Top post and disclaimer

This is the permanent top post for Mikhail Ramendik’s blog.

All opinions in this blog, unless explicitly stated otherwise, belong to Mikhail Ramendik alone. Mikhail Ramendik does not represent any company, organization, church, or any other entity except himself.

Mikhail Ramendik’s Russian language blogs:

http://ramendik.livejournal.com -general

http://ramendik.diary.ru – fandom

 

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An adventure in four trains

Kaydan wrote on their Twitter that they take their train commute as an adventure. One train. Well, on Saturday April 14, I had a quadruple adventure by this standard. For Kaydan and any one else interested here are all the trains involved.

This was a journey in Ireland, from Limerick City to Dalkey, which is a suburb of Dublin. I had my children with me and we were headed to Dalkey for a fencing blitz in which they (not I) took part the next day.

We had a train ticket from Limerick to Dublin (Heuston Station). Boked online, then retrieved from a ticket machine by typing a code.

One ticket but two trains. First, we boarded this “railcar” (small DMU train – two carriages).

A better view of this same Diesel Multiple Unit can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/be216cd1/8258285853

Model: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IE_2800_Class

I could not get a photo of the inside without getting people’s faces in it. But I measured the speed – it was doing 80 kph to 100 kph.

This DMU took us non-stop to Limerick Junction, where we transferred to the Cork to Dublin train.

A bigger and stronger DMU. Model: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IE_22000_Class

This train was doing 150-160 kph. which is its design speed. When we arrived to Dublin, there was another 22000 class train at a platform we walked by, and it was empty, so I took a photo of the inside:

At Heuston Station we boarded the LUAS, which is the Dublin light rail/tram system. S the third train is actually a tram, but it’s still a train as it goes on rails and has multiple carriages 🙂

This is a Citadis 4000 class: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luas#Track_and_rolling_stock

After riding this tram we spent some time in central Dublin. walking. And then wanted to take the DART train to Dalkey, but the station was closed, which tok us by surprise. We had to get a bus to Grand Canal Dock station. And there we did board the DART:

Inside:

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is the only electrified heavy railway in Ireland, and this train is an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) made by Tokyu Corporation, making it a genuine Japanese- type train. (While the 2800 class DMUs above are also Tokyu, iconic modern Japanese trains are EMUs).

 

A response to Jane Clare Jones

Commented at her critique of Judith Butler https://janeclarejones.com/2019/01/24/judith-butler-how-to-disappear-patriarchy-in-three-easy-steps/comment-page-1/#comment-2604 ; posting here n case she does not publish.

The Second Wave was not a monolith, even its radical part. Shulamith Firestone in 1970 actually called for male and female to become socially irrelevant, pretty much the stuff you do not want.

However, something rather more important than un-retirement of an old academic has just happened. Those brave defenders of the right of women, Posie Parker and Venice Allan, were flown to the US and welcomed by the Heritage Foundation. Moreover, in a display of total dominance (whether or not Butler would find it “necessary”), Heritage distributed brochures at the event which listed being forced to “affirm same sex marriage” as one of the dangers of the sugested Equality Act. At an event where lesbians spoke. None of them rose to leave.

This is more than Stockholm Syndrome, this is a short leash. When after that the women went on to barge into HRC to harass people there, and actually posted a video of themselves doing that, this got more coverage, but I think the brochure moment was crusial in demonstrating total control by Heritage.

You wrote previously that trans activists somehow “invented” your ilk being in cahoots with the trad right. Right now, this is all out in the open. And Jean Hatchett, who protested against this act, was immediately and viciously attacked by her former (and your!) comrades. She was now driven off Twitter by them, despite being a known terminal cancer patient. By them, not by the trans and pro-trans crowd.

I understand you may have thought otherwise honestly. But the link to the far right of the trad variety – nay, the control by it – is now out in the open. It is your choice where to stand now.

Suggestion: Munster railcar network

I think that public transportation commuting in much of Munster can be significantly improved by means of railcars (sometimes called “railbuses”), without the need to create completely new railroads, purchase any land, and much can be achieved even without putting down tracks where they were previously lifted.

I would suggest developing a railcar network over the existing Limerick-Limerick Junction-Waterford line, the Limerick Junction-Cork part of the main Dublin-Cork line, and the closed but in-situ Limerick to Foynes line.

