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]

To knock on the door is better than booting it in

Debbie Hayton has written an article in the Spectator in which she describes herself as a transsexual who has “undergone a meaningful gender transition supported by medical interventions.” In the article she argues against change to the Gender Recognition Act.

I do not wish to argue either for or against changing that Act. I said my piece on all that two days ago. However, I would like to highlight one particular point that Ms Hayton made:

There is danger, too, to transsexuals – albeit one which is less obvious. As a transsexual woman, I have lived alongside women for many years. My acceptance has been based not on legal mechanisms, but on trust and confidence. When transsexuals like me transition gender, most women assume we have done so to preserve our mental health and usually respond with acceptance and kindness. We have been helped by excellent role models – like Jan Morris and April Ashley – who have engendered a sense of decency and decorum.

Sadly, some campaigners in the current climate have projected a sense of entitlement and recent events – whether it be a convicted rapist sexually assaulting female prisoners or transgender athletes sweeping aside female competition in women’s sports – have inflamed the debate. If this carries on, trust and confidence will lie in tatters. Even if the government does introduce self-declaration it will be worthless if our acceptance is the collateral damage.

I have no doubt that Ms Hayton will be roundly abused by more militant transgender activists for having sought the acceptance and friendship of cisgender women. Why, it’s almost like she thinks they have the right to refuse! 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.

Added later: “Demand” is putting it mildly for some transgender activists. By following a chain of links I have come across a website called “TERF is a slur”. Its strapline is “Documenting the abuse, harassment and misogyny of transgender identity politics.” The website consists simply of screenshots of social media posts by transgender people expressing their hostility to “TERFS”, i.e. Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists. The tweets are astonishingly violent. I don’t for a moment think that this behaviour is typical of transgender people, but nor do I see this stream of threats of death and rape coming from the other side.

When the pot is boiling over, try turning down the heat

I am told that one of the ways Libertarians irritate normal people is by their attitude that there is a simple answer for so many of the political dilemmas that vex society.

Suck it up, normies, there is. There is certainly a simple answer for the political dilemma about which the Times is asking in this Readers’ poll: “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women-only spaces?” The rubric says,

The government is consulting on a reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Currently the law allows people to gain legal recognition for a change of gender, but some transgender groups say the process is bureaucratic and intrusive and are pushing for a change that will allow anyone to freely choose their gender.

This is opposed by a number of women’s rights groups, which say the change would give men access to female-only spaces such as lavatories and changing rooms, putting women in danger.

The equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, will consider whether to reform the law after the consultation ends on October 19 — but as The Sunday Times reports, many Conservative MPs are opposed to any change.

What’s your view?

You doubtless want to hear the result of the poll. I will tell you by and by, but for now I will exercise my freedom to irritate, and reiterate that the simple answer to the political dilemma is to take politics, in the sense of laws voted into existence by MPs like Penny Mordaunt and then enforced by the police and the Equalities Commission and suchlike, entirely out of the equation. Freedom of association for all! But what about bad people? What about Nazis? Yes, them too. If Nazis own or legitimately hire a space to do their Nazi stuff in, leave them to it. Don’t want to hire your hall to Nazis? Then don’t. Want to boycott any premises that lets Nazis in – or any that keeps Nazis out? Then do so.

Between groups of people who are not bad but among whom there are differences of opinion, try negotiation. It doesn’t have to be a million separate negotiations for every individual village hall or public lavatory, or for every women’s sporting competition or Brownie pack; there are such things as organisations and organisational policies. Not that there is anything wrong with having a great many separate local deals. This is called “subsidarity”.

Many fear that this radical strategy would give free rein to the worst instincts of the people. I don’t get it. To get into the habit of settling disputes by meeting the other party and peacefully trying to reach a compromise sounds a great deal more likely to give free rein to the best instincts of the people. Humans are nicer when not being threatened. Conversely when they suspect that in their relations with another group that, as the saying goes, “if you give them an inch they’ll take a mile” – then they won’t give an inch.

The other day I read this post from Econlog entitled “Tradeoffs Between Immigration and Reduced Freedom of Association”. Key quote:

The more that people’s freedom not to associate with others is reined in, especially when those others are people of different races, the less likely they are to favor immigration and, even if they never favored immigration, the more likely they are to be outspoken opponents of immigration.

