Friday 12 March 2021

The last acceptable prejudice


There has been a great deal written this week about prejudice. One remark that might have been said in private about the skin colour of a baby is enough to condemn an unnamed member of the Royal family. But while all prejudices are equal some prejudices are more equal than others. Some prejudices indeed are not merely acceptable but are expressed by all right-thinking people.

A Green Party Peer Baroness Jones has suggested that all men should be banned from the streets after 6 PM to make women feel a lot safer. This is in response to Sarah Everard going missing in London and the possibility that she was raped and murdered. The baroness does not know what happened to Sarah Everard. The police have suspect, but he has not been convicted of anything. Would the baroness respond in the same way next time there was a terrorist attack in London?

Whenever there is a terrorist attack, even when it has certain characteristics, there are people on social media including the usual politicians who tell us that we must not jump to conclusions about who might have committed the crime. If later, we discover that that the terrorist was a Muslim we are continually told that we must not judge the Muslim community by the actions of this one individual. This of course is correct. Out of the whole population of Muslims living in Britain only an infinitesimally small percentage are involved in terrorism. To judge Muslims in general because of the actions of Muslim terrorists is prejudice.

Imagine if someone suggested that because a Muslim blew himself up or knifed people in the street while shouting God is great in Arabic that all Muslims should be locked up so that everyone would feel safer. This would be considered to be so outrageous that anyone who said it would be immediately thought of as worse that the most prejudiced bigot. Consider for instance Donald Trump’s response to terrorism committed by Muslims when he banned people from certain Muslim countries from travelling to America. It is unlikely that Baroness Jones thought this tolerant or acceptable. Yet she expresses a prejudice that is essentially the same, only her prejudice is acceptable.

If I walk through a Muslim area of Britain at night and later expressed my fear of being blown up by terrorists I would be immediately condemned. So too if I walked through a black area of London and I expressed a fear of being mugged at knife point I would be called a racist. Even if the area was shown to have statically high numbers of crimes committed by black people, the mere suggestion that I feared a black person committing a crime would be to show that I was a racist. Why? Because I would be judging the whole community by the actions of various criminals.

But while it is not socially acceptable to fear either Muslims or black people, it is considered acceptable indeed virtuous to express fear of half the population because of the actions of a statistically tiny proportion of men. But this fear is the equivalent of racism. It is to generalise about all men because of the behaviour of a tiny number of men and to punish all men for the actions of criminals. But it is as unreasonable to fear men being criminals as it is to fear Muslims as being terrorists or black people as muggers. It is mere bigotry.

People like Baroness Jones and others like Nicola Sturgeon who have expressed sympathy with stories about women being scared to walk home at night, are the kind of politician who have been trying to persuade us that a man can become a woman and that transwomen are women. We can assume then that if they were walking alone at night, they would not fear a transwoman. Moreover, they would not fear such a transwoman even if there had been no gender reassignment surgery. So, women with male anatomy should not be feared as rapists and murderers. These no doubt would not be kept at home after 6 PM.

What of transmen? Would they be kept at home even though they lacked the male anatomy with which they could rape women? But transmen are men. We have been told that there is no distinction between transmen and men. They are all just men. So by the logic of Baroness Jones we can assume that men who declare themselves to be transwomen would be allowed out on the streets even though they may have the tools with which to rape women, but transmen would have to be locked up with the other men even thought they might lack these tools.

But there is a problem here. Parties like the Greens and the SNP think that anyone should be able to self-identify as a woman or a man without any checks. All they have to do is to declare “I am a woman” and everyone else has to accept that they are. If I see someone with male anatomy in the female changing room at the swimming pool and politely ask them to leave, I may well have committed a hate crime in Scotland for which I could go to jail.

But there is then a remarkably easy way for men to avoid being kept inside by Baroness Jones. All men would need to do is to declare themselves en masse to be women. They would not need to change their clothes, their names or indeed anything about them. They would instantly be freed. The only people who would remain locked up would be those transmen who lacked the means to rape anyone.

The expression of fear of all men because of the actions of rapists is not merely prejudiced against men generally it is especially prejudicial against transmen who could not rape women if they tried. But this shows the contradiction in this whole way of thinking. When women fear being raped, they are not worried about how someone self-identifies, they are worried about whether someone has male anatomy. But this shows that in judging whether to fear this person or that person as a rapist, women judge someone else to be a man not on how he identifies but on what sort of body he has. But if that is the case and it clearly is for how otherwise are women supposed to fear men at night other than by judging them by their external appearance, then the concept of being a man being a matter of self-identification becomes redundant. If being a man were really a matter of how someone feels or identifies, then women would have no reason to fear strange men in the street, because they would have no way of knowing if they were indeed men rather than men identifying as women. How would you know?

The response to rape and murder of a woman walking home at night shows not merely that we think that someone is a man for objective reasons of anatomy, but also that men belong to one of the few categories about which it is still allowed to be prejudiced. But this is morally unjust. Men are no more responsible for the actions of rapists than Muslims are responsible for the actions of terrorists. Anyone who judges the individual by the group, and this includes fearing him is showing prejudice. To even suggest locking up half of humanity because of the actions of criminals is to criminalise people because of who they are and the anatomy with which they were born. This is as repugnant as hating Muslims because of their religion or black people because of the colour of their skin.