Richard Stallman’s ostensible transphobia

To those who write about #Stallman‘s alleged transphobia, I offer this response.

Stallman is demonstrably not transphobic. If you believe otherwise, I wonder whether you have actually read Stallman’s own writings on his use of pronouns, or merely formed an opinion from what secondary sources have reported. Stallman’s stance on the subject is freely available from his own site.

Regardless of Stallman’s position on this issue, a transgender person’s perceived right to be addressed using the pronouns of his or her choice does not compel another person to act in accordance with that perception. In most Western liberal democracies, most people enjoy a very real, i.e. legally protected, right to free speech; certainly to the extent that the speaker’s choice of pronouns is concerned.

As such, rigid adherence to certain constructs of language can, at worst, be ascribed to self-interest, namely the assertion that the existent right to free speech trumps another’s perceived right to be addressed in a particular way. That’s a wholly reasonable attitude to take on principle alone, and garners more weight as one examines the pressure currently being placed on this central tenet of liberal society by regressive elements and their proclivity for cancel culture.

The suppression of free speech has far-reaching consequences for the whole of humanity; the inflexible use of pronouns affects a much smaller subset.

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