DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Cancel witch trials, not open debate
When historians come to chronicle our current days they are unlikely to title it the ‘age of reason’. They might more credibly label it the ‘epoch of absurdity’.
The cherished Enlightenment values of free speech, rationality and tolerance championed by the likes of John Locke are under ferocious and unremitting attack.
Depressingly, we are living in a much darker time. A time when suppression of ideas and an Orwellian adherence to orthodoxies mandated by the high priests of wokeness are expected. A time when unproven allegations are once again enough to see a person damned.
For simply expressing an unfashionable view – on issues such as gender, race or the legacy of Britain’s empire – people are having their livelihoods destroyed and personal relationships ruined.
If the things someone says or believes, even if manifestly true, deviate in any way from the woke narratives, these hysterical so-called progressives will come for you.
Take Kathleen Stock, the philosophy professor who has become a pariah. Her crime? Arguing biological sex in human beings is real and socially important
Not openly and honestly, not by engaging in debate, but by anonymous whispering campaigns. Sometimes they become shrill and orchestrate campaigns to harass, intimidate and marginalise the supposed malefactor, trashing their reputation and forcing them out. This mindset is at the malignant heart of ‘cancel culture’.
No sphere of life is immune from these militants. Politics, academia, business… all have been the backdrop for witch hunts.
Every day seems to give us another incident which proves it.
Take Kathleen Stock, the philosophy professor who has become a pariah. Her crime? Arguing biological sex in human beings is real and socially important.
Until recently, this view would have been so run of the mill as to hardly merit stating. But as we report, militant trans activists are trying to ban her from addressing the prestigious Oxford Union.
Take also John Allan, one of the country’s most prominent businessmen. Last week, three anonymous allegations about his personal conduct towards female colleagues – vehemently denied – appeared in a Left-wing newspaper.
Despite the claims being unsubstantiated, Tesco asked him to stand down as chairman, fearing he’d be a ‘distraction’. Isn’t the truth they feared falling foul of social media’s kangaroo court?
Our major cultural, educational, political and corporate bodies are so in thrall to wokeness that activists can bully them into pursuing their own agendas.
But in a hopeful sign that so-called cancel culture has begun to turn, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has suspended its bullying inquiry against its chairman, Lady Falkner.
Take also John Allan, one of the country’s most prominent businessmen. Last week, three anonymous allegations about his personal conduct towards female colleagues – vehemently denied – appeared in a Left-wing newspaper
The undeniable impression is that a cadre of disgruntled staff (unnamed, of course) lodged petty complaints because she suggested amending the Equality Act to introduce explicit legal protections for biological women, making it easier to bar trans people from single-sex spaces.
Lady Falkner’s job is to protect everyone’s rights, not kowtow to the demands of the extremist trans lobby. That EHRC staff sought to intimidate her is indefensible.
Of course, allegations of misbehaviour must be treated seriously. But if people pursuing their own political or social agendas can get their opponents suspended – or worse – by making anonymous and malicious accusations, the country will be in fantastically dangerous territory.
Organisations and companies should show some spine, proportion and common sense when confronted with anonymous grievances – not just jerk their knees.
If the Tories are serious about changing the direction of Britain, they too should speak up. Until then, we will continue reversing from the glorious principles of the Enlightenment to the witch trials of the Middle Ages, at breakneck speed.
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