Race is not the only category this applies to. Have you noticed how people who five years ago would have thought a transwoman was a lady from Transylvania now see transsexuals and/or transgender people as a threat? Have you also noticed how discussion of this issue is another pot beginning to boil over to use the metaphor of my earlier post. So far the lid is being held down. One word out of place on this topic can get you into trouble. But the pressure keeps rattling the pot, with jets of steam coming from such unlikely members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy as users of Mumsnet, members of the Labour party and Lesbians at a Pride march.

I voted “No” in that Times poll. As so often with me and polls I did not agree with the premises of the question. Other people freely choosing the gender is none of my business. I do not support or oppose a change in the criteria for legal recognition for a change of gender; I support tearing up all the laws on this subject and setting them on fire. Still my answer to the question “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women-only spaces?” was closer to “No” than “Yes”.

5,068 votes have been cast so far in the poll. 97% of them were “No”. Of course it is a self-selecting sample from readers of one newspaper. Do not read too much into it. But you probably should read something into it. That is a strikingly high level of disapproval of a Conservative government’s proposed policy from the readers of a Conservative-leaning newspaper.

The dog park paper

Some epic, god-level trolling has occurred. A group of left-wing academics (about whom Jonathan wrote below, as did Libertarian Home) became concerned that *extreme* left wing politics was getting in the way of certain kinds of sociology research. They submitted ridiculous papers to test the level of critical thinking of the editors and reviewers of certain kinds of journals.

The dog park paper is very entertaining. It was published in a journal called Gender, Place and Culture.

The data suggest that the deciding variable for whether or not a human would interfere in a dog’s rape/humping incident was the dog’s gender. When a male dog was raping/humping another male dog, humans attempted to intervene 97% of the time. When a male dog was raping/humping a female dog, humans only attempted to intervene 32% of the time.

The Twitter account Real Peer Review called out the article when it was published, before they knew it was a spoof. They are now posting commentary on the peer review of the paper.

It is all highly amusing. It is also useful, both to reveal the silliness of the silly ideas, and to understand the evil of them. In the video, James A. Lindsay explains:

There’s this kind of religious architecture in their mind where privilege is sin. Privilege is evil. And then they’ve identified education as the place where it has to be fixed. So you can come up with these really nasty arguments, like ‘let’s put white kids in chains on the floor at school as an educational opportunity’. And if you frame it in terms of overcoming privilege, and you frame their resistance — that they won’t want this to happen to them, that they would complain about this — in terms of ‘oh they only complain about that because they’re privileged and they can’t handle it because their privilege made them weak.’: then it’s right in.

Incidentally, this author is not surprised that “women’s and gender studies, feminist studies, race studies, sexuality studies, fat studies, queer studies, cultural studies, and sociology” are prone to politicisation. It is much harder to politicise bridge building and electronic circuit design.

Addendum: From the NYT article about this:

“What strikes me about stunts like this is their fundamental meanness,” Sean Carroll, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, wrote on Twitter. “No attempt to intellectually engage with ideas you disagree with; just trolling for lulz.”

Jacob T. Levy, a political theorist at McGill University in Montreal, said in an interview that even some colleagues who are not fans of identity-oriented scholarship are looking at the hoax and saying “this is potentially unethical and doesn’t show what they think it is showing.”

Besides, he added, “We all recognize that this kind of thing could also be done in our disciplines if people were willing to dedicate a year to it.”

No. You can’t troll a physics journal for lulz. I propose that the usefulness of your school of thought is in inverse proportion to its susceptibility to being trolled for lulz. Attempting the latter is a way to measure the former.

The system will be brought down by its internal contradictions

“Mr Corbyn also suggested a series of proposals for the BBC, including publishing the social class of ‘all creators of BBC content, whether in-house or external'”, reports the BBC, trembling.

That would be fun to watch, but what is to stop the Beebourgeoisie, middle class to the tips of their Shiatsu-massaged toes, from foiling the plan by self-identifying as proletarians?

Watching the debate on self-identification within the Left is like watching a long fuse slowly burning down towards a time-bomb. Though nicer. As things stand this week:

Gender – completely a matter of choice and how dare you say chromosomes. Voluntary efforts to eradicate sexism having failed, compulsory quotas for females must be imposed by the power of the State. But anyone who wants to be included in the quota only has to ask.

Race – is nothing but an oppressive social construct. To cease participating in this oppressive and delusionary social construct is forbidden.

