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LAST Friday in central London, two former UKIP officers, Peter Mcilvenna and Alan Craig, launched a new free speech movement, Hearts of Oak, with the support of five speakers, four of whom have been vilified, and worse, over free speech issues.
Mr. Mcilvenna told Politicalite: “We wanted to launch a new initiative — a cultural, educational, social movement that many of us hoped UKIP would be and hasn’t been. There’s no populist movement at all in the UK. … So we came up with this alliance of big hitters who can really hit upon these issues with a big reach, big platform, and let’s talk about the issues that no one wants to talk about – is not allowed to talk about.”
Only the previous afternoon the conservative YouTuber Mahyar Tousi announced in his daily video that he would soon be launching his own national free speech campaign, details to follow.
As it happens, he wasn’t the first: another six days earlier the previous Friday, the conservative activist Toby Young launched his own grand-sounding The Free Speech Union, dedicated to defending those persons who find themselves condemned, outcast, and even sacked thanks to online campaigns, all of which had happened to him.
In his introductory video Mr. Young cited recent examples of speech intolerance and the consequences for those who had fallen foul of the new orthodoxy:
“A disabled grandfather was fired by Asda for circulating a clip from a Billy Connolly concert in which the comedian attacked religion.” No one objected to his remarks about Catholicism but because Connolly joked about suicide bombers. The clip was deemed Islamophobic.
“An ex-policeman received a visit from the police after posting a humorous verse about transgendered people on Twitter, apparently he was guilty of committing a “none-crime hate-incident”. The officer who questioned him said ‘I’m here to check your thinking.’ “A pro-Brexit academic was suspended by King’s College London for calling an anti-Brexit activist “a traitor” After giving further examples he lamented: “All these things happened in 2019, in a country which prides itself on its commitment to human rights, including the right to free speech — and these aren’t isolated incidents over the past five years.
“87,000 non-crime hate incidents have been recorded by 27 forces in England and Wales. That means our men and women in blue are investigating an average of 47 such incidents a day. Shouldn’t they be policing our streets, not our Tweets?”
Quite so. It is surely cause for concern that the nation that gave the world freedom of speech now gives rise to the foundation of three organisations within a single week dedicated to defend it. But the fact is, thanks to the massed ranks of leftwing, keen-to-be-offended promoters of ‘woke thought’, free speech and even free thought in Britain are becoming things of the past — rendering off-limits all manner of important issues crying out for debate.
Hearts of Oak’s mission goes much further than the defence of free speech. Peter Mcilvenna made
clear that his organisation’s mission was to bring about change — and the list of speakers and their chosen subjects indicate the issues that he and his colleagues believe require it.
Citing how MSM journalists had reported himself, Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins, and other hate figures of the Left, YouTuber Carl Benjamin began the run of guest speakers with an address echoing Toby Young on how “the hysteria” had reached “a fever pitch”.
He said: “They know that they can poison the minds of the public into an irrational unknowing hatred of an individual simply by producing and repeating a one-sided narrative about that individual … they use this weapon with absolute impunity to anathematise individuals who are considered too dangerous to any prevailing narrative on the subject.”
Though Hearts of Oak is secular, the church leader and author Pastor Wale Babatunde was given a platform to deliver his thoughts on what he termed: “the debilitating loss of Britain’s Christian values, culture and heritage.”
In this, the Pastor is correct: the widespread viciousness and hatred described by Young and Benjamin are merely manifestations of the national malaise he identifies. But rather than blame, as he does, the “insipid politically-correct Church of England”, he would be advised to look for its cause in the direction of the omnipotent BBC, which for the last half-century has been steadily marginalising Christians and traditional Christian teaching, including the Christian values of tolerance and fairness (just watch the BBC’s baying reporters harass politicians in the street).
Brexit Party founder Catherine Blaiklock gave her views on the impact of mass immigration on British society e.g. increased pressure on public services, upward pressure on house prices, downward pressure on wages, etc.; and she spoke of the failure of successive governments to
address one of its core causes: the routine systematic transfer of entire extended families from foreign lands to settle in Britain.
All these are taboo subjects. But in a free society they really shouldn’t be.
The final speaker, controversial activist Tommy Robinson, addressed an issue that deserves the most pressing debate: that of sex education in state primary schools. In particular, how primary school children are now being taught to accept as normal the ‘trans’ notions of gender fluidity and gender by choice; and how parents’ current entitlement to remove their children from such teaching
will be withdrawn this coming September.
Belying the media’s description of him as an “anti-Islam campaigner”, Mr. Robinson voiced ardent support for the group of Muslim parents in Birmingham, who last year hit the headlines when they protested about their children receiving such education. He explained how their objections had come about when a Muslim girl, aged, he thought, six years old, “came home and told her mum and dad ‘that she can be a boy’.”
Mr. Robinson illustrated his address with slides depicting primary school sex education books, including one about a boy who wanted to wear a dress to school; another about a boy who wakes up to find that he’s turned into a girl; one about a boy who wanted to be a girl, and so on.
Mr. Robinson was in no doubt: this kind of material and teaching was the cause of a twenty-fold increase of “gender dysphoria” in children, year on year.