Limerick to Foynes: not just freight

I’ll start with Limerick-Foynes. As Foynes is an active port, reopening the line for freight gets on the radar frequently. I suggest that to maximize the value of the investment it should be reopened for both freight and railcar traffic.

The station buildings, which were sold off, are not needed, as the railcar should be operated as a diesel tram. It should have unattended platforms with automatic ticket machines, and also support the Leap card. Car parking should be provided at the platforms. Railcars should run a few times per day to support typical work commute times; there should also be a late railcar, starting from Limerick about 10.30-11pm, to support people going for a night out in town.

Apart from the traditional stops on this line, a new stop, if not two, should be added to serve Raheen Business Park and the leafy Raheen-Ballysimon housing estates.

As the line is single-track, the service can not really be frequent, but that’s fine. About 4 trains in each direction (early morning, late morning after school run, commute evening, and late night) would do a lot already. Freight can use the line the rest of the time.

An inexpensive restoration of the line is likely to result in a 40 mph (60 kph) speed limit, but even that is not a huge issue, as the railcar would still deliver good time in peak hours because it avoids traffic. Ideally, of course, the restoration should aim at a 60 mph (100 kph) speed limit on most of the line.

Limerick to Waterford: super low hanging fruit

There is already a railcar-type service from Limerick to Limerick Junction linking up with trains to Dublin and Cork and, twice a day, to another railcar service to Waterford.

It would take very small effort to add platforms at Dromkeen, Pallasgreen, and Oola. Again, these platforms should operate as unattended stops (I think the railway term is a “halt”) with automatic ticket sales machines; the Leap card should also be supported. This would increase travel times for linked services by a few minutes, but would create commuting opportunities for many people; with reasonable car parking this would cover a pretty vast area.

The Limerick Junction to Waterford service already has well-placed intermediate stops in major towns. However the service itself should be increased to 4 times a day to enable commutes to Waterford; right now it seems to be optimized solely for commutes to Limerick as the earliest service arrives to Waterford at midday.

Cork to Limerick Junction (on to Limerick): bringing towns onto the network

Between Limerick Junction and Cork, a few significant towns, such as Kilmallock, Buttevant, Blarney, are close to the track but not served by the railway.

This happens because the intercity service is time-critical. Adding stops to this service would mean slower travel between the first and second cities of the Republic of Ireland.

My suggestion would be learning from continental Europe: running an intercity service and a commuter service on the same line. Indeed something like that is already implemented on the very same line between Dublin Heuston and Portlaoise. But in the case of Munster, the commuter service is probably best off as a railcar, which, again, enables small unattended platforms.

My suggestion would be running a railcar between Cork and Limerick via Limerick Junction, stopping at every town, while the intercity service continues at its present schedule of stops. As the railcar is slower and schedules are not always perfect, facilities to put the railcar on a side track and let the intercity pass shuld be provided at Limerick Junction and Mallow. Ideally, this railcar would also take over the current arrangement of synchronized passenger transfer from Limerick to Dublin and Cork intercity trains and back. Railcars already run from Mallow to Cork; some (or all) of the runs could instead be all the way Limerick-Junction-Cork and back, and additional Mallow runs could be added if necessary,

This would enable both Cork and Limerick commutes for the towns brought into the service, while keeping or extending the coverage that Mallow now has.

Brief personal political manifesto

This is a brief (well, compared to writing an article on each issue) summary of my political views, as an Irish citizen, as of January 2019. Not all have the same weight, and just being in a minority on some one issue would not preclude me from working with a political force. And I am not some prophet; my mind can change. But this is where I stand right now.

Some issues are not covered, I am one person, not a political party. I can’t think of everything and I don’t experience everything.

Critical: foreign policy

This is one issue on which an *actively* different point of view (notably on the neutrality/war points) might be a deal breaker.

I oppose all Western military involvement in the Middle East. I opposed the wars in Iraq and especially Libya. I oppose any support for Syrian “rebels”.

I support Ireland keeping its neutrality and, moreover, normalizing diplomatic relations with the Syrian Arab Republic. I am strongly critical of Saudi Arabia and oppose any arms shipments to the country.

I oppose the use of Shannon for NATO military flights.

I oppose “Russia-baiting” and have strong doubts about Russian involvement in the Skripal case. I am sympathetic to Russian action in Syria including liberation of Aleppo. I admit, however, that Russia’s record on internal democracy and on several human rights areas, notably free speech and LGBT rights, is very blemished and well worthy of strong criticism.

