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]

Sorry mate, I can’t afford to risk giving you a job

The BBC reports that the Labour Party now says, “Give workers full rights from day one.”

Workers should be given “full” employment rights from day one, Labour has said as it announces plans to “fundamentally change the economy”.

Currently some rights – such as being able to request flexible working – only kick in at a later stage.

This would fundamentally change the economy all right. No more probationary periods. No more casual employment of the sort which survey after survey shows most casual employees value for the freedom it gives them. In Labour’s brave new world if you employ someone for one day, you will be stuck with them. In that case, you had better be very sure before you take anyone on. An end, then, to giving someone outside the usual pool of recruits a chance to prove themselves. The safe course for employers will be to avoid hiring women (who might clock in on day one and clock off for paid maternity leave on day two), to avoid hiring young people (who have not had a chance to establish a record of steadiness), to avoid hiring anyone with the slightest blemish on their record, or whose class or race might make them statistically risky, and to stick with employing people who they can size up on little evidence, which again usually means their own ethnic group. There is no need to assume actual racism or class hatred, just the universal human tendency to behave defensively when the cost of making a mistake is very high.

Will Labour also get rid of cooling off periods for people who make major purchases?

Or how about applying the same rules to sex? We know that a set of laws that forbid the very existence of casual sexual relationships can be stable: that was the system enforced for centuries in the West and still is in many parts of the world now. Hence the the saying “marry in haste, repent at leisure”. The aim of those rules is to force all sexual relationships to be permanent, or at the very least difficult to dissolve. They generally succeed in that aim, although there are unintended consequences. While I am all for voluntary fidelity in marriage, legal enforcement of a “marriage or nothing” system results in many more incels, old maids, and people stuck in destructive marriages. I see no reason why rules to discourage casual employment should not work in a similar manner to rules which discourage casual sex. Is that what the Labour party wants?

Samizdata quote of the day

I didn’t look too closely when in 2015 a Conservative administration proposed changing the law on gender recognition. A few trans people want more easily to get official confirmation for the new gender they have become? Well, I thought, that’s probably OK. No skin off any part of me.

Then the issue appeared to morph into a different kind of conflict. It had clearly somewhere along the line become impermissible for those who thought that there was something ineluctable about biological sex to say so. It wasn’t whether they were correct or mistaken on the subject that was in question, but their right even to express their view.

A recognisably totalitarian declension seemed to be being imposed: if you said biological sex was real then you argued with the ability of someone who felt they should be the other sex to simply assert that uncontested. That meant you were denying their “existence” as the new sex. Which was tantamount to denying their existence as a human being. Which was close to saying you wanted them and everyone like them dead. Which is the kind of thing the Nazis did. So you’re a Nazi. And we can’t let Nazis publish Nazi thoughts in books. Or speak at universities, or sully our public spaces with their terrible prejudice.

Here I drew the line. I saw people I knew being bullied and harassed for having an opinion on biological sex (actually the majority opinion on biological sex), and even if I didn’t know whether I agreed with them, I knew that was wrong. …

David Aaronovitch in the Times (£), writing about this book by Helen Joyce, quoted by and commented upon by Mick Hartley (not £).

It was a bad career move to be the first one to object

“Parents’ disgust as Labour council hires actor in rainbow coloured monkey costume with fake penis and nipples to appear at library event encouraging children to read”, reports the Daily Mail.

Parents have voiced their disgust after a Labour council hired an actor in a rainbow-coloured monkey costume with a fake penis and nipples to appear at a library event for children.

The Redbridge Libraries Summer Reading Challenge run by Redbridge Council in east London set up the event but the library has since apologised for the ‘inappropriate’ costume.

A full investigation has also been launched by the council to get to the bottom of how taxpayers’ money was used to hire the actors.

Labour councillor Jas Athwal has apologised and tweeted: ‘I was appalled by the incident in Redbridge Libraries on Saturday.