Class – They called it “Catch BBC”. You started working class, worked like mad, finally got a soft job, which made you middle class, so in the interests of social mobility they won’t hire you again. Edit: Or your kids. But their re-impoverished kids will be favoured. Social oscillation, the wave (geddit?) of the future!

What side do I take on all these controversies? None. I’m for freedom of association. It is so restful.

Samizdata quote of the day

It is not obviously progressive to insist that equal numbers of men and women work eighty-hour weeks in a corporate law firm or leave their families for months at a time to dodge steel pipes on a frigid oil platform. And it is grotesque to demand (as advocates of gender parity did in the pages of Science) that more young women “be conditioned to choose engineering,” as if they were rats in a Skinner box.

– Steven Pinker

I found it here. He found it here. He read it here. Go manlinking!

More recently, see also Pinker‘s remarkable Galapagos photos.

Conservation of prohibitionism

July 1st 2018:

Jeremy Corbyn backs calls to decriminalise possession of cannabis

Jeremy Corbyn said he would like to see the possession of cannabis to be decriminalised as he backed calls for the drug to be used for medicinal purposes.

July 10th 2018:

Corbyn backs Nordic Model to tackle sexual exploitation

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn declared his full support for Britain to look at changing our prostitution laws by criminalising the purchase of sex, also referred to as the ‘Nordic model’.

Me, too?

Canada’s second generation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in a spot of bother.

The Guardian reports, “Justin Trudeau ‘does not remember’ groping reporter at festival”.

Justin Trudeau has publicly addressed allegations that he groped a reporter at an event 18 years ago, saying he does not recall any “negative interactions” taking place that day.

Which is only to be expected, given it was eighteen years ago. After such a long time it is surely unfair to drag up an unproven accusation from way back to blacken a man’s name now… Except that is exactly what the tousle-headed heartthrob of 24 Sussex Drive did to others.

The Canadian National Post has two good articles on the subject. Firstly,

Andrew Coyne: Trudeau has to say something about groping accusation. Yet what can he say?

If he confessed “I did it. It was a fleeting moment of madness for which I apologized at the time, and which I regret today,” that would not be the worst thing in the world, assuming no other cases emerged. Except that, having famously established, with great fanfare, a zero tolerance policy for his party and himself in such matters, with no statute of limitations, he would then have to explain why he should not have to pay the same price that others have had to pay for similar offences.

But what if he did not do it? Well, judging from the way Trudeau has treated others, that should make no difference. According to a second article in the National Post:

Joe Oliver: Groping allegations snare Justin Trudeau in a trap he created himself

As a self-proclaimed feminist, Justin Trudeau mandated a gender-equal cabinet and repeatedly proclaimed his devotion to women’s rights. He dealt ruthlessly with two Liberal members of Parliament who were accused of inappropriate behaviour by unnamed members of the NDP caucus. Without warning, the accused were booted from the Liberal caucus at an open meeting. They were not provided any information about the allegations against them, any chance to defend themselves or even to inform their spouses before their simultaneous show trial and sentence went public. In an instant, political careers were eviscerated and reputations in tatters.

The price of the presumption of guilt can be heavier even than that. In not unrelated news, remember “Nick”, the man whose accusations of every crime from sexual abuse to murder against the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor among many others were infamously described as “credible and true” by Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald without the formality of a trial?

Man who said he was victim of VIP child sexual abuse ring charged

The man who claimed to have been the victim of a VIP child sexual abuse and murder ring has been charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.

The claims from “Nick” led to Scotland Yard’s disastrous Operation Midland investigation. He is charged over false claims of child sexual abuse and child killings.

The Crown Prosecution Service said on Tuesday it had authorised the series of criminal charges against the 50-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The claims led to the Met investigating public figures including the former military chief Lord Bramall, the former home secretary Leon Brittan and the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor.

One charge against Nick relates to Proctor and accuses him of “doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, in that he made a false allegation of witnessing the child homicide of an unnamed boy committed by Mr Harvey Proctor”.

Enlightened modern practice

“GP accused of paedophilia by ‘fantasist’ loses fight for costs” reports the Times. I have put phrases from the following excerpt from the Times article that seemed particularly striking in bold type.

A retired GP accused by a “serial fantastist” of being part of a paedophile ring was told yesterday he would not be reimbursed for £94,000 in legal costs he incurred before the case collapsed.

Stephen Glascoe, from Cardiff, spent most of his savings preparing his defence. The woman who made unproven allegations against him and others has won £22,000 in “criminal injuries” compensation and has asked for more.

