Labour MP Nadia Whittome argues that debate is “a foot in the door for hatred.” It’s yet another example of the radical left trying to censor free speech and force their views on everyone.
While Britain’s Labour Party may no longer be run by a rabid left-winger who is wildly out of his depth, readers will be thrilled to learn that it hasn’t fully purged them from their ranks. Nadia Whittome, the honourable member of parliament for Nottingham East, has decided she is not in favour of debate.
The 24-year-old newly minted MP tweeted: “We must not fetishise ‘debate’ as though debate is itself an innocuous, neutral act. The very act of debate in these cases is an effective rollback of assumed equality and a foot in the door for doubt and hatred.”
We must not fetishise “debate” as though debate is itself an innocuous, neutral act. The very act of debate in these cases is an effective rollback of assumed equality and a foot in the door for doubt and hatred.
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) July 23, 2020
This is baffling on a number of levels, not least because, as an MP, debating is literally her job, making her position equivalent to Roger Federer deciding he isn’t that keen on tennis rackets. But, more worrying than her apparent willingness to do herself out of a job is the assertion that debate itself is not neutral and can itself be a form of “hatred.”
Her tweet was a quote from an article she had penned for the Independent about transgenderism. I’m sure her constituents are thrilled that in the middle of a pandemic, looming economic catastrophe and the biggest infringements on our civil liberties ever seen, Nadia is busying herself with an issue that affects around one percent of the population, but never mind.
The piece argues that discussion on this issue which doesn’t revolve around the “lived reality” of trans people is “stoking division, hatred and fear” and as a result the act of debate itself can be morally repugnant, rather than neutral.
To back up her point, that debate itself can be an act of hostility, she posted a follow-up tweet stating that “in the past there were ‘debates’ on allowing openly gay and bisexual people in the military.”
In the past there were ‘debates’ on allowing openly gay and bisexual people in the military.I clearly mention debate in this context: creating a debate about people’s fundamental rights or equal status is a hostile act.Don’t spin it to stoke a right wing feeding frenzy. https://t.co/df4xpauTkf
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) July 24, 2020
Yes, there were, Nadia, and without them the army would probably still bar gay men from the military, along with women. In fact, there were plenty of people who felt that there was no debate to be had on the opposite side of the argument to yours. The anti-gay brigade felt that to even broach the subject was morally reprehensible, but it was only by debate that they could be persuaded otherwise.
For an elected MP to have such a dim-witted view of debating should be astonishing, but Ms Whittome is part of the millennial woke left and this is what they believe. Disagreeing with them is not simply a difference of opinion, it is tantamount to violence. As JK Rowling has learned, to even question the mantra that “trans women are women” is enough to provoke a mob into calling for your cancellation.
These people do not wish to reason with you, because they are completely unreasonable. Rather they base their arguments on “feelings,” precisely because they are undebatable. Their basing an argument on the statement that they “feel” a certain way is no more rational than a Christian stating “for the Bible tells me so.”
In fact, many go even further than this. Not arguing with sections of this cult isn’t good enough, you have to actively and vocally agree. As anyone who has been watching the Black Lives Matter protests in Britain and the US will have observed, a sign bearing the slogan “White Silence is White Violence” has started to pop up regularly.
However, for some even that is not enough. Last month, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was calling out corporations who did voice support for BLM, accusing their support for the movement of being “empty” and citing Amazon in particular for integrating its Ring home security cameras with police departments.
This school of thought is absolutist and devoid of nuance. American journalist Jemele Hill tweeted last week, “If you vote for Donald Trump, you are a racist. You have no wiggle room.” Really? All 63 million voters are racists, and they have “no wiggle room”? They all had to be motivated by racism, even the people of colour who voted for him?
We have even had the New York Times arguing that Joe Biden should refuse to debate Trump, unless a team of independent fact checkers are present, something that has never been a condition before.
This is a fatuous argument for two main reasons. Firstly how independent can these fact checkers truly be? Secondly, there will be some opinions thrown in in any debate. How would they assess these? Who would agree what statements merited fact-checking and which didn’t?
These actions are both craven and censorious. To argue that debate can be in and of itself an act of hatred only serves to chill freedom of speech. If speech is hateful and hate is violence, then it follows speech should be stopped. The terrible irony of this all being, of course, that without speech the only recourse is violence. Speech is what has separated us from the animals and allowed civilisation to become what it is today.
The most charitable reading of Nadia Whittome’s assertion that debate should not be seen as a “neutral act” is that she knows that her arguments do not stand up to scrutiny. However, in the least charitable reading, they exist to actively silence people, and the only way to keep people silent is through fear, intimidation and, in extremis, the threat of violence. Surely no “progressive” would advocate that?
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