‘Completely inappropriate and deeply offensive performers were hired by independent contractor Vision who manage Redbridge libraries and leisure centres.

So it was just a mistake, then? The actors’ agency mixed up the booking for the children’s library with the one for the Pride parade? Not quite. Early complainers were blocked on twitter and told off for “lecturing”. It seems the same performers in the same costumes have appeared in other libraries. The Labour council can repeat the words “independent contractor” all they want but nobody is under the impression that this would be equally likely to happen under a Conservative council. The SNP, however…

I was haunted by one of the pictures in the Mail story that shows a woman in a burka walking by in the street while the rainbow monkey man moons her. He thinks performance, she thinks insult. I do not think that woman is likely to take her kid to the next Summer Reading Challenge. That is a pity: it concerns me that so many British Muslim children do not read well. However my opinions about rainbow monkey man strutting his stuff in the public street are difficult to summarise and are not the topic of this post. I talked about some of the friction that arises when groups with very different mores exert their right to parade in a post from two years ago called ‘If you want Pride you must allow the cry of “Shame!”’ which concerned events in Walthamstow, which like nearby Redbridge has a substantial Muslim population.

What I wanted to talk about this time related more to the events in the library, specifically the question asked on Twitter by Janice Turner of the Times: “I would really love a detailed breakdown of the commissioning process whereby Redbridge council commissioned the Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey as a means to teach children to read.” How did this happen? Why did no one question it? Someone looked up Mandinga Arts on the internet and ticked the box saying yes they want that costume for an event aimed at children of primary school age. The actor got into said costume, arranged his dildo, and set off for the library. Did someone direct him to the children’s section? At the library the staff no doubt shuffled their feet a bit (the staff member at the earlier event at Exeter library seemed to have been taken aback by the full frontal) but so far as I can tell the eventual complaint came from a parent, not a librarian, despite the fact that it should have been obvious that many of the ethnic minority and working class parents and children libraries say they want to reach most would be repelled by this. No one spoke up. Why not?

My guess as to the answer is the title of this post.

Stealthing

Olivia Petter has written two articles for the Sunday Times about her experience of being “stealthed” that have generated much discussion. She explains the term as follows, “What happened to me, and the other women I heard from, is known colloquially as “stealthing”. It’s a term used to describe the act of removing a condom without a partner’s consent.”

The first article was published on June 27th: “I saw the condom on the floor – and realised I’d been ‘stealthed'”

Extract:

That’s when I noticed the condom lying on the floor. “Oh yeah, I wasn’t wearing it when I came,” he said, strolling back into the bedroom naked. “You should probably get the morning-after pill.”

I was sexually assaulted that day, though I didn’t know it at the time. Stealthing, as it’s colloquially known, is a crime in England. It is recognised by the Crown Prosecution Service as an example of a “conditional consent” case, whereby consent is granted under conditions that are then vitiated: I had consented to having protected sex with Sam, not unprotected sex.

Her second article appears in today’s Sunday Times: “Recognising being ‘stealthed’ as rape is shocking. After my story, women wanted to talk”

Discussing the reaction to her earlier article, Ms Petter writes,

There is nothing ambiguous about sexual assault – consent is either violated or it isn’t – but I’ve found that there tends to be a lot of ambiguity surrounding it. There are currently more than 260 online comments underneath my piece, and they’re mostly between people debating what does and does not constitute rape. One woman explained she felt that referring to stealthing as rape “dilutes” the experiences of others who may not have consented to any form of sexual contact. Others concurred that it “diminishes” other people’s experiences, while one person wrote that Sam deserved “a good sound thrashing”, but that calling his actions “rape” devalued the word’s definition.

I felt the above passage was a fair reflection of the two main strands of opinion in the comments, two strands that are not entirely in opposition to each other. All agree that as described, the behaviour of “Sam” was despicable and did violate Ms Petter’s consent.

But was it rape?

