LETTER: I wish Sir John would get out of the habit of throwing blame on to the ‘liberal left intelligentsia’
I agree with a couple of John Hayes’ points in his article of June 11, though deploring some of his loose accusations.
I don’t believe children’s views on their sexuality - sometimes pushed on to them nowadays, and in any case often transient fantasies - should be taken and re-inforced in order to re-direct their lives while they are still young. Such things need maturer understanding than children have yet acquired.
I would have used the word ‘sex’ where he uses ‘gender’. The word’s meanings have varied a bit over time, but until recent years they had more or less settled down: ‘sex’ referred to the unchangeable physical characteristics of the body and was associated with the words ‘male’ and ‘female’, ‘man’ and ‘woman’, whereas ‘gender related to the (potentially changeable) external manifestation of character and was associated with the words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’.
It has always, within my memory, been possible to speak of a feminine man or a masculine woman, and - of course - a person is free to live in the character of the opposite sex if desired, provided it is not for criminal deception. However, I believe it is illogical to say that a male person actually is a woman, or a female a man: that would be to change the long established clear meanings of the words for new ambiguous meanings, and to end up in complete confusion.
The other point of agreement is that I think it is meaningless for a person or a country to apologise for what its previous generations may have done. That doesn’t mean we think those past acts were right from our present point of view, but that the only ones who could meaningfully have apologised would have been those who committed the acts.
It’s certainly possible to express regret that things were as they were, but today’s generation should commit to avoiding injustices of it’s own making, not be voicing empty apologies for what others did. Incidentally though, it does seem a bit out of place nowadays to sing with great gusto a wish to expand Britain’s area of physical conquest in the world (Land of Hope and Glory).
I wish Sir John would get out of the habit of throwing blame on to the ‘liberal left intelligentsia’ or other definitions he has for people who do not share his own exact views. For one thing, this is picking up an American use of the term ‘liberal’, and can be misunderstood in the British context. For another, he condemns whole classes for things that many of them do not do or believe.
He seems to aim to maintain and reinforce a division in society, an ‘us and them’, so as to create a warm feeling amongst his ‘us’. He speaks against intolerance, but himself is one of the most intolerant of other’s views. He implies condemnation of those who historically claimed an exclusive understanding of truth, but seems to manifest a similar claim for himself.