Saturday, 23 November 2019

Letter From Scotland

Gender and Free Speech

Prof Dr Donald Macleod

I have no idea whether the Reverend Richard Cameron, Minister of Scotstoun Parish Church, is good at his day-job, faithfully preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified; I am never happy about singling out one particular sin, whether homosexual behaviour or anything else, for special condemnation; and I hold no more brief for hecklers than I do for protesters and demonstrators.  An essential part of democracy they may now be deemed to be, but too often they are no more than disruptive forms of verbal violence, resorted to by those who prefer show of force to reasoned argument.

But this morning I have a lot of sympathy for Mr. Cameron, who hit the headlines earlier this week when he loudly and publicly challenged Jeremy Corbyn, ‘Who’s going to be the first terrorist invited to the Commons when you’re Prime Minister?’  With the nastiness now typical of post-Blair Labour, the search for dirt on Mr Cameron quickly got under way, and was duly found, among his tweets.  He had remarked, apparently, that homosexual behaviour is sin; and what is worse, he had declared that allowing children to change their gender is wicked.

Now he has been suspended by the Church of Scotland, pending an inquiry.  The decision will be welcomed by many as an encouraging sign that the Kirk is at last catching up with the spirit of the age.  But what if the real meaning of the ‘spirit of the age’ is that free speech is only for such and for such-as-such?

Truth is, we are living in an age of state-imposed conformity which is utterly intolerant of any dissentient voice.
  I am perfectly happy to let the LGBT community have their say.  I am not happy that they should have a jealously-guarded right to monopolise the discourse, and I’m certainly not happy to concede the new dogma that the only wickedness is to question LGBT-ism.  Christians, too, must have their say, and people should not lose their jobs because they are weak or off-message on such issues as homosexuality, bi-sexuality, trans-sexuality or transgenderism.

Nor should we close our eyes and ears to where the gagging is actually leading.  For example:

  • If you are known to have reservations about the chosen lifestyle of LGBTs you will not be allowed to be a teacher, a social worker a parish minister or a university professor
  • You will be barred from serving as a Member of Parliament, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, a local Councillor or a member of the Justiciary
  • You will be ineligible for selection as an international sportsman (or indeed from   participation in professional sport at any level)
  • You will never secure employment with any charity
  • You’ll never get a job with the BBC

We should note that there is no heterosexual chorus clamouring for similar discrimination against LGBTs.  I would have voted for Ruth Davidson despite her widely publicised lesbianism (her sexual orientation was of no relevance to her politics; and she was a ‘goodie’ on Brexit); and I hear of no marches against the appointment of gay teachers, social workers or local councillors.  One side is strident; the other is largely mute.

Few people today dare express reservations about the LGBT movement, but it’ na├»ve of its promoters to assume that everyone on the street accepts their claims without a blink.

Take, for example, what they’re doing to the English language.  Granted, language has always been changing: witness the fact that we’ve long since assimilated the change in meaning of the word ‘gay.’  But the new demands are much more radical.  A gay couple, for instance, may have themselves pronounced ‘man and wife’ (or ‘wife and man’).  Does this place everyone they meet under obligation to refer to a man as a ‘wife’ or to address a woman as ‘Mister’?  Or, as was recently demanded in an English law-court, should a woman who has just given birth, have the right to be registered as the father of the child?

Then again, many people are still bamboozled when they hear someone say they are not sure whether they are a boy or a girl.  The sex of a child is not a matter of social convention or personal construction, but of genetics, and a pre-natal scan will quickly provide visual evidence.  Is it really in the interests of a child’s mental health for a teacher or social worker to tell them in their early years that this is a decision they must make for themselves?  And if the parents go against the child’s wishes, will they end up in the law-courts (and the child end up in care)?

At the heart of the debate lies a confusion between sexuality and gender (itself a result of linguistic engineering: the proper home of ‘gender’ is the study of grammar, not biology.  By sex, we mean male or female; by gender (in modern usage) we mean masculinity and femininity: something completely different.  Gender is a social construct, highlighted in the fact that we put girls in pink, boys in blue’; or that we give toy JCBs to boys, dolls to girls.

No one, whether boy or girl, man or woman, is bound by these stereotypes.  A man may choose or learn to be effeminate, or a woman to be masculine, without doing anything other than breaking social conventions (how shocking it was, travelling through Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, to see women working as road-men.  Nowadays, as often as not, they’re Scotland’s lead-engineers, but they are still women; and feminine, if that’s what they wish).

Finally, ‘trans’ is neither a friend nor a by-product of feminism (which, after all, can claim some sanction from the Apostle Paul’s declaration that in Christ there are neither male nor female).  As more and more feminists are now loudly proclaiming, transgenderism and transsexualism pose serious risks to women’s rights.  If any man can claim (perhaps only for the day) that he is a woman, does that give him the right to invade women’s spaces, walk into their changing-rooms and strip; and if he did, would the women’s shrieks be the voices of mere convention, or something more visceral?

Whether history will survive our generation is a moot point, but if it does, our successors will look back on us as an age that pronounced all truth to be relative and then proceeded to demolish primal boundaries and sow confusion: confusion between right and wrong, sheep and goat, boy and girl.  Has this produced greater tolerance? Ask Mr Cameron, the suspended Minister of Scotstoun.

But back to the Church of Scotland.  Will they now, for the sake of consistency (a) suspend all ministers who share his views on homosexuality and (b) place the writings of St. Paul on their Index of Prohibited Books?

Or will they at least allow him to have his say?

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