It depends what you mean by rape. That answer is not a cop-out. It is the only possible answer to that sort of definitional question, which is why that sort of question will be debated forever. It would do more good to ask something more specific like “Should it fall under the definition of rape in law?”

By the way, another question that can never be settled is whether transgender women really are women. It depends how you define the word “woman”. It often seems to me that there would be more scope for respectful compromise if people could agree to differ on the definition and get down to questions of what to do in difficult cases.

Returning to Olivia Petter’s article, I felt she lost her way in the next paragraph after the one I quoted above. She writes,

This debate highlights one of the key problems with regards to how we talk about sexual assault: that there is a spectrum of experiences, with “extreme” stories on one end, and ones that are somehow “lesser” on the other. It perpetuates the idea that some assaults are more worthy of our attention than others. Not only does this ignore the fact that sexual trauma of any kind can have lasting consequences for survivors, but it’s the very thing that stops people like Jess, Sally and myself from feeling like they have the right to say they’ve been raped when, under UK law, they have. And, as I know all too well, grappling with that feeling alongside sexual trauma can be incredibly isolating and, in some instances, means that the perpetrator is more likely to be vindicated, which may enable them to assault someone else.

Of course there is a spectrum of seriousness. Of course some experiences of sexual assault are extreme and some lesser – while still bad. Of course some assaults are more worthy of our attention than others. The most serious sexual assaults are most worthy of our attention, and the police’s attention, and the attention of judges, and the attention of those who provide support to victims, and the attention of lawmakers, and sociologists, and teachers, and parents, and media commentators, and of the public… and none of this in any way excuses the perpetrators or disrespects the victims of less extreme but still despicable violations of consent.

Ribbons tied in a bow

Eight days ago I posted about Marion Millar of Airdrie, Scotland, who was summoned to a police station for a compulsory interview over allegations that she had posted homophobic and transphobic tweets.

She has now been charged.

“Activist Marion Millar charged with sending homophobic and transphobic tweets”, reports the Times.

Marion Millar, 50, from Airdrie, was charged under the Malicious Communications Act for tweets published in 2019 and 2020. If convicted she faces up to two years in prison.

The messages investigated by officers are understood to include a retweeted photograph of a bow of ribbons in the green, white and purple colours of the Suffragettes, tied around a tree outside the Glasgow studio where a BBC soap opera is shot.

It is one at least six tweets reported to Police Scotland. The nature of the others is unclear. Millar, who owns an accountancy business, was bailed to appear at Glasgow sheriff court on July 20.

Her supporters said that the prosecution was an attack on the rights of women to express themselves.

Added later: The Times has turned off the comments to its account of the Marion Millar case, presumably for fear of committing contempt of court, so the readers have taken to making veiled allusions to it when commenting on other stories in the paper’s Scotland section.

A couple of the Scottish papers have also reported on the case:

Feminist campaigner charged with ‘hate crime’ – Tom Gordon in the Herald.

Woman charged with malicious communication over ‘transphobic’ tweet – Gina Davidson in the Scotsman.

The point is that anyone can do this to anyone

Don’t like what someone says on social media? Don’t worry, with just one phone call you can arrange for whoever said it to have to tell their autistic kids that mummy has to go away and doesn’t know when she’ll be allowed to come back.

“I can’t sleep, says accountant Marion Millar in trans tweet row”, reports the Times.

Marion Millar, an accountant from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, was told to report to a police station over allegations that she had posted “homophobic and transphobic” tweets.

Her account of her ordeal has been viewed by millions of people on social media. Millar, who works for For Women Scotland (FWS), a feminist group, wrote: “On April 28 I received a call from a PC Laura Daley from Police Scotland requesting I attend an interview under the malicious communications act. She told me I had to attend East Kilbride police station so I could be then transported to Cathcart station in a police car because I would have to go to a station where there are holding cells.”

Millar was told that social workers would be sent to look after her young twin boys, who are autistic, while she was questioned.

