Yes folks, it’s the blockbuster of the year. You’ve heard of Star Wars but now it’s Culture Wars.
OK, it may not be the name of a new film, but we are at war in this country. Maybe not like those poor sods in Ukraine, but the bodies are still piling up and there’s no sign of it ending before Christmas.
So how did we get here?
Well, I probably don’t know any more than you, but as a white cis man in his 50s, I certainly have an opinion.
Though before I begin, I will need to tell you that I am not bringing politics into this inherently political matter. This is because I must remain impartial in such things, or my boss will strip me naked and march me through the streets of Devon with a P45 wedged up my arse.
So let me tell you about the side I am on in this war. Well, I suppose you would call me a wishy-washy liberal leftie. Sometimes I find myself thinking the thoughts of a righty, but these can generally be put down to my not having slept very well and are easily dispelled with a cup of coffee.
For the most part, my view of the world is that it’s better to try to understand one another and even attempt love our fellow men and women. I tend to think that it is our differences which make us stronger and welcome people into our country who are escaping grinding poverty and persecution, while delighting in the contribution they make to our society. I’m looking at you Yorkshire Haloumi. Yum yum!
It’s very much a Star Trek view of the world and one that I believe is right. However not everyone agrees with me, which used to be fine until the bin fire of the Brexit referendum.
You see, we used to think that those people who disagreed with us were just idiots that we could condescend to. We figured that if we simply tousled their hair and told them they were a big silly, they’d just go away and become like us.
OK, we didn’t do that. What we did was slap them down and called them idiots. We told them that what they said had offended us and they should never say it again. We belittled them in public and didn’t even try to have a reasonable discussion with them. Our way was the right way, and they should know their place and stop believing nonsense.
So, they went away feeling angry and humiliated. It’s very human to double down when you’re hurt like that. To take something that may have been a received opinion and now shape it into your entire reason for living.
We have seen how this plays out with people in the public eye like Graham Linehan. He was attacked for a badly thought-out transgender character in The IT Crowd and slowly descended into madness while being cheered on by a group of very unpleasant people indeed.
He lost his career and marriage when he became fixated by the people who’d upset him. He found like-minded people to validate his opinions and continue with the false narrative that transgender women are just men who dress up in frocks, so they can hang out in women’s lavatories and look at ladies weeing – possibly with the use of x-ray specs or something. He insists that transgender women should use the gender of lavatory gifted to them at birth and that there should be laws making it a legal requirement. Forgetting of course, all those big beardy trans men who would then be forced to use women’s lavatories.
Not to mention his whole ‘won’t somebody think of the children’ rhetoric.
What he forgets is there are laws in place to protect children from being forcibly transitioned. Oh and it’s taking two to six years to get an appointment with a Gender Identity Clinic, so this isn’t something anybody is being rushed into.
It is possible that in some cases children with extreme gender dysphoria may be prescribed puberty blockers. These are drugs which do what they say on the tin, they stop you going into puberty, and as that’s the time in your life when your biological gender asserts itself, it’s a good way to give kids a little extra time to work things out. If they decide that they were mistaken and their dysphoria stems from a different place, such as abuse or other trauma. Then the blockers can be discontinued, and the child goes through puberty as normal. So, to say that children are being forced into transitioning is a false narrative.
There is, that phrase again. What the hell is a false narrative?
Well, the false narrative or narrative fallacy, is the way the far right of our culture will shape a story to confirm their own biases. In the UK we can see examples of this on the front pages of The Daily Mail and Daily Express.
This is different from ‘Fake News’ which is often pure fantasy. The false narrative is real news but presented to such a way as to influence a reader to be receptive to more radical views (radical in the sense of radicalization, as opposed to new and refreshing). Sadly, these narratives are becoming all too common and leading to attacks on anybody who disagrees with them.
At the beginning of this blog, I said we are at war. Those of us are on the left of our culture are attacked every single day. Transgender people are told that they’re not real. Those of us who espouse a fair and accepting society are denounced as ‘woke’. Attacks by the far right on vulnerable people are increasing, sometime leading to suicides. This is a war and there are dead bodies to prove it. However, those dead are on only one side. We good guys may not always win but we’ll fight to our last breath. Not with guns but with words and we know a lot of those.
However, it is important that we be gentle with ourselves and others. Instead of screaming back at the people who have set themselves against us. Let’s try and convince them with patience and kind words. You never know, it might just work. It has in the past.