I believe that the Ukraine situation must be settled peacefully in accordance with the Minsk agreements. I believe, on the evidence I have, that Ukraine is no better than Russia on free speech, and quite possibly still worse. (It was definitely worse in 2014 but Russia has adopted new laws limiting speech since then).

(Regarding Israel and Palestine, I support a two state solution, oppose settlements on territory Israel does not even claim as its own, and do not like the BDS movement, but this one is far less important – as long as no Western troops are on the ground and no Western bombs hit anywhere).

“National question”, Irish unity, Irish history, and Europe

I am firmly in the Fine Gael/”free stater” camp on interpreting the Irish Civil War. (I did consider joining Fine Gael back in 2013 after I was naturalized, but their foreign policy and later their housing policies put an end to the idea).

I believe that membership in the European Union has been an unblemished positive for Ireland, *including* the matter of immigration. EU immigration has largely been harmonious with Irish culture.

I have some sympathy with those supporters of Unionism and of Partition in the 1910s who were afraid of “Rome Rule”, implementation of Roman Catholic social policy. While independent Ireland never had organized persecution of Protestants, it had, for decades, a regressive record on civil liberties, largely under Roman Catholic Church influence. I highly value W.B.Yeats and think that his statements on the matter, while not without problems, have generally been wise and to a degree even prophetic.

However I believe that the issue of “Rome Rule” died in 2015 and was buried in 2018, with two Referendums leaving that social policy definitively in the past. Therefore the arrangement of two jurisdictions on one small island no longer makes any sense.

Moreover, bizarrely, strong Unionists are now also strong social conservatives – and this stuff just never made any sense. Starting with Ian Paisley, who managed to do battle against “Sodomy” and against the biggest anti-“Sodomy” organization in the world, the Roman Catholic Church at the very same time! The macabre spectacle continues as the same Northern party now fights for “British as Finchley” and against same-sex marriage. The current MP for Finchley, Mike Freer, a member of the Conservative Party, is *in* a same-sex marriage!

I believe that attacks on civilians related to the troubles were never justified and that the Provisional split, followed by a rapid descent into attacks on civilians, has put an end to any hope of success of traditional Republicanism by destroying any moral high ground it held previously. But the present arrangement makes no sense anyway.

It would be ideal to see the European Union make the border gradually irrelevant until the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland. Scotland, Wales, and England are close together in a European confederation (with the Euro and, possibly, metric system to boot). Unfortunately, the scourge of Brexit has put the border firmly back on the map. I believe that the only solution that would let Britain have a clean Brexit involves a united or federal Ireland, all of it still in the EU, or even a Celtic Federation (all Ireland and Scotland) in the EU; the latter might be more acceptable to Ulster Scottish Protestants.

I believe that the Republic of Ireland should seek to learn from “our gallant allies” in Germany how to prepare for, and pay for, a reunification. It should also ensure it can show itself as welcoming to all communities of the North. For this end, the Dubln & Wicklow Loyal Orange Lodge should be permitted to march in Dublin, without any paramilitary banners or paraphernalia; I would suggest a Dawson Street (historical HQ) to St. Patrick’s Cathedral route, firmly away from the GPO (being on the “leafy” South side helps too).

The economy

I believe that the Celtic Tiger was very far from “for nothing”. By welcoming foreign investment, creating a liberal tax regime, and using its position as a gateway to the EU, Ireland has transformed itself, and this transformation remains there even after the burst bubble. (But I would say this, woulnd’t I? I came here to work for multinationals, and am doing so still).

I do think the bank guarantee to bondholders was a critical mistake if not worse. Ireland should not have taken on sovereign debt and instead should have allowed some banks to fail, guaranteeing the accounts, but not the bonds.

Ireland needs to continue and improve as a high-value, high-tech, high-finance hub. The corporation tax rate must be maintained, but this rate must be collected. Companies relocating EU services from the UK must be welcomed. They should be offered strong incentives to locate in cities other than Dublin, including Limerick. Local related services will thrive as a result.

This does not mean neglecting agriculture, tourism, and other “native” industries, of course. I am simply incompetent to say much about them, as I only ever worked in IT. (Boosting public transport, as I describe lower, would also boost tourism in more rural locations – look at the Netherlands!)