“This nonsense has been hanging over my head for a month,” she said. “I still don’t know what the offending tweet is. Anyone who knows me knows I am not homophobic or transphobic. ”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “We received two complaints regarding comments made on social media, enquiries into this are ongoing.”

To comply with human rights legislation interviews have to take place at a station with custody suites, which East Kilbride does not have.

I cannot but admire the elegance of using the supposed protections offered by human rights legislation into a vehicle for twisting the knife a little more. Shame if you aren’t allowed to return home, love. But don’t worry, we have a nice custody suite.

Some of you might think this is an example of what a oppressive place Scotland is becoming now that the Hate Crime (Scotland) Bill has been passed. If so, you are wrong. It is an example of what an oppressive place Scotland already is under existing law. Ms Millar was summoned for offences under the Malicious Communications Act. And before English, Welsh or Northern Irish readers feel superior, let me say that as far as I know that same 1988 Act applies to the whole of the UK. As I said in a post from 2012 called “The kraken wakes”, despite its obvious potential for oppression, for the first twenty years or so of its existence the Malicious Communications Act 1988 did not seem to do much harm … but you are not safe just because a monster sleeps.

The Streisand-Challenor effect

On the evening of the 22nd March, visitors to the main UK politics subreddit, /r/ukpolitics found a mysterious message saying that the subreddit, which has nearly 400,000 members, had been set to “private” by its own volunteer moderators.

It was the beginning of a cascade. The lights are going off all over Reddit! Subreddit after subreddit was set to private in sympathy with /r/ukpolitics. Most of them dealt with topics unrelated to politics. At its peak the wave of protest closures affected subreddits collectively having tens of millions of members all over the world.

To understand why this protest against Reddit by its own users gained such traction, we need to go back to the 8th of March when the Spectator published an article by its unlikeliest new writer, the radical left wing “gender critical” feminist Julie Bindel, called “The Green party’s woman problem”. It contained the lines,

The formidable feminist author and journalist Bea Campbell, a former Green party candidate, resigned from the party last year after being disciplined, in part for refusing to keep quiet about the shocking and disturbing Aimee Challenor case.

That brief reference to “the Aimee Challenor case” was to have dramatic consequences. A hyperlink on the word “case” linked in turn to this Independent article dated 13 January 2019:

Aimee Challenor: Green star failed to properly alert party of father’s child rape charges Independent investigation found transgender activist only alerted two colleagues in ‘informal’ Facebook message

Having parted ways with the Greens, Aimee Challenor joined the Liberal Democrats. Once again her association with the party ended as a result of child safeguarding issues related to someone with whom she lived. This time it was her fiancé Nathaniel Knight. He claims his twitter account was hacked.

A point to note: these events were widely reported. Given a prompt about a person who had left both the Greens and the Lib Dems under a cloud, anyone who follows UK political news would probably be able to dig up her name in half a dozen keystrokes.

Getting back to the main story, at about quarter to eleven on the morning of the 23rd, the ukpolitics subreddit reappeared. It now carried the following announcement:

→ Continue reading: The Streisand-Challenor effect

The Hate Crime (Scotland) Bill is due to pass tonight

In the (Glasgow) Herald, Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf writes,

New Hate Crime Bill extends protection of people

Odd headline. Make that some people.

This week Parliament will consider further amendments to the Hate Crime Bill before a final vote on our proposed reforms

By “Parliament” Mr Yousaf means the one with him in it, i.e. the Scottish Parliament. The SNP love this rhetorical trick of pretending the Scottish Parliament is the only one of any relevance to Scotland. Wishing this to be so is a perfectly legitimate goal, but pretending it is already so is premature. Of course all the Scottish people have to do to ensure that the Parliament with Mr Yousaf in it becomes the sole decider of what laws they live under is carry on voting for Mr Yousaf’s party in the numbers they now do.

The new Bill will modernise and consolidate hate crime law and provide clarity. It brings together various piecemeal additions and changes to the law made over time, while also recognising the need to clamp down further on this all too pervasive, damaging behaviour.

