It is one of the axioms of political correctness that those who complain first are always right. If one takes the time to consider complaints on their merit, the whole mess of contradictory and arbitrary rules falls down in a heap. The only way
to make it work is for those who complain loudest or first to be deemed totally correct and the only allowed response for those on the receiving end is to capitulate entirely and fall to the ground in a grovelling apology.
Of course there are a lot of right people wronged by this Monty Pythonesque pantomime but they don't usually get much of a say in the unjust process. But at least the Mumsnet website is taking a stand. Users of parenting site Mumsnet have
announced they will boycott margarine product Flora following a transphobia row.
Upfield, which owns the Flora margarine brand, withdrew from an advertising partnership with Mumsnet after Twitter user @mimmymum and campaign group Stop Funding Hate raised concerns over the existence of supposed transphobic content on the site.
Now, a thread calling for Mumsnet users to abstain from buying the margarine brand and other products belonging to the Upfield group has attracted over 760 comments.
The row started after Upfield responded to a tweet questioning how its company values of being intolerant of discrimination and harassment aligned with a promotion that marketed Flora as Mumsnet rated.
Activist Helen Islan claimed on Twitter that the platform is a place where people write strong messages against transgender people. Shortly thereafter, Upfield responded by saying that they would conduct the necessary investigations to determine
if this was true since they take human rights and diversity policies very seriously.
While the investigations take place, the brand decided to remove its ads from Mumsnet, in what ended up being a move where they would please a small group of people, but annoy many more.
Upfield's decision is now being strongly criticized by mothers who use the website, who indicate that they are simply exercising their right to express themselves freely. The website has multiple posts where topics about transgenderism are
discussed, particularly and understandably about the parenting aspects of children expressing a desire to change their gender. And one can guess that in many cases the parents would be unlikely to be supportive of the notion that the kids are
Justine Roberts – a founder of Mumsnet, responded to the advertising withdrawal saying that it demonstrated that the margarine brand has been influenced by a “group of Twitter activists.
The consensus of opinion on the forum is that Mumsnet users will indeed boycott Flora.
If you're not familiar with Virtue Signal , you're probably wondering why actual Social Justice activists would take such great offense to a card game that unravels the minutiae of their ideologically-driven movement? Well, it's because the card
game points out how hypocritical, contradictory, and bigoted Social Justice Warriors actually are.
A tweet on Burger King's Twitter page, seen on 18 May 2019, included the text Dear people of Scotland. We're selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying
Twenty-four complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive because they believed it encouraged violence and anti-social behaviour.
Burger King responded that the tweet was intended to be a tongue in cheek reaction to recent events where milkshakes had been thrown at political figures. Burger King stated that it did not endorse violence and that was made clear with a
follow-up tweet posted after responses to the tweet under complaint. The follow-up tweet stated, We'd never endorse violence -- or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ad was posted the day after a branch of McDonalds Restaurants in Edinburgh had chosen not to sell milkshakes or ice-cream products during a nearby political rally addressed by Nigel Farage, because milkshakes had been thrown at political
figures in recent weeks. Those events had been widely reported in the media and we therefore considered that people who saw the tweet were likely to be aware of what had happened and that Nigel Farage was due to make more public appearances in
Scotland that weekend. In that context we considered that the ad was likely to be seen as a reference to the recent incidents of milkshaking political figures. Although we acknowledged that the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response
to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser's competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to milkshake Nigel Farage. We
considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
I recently completed a book defending free speech. Emerald Press scheduled it for publication but then decided not to proceed. Here's what it said about the book in Emerald's September 2019 catalogue:
In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor Author James R. Flynn, University of Otago, New Zealand
Synopsis: The good university is one that teaches students the intellectual skills they need to be intelligently critical--of their own beliefs and of the narratives presented by politicians and the media. Freedom to debate is essential to the
development of critical thought, but on university campuses today free speech is restricted for fear of causing offence. In Defense of Free Speech surveys the underlying factors that circumscribe the ideas tolerated in our institutions of
learning. James Flynn critically examines the way universities censor their teaching, how student activism tends to censor the opposing side and how academics censor themselves, and suggests that few, if any, universities can truly be seen as
good. In an age marred by fake news and social and political polarization, In Defense of Free Speech makes an impassioned argument for a return to critical thought.
I was notified of Emerald's decision not to proceed byEmerald's publishing director, in an email on 10th June:
I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor . Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. By the nature of its subject matter,
the work addresses sensitive topics of race, religion, and gender. The challenging manner in which you handle these topics as author, particularly at the beginning of the work, whilst no doubt editorially powerful, increase the sensitivity and
the risk of reaction and legal challenge. As a result, we have taken external legal advice on the contents of the manuscript and summarize our concerns below.
There are two main causes of concern for Emerald. Firstly, the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. For
example, one test is merely whether it is likely that racial hatred could be stirred up as a result of the work. This is a particular difficulty given modern means of digital media expression. The potential for circulation of the more
controversial passages of the manuscript online, without the wider intellectual context of the work as a whole and to a very broad audience--in a manner beyond our control--represents a material legal risk for Emerald.
Secondly, there are many instances in the manuscript where the actions, conversations and behavior of identifiable individuals at specific named colleges are discussed in detail and at length in relation to controversial events. Given the
sensitivity of the issues involved, there is both the potential for serious harm to Emerald's reputation and the significant possibility of legal action. Substantial changes to the content and nature of the manuscript would need to be made, or
Emerald would need to accept a high level of risk both reputational and legal. The practical costs and difficulty of managing any reputational or legal problems that did arise are of further concern to Emerald.
The EU recently enacted an internet censorship law giving websites the right to demand fees for linking to them. It was hoped that Google in particular would end up paying for links to European news providers struggling for revenue in the modern
But it seems that Google may have other ideas. Google is changing the way it displays news stories produced by European publishers in France as new copyright rules go into effect. Rather than paying publishers to display snippets of their news
stories, as was intended, Google will show only headlines from articles instead.
Google says that it doesn't pay for news content as a matter of policy. The company shut down its Google News in Spain after a law passed in 2014 would have mandated such payments. Google are sticking to their guns. The company said:
We believe that Search should operate on the basis of relevance and quality, not commercial relationships. That's why we don't accept payment from anyone to be included in organic search results and we don't pay for the links or preview content
included in search results.
This move will disappoint publishers who had hoped for additional revenue as a result of new copyright law that goes into effect in France next month. The country is the first to implement European Union copyright rules passed earlier this year .
But perhaps there is a worse to come for European companies. It could be that in a page of Google news search results, US news services may have embellished entries with snippets and thumbnail images whilst the European equivalent will just have
a boring text link. And guess which entries people will probably click on.
Maybe it won't be long before European companies set their fees at zero for using their snippets and images.