieved”. As a woman and a Putinite, Tara Reade’s report of a crime being committed against her should be taken seriously, because as an anything whatsoever anyone whatsoever should have their report of a crime taken seriously.

    The gross disproportion between the way the media lined up not merely to cover but to profess their unquestioning belief in Christine Blasey Ford’s unevidenced accusation of sexual assault against Justice Brett Kavanaugh yet refused to even look at Reade’s considerably more detailed accusation of sexual assault against Joe Biden will never be anything other than a disgrace.

    Why are some forms of surgical body modification legal and others illegal?

    “Two men admit removing body parts in ‘eunuch maker’ case”, reports the Guardian.

    Two men have admitted removing body parts of a man who is accused of carrying out castrations and broadcasting the footage on his “eunuch maker” website.

    Nathan Arnold, 48, a nurse from South Kensington, west London, admitted the partial removal of Marius Gustavson’s nipple in the summer of 2019.

    Damien Byrnes, 35, from Tottenham, north London, admitted removing Gustavson’s penis on 18 February 2017.

    Gustavson, who is originally from Norway, is said to have been the ringleader in a conspiracy involving up to 29 offences of extreme body modifications, the removal of body parts, the trade in body parts and the uploading of videos.

    Given that these people were all consenting adults, I do not understand why their actions (other than the theft of the anaesthetic) should be a criminal offence, particularly as surgical operations to remove people’s penises are legal in male to female sex change operations. Does it make a difference in principle whether the appearance aimed for when surgically removing a penis is female or eunuchoid?

    My question is not designed to provoke the reaction “Of course it should be legal to do this, just as it is legal to perform sex change operations”. Nor is it designed to provoke the reaction “Of course it should be illegal to perform sex change operations, just as it is illegal to do this.” I can see reasonable justification for saying that changing someone’s body to be like lots of other people’s bodies is much more likely to go well than changing their body to a form few others have. By “go well”, I mean be likely to increase the wellbeing of the person upon whom the operation is performed, or be less likely to decrease it, and also to go well in the same ways that any surgical operation is judged a success or a failure.

    Related earlier Samizdata posts:

    Discussion point: circumcision from October 2013.

    Discussion point: can children consent to puberty blockers? What about other drastic treatments? from October 2020.

    If you feel moved to comment, please seek neither to be offended nor to offend, and try not to get hung up by questions of terminology.

    Humza Yousaf, hoist by his own hate crime law

    “Humza Yousaf reported to police for breaking his own hate crime law”, reports Guido Fawkes with pardonable glee:

    Humza Yousaf has been reported to Police Scotland for appearing to break the Hate Crime and Public Order Act, after claiming double rapist Isla Bryson is “not a genuine trans woman” during the latest SNP leadership debate. The same Hate Crime Act introduced by… Humza Yousaf.

    Speaking during the BBC’s debate on Tuesday, Yousaf claimed:

    “Isla Bryson should not be in a woman’s prison. Isla Bryson is a rapist who’s completely at it, I don’t think they’re a genuine trans woman, I think they’re trying to play the system.”

    Not a “genuine trans woman“, although still using “they” pronouns for some reason. Regardless, Yousaf’s remarks are a criminal offence under the Hate Crime Act, which bans “threatening, abusive or insulting language… based on their protected characteristics, which include gender identity

    Mr Yousaf is presently the Health Secretary for the SNP government in Scotland, and is probably the leading candidate to replace Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the scandal-ridden Scottish National Party. Given the events of the last twenty-four hours, I wonder whether Mr Yousaf might not prefer to lose. Given that the man known as “Humza Useless” would be a useless leader of a party I despise, I am not sure whether I might not prefer him to win. He certainly deserves to lose. The following link takes you to previous Samizdata posts with Humza’s name in them, dating from his time as Scottish Justice Secretary and chief incubator of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021. Yousaf was the man who decreed that there should be no exemption for prosecution for hateful speech and conduct just because it took place in a private dwelling.