As a person of colour the law has protected me, for the last 35 years, from anyone stirring up hatred against me due to my race.

The law cannot have done a very good job of protection, given that he said in the previous paragraph that hate crime was “pervasive”, and that he complains a few paras down about all the hate he receives.

This Bill now extends that protection to people in relation to their age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or variation of sex characteristics (previously known as intersex).

The legislation has come a long way. As Parliament has been considering the detail of the Bill the Government has listened – making changes and reflecting on concerns to improve a piece of powerful legislation that I believe is fitting of the Scotland we live in.

That being the Scotland where race hate crime is pervasive.

Robust Parliamentary scrutiny has been essential to the process.

Concerns over the impact that stirring up hatred offences could have on freedom of expression were raised. And these have been listened to and are being acting upon. We have made a number of significant changes already, including ensuring that any successful prosecution for the new offences must prove that the person intended to stir up hatred. We have also inserted a “reasonable person test” to clarify that when determining if behaviour is “threatening or abusive” an objective test is applied.

By “we” Mr Yousaf means that the SNP reluctantly accepted one amendment from the Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins. That link takes you to a Guardian article that also notes that “Tomkins and fellow Conservative Liam Kerr failed to secure an amendment that they argued would protect disagreements, for example, at the family dinner table.”

Mr Yousaf continues,

The Justice Committee has offered critical scrutiny and recently held constructive discussions on a freedom of expression clause that would further protect everyone’s right to freedom of speech.

You don’t say whether these discussions led to any action, Mr Yousaf. Hint: they didn’t. His only reason for cooing about how constructive the discussions were is to conceal the fact that the this clause that would theoretically further protect everyone’s right to freedom of speech was not actually constructed, just talked about.

I am confident that our proposed amendment on this now strikes the right balance between protecting groups targeted by hate crime and respecting people’s rights to free speech.

A number of national Women’s Organisations, such as Scottish Women’s Aid, Engender and Rape Crisis Scotland have raised concerns over the inclusion of a Sex Aggravator.

I’m not surprised. They should never have let a Sex Aggravator sit on a parliamentary committee. → Continue reading: The Hate Crime (Scotland) Bill is due to pass tonight

The mask slips

In today’s Sunday Times Camilla Long has a slight but amusing piece called “Jeffrey Toobin is caught with his pants down and he’s the victim? That’s a touch too much”. I realise that this audience would have little interest in the doings of the titular Toobin-

Oh, all right. Here it is:

If you thought the weak, the poor, the sick and the elderly had it bad during Covid, you might like to consider a new and extremely vulnerable and at-risk minority group: bored, rich, horny alpha males between the ages of 50 and 70 who have been shut away in their luxury triplexes with not a single sexy secretary or waitress to perve over.

In normal times these poor and lonely red-blooded millionaires wouldn’t go five minutes without putting their hands down their own pants or someone else’s — but now they must do everything for themselves, including, disastrously, setting up and managing Zoom calls.

My heart goes out, for example, to “the Tiger Woods of legal journalism” — Jeffrey Toobin — who was reported to have suffered some kind of extreme trouser event at his computer during a Zoom session with his colleagues at The New Yorker. During an “election simulation” — easy, fellas — with a radio station in which journalists assumed various roles, the 60-year-old writer — famous in America for his coverage of the OJ Simpson trial — apparently forgot to turn his camera off while his co-workers enjoyed a “strategy session” in “their respective breakout rooms”.

Toobin seemed to be “on a second video call”, said witnesses; when the groups returned, he had lowered the camera and was “touching his penis”. He then left the call, came back and, in the manner of someone who’s rarely been held accountable for anything — a boomer for whom life just falls into place — he seemed oblivious to the fact he’d destroyed his career, literally at a stroke.

Though as Ms Long points out later in the piece, working two jobs at once has not destroyed his career, because

…if there’s one group even more protected than a rich white alpha male in our society, it’s the rich white alpha male who hates Donald Trump.

