This guy, Angelos Sofocleous, was elected to head the humanist group at Durham University. He has resigned. He has to blame someone.
In light of recent events, I have taken the difficult decision to resign from the position of President-Elect of Humanist Students.
These events involved a retweet of mine saying ‘RT if women don’t have penises’, and certain other criticisms of the transgender movement, as well as suggestions to improve the movement’s actions. Sadly, these views were taken to be ‘transphobic’ by individuals who cannot tolerate any criticism, either of their movement or their ideas, and are unable to engage in a civilized conversation on issues they disagree on.
Would you believe he’s a philosophy and psychology student? I’m kind of curious about those “certain other criticisms” and about how he defines “woman”, because he seems to treat it as a simple distinction based on the presence or absence of a penis. It seems rather superficial and narrowly phenomenological for someone in either of those disciplines, but on the other hand, I also don’t want to play into his hands and debate the subject with him, because he also says this, along with hiding behind “freedom of speech!”:
Even if one makes statements which are wrong beyond doubt (e.g. ‘Homosexuals shouldn’t have the right to marry’, ‘Nazis did nothing bad’, ‘Slavery is moral’, ‘Women are inferior to men’), one needs to have a conversation with that individual and explain why they are (obviously) wrong. Engaging in a debate does not mean that you give equal status to your opponent.
This is where the fetishizing of free speech and debate goes bad. I get to deny your basic humanity and your right to exist, and you now need to convince me otherwise. I get to freely make assertions that don’t challenge my privileged status but do potentially do great harm to you, and I have no responsibility or obligation to others — others who may even consider those statements “wrong beyond doubt” — to make defensible statements, and the onus is entirely on you to address them, and if you don’t, you are an intolerant tribalist. Why do you get so angry when I merely want to deny your civil rights, or enslave you, or kill you? That’s not very logical.
Don’t you realize that Sofocleous is the victim here?
I hope we belonged in an environment in which we were able to speak up without the fear of being fiercely attacked and silenced.
I think there are a lot of people who would like to be able to simply exist without the fear of being fiercely attacked and silenced. Can we give them priority before your right to define them away?