A comprehensive welfare system, a reasonable minimum wage, and a managed system of requirements on contracts and labour rights do help, and not hinder, a civilized labour market. Ireland should keep and strengthen its system and never comprehend disastrous changes similar to the UK’s “universal credit”. The ban on zero hour contracts was long overdue. However, crackdowns on high-value contracting (a common staple of IT) and other similar issues, where poverty is not a concern, should be avoided. Let the market take care of itself where it can do so without crushing people.

Housing

The issue of housing has become a major problem in Ireland, and the government is evidently failing to make a dent in rising homelessness and increasing problems that people face.

However, from Soviet experience, I honestly do not believe in the state itself running a major building programme. The cost numbers from Limerick regeneration schemes were also not inspiring; they were similar to house prices in fairly different areas of Limerick at that time. The state is fit to govern, to manage, not to produce.

And so it should govern and manage, using the tools at its disposal, which are planing and taxation. Urgent measures must be taken to force an increase of supply and to protect people from becoming homeless. On top of what is already being done with the rental market, and of the obvious measures like a set percentage of social housing in new developments, I would suggest the following steps:

  • A punitive tax on vacant land zoned residential. This is probably the most important measure in the medium to long term.
  • A punitive tax on unfinished dwellings (after 2 years), aimed at “ghost estates” that are not sold on even now; should not apply to one-offs when the family owns only one such dwelling, probably.
  • A punitive tax on vacant homes. Equal to about 25% of market rent, it would apply only in housing pressure areas, so no worries about that holiday home in Cahersiveen or that derelict cottage at the edge of the farm. All owners of vacant houses in such areas should be sent a letter that the tax kicks in after three months; the letter should include offers of a HAP tenant and, if necessary, refurbishment trust (see below). If a HAP tenant can not be provided the tax does not apply.
  • A refurbishment trust programme – I think this already exists, where the trust refurbished the house then rents it out to recoup the cost.
  • A surrender-and-rent programme for homeowners in deep mortgage arrears. A bank should not be allowed to evict before offering that programme.
  • Tax incentives for rent-to-buy programmes, which are a much safer way of “getting onto the ladder” for younger people than 100% mortgages were. I would suggest that if a part of the rent goes into a deposit saving, the tax on this part should be refundable in the event that the purchase takes place.

Social liberty, including free speech and LGBTQ

Suppression of people’s identities and of people’s speech are two sides of the same coin, as we can well see from Section 28, from the recent abuse of obscenity laws against LGBTQ works, and from the present “propaganda law” in Russia.

I had my questions in the past, but at present I fully and enthusiastically support sex-neutral marriage in Ireland and legal self-identification of gender. Transgender health care in Ireland must be improved to catch up with Western standards. Many people notice that Ireland’s tolerance towards gender-diverse people is remarkably high; this should be celebrated and built upon.

The government must not follow in the footsteps of Russia and China by regulating (blocking) website/social media content, nor in the footsteps of the suggested measure in the UK requiring identification when accessing adult websites.

Current law must be clarified so that LGBTQ and sex education materials distributed to adolescents electronically (which do not meet the definition of obscenity or pornography) are clearly legal. The present formula at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/act/2/section/8/enacted/en/html makes sending such material arguably illegal.

I actually support changing the age of consent to the UK (and Canadian, and Russian) value of 16 but this is not a high priority.

I have no personal opinion on the debate about the Nordic Model. I do have reasons to distrust Rachel Moran as a political activist, though. She suddenly got “worried” about the effects of gender self-identification, three years after it was introduced, but coinciding with the attempts of the far right to establish itself in Ireland.

I support legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use; driving under its influence should of course be illegal.

Female genital mutilation (or vaginal mutilation) must be suppressed, with measures including mandatory removal of children from families where a child was found to be mutilated, unless the parents cooperate with prosecution of the mutilators. I would suggest that the children’s rights amendment makes this lawful.