Several cases have collapsed in recent months after the Crown Prosecution Service ordered a review of evidence in all serious sexual offence allegations.

Charges against Dr Glascoe and four other men were dropped in January, two weeks before their trial was due to start, after concerns about the alleged victim’s evidence and her relationship with her therapist and the police officer who had led the investigation.

Dr Glascoe, 67, who was not entitled to legal aid because of his savings, spent more than £100,000 on lawyers and expert witnesses. He will receive only £7,280 from the Legal Aid Board and no contribution to the cost of his barrister.

The complainant received £22,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after contacting South Wales police in 2012 but later refused to co-operate with the investigation.

She spoke to police again in 2016 with more allegations about being abused at parties between the ages of three and 15. She said she had a pregnancy forcibly aborted and had been made to take part in torturing other children. She has applied for more compensation.

Christopher Clee, QC, applied at Cardiff crown court yesterday for Dr Glascoe to have all his costs reimbursed on the ground that the charges were the result of an “improper act or omission” by the prosecution. The prosecution should have been alerted, he said, to the poor credibility of the alleged victim by notes from 229 counselling sessions, which included “regression work”, and her improperly close relationship with the investigating detective.

Mr Clee said the notes made clear that the therapist “had exceeded any professional boundaries” and given the woman the idea that she had been raped by five men. Prosecutors had demanded to see the therapy notes before deciding whether to charge, but a senior police officer urged them to take a “victim-centric position”, he said.

Catherine Richards, for the prosecution, said the case was dropped over “considerable concern” about the detective, and because a jury might consider that there had been a “mirror of the undue influence” by the alleged victim on the officer and her therapist.

Judge Thomas Crowther attributed the collapse of the case to “dynamite” evidence that the complainant had lied about an Amazon package she claimed had been ordered by her abusers.

The judge dismissed the application for Dr Glascoe’s costs, saying he would have to prove that no reasonable prosecutor could have decided to bring charges. The decision had been “in line with enlightened modern practice”, he said.

It was certainly in line with modern justice as practised by the Enlightened.

Samizdata quote of the day

We are in the midst of a revolution in our understanding of sexual harassment and assault. We’re told, as we are often told in the midst of media-driven manias, that everything has really changed this time. As satisfying as this narrative might be for feminists on the warpath against “toxic masculinity” and conservatives who revile the sexual libertinism of the past half-century in America, it isn’t true. As long as men and women are thrown together in the workplace—and are placed in competition with each other—sex will, in part, be a means to achieve power, a weapon wielded by both men and women. The question is what we can do to mitigate the damage. The record so far—and by so far, I mean over the past four decades—is not encouraging.

Christine Rosen, Commentary Magazine.

The state is not the sex worker’s friend

These new disintermediated internet marketplaces can have interesting effects.

Last month, MPs launched an inquiry into the apparent rise of so-called “pop-up” or temporary brothels. The phenomenon, where sex workers use Airbnb, hotels, or short-term holiday lets as a work base, has caused concern among politicians and the police.

It is not all good news, though:

But the pressure to make back the cost of the hotel meant she ended up booking clients she would not otherwise have seen. “There’s something – for me anyway – that felt quite bleak about rocking up in a hotel,” she said: “You get a ‘spidey sense’ and you’re like ‘I’m not sure about this one’… you do end up taking more risks.”

Apart from cost, there are other advantages to setting up a more permanent shop:

With CCTV and a panic alarm, she says the more permanent setup means she has better security measures: “I honestly can’t imagine working any other way now and it astounds me that what we’re doing is technically illegal.”

Reducing risks from clients brings more risk from state interference.

“At the moment, I have absolutely no trust in the police whatsoever,” she says. “You can literally go from being the victim, to being the criminal in a matter of minutes.”

Is it time to end the war on some consensual sex?

Never mind Damian Green, do you want the cops to have this power over you?

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has threatened to resign if Damian Green (the First Secretary of State, effectively Deputy Prime Minister) is sacked unfairly. Why, you may ask, is Davis – a Brexiteer – willing to put Theresa May’s already shaky government at risk for the sake of a Remainer like Green?

The Guardian link above explains it better than I can:

The Brexit secretary believes his cabinet colleague is the victim of a police vendetta and made it clear to Theresa May that he would be willing to leave the government if he felt Green had been unfairly treated.

