WHAT DOES A POLICY of “No Debate!” produce? What is the nature of the politics that emerges from such a context? When at least one side of a contentious issue acknowledges absolutely nothing in the arguments of its opponents that is worthy of any other response but vituperation and violence – what happens?
As is so often the case, the Weimar Republic offers us some grim lessons. Its very name tells a story. Born in 1918 amidst the chaos that followed Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the recently proclaimed republic drew up its new constitution in the ancient Thuringian city of Weimar. Why? Because in the German capital, Berlin, running street battles between the Left and the Right made it an unsuitable locale for rational debate.
Extremism also stalked the streets of Bavaria’s largest city, Munich. Students of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich will recognise Munich as the “home” of National Socialism: the city where the Nazi Party’s “Brownshirts” brawled in the beerhalls and roughed up socialists in the streets. Less understood, however, are the political dynamics that made the formation of the Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers) necessary.
Before it became a bastion of the extreme German Right, Munich had, briefly, been in the hands of the extreme German Left. The city was polarised in ways most New Zealanders living in the twenty-first century would struggle to imagine. Those of us old enough to remember the tensions of the 1981 Springbok Tour might have some inkling but, given that no one was killed in those disturbances, not enough. In short, Munich was a city in which “No Debate!” was the rule – on both sides of the barricades.
It was in response to the standard communist tactic of breaking-up the meetings of their ideological opponents that Hitler and his right-hand man, Ernst Rohm (a former soldier and military adventurer with close ties to the upper echelons of the German Army) took steps to recruit young war veterans to guard Nazi venues and beat-off left-wing attackers. (Their trade-mark brown shirts were purchased as a job-lot by Rohm when Germany, having lost its African colonies, found itself in possession of a warehouse full of useless colonial uniforms.)
As the Nazi Party grew in strength, and the Stormtroopers in number, the tables were turned on Munich’s left-wing extremists. Now it was the Brownshirts who were breaking-up the meetings of communists and social-democrats, or gathering outside left-wing venues to menace and harass anyone foolhardy enough to attempt entry. The extreme Left, which had pioneered the “No Debate!” tactic against “reactionaries”, now found their earlier disruptions repaid, with interest, by the pistol-packing bully-boys of the extreme Right.
Weimar’s judgement on the extremist policy of permitting “No Debate!” with ideological opponents is a harsh one. It drives political groups further and further apart, and makes any kind of resolution of political differences impossible. Deployed against one side, it will be taken up with vengeful alacrity by the other. Political polarisation deepens, and the civil political discourse upon which democracy depends retreats ever further from the public square. Moreover, as the fate of the Weimar Republic makes tragically clear: what the Left starts, the Right is happy to finish.
And the point of this history lesson is – what?
Simply, that the current policy of trans-gender activists to countenance “No Debate!” with feminists apprehensive about how the proposed amendments to the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act might impact on the rights of women and girls, has generated an astonishing level of political vituperation – up to and including repeated efforts to deny their opponents both the freedom of expression and the freedom to assemble peacefully.
Just how vicious this “No Debate” fight has become was illustrated when the Otago Daily Times published an advertisement submitted by the Stand Up For Women group. By agreeing to carry SUFW’s message – the dictionary definition of “woman” – the newspaper exposed itself to bitter and sustained attack from trans-gender activists on social media. By allowing their enemies (for that is how “trans-exclusionary” feminists are perceived) to define the meaning of woman, the ODT was accused of taking up position on the wrong side of history.
By upholding freedom of speech and facilitating civil democratic debate, however, the ODT has shown its understanding of history’s “wrong side” to be both deeper and stronger than its critics’.
This essay was originally published in the Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 17 September 2021.
The passing of this Bill is a formality but astonishing that even then there are attempts to stamp out any opposing views. I am glad you wrote this article and that the ODT published it.
Pays not to predetermine some political questions. NZ differs from war zones and various lawless backwaters with high stakes including loss of life and liberty for indulging in what we take for granted–freedom of speech, association and assembly. Not that huge numbers in the neo liberal era have consistently exercised those hard won rights apart from Nuke Free NZ in the 80s, the Feb 2016 Auckland TPPA action, various union battles, and several Climate Disaster school strikes.
“Punch a fascist” as some militants like to say–really–how many people these days have ever punched anyone? since school days? Those willing to physically assault others would more likely be enlisted to tackle leftists if it comes down to it.
As union leader, the late GH ‘Bill’ Andersen used to say, “if might is always right, some one in a wheel chair is always going to be wrong”, their views discounted or ignored. So organisation and wide support is what to aim for.
I have some sympathy for "trans-exclusionary" feminists.
If a man thinks he is a woman dresses like a woman, clearly he a woman.