While a ban on male circumcision at present would be overkill, male circumcision performed outside a proper medical facility must be effectively banned – and when it leads to harm or death, must be prosecuted with the full force of the law. The acquittal of Osajie Ighinedion https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/jury-clears-nigerian-man-involved-in-circumcision-death-case-25960678.html was unacceptable and must be clearly rejected, with legislation if necessary. There is a new case going through the system and should be prosecuted vigorously: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/man-54-charged-with-endangerment-of-life-after-crude-circumcision-on-baby-37703414.html

Abortion

I am no fan of abortion but I do not believe in prohibition, and (reluctantly) voted Yes to repeal. I believe that an unborn human is human and that at some point (later than conception or implantation but earlier than birth) the fetus becomes a person. I would however not permit the state to force any person to share their very body with another person, which is why abortion must be safe, legal, and rare. I broadly agree with the Irish legal regime as adopted.

While I was sympathetic to the pro-life movement in the past, its modus operandi in Ireland in recent years has convinced me that it is fully counterproductive and does not have the interests of the unborn human at heart. The gory images, for example, only ever made things worse. Moreover, except for Renua, no pro-lifers in Ireland have noticed the link between social deprivation (notably the recent homelessness crisis) and abortion. One could argue that a balance existed in pre-2014 Ireland with an abortion ban and a reliable safety net for single mothers; the safety net was unraveled and abortion had to come in next. I am not saying this is necessarily right – I am saying the pro-lifers seem not to notice the issue!

And even now all they do is seek out abortion providers for noisy small-crowd protests. If they were, instead, to disperse, standing one person at a place with leaflets offering exhortation and material help to pregnant people in a bid to change their minds about abortion, they would actually save more unborn lives but make less of a media impact!

I do believe the state needs to take some measures to reduce abortion, but none of them punitive:

  • Offer subsidized, if not free, contraception, including voluntary use of long-term implants/injections (they are already available in Ireland but should be free or nearly free)
  • Ideally add a one-off social welfare payment on delivery of a child, including a stillbirth.

In the long term, the only solution to the quagmire of rights involvd in abortion is development of “extracorporeal gestation”, the artificial womb into which an unborn human could be evacuated at an early stage of pregnancy. This is not unimaginable and some animal tests were successful. If the pro-life movement cared about unborn lives, they would have put money into THAT instead of propaganda and lobbying!

Such technology, when proven and established, would lower the gestational age of viability and thus automatically restrict traditional abortion under existing law, as evacuation of the fetus becomes offered instead. A win-win, pro-life AND pro-choice.

Education

I might differ from the Irish left-liberal mainstream on this one. Based on Soviet experience, I am deeply suspicious of single state-run education systems, and I see a lot of value in the Irish system because it is competitive.

However this value is only realized when it is actually competitive – for example, look at the excellent schools of Adare, where two systems exist in the same village. There is no competition when the Roman Catholic system holds effective monopolies over large swathes of territory where other schools don’t exists or are overbooked.

The state must ensure that at least two primary and two secondary schools cover every area: Roman Catholic and something else (whether Church of Ireland, Educate Together or VEC). Eligibility for school transport to the nearest non-RC school should no longer depend on religion, as even Catholics sometimes want a non-Catholic education for their children. (Similarly, in the rare case the nearest school is non-RC, eligibility for transport to the nearest RC school should not depend on religion).

A minimum curriculum including fact-based sex education should be maintained and enforced across all schools.

Church of Ireland secondary schools should be transitioned, in an organized way, into the free fees system, on the same basis as VEC secondary schools (where voluntary religious teacher labour is also not used).

I see no reason to object to establishment of Muslim schools where demand exists, subject to the same regulations, including sex ed curriculum, as other schools.

The student contribution to 3rd level fees should not be increased, and a decrease should be considered, especially for institutions that are not Universities.

Transportation

Having covered the “grand” issues that interest me, I come to the ones that actually matter in local politics, and of these, transportation is foremost.

Ireland’s public transport situation is critically bad compared to Western European standards and improvement must be rapid. No amount of electric cars can achieve an impact close to a decent public transport system.

All towns must be served with commuter-type buses to the nearest city. In county Limerick, significant improvement of bus service is needed in places like Kilfinane.

The M20 must still be built, as the absence of this road is quite painful and there is no workable fast rail link from Limerick to Cork anyway (the Limerick to Charleville line is gone for good as I understand). Once the M20 is built, adequate bus service must be ensured.

The bus routes in the city must be reviewed to ensure interconnection between city buses and the Bus Eireann buses that serve as county commuters. Right now, there can be quite a walk between these buses.

