10 October 2021: Those bloody masks; Rapacious banks; Polemical events; The driving test ordeal; A funny article; and a shocking one.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Bad news:   Even though Spain is now in the ‘low-risk’ category for Covid-19 infection, and hardly any restrictions are in place nationwide – except, in many cases, on numbers inside shops, and in a small handful of contagion hotspots – the Health Minister  says it is still too soon to allow the public to ditch the masks. “In indoor areas, we’re going to continue with masks. The law will not be amended again until the whole country is on risk level 1 – 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, or below 0.025% of the population – just under half of the current rate.

Here’s Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas and the Spanish Shilling on 1. The siesta, and 2. Rapacious Spanish banks.

Test  your knowledge of Spain here 

This horrendous ordeal is what will face my left-it-to-the-last-minute daughter if she can’t get a gestor to persuade Tráfico that she made an application in time. A lesson learned?

A couple of polemical developments . . . . 1. A young woman diagnosed down in Murcia as being ‘ill’ with homosexuality, and 2. A music video, set in Toledo cathedral, which has caused quite a stir. Understandably

The UK

Richard North on Remainers: There is a discernible tendency in the media at the moment to link some of the high profile problems affecting us so as to form a continuous narrative. The bundle of woes thus becomes greater than the sum of its parts, leaving an overall impression of a nation in despair and disarray. I know for a fact that this is how things are seen from Germany, where my old friend in Hamburg is wondering why Brits aren’t more revolting than they are . . .

Social Media

Facebook is lambasted here and here. Deservedly, of course.

The Way of the World 

Click here for a fabulous – and highly amusing – demolition of New York’s ‘high end’ restaurants of a few years ago.

Below is a truly shocking article. As someone has said: The world has always been about power and the internet has given immense power to the few who would have been ignored as verging on the insane only 20 years ago.

On a lighter note . .  Jordi Casamitjana, a British animal rights activist, became an “ethical vegan” after he caught the eye of a wasp in a nest and thought it was “judging” him. YCMIU.

Spanish  

I see that la siesta nacional is now called, by some at least, el yoga ibérico. I prefer ‘el zizz’.

Finally  . . .

A fascinating book review from a different Dalrymple – William, not Theodore. 

Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. 

THE ARTICLE 

The silent majority must stand up to student bullies: With reputations shredded and lives blighted, at last a university chief has defended free speech in the gender debate: Janice Turner, The Times

On Tuesday, ten minutes before her lecture, the philosophy professor Kathleen Stock found stickers in the ladies’ loos accusing her of voicing “transphobic shit”. Shaken, she moved her talk online. On Wednesday morning, she found the underpass leading to the Sussex University campus plastered in posters demanding she be sacked. “The tunnel was bustling with students and staff. When I saw my name, I stopped dead. It was like a terrible stress dream,” she says.

Hyperventilating and crying, Stock had a panic attack. She went home, just missing masked figures letting off flares beside a sign reading “Stock Out”. A menacing new Instagram account, Anti Terf Sussex, which has 1,100 followers, states: “Our demand is simple: fire Kathleen Stock. Otherwise you’ll see us around.”

That an art historian who’d sat next to Stock at the last university open day tweeted support for her bullies was no surprise. Two years ago when she was asked to give a lecture, graduate students organised a simultaneous talk to denounce her. “Forty faculty attended,” she says. “I was very upset. I cancelled my lecture and went off sick with a breakdown.”

Through two years of threats, Stock has had no support from the University and College Union. Some union officers have sided with her tormentors. But this intimidation and outcry has finally led Sussex’s vice-chancellor, Adam Tickell, to uphold academic freedom. “In polarised debates,” he told Radio 4’s Today, “we need to get back the nuance and compassion, rather than if I shout loud, I will be the one who dominates.” The university, he said, had “strong policies on both freedom of speech and inclusion”.

Except, in the gender wars these concepts are irreconcilable. In her book Material Girls, Stock asserts that although a person’s professed “gender identity” should be respected, biological sex is immutable and, in some circumstances — prisons, rape counselling, sports — must take precedence to protect women’s rights. This mainstream opinion is protected under the 2010 Equality Act. Yet her persecutors believe trans people literally change sex. They believe that in granting her academic freedom, the university fails to be trans inclusive. “We are not up for debate,” they say.

That such unscientific, magical thinking has become sacrosanct is calamitous for academics, especially feminist scholars who study how women are historically oppressed via their reproductive role. An Edinburgh lecturer in gender and education tells me she offered students both LGBTQ and feminist reading materials. “As with any subject, I tell them to examine all sides, to think, talk, then form a considered view.” For this she was reported to the staff Pride network, which solicits student complaints, and then quietly dropped from lecturing on gender.

Across British campuses women academics — and it is always women — face threats, witch-hunts and lost livelihoods for holding gender critical views. The Oxford historian Selina Todd required security at her lectures. When Essex University invited Professor Jo Phoenix to speak on prisons and trans rights, a leaflet saying “Shut the f*** up, TERF” showing a figure holding a gun, was circulated on campus. Instead of investigating this violent threat, Essex cancelled Phoenix’s talk and then blacklisted her. Later it no-platformed feminist law lecturer Rosa Freedman.

The Reindorf Review of these two cases was scathing about Essex’s failure to allow legitimate views to be aired because of nebulous accusations of transphobia. It highlighted institutional capture, principally by Stonewall, which had created a culture of fear so even academics and students who abhor campus censorship felt silenced.

Now trans activists are trying to flex their economic muscle against universities. Posters at Sussex said: “We’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia”, and “Fire Stock. . . whose salary comes from our pockets”. Running up £40,000 debts makes students consumers. Add that to a social media block-and-mute culture which breeds intolerance and you create a customer-knows-best undergrad who doesn’t seek a challenging intellectual experience, but courses which uphold their worldview. Universities, like all brands, fear Twitter pile-ons over minor ideological infractions, which might lose them future customers.

This stifling of thought horrifies academics. “These young people, our future teachers, civil servants and leaders,” says one, “are being taught to believe some ideas cannot be challenged. It is deeply dangerous: the death of critical thinking.” Another notes that true “cancel culture” is not about speakers being no-platformed but “the chilling effect of being ostracised, subjected to complaints and so on just for stating a perfectly legal view”.

Stock is no right-wing bigot but a mild-mannered, dry-humoured, left-wing lesbian. An acclaimed philosopher who received an OBE last year, she teaches trans students, respecting their pronouns, and has written repeatedly in support of their human rights. It is bleakly ironic that she is accused of “endangering” others just for holding heretical views, when police have warned her to stay off campus and take security measures for her personal safety.

Yesterday morning a demonstration at Sussex demanded Stock be fired. Ten people, faces concealed, showed up. How many more students are secretly horrified at this bullying? How many vice-chancellors have kept their heads down? How many academics have sent supportive messages to harassed female colleagues saying, “I wish I could speak publicly but I daren’t . . .” It’s time to come out of the shadows, sign open letters, show a tiny portion of the courage Kathleen Stock shows every day in refusing to bow to ideologues as totalitarian as they are deranged.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s