A police officer publicly claims my opinion ‘directly leads’ to murder. He’s a representative of the law, I’m a stay-at-home mum who believes in free speech. I asked, but he hasn’t removed the tweet & he hasn’t apologised. Ethically, what’s the ‘right thing’ for me to do?
I believe that we should all have a right to both free speech and freedom of expression. It is by listening to different opinions that we test, adjust and consolidate our own views. It is by debating that we learn to understand the position held by our adversaries, which in turn can enable us to better articulate our own position. On many an occasion I have quoted Evelyn Hall’s sentiment (ascribed to Voltaire) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Whilst not an easy path, this course sounds both heroic and reasonable. Like most absolutes, it is not without problems. In this instance-
Do we defend the right of free speech for those who falsely accuse us of crimes?
Article 10 of the Declaration of Human Rights, says Liberty:
“..protects a right that’s fundamental to our democracy – our freedom of expression. It means we’re free to hold opinions and ideas and to share them with others without the State interfering. Article 10 also protects your right to communicate and express yourself in any medium – including through words, pictures and actions.”
In certain circumstances, Article 10 may be limited, for example, ‘when protecting other people’s reputation or rights.’
I can’t help feeling that publicly accusing someone’s opinions on gender ideology of ‘directly leading to trans people being murdered’ perhaps crosses this line.
Yet reporting someone to an authority sits uneasily with me: it feels like telling tales to teacher, something twelve year old me would have died rather than done, even when sporting a black eye gifted by a boy in the year above (for ‘being annoying’ no less).
“Hmmm,” says middle child when I asked her. “I’d say that was free speech. It’s not as bad as the guy who said you should be raped for complaining about manspreading.”
Indeed it is not. But he wasn’t a police officer.
She said, he said.
On May 29th, I reposted this meme on Twitter. A group of adults on a Mermaids training day had been told:
“If you are assigned male at birth and you identify as a woman and you’re attracted to men, you’re straight.”
I found this assertion quite chilling. “Ever wondered what gay conversion therapy looks like in 21st century Britain?” I tweeted. “It looks like this.”
In my opinion the love bombing so popular within cults is a form of conversion therapy. Promising confused kids who come out as trans ‘a new rainbow family’, suggesting that medications and surgeries can ‘fix’ them; telling same-sex attracted kids that transition will make them straight, that there are right and wrong ways to be a boy or a girl and ostensibly doing this all in the name of love- this to my mind is also conversion therapy.
‘Conversion therapy’ is also the name transactivists give to the idea that we might want to try helping trans-identified children and young people to feel more comfortable in their own bodies rather than transitioning them. They are currently trying to get this type of therapy banned altogether in the UK.
Why do I care so much?
I have a vested interest in this. At the age of fifteen my eldest daughter decided she was a boy. She was consistent, persistent and insistent. I didn’t support her transition & she outgrew it. She is 19 in a few months, a happy, confident ‘out’ lesbian. Our story could have had a very different ending had I affirmed her newfound ‘gender identity’ or taken her to a clinic or ‘support’ group. She herself has said that she would have jumped at the chance to go on testosterone.
Lengthy NHS waiting lists would have led us to private treatment. Who knows, maybe we would have ended up patients of the Webberleys. Helen Webberley, who will notoriously prescribe testosterone for 12 year olds, and her husband were recently suspended by the GMC but continue to practice from Spain. Their website warns parents:
‘unnecessarily delaying such intervention, clearly has the potential to lead to seriously damaging consequences for very vulnerable young people, including the risk of selfharm and attempted suicide.”
So we need to talk about this crazy idea that trans-identified children need to be blindly affirmed.
We need to talk about the vast numbers of teenage girls who identify as boys, why so many of them are lesbians or autistic or traumatised, we need to discuss options for treatment and we need to stop throwing obscene amounts of funding at organisations who tell children that being born ‘in the wrong body’ is a thing.
Wanting discussion is not hateful. Not wanting to lie to kids is not hateful. Nor is refusing to believe that men can become women, or that some people are ‘non binary’ and the rest of us fit binary stereotypes. We need to stop telling young lesbians that they’re boys.
The idea that we all have an innate sense of gender is an ideology with its roots in sexism and stereotypes. Scientists can’t tell if a brain is male or female, but archaeologists can tell the sex of a skeleton. It is not ‘hateful’ to disagree with Trans ideology, any more than it is hateful to disagree with Christian ideology.
I find the idea that we each have an essence of male or female gender, which can somehow become placed in the wrong body, to be absurd. Likewise I do not believe that the communion wine becomes the blood of Christ. Nor that the universe is carried on the back of a giant turtle. It is my right to hold these beliefs. It is my right to express those beliefs.
more she said, he said
So I posted this, and a bloke called Jon Killen said he wanted everyone to be aware that I was an ‘anti trans’ account and that I held ‘views shunned by the LBGT+ community.’
I’ve never claimed anyone doesn’t exist and I’ve never said I ‘don’t like’ trans people.
Ok, the ‘trans animals’ thing was so totally ludicrous – although I respect his right to express it – that I did respond with my kitten-that-wants-to-be-a-rabbit picture.