Serious consideration must be given to improving rail services for commuting, including reopening of the Kilmallock station, opening stations at Pallasgreen and Oola, and bringing the idea of Moyross Station back on the table. Reopening of the Limerick to Foynes railway should be considered not only for freight, but for tramway-type diesel railcar service. (I am aware that station buildings were sold off, but a tramway/railcar service does not require station buildings, the LUAS has none).

Equestrian issues

I am generally incompetent to judge the specific issues around the Travelling community; being a literal neighbour does not make me competent. However, there is one area that concerns that community primarily but not solely and is also of interest to me, and that is the treatment of and accommodation for horses.

I believe that all forms of equestrian activity and, indeed, many forms of equestrian transport are, when properly managed, beneficial for the economy, culture, and environment of Ireland.

I would legalize and regulate sulky racing to ensure both animal welfare and cultural expression. I would accommodate horses around social and other housing in a regulated way, ensuring that bylaws regarding microchipping and inspections can be fulfilled.  I would suggest introducing basic equestrian education in the school cycle, ideally in a Traveller-led approach, but with attendance certainly not limited to any group of children; I firmly believe that controlled interaction with horses is beneficial for most people.

I would moreover look at limited accommodation for actual equestrian transport, which is at present not illegal, and actually exists, but enjoys no facilities at all. Yes, I mean hitching posts. I have seen a trap (or cart, but not a sulky, it accommodated two people) stop at a petrol station in the city so the drivers could get some food; it was not pretty, and I do not think the drivers treated the horse right. Accommodate, legalize, regulate to maximize animal welfare – and to enable alternatives to cars.

A licensing scheme (with a test) to ride or drive equines on the public road unaccompanied could be considered, but should not impact accompanied riding, notably tourist “treks” that need to use stretches of public road to reach their destinations.

 

 

 

 

Letter to MEPs re Article 13

I have sent the following letter to all MEPs of the Ireland South constituency. I also sent it to the party email address of Liadh Ni Riada, as I feel she might be most receptive and would not want to risk the email being lost.

Anyone else please feel free to use in whole or in part.

Dear [NAME],

I am writing to you as one of your constituents. I am an Irish citizen, naturalized in 2013, permanently living in [REDACTED], county Limerick. I have voted in every poll since I got my Irish citizenship, and I will be voting in the 2019 European elections.

I am writing because I am extremely concerned about the prospect of the European Parliament approving the proposed Article 13 of the Copyright Directive. This article removes the previously existing “safe havens” for online platforms, requiring them to take proactive steps to remove “licensed” works in cooperation with holders of rights.

This article would create a restrictive censorship regime where any work would be at risk for removal because some “measure” believes it to infringe a copyright. No due process rights would be afforded to independent creators.

It would have an especially strong chilling effect on derivative art, such as song covers, amateur dance videos, amateur music videos, mashups, and critiques. And derivative art is, in the current context, one of the primary ways in which new content creators come into their professions. People start out as singers, dancers, animators, show hosts, and in other creative endeavours while making derivative works, relying on traditional fair use exceptions to copyright.

Article 13 runs roughshod over such exceptions. It would strongly discourage beginning creators and, therefore, significantly deplete the pool of upcoming creative talent throughout the European Union. People do not face such tight restrictions in Japan, Korea, Russia, the United States, Canada, and for all I know even China, so the article would place EU countries – including Ireland – at a disadvantage in the emerging cultural landscape.

Therefore, I would entreat you to oppose the article and to demand that the “mere conduit” approach to media hosting platforms remains in place, or, at the very least, that any new measures prioritize protections of derivative and other independent art.

 

Why Professor Meriwether is wrong

A Christian Professor has sued an American university for requiring him to use preferred gender in addressing a student. The issue is that the professor uses “the Socratic method” which involves addressing everyone very formally as Mr or Miss (last name). And so, while he agreed to use just the name for that one student, the University did not accept it as the student was singled out.

I believe the Professor is wrong. Not just in his beliefs about gender – this is a contentious debate. I belong to a more liberal denomination than he does, as the Church of Ireland ordains women. So we may never see eye to eye on this and I recognize his freedom to believe what he does.

He is wrong about his behaviour even *granted* his beliefs about gender! And I would gladly debate this with him, and will send him a link to this text.