All very amusing, but the last two paragraphs spoilt my mood:

It is true that the desperate scramble to shore up the hopeless Biden has reached extraordinary levels of deceit and manipulation — accounts are locked, reporting is pulled, likes and retweets seem to be managed.

Three months ago I myself got on the wrong side of Twitter’s political posturing by questioning whether masks worked — and my account is still down, with no response to appeals. If you think it’ll censor over that tiny issue, why not the presidential election?

My opinion is that masks probably do almost nothing to protect the wearer from Covid-19 and similar bugs, but they do confer significant protection to others. Feel free to discuss this question if it interests you, but I will not be participating in that particular debate. My uninformed opinion would add no value. And in any case the processing power that is available inside my head to think about any topic related to masks is entirely consumed by trying to deal with the revelation that Twitter censorship goes that far. I was naive. I did not know. Ms Long is quite wrong to call it a “tiny issue”. As with climate change, my now rather shaken belief in the “scientific consensus” was based on thinking it was a scientific consensus. I think it was Sir Peter Medawar in Advice to a Young Scientist who said that the dominance of the dominant hypothesis should be like that of a champion prizefighter: he is the champ because he has taken on and beaten all comers, and because he extends an open invitation to the whole world to displace him if they can.

But when people begin to suspect with good reason that the dominance of the dominant hypothesis is more like that of the champion golfer Kim Jong Il, it is no wonder that conspiracy theories spread like wildfire.

Discussion point: can children consent to puberty blockers? What about other drastic treatments?

Before you weigh in, please read both the Guardian articles.

“UK court hears children cannot consent to puberty blockers”, reports the Guardian today.

In a statement in the submission, Bell said she had been left with “no breasts, a deep voice, body hair, a beard, affected sexual function and who knows what else that has not been discovered”. She had to live with the fact that if she had children in the future, she would not be able to breastfeed. “I made a brash decision as a teenager (as a lot of teenagers do) trying to find confidence and happiness, except now the rest of my life will be negatively affected,” she said.

On the other hand, the abstract of this medical study published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics records that the study found that

There is a significant inverse association between treatment with pubertal suppression during adolescence and lifetime suicidal ideation among transgender adults who ever wanted this treatment. These results align with past literature, suggesting that pubertal suppression for transgender adolescents who want this treatment is associated with favorable mental health outcomes.

Another Guardian article published on 28 September raised similar issues of principle regarding a treatment that must be given to children if it is to work at all:

‘There is a fear that this will eradicate dwarfism’: the controversy over a new growth drug.

Two extracts:

Samuel Gray is very brave about his daily injections. At six-and-a-half, confident and happy, he was a boy who knew his own mind and made a big decision about his future. His parents had asked him if he wanted to take part in a clinical trial for a drug that could improve some of the conditions associated with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, with which Samuel was born.

[…]

In 2015, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, the company that developed vosoritide, released the results of phase two of its study. At the time, Leah Smith, a spokeswoman for Little People of America (LPA), the largest organisation in the US for people with dwarfism, said: “People like me are endangered and now they want to make me extinct.” Recently, the actor Mark Povinelli, who is president of the LPA, told the New York Times that the drug “is one of the most divisive things that we’ve come across in our 63-year existence”.

An Australian senator is summoned by the Equal Opportunities Commission

This is an excerpt from Hansard Australia recording a debate that took place in the Parliament of Australia on the 3rd September 2020:

Chamber Senateon 3/09/2020

Item ADJOURNMENT – Freedom of Speech

Senator CHANDLER (Tasmania) (17:45): Last week in the Senate I spoke about World Rugby’s efforts to defend the integrity and safety of women’s sport by ensuring women’s rugby is for female players. At the end of my speech, I referenced the recent case of a woman being fired from her job for speaking about the reality of biological sex. I posed the question:

How do Australians know that they are able to speak freely about women’s rights and the reality of biological sex without being censured or fired by their employer?

