deletedFeb 8
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Brilliant piece, Helen. It shouldn't be surprising but it was truly depressing to read about the circular firing squad Andrew found himself in the middle of.

I have no problem naturally changing language to something more "inclusive" or sex-neutral purely for accuracy, not because I necessarily think it would encourage more women or (insert other minority) to participate. I don't think words can necessarily change reality, but as realities change, a change in language can describe a new reality better. But I can't figure out if the "old" terms were simply neutral terms that could encompass both sexes anyway - in the way that "mankind" uses the word "man" in it but obviously includes the female half of the species too.

For example, with the old school PC wars, I am happy to say "firefighter" instead of "fireman" in genral terms because women can now become firefighters (though, they do so in vanishingly rare numbers compared to men), same with "chairperson" instead of "chairman". But this assumes that "chairperson" wasn't already inclusive of both sexes. It doesn't make much difference to me either way and I certainly don't find it misogynistic to use the "old" term. The point is, either "chairperson" or "chairman" / "chairwoman" can describe the role accurately.

The interesting and, I think, different thing about the new language wars is the demand to neutralise or change words to the point of inaccuracy. In my view, "chairperson" is a naturally sex inclusive role, but "woman" and certainly "female" is not, nor are words around pregnancy, motherhood, breastfeeding etc. These are sex specific and so exclusive to women. This is why I think activists need to police them much harder, because they need to control your thoughts to try to change the way you actually perceive reality. Whatever language you choose to use, we can imagine chairpersons of both sexes and firefighters of both sexes (even if that is rare), but most of us cannot really perceive of a woman of both sexes or of a man as a woman. So, the language and tactics must become even more totalitarian. But also, it's become some sort of weird power grab too, and the "correct" words keep changing - "women" isn't inclusive enough so must become "womxn" but apparently this is now problematic too, and so it keeps on shifting.

Having said all these, I do still remember the dogma of some feminists growing up in the 90s around the language we should use to describe women, girls, and positions of power. And you are certainly right about all the precursors - the Salman Rushdie affair should have taught us that blasphemy was already a deadly affair in the old school days.

I loved the anecdote about the Queen Mother. Would love to see Andrew channel this haha.

Anyway that's the end of my long and rather endless ramble. Thanks as always for the thoughtful commentary, Helen.

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The offended reader is od'ed on narcissistic nonsense. If you've never read Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism, I highly recommend it.

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Political correctness has always been tyranny disguised as manners.

I remember when I was a kid, I ran across various people who were, for lack of a better term, "hippy" type people. I always felt uneasy around them and at the time I didn't know why. Now I realise they spoke "love", "openness" and "freedom" from their mouth, but they constantly came across as very passive aggressive. In my life I have come across very few truly open-minded people who are willing to discuss anything.

I like a quote from Jordan Peterson when he was interviewed on the BBC, "In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive...you're certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth"

I really resonate with this thinking. It is simply not possible to have opinions and to say things out loud whereby not one single person gets offended in one way or another. It's not reasonable to hold the whole world hostage in order to prevent one person, or a minority of people from being offended. It also comes back to personal accountability as well. At the end of the day you, and only you are responsible for the way you feel. This tyranny simply ends up in a chilling effect, where even those sympathetic to the "cause" become afraid to speak out.

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“I don’t, however, think the 80s/90s political ..... movements were benign or polite. “

No. Of course not.

Politics is Power.

Not “truth” and power certainly isn’t free. All you are doing is reinventing the wheel here, it was written in the 19th century that conservatism walks in liberalism’s shadow.

Speech was never free but earned by the sword.

It’s irritating for instance war veterans to read “Free Speech” ... it wasn’t Free. Nothing is Free.

All gave some, Some gave all ... say American veterans of the last generation.

There’s no Free anything.

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I take a different tack for reasons unrelated (I think!) to political correctness. I don't use Chairman, Chairwoman, or Chairperson - I take a functional approach and just use Chair. I loathe the word "firefighter" (even if it is somewhat clearer than "fireman", since it means both someone who puts a fire out as well as one who maintains a fire, as on a steam-train!), so I use "(in the) fire service".

I am definitely of the "Ultra" persuasion - since I see no reason at all to call a man anything related to woman, I fail utterly to see why some men pretending to be women (like Hayton) should be granted this "courtesy" whilst others (like Bryson) shouldn't. It's all harmful at both the individual and societal levels, and I do not see the logic behind either reinforcing a delusion or playing a part in someone's paraphilia or power-game.

Doyle is correct in some ways - Twitter is a terrible platform for nuance - but I lose respect for people such as journalists and MPs who run away when they are faced with pushback. Especially when the pushback was, in large part, well-informed, albeit passionate, from women who know what hhey are talking about. I don't deny that some comments I have seen were well beyond the pale, but I expect thicker skin from people whose job is to listen to others.

Now I'll end my over-long ramble! 😁 😁

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One bit of 80s pc that has always got my goat (and somtimes got me in trouble with other conservatives) is the invention of the (entirely superfluous) newspeak word 'straight'. The subtext is to shift the ground from under people's age old sense that they are just sexually normal people and get them to accept a new pc mental universe in which their sexuality is just one option on some relativist menu kind of thing. And boy how well has this Orwellian relativist project suceeded..... in our wondrous transgender-blah-blah 2024!

Well no thanks: "These so called ‘straight persons’ should have no need of any sexual identity tag to pin on themselves as some sub-group in a relativist social universe. They are Mr & Mrs Ninety-Five-Percent of all known sexual activity. They are boy meets girl; yin and yang. Virtually the entirety of civilisation’s artistic expression of sexual love was – until these crass times – about these ‘straight persons’. Tristan and Isolde, Paris and Helen of Troy, Miss Bennett and Mr Darcy, John boy Walton and Jenny – 'straight persons' all."