There is no one voice for such a diverse group of people and you don’t speak for everyone and neither do I,’ answered one respondee to Killen, going on to add that he was “absolutely committed to people being able to have a sensible fact based discussion without fear of violence. Specifically that women’s voices are heard without fear of men shutting them down.’
It was in response to him that Killen replied:
“… toxic and dangerous and directly leads to trans people being killed.”
Initially I couldn’t believe that he was a genuine police officer, it seemed so irresponsible and slightly bonkers. I wasn’t alone in this.
Police officers- even ones with ‘non binary’ on their profile- are not meant to get involved with politics, let alone going round telling random women on Twitter that their opinions DIRECTLY get others killed. But this guy is who he says he is.
I posted a copy of my article ‘Gender is Harmful, my Views are not Hateful‘ in reply to his comment. He ignored it.
Channel 4 ‘fact check’ reports that ‘the limited data we’re working with suggests that in the UK at least, a trans person is less likely to be murdered than the average person’. In the UK in the period between 2008-17, nine trans people were killed in the UK.
None of them were killed by me, or because of me.
Over the next few days I wondered what to do. A journalist called me saying the comment was defamatory and I should make a complaint. A police officer messaged me telling me Killen was a good bloke really and his views not representative of the Mets. I was offered help with legal representation. I posted waffley ‘what should I do?’ threads in group chats and deleted them before anyone could reply.
While I dithered, people complained to the Mets on my behalf. This was posted on Mumsnet:
Hundreds of people commented on the Twitter thread, calling his tweet ‘an abuse of power’ and defamatory and pointing out the absurdity of accusing me of culpability.
Killen did not respond.
Many tagged the Metropolitan Police, who did not respond.
I still couldn’t make my mind up what to do.
Killen might well have been told he had ‘overstepped the bounds of what a serving police officer should be saying on social media’ but it didn’t look as if anyone had gone so far as to tell him he should take the tweet down.
On 3rd June, I posted this:
Killen did not respond.
The Tweet remained.
On the 4th June, Sonia Poulton, who had contacted the police to ask for an official response, posted this:
Killen did not comment.
This is what the statement from the Metropolitan Police (above) read:
Killen did not apologise.
Killen did not remove the tweet.
“Wow, having a word with him has certainly worked hasn’t it!” tweeted Anne Ruzlyo.
We Are Fair Cop claims the above police statement disregards Restrictions on the Private Life of a Police Officer, Police Act 2003, Regulation 6, Schedule 1.
‘A member of the police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere.
‘In particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.’
We Are Fair Cop also points out that the College of Policing Code of Ethics states:
‘6.5. Police officers must not take any active part in politics. This is intended to prevent you from placing yourself in a position where your impartiality may be questioned.’
You can read the ‘Fair Cop’ thread here.
The section from the college of Policing Code of Ethics raises a lot of questions about current police involvement in trans politics. It certainly suggests that officers should not be accusing the opinions of others of directly causing death.
So, here we are. Jon Killen flitted briefly into my life, accused me of being directly responsible for the death of trans people, then ghosted me.
This is not good enough.
For holding gender critical views, women have been silenced online, losing their social media accounts and their blogs. More than that, women have lost their jobs.
Better women than I have been accused of ‘hate speech’ of ‘spewing vitriol’ of ‘hating trans kids‘ and ‘wanting trans people dead‘.
These wild, unfounded accusations are almost always made by men, men who consider themselves to be non-binary or gender fluid, or men who consider themselves to be women. Sometimes they are made by parents who have transitioned their children, or organisations with a vested interest in transitioning children. ‘Expanding our client base’ was a phrase I once heard used at a conference.
This needs to stop.
I started a ‘what should I do’ poll on Twitter. It hasn’t finished yet but the results seem pretty clear. I suspect that I shall not take the poll’s advice, but who knows.
Killen has not apologised.
The tweet remains.
For holding these views, women are threatened with violence online, over and over again. Some have had the police call at their door and been taken away for interview. One was a mother with a baby and an autistic child. Another was a pensioner.
“During my interview,” said one, “the officer interviewing me mentioned how police officers have to be mindful of their online conduct and content, and that I should possibly practice the same…”
I would be a fool not to feel a little nervous.
I’ve spoken to my kids about what to do if it happens to me.
In 21st century Britain, I have had to have that conversation with my kids.
‘Don’t worry,’ I told them, ‘I haven’t really done anything wrong, they’d have to let me go. Don’t worry. And don’t do anything that could get you in trouble.
UPDATE: 18th June 2019
The result of my poll.
92% of respondents thought I should report Killen. 5% thought I should ‘air it on Twitter’ (my chosen course of action) and 3% went with the ‘get over it’ option.
While I didn’t make a complaint to the police, I did report the tweet to Twitter. Twitter decided not to ask Killen to remove it, saying it didn’t contravene their rules against abusive behaviour.
Yesterday I noticed that at last Killen had removed ‘The Tweet’.
Several people who had complained had been assured that he would be spoken to by his bosses, so I presume they told him to take it down. Although it is possible that he had a change of heart and removed it unprompted, that seems unlikely.
When I searched for the tweet I found: ‘this Tweet is unavailable‘.