To start with, there is exactly nothing in Holy Scripture that mandates or prohibits the use of any pronouns or any addresses. Except possibly “brother” and “sister”, but the professor did not use those. (There is also that debated prohibition on using “father”, also beside the point in this case)

There are, of course, some places that differentiate men and women. But these refer to life in church and marriage. A university is neither. The university being secular, Romans 13 might be read as calling for compliance.

But most importantly, the professor can, and in my view should, comply without even using the addresses and pronouns that he rejects.

He is said to teach using the Socratic Method and for that purpose, to use Mr/Miss, which created the entire issue. But I would suggest that he is misapplying the Socratic Method. We have received the method from Plato, and Plato – unlike conservative evangelicals – believed in a full dualism of body and soul. The Socratic Method should be as close as possible to a dialogue of disembodied, “Platonic” souls. Referring to a student’s sex defeats the purpose. *Any* student’s sex, that is, not just that one student. We humans have a subconscious bias, we process opinions of men and women in different ways, and so, to minimize the bias, we should make this distinction invisible in Socratic philosophic dialogue.

The Professor should therefore use a sex-neutral address and reference for all students. Such an address and reference can be modeled on British Parliamentary ways, where “the Honourable member…” and “my honourable friend…” are typical. And in British courts, the words “my learned friend” are routinely used to address or refer to another lowyer. A similar formula, or “my honorable student”, should be used for proper Socratic debate.

Alternatively, of course, the Professor can reject Platonic dualism and insist on a Christian understanding – but then he should follow this all the way and replace the Socratic method with the traditional Christian dialogue form, which uses first names, as Our Lord did. He never went for formal honorifics, not even to Herod or Pilate. Nor did the Apostle Paul go for anything more formal than just “King Agrippa” when facing a monarch in Acts 26 – and for non-monarchs, apparently not even that. Look at Acts 24, where Tertullus says “most excellent Felix”, but Paul, despite being a prisoner (and also a Roman citizen), says nothing of the sort.

So if the Christian tradition is followed, one can just use  first names – this also avoids the problem.

I call the Professor to offer a defense of his choice of using “Mr” and “Miss” in philosophical dialogue. These terms highlight the bodily sex of the student (in the view of the Professor) or the gender identity of the student (in the view of the University). However, none of these things are relevant for philosophical discussion. Therefore, I posit he should not be using such address.

And if the use of any gendered (or sexed) address in shown to be unneeded, then the lawsuit becomes moot, without any need for the Professor to alter or suppress his views on gender.

 

“Not liking penis sexually is transphobic” bugbear

A favourite tactic of anti-trans activists (whether or not they admit they are conservative, and whether or not they call themselves feminist) is to mention claims that “lesbians [or straight men] who don’t want penis are transphobic”, as if it is a mainstream claim of trans activists right alongside self-ID.

Which, of course is not the case. Riley Dennis is not the Monarch of Trans People. Even Zinnia Jones, who actually did NOT make this claim but wrote something that was misread as this claim, is not the Monarch of Trans People. There are no such monarchs, anyway. And none of the high-profile activists like Laverne Cox come anywhere close.

So this is isolated stuff that a few people hold and the antis like to blow up. But even those people did not actually start it.

Radfems started it. Back in the Sex Wars of the 80s they saw a backlash from some women who actually liked models of sexuality that the radfems saw as too submissive or too male-pleasing. And they started calling such women to examine their own sexual desire critically, from a political perspective.

The intersectional crowd was, as I understand, next on this particular bus. They declared that if someone has a sexual prerefence for a particular skin colour or ethnic group, whether their own or otherwise, that’s somehow racist.

Both of these trends are quite alive and young trans people absorb them from the environment. So a few of them made the connection and decided – ok, if not wanting to sleep with a black woman is racism, not wanting to sleep with a trans woman is transphobia.

The liberal position should be restated firmly. Sexual desire and sexual choice between consenting adults is their own business, and whoever they personally want to invite into their lives (this includes any personal choice of religion or philosophy). The only thing that matters is consent. End of story.

(Bonus points, of course, for those who call out Riley Dennis and the like for being critical of people’s sexual desire – and then immediately turn around and do just the same by shaming something called “autogynephilia”, a fancy description for some people enjoying in a sexual way, or wanting to enjoy in a sexual way, their body in a feminine form. The term was born in a bygone era when the general idea of sexual enjoyment of one’s own body was not yet accepted, thus the meaningless description of “target location error” – to have an error, you have to have the One Right Option first).