So, if I think I am Elvis and dress like Elvis does this mean I am Elvis?
A delusion underpinned by a neurological disorder is still a delusion.
Women are entitled to female only spaces.
Excellent comments Chris and an important reminder from history. We must defend the right to debate whatever the cost. I am ready to protest in the streets if we have to do so to protect freedom of speech which is the inalienable right of every citizen.
Thanks so much for writing this Chris.
SUFW have been much vilified. They formed in 2018 in response to a clause added to The BDMRR Act
Which was an innocuous piece of legislation to update the BD and marriages register to put them on-line.
An attempt was made to sneak through the gender self-I d part of this bill, which will allow any man, at any stage of
his life to change his sex on his birth certificate.
SUFW comprises in the main of left wing feminists who have fought many causes over the years
Particularly for women’s rights. They understandably feel concerned about a bill that allows any man to
Change a legal document to say they are woman. Their concerns include men who identify as women and
those who will use the law to gain access to women’s spaces, competitions, sport, prisons, accommodation etc.
Already in NZ and overseas this has created problems for women. We have reports in this country of male bodied people accessing
female change rooms, where women and girls are present. In California, where they have gender self I d
a trans women (male bodied) went into a female steam room and was naked with a semi erect penis. Women complained, but they were told
that the person was a woman,. The transwoman turns out to be a sex offender. This is one of many, many stories of how gender self I d
and allowing gender identity to trump biological reality. Understandably SUFW are wanting to provide safeguarding for girls, teen girls and adult women.
SUFW have been harassed by the trans activist lobby. When they attempted to hold meetings about their concerns about the legislation
four libraries cancelled their bookings. SUFW went to the High Court, which deemed their meetings should go ahead and that they weren’t a
The NZ media have colluded with the trans gender activists (probably indirectly) and have completely censored any critique of the
legislation and failed to provide a balanced view. Their silence on these issues (other than positive trans ideology stories)
is deafening and reflects very badly on the fourth estate.
I commend your courage in writing this article. You are a true journalist. Thank you.
Perhaps an even better example of this process can be found in the'sound and fury' surrounding the Three Waters and He Puapua possibilities being mooted by a Government that has already signalled its disdain for democratic process by denying communities the right to protest when their elected local governance reserves seats at the table to a singular ethnicity, however the latter may be defined.
Democracy everywhere seems to be under increasing threat as the exchange of ideas between people willing to listen, its lifeblood, is being eroded by social media soundbites of intolerance, irrationality, and insult, the fuel of bullying.
We are moving into a darkening place....
I don't think somehow that there are hordes of men just waiting to dress up in women's clothes and go into the women's toilets. Although when I had a job as a cleaner, I had to enter them, and certainly the graffiti was a lot more entertaining.
"Conservatives usually counter that there are examples of men sneaking into women’s bathrooms to attack women. But as PolitiFact reported, none of the examples cited in the US happened after a city or state passed a nondiscrimination law or otherwise let trans people use the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity. Instead, these seem to be examples of men doing awful things regardless of the law — which has, unfortunately, happened since the beginning of civilization."
Thanks for the SUFW background. (Speak Up For Women)
This was said in June 2021 on TDB and shows the bad results we will incur from this speech limiting bill and movement.
Shane thanks for thoughtful comment - we all operate under some delusions, it isn't rare. If a man wants to be a woman then let him go through the operations and chemical hormone treatment; Jan Morris. Or just perform on stage; Eddie Izzard, even Georgina Beyer. Otherwise it is brazen pushing into female spaces by subterfuge, as welcome as as a group of triffids (Day of the Triffids).
The idea that anyone can change their sex or gender on what is often little more than a whim (and demand legal and societal approval and enforcement for said change) is symptomatic of late stage, terminal liberalism.
Now that the excesses of Western liberalism, which were formerly constrained by reason, humility and a morality grounded (but not necessarily overtly) in Christianity, we are seeing the forced social acceptance and, indeed, state enforcement of all sorts of mad ideas. Mary Harrington (as usual) has a very interesting take on it over on UnHerd: How Satanism conquered America
"Milton saw Satan’s refusal to submit to any law (however ambivalently) as the sin of pride. Now, in our post-Christian world of self-actualisation, pride is no longer a sin. Rather, it’s a vital part of becoming fully yourself. As body modification micro-celebrity Farrah Flawless put it: “I do not believe in God, I don’t worship the Devil, but yes I am a Satanist which means I am my own god. I worship myself’.
Indeed, it’s so far from being a sin that sacralised self-worship now has an annual religious festival. This new, increasingly pseudo-religious summer event, simply known as “Pride Month”, may have started out as a twentieth-century campaign for gay and lesbian equality. But what began as a justified and (at root deeply Christian) campaign for equal treatment for gay and lesbian people has long since morphed into a corporate-sponsored celebration of individualism that today horrifies many gay and lesbian people."