Well, it didn’t take long to get the answer to that question. The answer is that Australians are not free to acknowledge the realities of sex or to defend the integrity of women’s sport.

Today I received a letter from the Tasmanian equal opportunity commission, summoning me to attend a conciliation conference to answer for my statements on free speech and sex based rights. The complaint, made under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, is in relation to an op-ed I had published in The Mercury earlier this year about, quite ironically, free speech. My op-ed started:

The recent publication of an open letter signed by 150 writers and academics in defence of free speech offers a glimmer of hope that we can put a stop to the anti-democratic cancel culture which has taken root in many corners of society.

Well, I’m not so sure about there being a glimmer of hope for free speech now. The complaint letter I received today says, in referencing my actions: ‘It is clear or can be inferred from her comments that she considers people who are born male and seek to live as a female should not have access to female toilets, facilities or sports. This is problematic because excluding someone who is designated male at birth and currently expresses their gender as female from single-sex facilities or sport may be direct discrimination on the basis of gender identity.’ It is open to the commissioner to dismiss the complaint as vexatious but without substance, but she has chosen instead to pursue it and to compel me to attend a compulsory mediation with the complainant.

Many democracies have a system whereby parliamentary committees or their equivalent demand the attendance of citizens so that questions can be put to them by the MPs. These sessions almost invariably display elected lawmakers at their most arrogant. I cheered when Dominic Cummings refused to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK Parliament. But I have found one thing I hate more than elected politicians summoning members of the public for (theoretically) compulsory questioning: unelected bureaucrats summoning elected politicians for actually compulsory “conciliation”.

“Compulsory Conciliation” was the title of the post in the pro Scottish Independence blog “Wings Over Scotland” where I saw this illustration of how fast once-cherished notions of free speech can fall. It would have surprised me in 2014 to know that in 2020 I would be grateful to Stuart Campbell for the good work he is doing to protect civil liberties in Scotland. But that is the sort of thing that happens when a Bill allows as much scope for abuse as does the Hate Crime Bill (Scotland). People from all quarters of politics have seen the danger and come together to oppose it. And do not think for a moment that what happens in Scotland or Australia can be ignored elsewhere.

By the way, I was not particularly interested in Senator Claire Chandler’s exact views about the transgender issue, only in the fact that an “equalities” official can summon a Senator of the Parliament of Australia for questioning over her “problematic” opinions.

But what if she did consent?

The BBC reports,

‘Rough sex’ defence will be banned, says justice minister

The so-called “rough sex gone wrong” defence will be outlawed in new domestic abuse legislation, a justice minister has told MPs.

Alex Chalk said it was “unconscionable” that the defence can be used in court to justify or excuse the death of a woman “simply because she consented”.

“Simply”? Is the fact of her consent unimportant, then? If a woman (or indeed a man) chooses to engage in rough sex and as a consequence is accidentally killed by their partner then that does excuse their death, in the sense that any person who accidentally kills another person is excused from the guilt of murder. Depending on circumstances they may be guilty of a lesser crime, reckless endangerment perhaps – I do not know the legal details. But murder requires an intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

He said it would be made “crystal clear” in the Domestic Abuse Bill that it was not acceptable.

The bill, for England and Wales, is due to become law later this year.

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, spoke on an amendment proposed by Labour MP Harriet Harman and Conservative MP Mark Garnier to the legislation, to prevent lawyers from using the defence, but withdrew it following assurances from Mr Chalk.

The campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which wants the defence outlawed, said the minister’s response was “a big step forward”.

The very name of their group treats adult women like children. If this group wants to ban rough sex, they should have the guts to come out and say so. Some of their complaint seems to be that the rough sex defence has been used by men who truly were murderers to delude a jury into acquitting them. But the same could be said of any defence against any criminal charge: all of them will have at some time been successfully used to enable guilty men to go free. What alternative system do they suggest? The great eighteenth century jurist William Blackstone said, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” Would they prefer to reverse that ratio?