The person Mr. Robinson blamed for the situation in Birmingham is a woman called Elly Barnes. Though he didn’t say so, Ms. Barnes is the openly-activist lesbian CEO of a locally-based educational charity Educate and Celebrate. Mr. Robinson quoted her as having said: “We must smash heteronormativity in primary school children.” (According to Wikipedia: “heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality, predicated on the gender binary, is the norm or default sexual orientation.”)
Of her remark Mr. Robinson observed, matter-of-factly: “That is someone with an agenda – their
own agenda – and they want to push it on our children.”
In fact, Mr. Robinson had actually understated what Ms. Barnes had said: a YouTube video featuring her made for Gay Star News, uploaded in April 2017, shows she actually said: “The whole concept of “Educate and Celebrate” is to treat everyone equally and fairly, and really, the bottom line is, completely smash heteronormativity.
That’s what we want to do.” Wikipedia’s page on “heterosexuality” references several surveys of sexual orientation carried out since 1992, all of which show that both males and females claiming to be heterosexual outnumber by more than 10 to 1 those claiming to be non-heterosexual.
So, let us be clear: Ms. Barnes wants to “completely smash” the belief any child might hold that heterosexual relationships are the norm, though they clearly are the norm, and overwhelmingly so.
Of course, though gay and bisexual orientations are held by a minority, they are just as normal and healthy, just as rewarding and joyous. To teach the acceptance, equal treatment, and integration into society of sexual minorities is right and desirable. But Mr. Robinson is not wrong to believe that it ought to be a parent’s right to shield their children from being taught that these are mere life choices, which share the same status as heterosexual relationships that are the foundation of the
family and society.
Surely most parents hold his belief: that each child’s sexual orientation is best left to each child’s natural development, free from the influence of gender activists, who declare themselves to be on a mission to ‘completely smash’ the norm.
But while Britain dozily acquiesces to the march of the Leftist mind-moulders, in America they’re at least starting to wake up. The day after the Gay Star News video was circulated on Twitter last October, the senior editor of The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, published an article about the transgender movement, entitled, fittingly, “Heteronormativity Smashers”.
His piece was based largely on a submission to the magazine by blogger Erin Manning, who, referring to the video, commented:
“Lest we think that’s some UK aberration, the goal of the LGBT movement for many years now here in America has been exactly the same.
“People who thought gay marriage was the end goal didn’t realize that redefining marriage so that it would no longer mean the union of a man and a woman was only the beginning. The program aims to remove any and all notions that heterosexuality is the default position for nearly 97% of human beings.
“Radical takes on sex and gender identity are another tool in the toolbox to achieve this goal: if there are no men or women, no boys or girls, etc. but only people who “identify” one way or the other then there is no longer any way to “privilege” (in their way of thinking) the heterosexual binary.”
Later in his article, Mr Dreher juxtaposed Ms. Barnes’s telling remark to the case of an American mother, whose daughter, in a confused state of mind, was persuaded to transition to a male to their terrible cost. He wrote: “Elly Barnes makes smashing heteronormativity seem chipper, but this is what it has meant for Elaine Davidson and her daughter. Part of her speech is below: “Like any parent, I grieved as I saw my daughter slip away from me and from the world the more she was affirmed as something she wasn’t. The deeper she got into queer theory, the more angry and detached she became.
“Like any parent, it is hard to believe that my once beautiful, healthy child, now 19 years old, is in
and out of homelessness, bearded, her breasts amputated and reproductive organs removed, and
living in extreme poverty, all just to be her “authentic self.” Doctors did this to her while she was still a minor, without my consent or any involvement. My child is mentally ill, no longer thriving, and yet our public schools, government, mental health professionals, medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies are telling me what is best for my child.
“Like any parent, I am angry and full of rage that this is the only kind of “help” offered to my child and that parental rights are being stripped away”
As if to underscore the impending crisis, as recently as Sunday in London, the High Court gave a young woman permission to take the NHS to court in what is billed to be a landmark case, over the treatment she received as a teenager to enable her to transition into a man — treatment she says was “rushed” and left her feeling suicidal.
In an online bulletin Sky News reported: “Keira Bell is taking the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust to court over the treatment she received for gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
“The 23-year-old, who used to identify as a boy, said the puberty-delaying drugs and testosterone prescribed to her have irreversibly damaged her physical and mental health.
“Ms. Bell started receiving treatment, including hormone blockers, after “roughly three sessions” at the Tavistock Centre. She says at the time she had “no doubt” she wanted to become a boy.”
No doubt thanks in part to the teachings of people like Elly Barnes, children’s demands for transgender treatment have rocketed in recent years just as Tommy Robinson claimed.
According to Sky News’s online report, by 3,360% in just ten years: “The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is where children with gender dysphoria are treated on the NHS. GIDS had 2,590 children referred to them in 2018-19, compared with just 77 patients a decade ago. According to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, there are now around 3,000 children on the waiting list, with waiting times for an appointment at about two years.”
Mr. Robinson is undoubtedly a hothead with a tendency for getting himself into trouble. But he is given to speaking common sense and has been proved spectacularly correct once already about an issue, which, until he came along, Britain’s spineless institutions had stubbornly ignored for years: the mass grooming and abuse of white girls by gangs of Asian men.
He raises an important issue that deserves debate.
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