Met Police: Men in Tights is the name of a comedy film that won’t be produced anytime soon at the famous Ealing Studios in London, owing to the Metropolitan Police’s decision that if you are a TERF, i.e., a woman who holds gender-critical views, this entitles anyone (even an attempted murderer out on licence) to incite a crowd to violence against you. In doing so, they seem to have suddenly become converts to a brand of free speech activism more radical and absolutist than that espoused by almost any free speech advocate I know – at least, when it comes to the speech of trans activists.
The case is that of Sarah Jane Baker, a biological male and trans woman, who was a speaker at this Saturday’s London Trans Pride event, and who said while on stage: “If you see a TERF, punch them in the f—ing face!” This produced a cheer from the assembled throng, which must have warmed the heart of Baker, out on licence (i.e., parole) after serving a 30-year sentence for kidnap, torture and attempted murder. Baker’s comments were made in the context of his targeting of noted gender critic Sarah Phillimore and his attempt to demand access to the launch for her book Transpositions in Manchester later this month. In many people’s eyes, Baker is a violent thug who is a clear threat to public safety, and whose licence should immediately be revoked. But what are the moral and legal issues, and is that view correct?
I should firstly note that I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve never let that stop me – and it certainly hasn’t stopped Acting Police Sergeant Daniel Warner, whose ridiculous dismissal of a complaint by a member of the public about Baker’s comments has already been eviscerated by the barrister Dennis Noel Kavanagh. But with Warner now on the floor, I want to put the metaphorical boot in. Sgt. Warner’s response went as follows:
I am emailing from the met police [sic]. I have reviewed the matter you reported to us which relates to a Sarah Jane BAKER stating if you see a TERF you should punch them in the face.
TERF: trans-exclusionary radical feminism. This is not a hate crime. A TERF [sic] is not a protected characteristic under the legislation.
A TERF would be a person’s opinion [sic!], whether this opinion is viewed as discriminatory itself or not.
The female is suggesting (inciting) members of the crowd to punch individuals who act on this belief. This is not targeted at an individual, this is in a hypothetical situation.
The crowd that were being spoken to were there for PRIDE [sic] day in London and were there for the purposes of expressing their support for LGBTQ+ members.