By Edward Skidelsky, The Critic
In March 2019, tax expert Maya Forstater was dismissed from her job — legally, according to a later judicial ruling — for voicing the view that “sex is a biological fact, and is immutable.” When author J.K. Rowling came to Forstater’s defence, she was bombarded with abuse, including an invitation from one lady to “choke on my fat trans cock”. The case became a cause célèbre. But it is only one of many such cases. Today, anyone who ventures a controversial opinion on “trans”, race, disability, Middle Eastern politics and a handful of other issues risks being fired, insulted, intimidated and possibly prosecuted.
Last year, a “Journal of Controversial Ideas” was launched, offering authors the option of writing under a pseudonym “in order to protect themselves from threats to their careers or physical safety”. How did things come to this pass?
The new intolerance is often seen as a specifically left-wing phenomenon — an intensification of the “political correctness” which emerged on US campuses in the 1980s. But that is a one-sided view of the matter. It was US Zionists who pioneered the tactic of putting pressure on organisations to disinvite unfavoured speakers; far-right nationalists are among the keenest cyberbullies; and religious zealots of all stripes are prodigal of death threats.