The threat emerged only hours after a former Metropolitan police detective came forward with fresh claims implying that Green himself had been viewing pornography found on his workplace computer when police raided his Commons office in November 2008.

Green was a shadow Home Office minister at the time and was under investigation because he had received a series of sensitive Home Office leaks. He denies viewing pornography on his parliamentary computer.

At the time, the Conservatives were fighting some of the Labour government’s law and order measures on libertarian grounds and Davis was a strong backer of Green’s work.

Mark Wallace of Conservative Home writes,

Whether Green did what is alleged or not, the behaviour of the police in his case is appalling

Lewis is speaking out because he disapproves of what he claims he found. But on what authority is that his job, his responsibility, or his right? He gained access to that computer as a police officer, not as a self-appointed moral arbiter. The powers granted to police officers are given on the condition that they use them for specific purposes only. He was meant to be looking for evidence of crimes, not legal things which he could tut about. Separate to whether the Cabinet Office finds his or Green’s account to be true, is this really how we want former police officers to behave? If the police were to search your home or office or person, but fail to find evidence of any crime, is it acceptable that years down the line the officers involved could publicly embarrass you by claiming they found legal pornography, or anything else legal that they personally find morally icky? That’s an awful precedent, which would harm trust in the police and worry a lot of innocent people that private information might be being held over them. In a society under the rule of law we should all have a right to expect that the police do their job, but do not exploit their professional positions for personal grandstanding or moralising at a later date.

I took a look inside the College of Policing Code of Ethics: A Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales.

Under “Standard of Professional Behaviour” section 3.1.7, “Confidentiality”, it said:

I will treat information with respect, and access or disclose it only in the proper course of my duties.

7.1
According to this standard you must:
• be familiar with and abide by the data protection principles described in the Data Protection Act 1998
• access police-held information for a legitimate or authorised policing purpose only
• not disclose information, on or off duty, to unauthorised recipients
• understand that by accessing personal data without authorisation you could be
committing a criminal offence, regardless of whether you then disclose that personal data.

Do we want to set the precedent that if in the course of a search a police officer finds evidence of behaviour that is legal but frowned upon they can make it public?

Some things look better in hindsight

Back in March US Vice-President Mike Pence was mocked from all sides. According to Olga Khazan in the Atlantic:

In a recent, in-depth Washington Post profile of Karen Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, a small detail is drawing most of the attention: “In 2002, Mike Pence told The Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”

The article went on to say that:

Pence is not the only powerful man in Washington who goes to great lengths to avoid the appearance of impropriety with the opposite sex. An anonymous survey of female Capitol Hill staffers conducted by National Journal in 2015 found that “several female aides reported that they have been barred from staffing their male bosses at evening events, driving alone with their congressman or senator, or even sitting down one-on-one in his office for fear that others would get the wrong impression.” One told the reporter Sarah Mimms that in 12 years working for her previous boss, he “never took a closed door meeting with me. … This made sensitive and strategic discussions extremely difficult.”

In conclusion, Ms Khazan argued that:

Without access to beneficial friendships and mentor relationships with executive men, women won’t be able to close the gender gap that exists in most professions.

I am not convinced that there is a gender gap, but that is a subject for another post. Ms Khazan made a fair point about mentoring, and her tone was reasonable. Ashley Csanady of Canada’s National Post, not so much:

Ashley Csanady: Mike Pence’s evangelical refusal to lunch with ladies is easy to mock. It’s also rape culture at work

At its core, Pence’s self-imposed ban is rape culture.

Nor is that a label I assign lightly. “Rape culture” is a phrase so overused it’s become almost meaningless, like calling someone a Nazi on the internet. But it has a very clear meaning: the notion, whether conscious or unconscious, that men can’t control themselves around women because “boys will be boys.”

The explicit reasons for Pence’s restriction are religion and family, but the implicit reason is that he must avoid alone-time with women lest his stringent religious moral code fall apart in the presence of a little lipstick and décolletage. That is rape culture.

Given that the list of men accused of sexual misconduct since Harvey Weinstein is growing like a beanstalk, and a great many of these men were loud in their scorn for the “puritanism” of Pence and all like him, Ms Csanady and a few others might like to re-evaluate their earlier remarks. I am not saying it is necessary to behave like Pence in order to avoid behaving like Weinstein. But it does seem that Ms Csanady might have been looking in the wrong place for rape culture.