Steph's Place

Where are the media watchdogs?

By Nicola Rose

In the last 18 months or so, and particularly over the last few months, the anti-trans rhetoric has increased immensely. It seems that this increase is driven by several factors.

Firstly, the active high profile legal cases surrounding Employment Rights, discrimination, and the interpretation of aspects of the Equalities Act 2010.

Secondly, the aspects surrounding Central Government policy and intentions regarding GRA reform and conversion therapy. This, coupled with the responses, comments and/or lack of by both the chair of the EHRC, the GEO and the equalities minister.

Thirdly, the issues surrounding both GIDs and the withdrawal of Puberty Blockers from trans children’s healthcare with its subsequent activity against both Mermaids and Stonewall.

Many other issues are current and active.

These have created a flurry of hateful and negative publicity in the UK media across newspapers, Web media, Television & Radio.

This is notwithstanding articles, tweets and comments by individuals involved in the cases above being given high profile platforms to shout their own, generally negative views.

In any democracy and society, there should be a right to free speech, and everyone is allowed an opinion. Those rights should not be abused nor used to specifically hate or disrespect another individual or group.

It is said: “Whilst one may disagree with another’s opinion, one should fight for the right to be able to express that opinion”.

To a point, that is entirely right and fair. The question is, where are the boundaries to what is an opinion and what is hate?

It has been established in Maya Forstater v Centre for Global Development that an opinion is acceptable. Still, it is not acceptable to denigrate another with that opinion where this causes harm. That is fair and sensible. It merely clarifies the status as most people would consider it. Again, the issue is when the boundary is crossed and where that boundary is.

Then there is misinformation and/or “fake news”.

That is a totally different matter.

Misinformation, whether given by accident or deliberate act, is one of the biggest causes of concern in the media today.  With high profile individuals and journalists being given or creating bigger and louder platforms, it is important the information pedalled is right.

This is simply not the case.

Many high-profile media outlets are simply not telling the truth or manipulating arguments to suggest the facts are correct when they are not. In many ways, this is nothing new and has been the case for decades. But it is not as open and blatant as now.

With the current media saturation across the globe and the ‘thirst for news, facts and untruths can cloud both judgement and the storyline.

So, where are the checks and balances on this information?

There seems to be a large gaping hole in the check and balance system, which is highly conspicuous by its apparent absence.

The media watchdogs seem on the surface to be doing nothing about the tidal wave of hateful and incorrect articles, editorials and journalism that is being produced, particularly those aimed at trans and non-binary people. If it is doing something, it's not working, or the threshold is so low, it's pointless. This given the fact that its ‘independence’ is one self-policing. As such, the bar is lower than it should be anyway.

Central government don’t seem in the slightest bit interested in legislating (despite having previously threatened to do so) nor, from its own policy pathway and intentions mindful to monitor or provide guidance on what is acceptable or not.

Indeed, its own intervention in the Maya Case would suggest the opposite is true, and the media circus is a welcome distraction from its own trans negative agenda.

So, who is there to police?

The Law Society has put out notices that it will be reviewing any discriminatory individual and/or firms, especially any “Twitter lawyers” who purport to be the real thing. It published perfectly reasonable guidelines to help in this context. These were immediately seized upon by Gender Critics and others who then took it upon themselves to openly show the hate and bigoted attitude they have in dismissing the intention of those guidelines.

So, it would seem there are no watchdogs policing or reviewing information spouted whether this information is right or wrong, within or beyond guidelines, reasonable or unreasonable.

As such, the more those who are LGBQA+ critical can get away with purveying their (mis)information, the more they are free so to do without fear of penalty or retribution.

What does this mean?

The general public is, in the main, reasonable people and can see what is true and untrue. However, with the continued pedalling of only one side of an argument, the lack of balance, where balance is drowned out, and general misinformation, what is published becomes the norm. It’s made out to be right, and the edges become blurred.

Those in society who are less reasonable then feel free to show their own hatred. They do that by publicly calling out those they see as gay, non-binary or trans, for instance. They shout across the street and/or on social media. In time, this grows because it is not stopped.

This damage and harm spreads, slowly gathering momentum and becomes a plague.

Those in the front line of that attack feel threatened, are threatened or worse, attacked. The spread of this hatred creates untold harm, mental health issues and isolation of those affected from society.

All that is a bad thing.

In the end, society is the worse for it. The cost to the NHS is tremendous and unnecessary, but the higher cost is that society is changed and damaged. It is worse off. Society becomes segmented and partisan when it should be collective and cohesive.

At the present rate, the tidal wave of fear and hostile rhetoric seems unstoppable. It is causing untold mental anguish both to and within organisations and to individuals.

Central government, the opposition parties (who are all equally complacent in this) and the Authority watchdogs need to stand up, be counted, and action this immediately.

It may be pride month, but it seems an open season for any hatred to surface and be loudly shouted.

Checks and balances are needed to ensure proper debate can be had, opinions do not become hate, and information is truthful and not regurgitated misinformation.

All of that is needed for society to work stably and cohesively.

A partisan society of them and us will not work and never has. That may be the agenda of some, but society needs to rescue this for its own sake.


Authored by Nicola Rose   

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