I had a long and decent discussion with one of the architects of the Gender Recognition Act last month. He said to me, “I recognise the free speech issues in your case, but don’t you see that calling a transwoman ‘male’ or ‘he’ is as offensive as calling a black person a nigger?”
No, I said, it is not.
Doesn’t matter whether it is or it isn’t. Calling someone a nigger might get your teeth pushed in – unless you happen to be black apparently – might get you fired and most certainly isn’t something I’d recommend. Yet it is still that issue of free speech. You can say – absent libel and incitement to immediate violence – what the hell you like, you just have to put up with the consequences.
That everyone around you will punish you for calling someone nigger is just fine. That the law might try to ban us from doing so is an abomination. And that’s where the battle is being lost. The only defensible line of where other peoples’ feelings about what is said may define what it is legal to say is “none”.
The only free speech issue is whether we have it or not.