In 21st century Britain it appears you are now allowed to speak only if your views pass the woke test of acceptability. Woke, it should be understood, means for these purposes opposition to racial prejudice, discrimination, intolerance and all issues of social inequality, in particular in relation to sexual and gender orientation – though only according to approved interpretations. From which it may be deduced that the term 'woke acceptability' is something of an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms.
Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, has become the latest target of those calling for greater recognition of diversity and tolerance. A vicious campaign has been launched against her after daring to voice, in public, the scientifically accurate view that, although an individual's gender choice is to be respected, for them actually to change sex is a biological impossibility.
This is something you are clearly not allowed to think, let alone say, and Professor Stock has accordingly been labelled transphobic, while a call has gone out for her to be sacked. Posters have apparently appeared on campus proclaiming, "We're not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia — fire Kathleen Stock".
The situation has reportedly become so bad that the police have advised Prof Stock to have security cameras installed on her front door, and not to venture on campus without bodyguards.
There is, however, a glimmer of light at the end of this unpleasant corridor, because in a welcome and perhaps surprisingly brave move, given the current climate, the university is supporting Prof Stock's right to freedom of speech. Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor, even told the BBC that staff had "an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think".
Nevertheless, the venomous student witch hunt – for this is what it is ⎼ is chilling. It demonstrates a contempt for democracy, combined with an alarming level of bigotry and intolerance, that will seemingly stop at nothing to silence all opposition. This is how all totalitarian regimes begin, with the bully-boys beating those who dissent into compliance.
Britain is rightly famed throughout the world for its democracy and tolerance, seen in its hitherto robust defence of individual rights, especially the rights to freedom of speech and of belief. Historically, these values have been derived from our Christian heritage and faith, which enshrined into law respect for every individual as made in the image of God. Thus, the protection of individual rights and freedoms spelt out in Magna Carta was founded on the belief that all alike, including the king, were subject to the authority of God.
What we are seeing now is not evidence of different and more 'sophisticated' social mores, clamouring for acceptance – as claimed by those seeking so stridently to overturn the old order – but, rather, manifestation of a competing and hostile belief system that will brook no opposition - in fact, a different 'religion'.
Followers of this new faith claim that they are objective and neutral, simply seeking to defend the rights of oppressed minorities. But the reality is far different, because the dogma they proclaim is diametrically opposed to anything that might suggest acceptance or support for what they dismiss as the old 'Christian' order – which, by definition, they condemn as bigoted, intolerant and unacceptably judgmental. They are seeking supremacy.
Of course, if this is the emergence of a religion, it is not a new one. Rather, it is a rehashing of Satan's power-grab in Eden, repackaged for our time. You can 'choose', insists the snake-god, 'self'. With a little bit of knowledge, you can control it all and recreate creation. All that matters is the satisfaction of desire.
At the end of the day, this is a religion of hopelessness and death, with no promise of salvation. Denying any other reality, it locks men and women to the earth, blinding them to the stars shining overhead. For the survival of not just our nation, but of the human race, it is vital that the UK recovers and reasserts its Christian foundations. That we learn once again to celebrate righteousness, integrity and simple 'good manners'.
Sadly, academia seems increasingly to have become a dog-eat-dog world, where 'self' sits enthroned as king and the snowflakes demand and are allowed to rule. But it has never been right to permit the stifling of free expression and debate. Those who threaten, intimidate, abuse and try to silence others, because they don't like what they say, should not be tolerated.
Students would do well to remember that they attend university to learn, and not to impose their ill-thought out views on those entrusted with their teaching. By such behaviour as that displayed at Sussex, they deny their capacity for intellectual rigour and thereby forfeit their right to a place in our institutions of learning.