Monday, 2 February 2015

Worrying Words of Doctor Rupert Read!

The Man who took on Freedom, Chomsky & the Transgender Politics
IN January, Rupert Read who is a Philosopher and Green councillor, had to apologise for some tweets in which he questioned the validity of trans people's gender, describing trans women as 'a sort of "opt-in" version of what it is to be a woman'.  His comments were condemned by the Green LGBTIQ group, and Sahar Brown, a former Cambridge councillor and trans activist, attacked him for 'endorsing a fringe form of feminism that portrays transgender women as dangerous sex pests and predators'.

Mr. Read has said:  'It is completely, 100% untrue, for instance to claim that I "portray transgender women as dangerous sex pests and predator".  On the contrary I reject transphobia completely.  But I also remain a very strong backer of feminism.  All that I have done is join many feminists in saying that it is up to women, not anyone else - and certainly not me - to decide who gets let into women-only spaces, such as women's toilets.  All women have a right to be involved in making those decisions.  I think that most Cambridge residents will see that as a not-unreasonable point of view, and will find it surprising that I have been told repeatedly on Twitter to "Go f*** myself (and much worse) for saying so, including by a handful of activists from certain other parties, who perhaps have been looking at this as an easy way to stick the boot into the Greens as we threaten them in the polls both nationally and here in Cambridge.'

Thus, Mr. Read believes, I think, that only 'real' women should have the right to decide who uses the 'Ladies' toilets.  That is according to Read the position of 'many feminists', and he says that they have the right to let women into women-only spaces. 
Elsewhere Rupert has claimed that Media Lens tends to talk up the numbers of victims from western actions but to minimise those of regimes in conflict with the west, such as those of Milošević and Bashar al-Assad in Syria.[26]  He has accused them of using dubious source material on fatalities in the 2012 Syrian crisis from Aisling Byrne and Robert Dreyfuss.

Back in 2001, Rupert Read while then at the Manchester Met. University (MMU), wrote an essay in a publication titled  'Chomsky & his Critics'  and what was to become the Alternative Raven:  Language, Mind & Society, when the then managers of Freedom Press refused to publish Mr. Read's essay entitled 'What is "Chomskyism" or Chomsky Against Chomsky'.  The reason given by Donald Rooum, now one of the Friends of Freedom Press, was that the essay by Rupert Read was 'too academic' for anarchists in England to understand.  Others took the view that the real reason was because Professor Noam Chomsky himself had taken strong exception in a letter to me as editor to Mr. Read's essay; which while it praised Pro. Chomsky's politics it strongly criticised his linguistic theories.

At the time I, as editor of The Alternative Raven, wrote:
'The majority of articles in this Alternative Raven are concerned with the work of the leading linguist and political thinker, Noam Chomsky, the essays of Rupert Read ('What is "Chomskyism"?') and Wil Coleman ('Noam Chomsky & the Myth of the Generative Grammar') are both controversial critiques of the writings of Chomsky.  But Doctor Read's less technical cheeky polemic, perhaps because it is more lightweight has drawn blood.' 
I claimed that both Read and Chomsky 'recognise they are trying to tackle the job set by Orwell in his essay "Politics & the English Language".'   In that essay written for Horizon in 1946, Orwell claimed, 'In our time political speech is largely the defence of the indefensible'.
I continued:
'Naturally Rupert Read's attempt to extend this criticism of the misuse of words from the realm of politics to linguistics, cognitive science and philosophy as well as sociology and ethnomethodology is upsetting some people.' 
Hence, Mr. Read not only trod on the big toes of Professor Chomsky in 2001, but he caused some consternation among the Freedom Press anarchists such as Donald Rooum, who was desperate to insist that Freedom was not engaged in censorship in order to protect Noam Chomsky's feelings.  Professor Chomsky seemed to have a special relationship with Freedom through the good offices of Milan Rai (now the editor of Peace News).  Mr. Rai was formerly Professor Chomsky's political secretary, and had seemingly been putting pressure on Freedom not to publish Rupert Read's essay.

It was one of those moments when Freedom showed itself to be lacking the guts to take on Professor Chomsky and Milan Rai, who I believe is now editor of Peace News
At that time supporters of the Northern Anarchist Network like Harold Sculthorpe, at that time in 2000 the Secretary of the Friends of Freedom Press, fully supported Rupert Read's article and believed Freedom ought to publish it in the Raven.  Indeed, at that time, Harold Sculthorpe who went to many lectures on the Manchester Ethnography Group at both Manchester University and the MMU, thought the sun shone out of Rupert Read's arse.  On that occasion as on several occasions since Freedom lacked the nerve to challenge those like Professor Chomsky in powerful positions.
Since then the reputation of Freedom has declined considerably with each year of its fragile life in the 21st Century.  In 2010, Chris Knight and Milan Rai debated Noam Chomsky's science and politics at the London Anarchist Bookfair, and Chris Knight drew attention to the episode of Freedom's failure to publish the Rupert Read article and the other essays challenging Chomsky's linguistics.

The link to the Alternative Raven posted by Chris Knight on his site Radical Anthropology and containing Rupert Read's article is to be found on:


skadaddler said...

Poor Rupert! Twitter is a mug's game!

Chris said...

Well, a man can't win in those debates, so he should probably have kept out of it!