Here is a clip from the streets of Philadelphia, no need to watch the whole utterly sickening thing but I defy anyone to explain what's going on here, this hell or purgatory, as anything but the end product, the death throws of ungrounded liberalism. https://youtu.be/HRqQ6-ANjL4
Before the Colonial era there were non-binary groupings throughout the Pacific basin - from Polynesia, to Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Siberia and the Americas (from Alaska through to South America), as well as India, Turkish people and many others.
The difference with today is that many cultures accepted that gender was dimorphic. Samoa has the fa'afafine (generally seen as a 'feminized' 'man' and the fa'afatama (seen as a 'masculinized' 'female'), however, culturally a fa'afafine was not a woman, a fa'afatama was not a man. They were 3rd and 4th genders. Similarly, many Native American cultures recognized at least 6 genders.
Western classification and legislation of cultural gender identity suppressed these nuanced and more fluid traditional views of gender.
I make this point because the dominant and western historical view is to accept only two gender classifications based physiologically (although up to 1 in 100 births may be intersex), and place other gender identities in the disorder classification.
The problem is that those that would have wider or fluid gender classification in historical cultures, are forced to chose an identity between the two western genders.
I would suggest that over the next few decades, those that identify outside the male / female dichotomy will have wider accepted gender groupings. Different circumstance may require different grouping. I am aware SUFW advocate that in sport safety would require those that have physiologically advantage through previous gender classification not competing with those that are physiologically women. Their solution is to have a women's sport category and an other (inc. men).
It is interesting that Taika Waititi's up coming movie, "Next Goal Wins" features a person who identifies as Fa'afafine playing in the American Samoan Olympic qualifier football tournaments. This is as much ground breaking as Laurel Hubbard. There a debate that should be heard, with respect and dignity given to those looking for a place in western society which has been suppressed.
Yes Barron, that sounds sensible; hijacking and insisting on the descriptor "woman" or "man" when you're not is neither sensible nor sane. The Polynesians have a specific name for an overtly feminine man for a very good reason.
Gurella Surgeon.......bullshit. Google WiSpa, the spa in LA where the transgender women was naked in a spa room with a semi erect penis around women and girls.....he is a registered sex offender and has been charged.
It is not ok for male bodied however they identify, to be in female spaces such as change rooms. It not ok for women and it’s certainly not ok
for male bodied people to be in change rooms with female teenagers and girls.....End of
Recent research has shown women are more likely to be assaulted, filmed etc in unisex change rooms. Under the 1993 human rights act
women are accorded this right
People are free to identify how they wish. Cross dressing or being a transsexual has never been illegal in NZ.
It’s not gender that is dimorphic it is sex. Two sexes, male and females. Even the vast majority of intersex have either xx or xy chromosomes and fall into either male or female Just have hormonal differences or ambiguous genitalia.
Gender identity is an internal sense, a feeling, that cannot be observed or measured, only declared by the self. As such it doesn’t trump material reality.
Yes Anon, I caught that Wi Spa clip when it first came out, really funny. If it wasn't so sick. The African American lady complaining about the "women" flashing "her" far from flaccid phallus at the girls was a classic with "that's not no transgender, I seen a penis".
There was a hell of a fuss with protestors from both sides outside Wi Spa for weeks. It turned out, as you say, "she" was a convicted sex offender with a history of sexual assault and sexual exposure. What are women coming to these days.
In the UK another convicted sex offender, banged up in prison, wakes up one day and decides he's a she. They were duly transferred to a women's prison (are there no adults in charge) and got stuck in with sexual assault and (attempted?) rape. Turns out that, in the UK, of the 125 trans in prison sixty are convicted sex offenders - pedophiles, rapists etc.
Gender identity is the new "immortal soul". It is being enforced by the new Priests the same way as the old Priests. They are attempting to use the levers of the State to enforce their ideology on us all.
"Gurella Surgeon.......bullshit. Google WiSpa, the spa in LA where the transgender women was naked in a spa room with a semi erect penis around women and girls.....he is a registered sex offender and has been charged."
Again ..."these seem to be examples of men doing awful things regardless of the law — which has, unfortunately, happened since the beginning of civilization."
The major threat to democracy is those who shout 'freedom'. I know them too, too, well. 'Freedom' is the catcall of the plutocrats who've ruled us since the Freemarket coup of circa 1980. Here in NZ we talk, and our insane (thankfully) 10 % talk about freedom, rather than the solidarity needed to construct our future. 'United we stand, divided we fall'.
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