World

The ‘Woke’ Police

(Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS)
In the U.K., the police investigate law-abiding citizens on suspicion of ‘hate.’

American readers ought to be infinitely grateful that their founders had the foresight to secure in the U.S. Bill of Rights, as their first point of order, that

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Unfortunately, British citizens enjoy no equivalent, absolute protection. Recently, as the U.K. press has reported, a number of individuals have been investigated by the police on suspicion of “hate incidents.”

And what is a hate incident? Quite simply: speech or behavior that breaks no law but that a protected minority group finds to be offensive. That police time and resources are being redirected from real crimes — which Britain has a lot of — to thought crimes is not only embarrassingly wasteful but deeply sinister.

For instance, this week the woke police have come after Caroline Farrow, a journalist. A journalist doing what journalists are supposed to do: challenge the status quo and foster public debate. Appearing on TV and writing columns, Farrow approaches issues from a Catholic and conservative perspective. However, she also holds beliefs that are widely shared by many Britons: that a person’s sex depends on his biology, not how he identifies. And that this point matters for laws and policies related to sex.

After appearing on Piers Morgan’s TV show Good Morning Britain with Susie Green — the CEO of Mermaids U.K., a charity which aggressively promotes sex-change treatments for gender confused children and young people — to discuss the Girl Guides (the British equivalent of Girl Scouts) and their policy on transgender members, Farrow was surprised to learn that she was under police investigation, prompted by Green’s complaint. She explained on Twitter:

According to Green, Farrow had “misgendered” her 26-year-old child, Jackie, who, born male, became Britain’s youngest transsexual at the age of 16. In addition, Green claims that Farrow committed “hate incidents” when she wrote on Twitter that the penile inversion surgery that Jackie underwent in Thailand was “mutilation,” “castration,” and “child abuse.”

Some may find Farrow’s tweets wrong or bluntly put. But others would agree that altering children’s genitals and setting them up for a lifetime of complications (including sterility and sexual dysfunction) does indeed constitute “mutilation” and is indeed “child abuse.” Others may consider such surgeries to be morally equivalent to, or even worse than, female genital mutilation done for cultural or religious reasons. Which perhaps explains why Farrow felt that blunt language was necessary. In any case, Green is a public figure who is promoting highly controversial gender laws and policies. How, since she has elected herself a spokesperson, can she reasonably expect to be free from criticism?

Farrow is certainly not immune from criticism. Last month she told me by phone that her criticisms of transgenderism have resulted in an onslaught of online abuse. Her home address and pictures of her children have been shared by her critics online. A website has been set up solely to criticize her on a near-daily basis. One activist even showed up at her husband’s church and tweeted pictures of it. Farrow found all this rather threatening. Yet the police don’t consider any of it to be a “hate incident.”

This is not the first time that the police have investigated a person at the behest of Susie Green. In September 2017 she made a complaint against Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, a mom of four, to the West Yorkshire police. After screeds of prose justifying her campaigning and parenting, Green wrote:

These [Keen-Minshull’s tweets] are directed personally at me, saying I have taken my gay son to get castrated, they say “the cult is going to end.” Again saying we are child abusers and we prey on homosexual teens. . . . My colleagues at Mermaids are also distressed and feel threatened by this escalation and the words used, and as they have much younger gender variant children, feel more exposed and at risk.

Again, though strongly worded, Keen-Minshull’s six tweets express a view that countless people hold. She made no threat of violence or abuse. The Crown prosecution service dropped the case against Keen-Minshull, but she is currently under another investigation for similar comments she made about Susie Green on her YouTube channel. It should go without saying that, no matter how “distressed” strident disagreement makes the staff at Mermaids U.K. feel, they should not be able to wield the threat of law enforcement to shut down debate.

These are not isolated incidents. Last year, the Telegraph reported that a police officer told a 53-year-old man investigated for simply posting — not writing — a trans-critical limerick, “I’ve been on a course and what you need to understand is that you can have a fetus with a female brain that grows male body parts and that’s what a transgender person is.”

Another mom of two was arrested and held in a cell for seven hours after she identified a trans woman as a man on Twitter. Margaret Nelson, a 74-year-old lady, was also contacted by British police after she wrote: “Gender’s fashionable nonsense. Sex is real.”

It isn’t just transgender ideology that the woke police are enforcing. Several weeks ago, a 64-year-old Nigerian Christian street preacher was handcuffed by police in London and driven to the outskirts of the city to “somewhere where you can’t get back to preach,” after he referred to Islam as an “aberration.” This, police said, constituted “Islamophobia,” and it was met with the following:

All of this is deeply sinister. What business is it of the police to prevent people from offending each other? What do they hope to gain by investigating law-abiding citizens and journalists? Why aren’t politicians speaking out against this insanity? The rise of the woke police is a thoroughly menacing development that will be used by ideologues and extremists to bully the general public into silence on important debates.

Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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