The witch hunt against Rachel Stewart

Journalist Rachel Stewart

I don’t like witch hunts and when people call for a person to be fired because they disagree with their opinions, I see red. I don’t care whether or not I share the opinions of the person being persecuted; I support their free speech and I will always oppose the mob. Rachel Stewart is guilty of having an opinion that is off the progressive plantation and that is why she has become a target. She is a “progressive” voice but when it comes to progressive doctrine on one particular issue she made a stand and now she is being punished for it. quote.

Rachel Stewart is a consistent supporter of progressive politics. But her political opponents, who claim left wing credentials themselves, want to see her sacked as a columnist for the NZ Herald. Her crime? Daring to disagree with them…

[…] Despite her worthy political credentials, Rachel has found herself the target of a sustained vitriolic campaign to discredit her. This campaign has rolled on relentlessly over recent months and it has now reached the stage that some are Rachel’s more vociferous opponents are campaigning to have her silenced in the media. Instead of debating the issues she raises, they just want to shut her down.

While Rachel has shrugged off the constant attacks as ‘just another day at the office’ she has been the target of what has been amounted to a campaign of cyberbullying designed not only have her removed as a columnist for the NZ Herald but also to drive her off Twitter which she uses on a daily basis. It has become an increasingly vicious campaign that has only served to betray the arrogant authoritarianism of those who have engaged in the attacks. Ironically, it is a campaign that has been conducted by individuals who like to describe themselves as ‘progressive’ or even ‘left wing’.

The conflict with Rachel Stewart stems from her opposition to individuals being able to change the details of their sex as registered at birth. She also objected to be described by Labour MP Louisa Wall as a ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’. Rachel wrote:

“TERF stands for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’ and is used as a way of denigrating any woman who questions the current craze of people – overwhelmingly men – who say they were born into the wrong body. Basically, it’s a derogatory and offensive label and is used to shut down debate on the fraught subject of transgender rights.”

[…] While the Press Council says Rachel was guilty of journalistic inaccuracy – a judgement she has not disputed – her opponents have not been able to agree with the Press Council’s views on the functions of a democratic media and continue to want to see her views suppressed.
Labour Party-friendly blogger and commentator Morgan Godfery has called for her axing from the NZ Herald. ‘She needs to go.” he has tweeted. ‘ She shouldn’t have a place in public life.’

Labour Party-friendly blogger and commentator Morgan Godfery has called for Rachel Stewart to be fired from the NZ Herald. ‘She needs to go.’ he has tweeted. ‘She shouldn’t have a place in public life.’

[…] Another member of the Labour-supporting Twitterati, Sara Hendrica Bickerton, says that she will not pay to have the newly introduced paywall of the NZ Herald removed ’till at the very minimum Rachel Stewart is no longer in employ there.’

Meanwhile Chloe Ann King, a longtime advocate for union and workers rights, apparently has no regard for Rachel’s rights as a worker and thinks that NZ Herald paywall “is an opportunity to fund better journalism and demand hate merchants like Rachel Stewart, be relegated to the trash pile.”end quote.

Slandering Rachel as a “hate merchant” is a typical left-wing tactic. Conservatives and others on the right are well used to this kind of smear. There has been nothing at all hateful about anything that Rachel Stewart has written. She simply doesn’t agree that individuals should be able to change the details of their sex on their birth certificate.

It is a reasonable opinion, backed by the fact that birth certificates are legal and factual documents, and how a person identifies does not reflect reality or biology. That is not to say that she would not show them respect as a person or call them whatever name they want to be called. She simply is defending the line in the sand between reality and fantasy.quote.

[…] Moana Maniapoto, [has] defended the NZ Herald columnist. She has criticised Morgan Godfery for wanting ‘to muzzle one of the staunchest voices for environmental & climate change activism around..’

The campaign against Rachel Stewart, in the end, has only served to feed the right – people like Mathew Hooton for instance. They have been more than ready to point an accusing finger at the left’s perceived authoritarianism and intolerance. They imply that its implicit in the left’s attempt to deny Rachel’s right to express her opinions while also trying to stifle debate – not to mention the continuing effort being made to stigmatise her as reactionary and intolerant.
That the exponents of identity politics are not representative of left wing politics in general hardly seems to matter. We all get smeared with the same brush. My politics have very little in common with the insipid liberalism of Morgan Godfery but the right would like to brand me guilty by association. end quote.

Of course, not all left-wingers use those kinds of tactics but that doesn’t make the general accusation untrue. It is a tactic most commonly used on the left-wing side of politics. Right wingers don’t go on about being offended and they are not big on boycotts or calling for people to be fired from their jobs. We are not angels and we have our own tactics. Identity politics, however, has never been a weapon of the right. quote.

It seems that the more obsessed that activists like Morgan Godfery and Green MP’s Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman become with identity politics the less willing they are to engage in reasoned political debate.
What has replaced debate is an attempt to suppress debate. There has been an on-going attempt to bully people with contrary views into submission. Only those with an approved identity status – or the correct approved views – are allowed to express an opinion.

This staggeringly intolerant view was highlighted for me recently when Green MP Marama Davidson objected to columnist Chris Trotter expressing his views – which were perfectly reasonable – on the Christchurch massacre. His crime? Not being the right skin colour. She advised Trotter that he just ‘needed to stay quiet and listen'[…]

It seems to me that we should be thinking about the common good in non-identity terms and that means inviting people with different views from our own to join the common struggle.

[…] As someone who supports a class-based politics I can only despair when I see someone like Rachel Stewart, both left wing and an ally of the left, being attacked as an enemy of the left by people who, in reality, have very little in common with the left beyond the centrist politics of the Labour Party. They certainly don’t speak for me.End quote.