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There has been a tremendous disservice done to entire generations by letting them believe that the path to success is to quiet their critics and to lighten their mood dismiss/attack those who use words they find discomforting. We should instead be arming them with knowledge of how to debate and how to use the methods of persuasion. Those do not always work of course, but imagine how much better all online discourse could be if that was the chosen path. I would like my whole language back, please. The good, the bad, and even the oh so ugly. I am pretty sure I can take it, or at least ignore it.

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“Think of The Liability. “ said the FBI SAIC.

“Willful Blindness; Memories of the Jihad.” By Andrew McCarthy , Lawyer for Southern District NYC, who “prosecuted” the WTC I bombers.

The first sentence in the book;

“Think of the Liability.” Said the FBI agent, looking at the smoke of the 1993 bombing, because... they had them... but let them go...

because like laws n stuff.

1993. WTC bombing #1.

As the hour is late and the long night is upon us, I will assert my status as Veteran NCO and be direct. Sorry. If you’re reading this you’re still alive and I may be doing you a favor by being blunt.

Words don’t matter. Not now, and all the time wasted on words was to make us hesitate and not defend ourselves.

Now of course the most trivial things can’t be stopped; as in Trans vs TERFS. Never mind terrorists or armies or cartels.

Lies to get good grades; I didn’t, and my grades reflected it, and anyone talking about college or grades 3-5 years after graduation is strangely nostalgic-but Who cares about college?

Shortly you won’t.

All veterans of the last generation have learned how meaningless and empty words are, and that laws and rules are lying contests.

But part on this note if you cling to words.... as noted here and as was known at the time in the 1980s the *lies* were imposed by the very teachers, lying rewarded and candor punished.

Lies rewarded, Candor punished.

A proper valediction for the Enlightenment.


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Feb 8Liked by Helen Dale

I'm old, and I distinctly remember first hearing the term "politically correct" used in actual speech. In the late 80's a young woman writer at a convention used the phrase, apologizing for not being "politically correct" in what she was about to say.

It was one of those moments when I felt like I had fallen into a different dimension. Why would any American use a term from Maoist China's murderous Cultural Revolution, a term that was explicitly used for consigning people to literal hells on earth? A term that literally means, "Say what I tell you to say or off with your head"? At least Humpty Dumpty only rendered his own speech meaningless, not everyone else's.

Gender is a grammatical term that is only associated with male and female coincidentally in English. In German grammar, pants and windows are of the feminine gender and skirts and TVs are the masculine gender. Gender is a grammatical term of art that has no actual meaning outside of grammar.

Render people incapable of expressing themselves coherently, and you will find them easy to tyrannize. It tends to happen insidiously so that most people aren't even aware of it. See my essay on What is Justice? https://medium.com/@frank.hood/what-is-justice-d8d45e055aee

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Feb 8Liked by Helen Dale

Those who make up the firing squads will one day find themselves in the center. Every time we allow this, the world gets smaller and smaller until there's no one left to fire at and words have no meaning. Great post.

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Feb 8Liked by Helen Dale

I think you are being sympathetic to Doyle, although I am not sure how far you address the dilemma he - and the rest of us - face. I have seen his piece now in UnHerd, which explains the background. It seems so unfair on someone who has shown enough courage already. It does just show how deranged we can become, once we pull apart the basic structures of social norms. It is ironic that in a more conventional society we can be more tolerant of differences. There we negotiate our relationships on an equal footing. Debbie Hayton does not pretend to be what she is not, neither is she out to prove a point and change society. So it does not cost much to offer the courtesy of the desired pronoun. The problem is that if we do that, we feel we are endorsing the Stonewall agenda. A fragmented society gets harder and harder to put back together.

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Excellent piece.

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When a person becomes an adult, they can make whatever social construct they want. Just do not try to force me to guess your chosen identity. It wont work and I will not comply. If you politely correct me and ask me to call you your chosen pronoun or identity, I will do my level best to remember it and use it.

Force, fear, and coercion are not good ways to gain acceptance.

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As I read the article I noticed that you pointed to the vitriol on X, formerly the Twitter brand. I agree. What I worry about is that you said you've basically abandoned the platform. You and I and everyone else that disagrees with the train wreck being foisted on us are being pushed around trying to find a place to stand our ground. And it's working. The more violent they get and the more we run, the more they win. It's time to stop retreating. It's time to support one another and fighting battles single handedly. I understand though. The lefts verbal ( and often physical) atrocities put sane people off. Thank for being brave.

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David Hayton is a man. He rationally knows he's a man, as he has admitted. How can he "feel like" he's a woman then? How can he even demand to be called "she" and why does he try to claim that "trans" even exists? It cannot. He admits he cannot change sex.

Why doesn't he just get a haircut and call himself David? WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANYTHING THIS MAN DOES?

He's worse than the other dumb trannies because he's inconsistent. At least those other degenerates are consistent in their lies and nonsense.

Andrew Doyle is part of the problem. If anyone goes along with any of these lies, at all, they've allowed the whole thing to happen. There is no way to open the door to this nonsense and stop it a little, when you think "it's okay for adults to do what they want!" No, it's not.

He wouldn't have allowed an anorexic on the show and called her fat to be "polite." He wouldn't call a schizophrenic Napoleon out of politeness.

David is a man. Call him that. There's only one kind. End of story.

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