Saturday, July 24, 2021
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Banned from Twitter (again)

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A USUAL morning; someone on BBC Woman’s Hour talking about Caribbean cookery but doing it in the new, strange language of woke: ‘Cookery is a vehicle.’ Long important pause. ‘It’s about identity. It’s about learning your history.’ 

On Twitter I asked if anyone recognised the origins of this newspeak, perhaps social science courses? I quickly got distracted, the joy of Twitter, by an Irish lady complaining about male violence and the risk posed by allowing transgendered men into women’s spaces such as lavatories, changing rooms, schools and prisons. She insisted, in a bantering way, that all men were violent. I quipped back that putting on a dress probably doesn’t change that. And asked: ‘Did you protest against those vests emblazoned with: “I punch TERFS?”’ 

‘TERF’, ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’ is a term of abuse used by the ‘trans-community’ against women who want to maintain some spaces for women and children alone. Which bit of my tweet the algorithm objected to is not clear, but I was instantly warned that I was ‘violating our rules against abuse and harassment’ and told I could ‘not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm’.

I was gone, knocked off my platform. Perhaps Twitter was still responding to last week’s ‘Trans Awareness Week’ but how could asking if someone disapproved of violence, as I do, put me in a league with bigoted activists and violent criminals, the type of men who go around in vests saying ‘I punch TERFS’? 

As I pointed out in my appeal against the ban, my question was based on fact. In September 2017 at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park,  a 61-year-old woman was punched in the face three times, knocked to the ground, kicked and her camera smashed, as she filmed a talk about gender recognition.

Video on social media showed a confrontation between feminists sceptical about the idea of sex as a mere ‘social construct’ and transgendered men holding placards railing against misogyny and shouting, ‘When TERFs attack, we strike back.’ 

During the trial in April 2018, the defendant, Tara Wolf, 26, a 6ft Deliveroo driver, was surrounded outside court by supporters with Dobermans and mastiffs, and a huge sound system blaring death metal. Strangely machismo for a group purporting to be women. 

I was barred from Twitter previously after I retweeted a message from Helen Belcher, trans-activist and former LibDem candidate who stood against the Tories in Chippenham in 2017. She wrote and I repeated that if women don’t like transgendered men entering their private spaces, they can go to law about it. Despite what Belcher believes, going to law is not always advantageous for women. 

In the case over the beating at Hyde Park, the judge quickly made his feelings plain, telling the woman assaulted that if she referred to Wolf as anything but ‘she’, she would be in contempt of court. Wolf claimed to have acted in self-defence, beating the elderly woman because the transgendered are ‘a target for the far Right’.

Wolf also admitted posting on Facebook ahead of the event, ‘Wanna f*** up some TERFs. They’re no better than fash (fascists).’ The judge rejected the prosecution suggestion that this constituted prior intent to commit violence. Wolf’s defence lawyer argued that autism and ‘oppositional defiant disorder,’ diagnosed aged six, were mitigating factors and asked to the court to consider Wolf’s desire to be a ‘role model for other trans people in the trans community’ and work in the ‘transgender charity sector’.

Employing this strange new language with its buzz-words ‘role-model’ ‘trans,’ and ‘community’, how could a judge not be persuaded? Perhaps he was also responding, in advance, to a proposed amendment to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, introduced by Mrs May’s government, which aimed to make any criticism of transgender people another ‘hate crime’. Mrs May fell before that bill could be passed but it seems to be tacitly taken to be the law, by police, courts, teachers, university councils, publishers and social media. 

The hefty young man who’d to my mind obviously conducted ‘targeted harassment’ and incited hatred online, then beaten an elderly woman to the ground, walked away with a fine of £430. It’s a strange world out there with a new language all its own, inexplicable to many of us. 

PS: I didn’t intend to delete the offending tweet, which would have meant I could get back on to Twitter, but someone sent me a direct message. In order to read it, I had to take down the offending tweet so I did that. I am now allowed back. They post up details as a kind of public humiliation, which is a bit wasted on me!

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Jane Kelly
Jane Kelly was a journalist with the Daily Mail for fifteen years. She now writes for the Spectator and the Salisbury Review.

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