It’s amazing what whiny snowflakes transphobes are. After tweeting what a judge called opaque, profane or unsophisticated (para 251) and containing “abuse” (para 23) “gender-critical”, ie transphobic, tweets, Harry Miller had a half hour phone conversation with a police officer. He then claims that (para 93) he experienced a deep sense of personal humiliation, shame and embarrassment such that he withdrew from his own company and has not visited his office since. However this embarrassment did not stop him from tweeting continuously about his hatred of trans people ever after.
Some examples are necessary. They are vile, so I white them out: select text to view at your own peril. I don’t quote the tweets that abused individuals personally. “Your breasts are made of silicone/
your vagina goes nowhere/
And we can tell the difference/
Even when you are not there/
Your hormones are synthetic
And let’s just cross this bridge/
What you have, you stupid man/
Is male privilege” (para 56)
This was not even original, he copied it from someone slightly more articulate.
Para 44 is an opaque one: “You know the worst thing about cancer ? It’s transphobic.” Apparently a certain type of brain tumour is different in men and women. He also spread the falsehood that a child-murderer is trans (para 37).
“I was assigned Mammal at Birth, but my orientation is Fish. Don’t mis species me. fuckers.” (para 42)
Enough of that garbage. As the judge says, Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative … Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. (para 3). Unfortunately he does not give a useful analysis of hate speech: because it suppresses the speech of victimised groups, hate speech reduces the benefits of different perspectives that free speech should give.
Para 120: The claimant’s barrister quoted, it may be considered necessary in certain democratic societies to sanction or even prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance …, provided that any ‘formalities’, ‘conditions’, ‘restrictions’ or ‘penalties’ imposed are proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.
Para 228: Mr Giannasi, the police Hate Crime Adviser, said, Failure to address non-crime hate incidents is likely to lead to their increase, and ultimately increase the risk of serious violence and societal damage.
Para 248: Kathleen Stock argues “gender critical” comment is not hate speech.
The judge merely says, para 281, The Claimant’s evidence, which I accept, is that he is not prejudiced and that his tweets were sent as part of an ongoing debate. He does not want to address the issue himself, stating it is for the complainer to give evidence that it is hate. He says only one trans woman complained- I see wicked rubbish like Miller’s tweets, and shrivel a bit, or I just ignore it. Life’s too short. If one has the courage, mental energy and trust in the system necessary to complain, many other trans women seeing his profanities will find them hateful.
So here is the argument that it is hate speech: Miller’s quoted tweets and others first call trans women a threat to cis women, and then mock and vilify us as ridiculous. This is dehumanising. It makes violence against us more likely- after all, who could respect a trans woman? The sense that we are ridiculous is the basis of a lot of the hate I receive, which Miller encourages. I fear that the sexual thrill Miller gets from tweeting about our vaginas will not eventually be enough for him, and he will become actually violent; or, possibly, if he sees a trans woman he will be abusive, in such a way as to be intimidating or harassing- an actual criminal offence. It is reasonable for the police to assess the risk of escalation into more serious harm (para 104ff).
So it was reasonable for a police officer to speak to Miller. The judge disagreed, partly because he thought there was not enough evidence of the harm Miller had caused. He took Stock’s falsehood at face value, that some expressions described as transphobic are not necessarily so (unlike racist language which is always hateful and offensive), para 281, yet he thinks (para 245) that “TERF” can be a pejorative term.
The case is also notable showing the idiocy of Kathleen Stock’s position. She is an academic who tries to drive trans women out from women’s spaces. She says, I argue that there’s nothing wrong, either theoretically, linguistically, empirically, or politically, with the once-familiar idea that a woman is, definitionally, an adult human female. I also argue that the subjective notion of ‘gender identity’ is ill-conceived intrinsically, and a fortiori as a potential object of law or policy. In light of these and other views, I am intellectually ‘gender-critical’; that is, critical of the influential societal role of sex-based stereotypes, generally, including the role of stereotypes in informing the dogmatic and, in my view, false assertion that – quite literally – ‘trans women are women’. I am clear throughout my work that trans people are deserving of all human rights and dignity.
Where to start? There’s also nothing wrong with treating a few thousand trans women culturally and socially as women. Trans women exist, and have done for millennia, no matter what theory, gender identity or otherwise, is used to explain us. Trans acceptance subverts gender stereotypes, and our human rights as usually understood include recognition of our acquired gender: human rights caselaw led to the Gender Recognition Act and our Equality Act protections.
Miller sought to do a great deal of harm. His case argued that Hate Crime Operational Guidance, under which hate crime is investigated, was contrary to his human rights so should be abolished. The judge threw that one out without hesitation. He is left with a decision that in his particular case, the police should have found more evidence of actual harm before a police officer phoned him. Such evidence could easily have been found, had the police sought it: contact a few trans people and see what we think.
To me, it is not necessary that hate tweets have a specific victim, a trans woman who reads them and feels hurt and fearful, for them to be dangerous and a misuse of free speech. Even if, as the judge suggests (para 74) the only readers are his fellow-haters, he still encourages them and they may commit crime because of it, as they radicalise each other. But some organised campaigning- say a team of a dozen trans women, finding complainants to say that they find a particular tweeter’s rants hateful and why, might fulfil the judge’s requirement.
The judge did not accept the complainant’s comment that “eighty years ago Miller would have been making the same comments about Jewish people”- para 60. Well, it’s not certain, and the slippery hater denies hating at all. But he certainly likes to mock and denigrate trans women, and he would probably find some other target if he was not aware of us.
Hate-media report it as you would expect. “Police compared to Stasi and Gestapo by judge” crows the Telegraph. The Daily Mail referred to the police phone call as an “Orwellian nightmare”. The nightmare of trans women abused in the street and by powerful media continues unabated. You can read the whole decision here.