Letters to the Canary: trans rights, Catalonia, and is AI really a threat?

Letters to the Canary
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The Canary is excited to share the latest edition of our letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news, politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. We’ve now opened the letters page up so anyone can submit a contribution. As always, if you’d like to subscribe to the Canary – starting from just £1 a month – to support truly radical and independent media, then you can do that here:

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This week’s letters

This week we have people’s thoughts on trans rights, Catalonia, and AI. 

Responses to a Canary Lowdown by Alex/Rose Cocker on trans rights and anti-trans hate

It’s never-ending isn’t it?  And getting worse because it suits some vile sorts.

An interesting ‘point’ re. the Guardian (apart from the fact that it’s not what you can really call left wing and hasn’t been for a good while now) is that the US and Australian Guardians have actually criticised the UK one for its transphobic output (in 2018).

I have a suggestion which the Canary might want to consider which is, aside from reporting on the current issues, publish an article simply noting the recent history of hostile media coverage in the UK?

I remember the Morning Star attacks well. Which should prove beyond all reasonable doubt that this goes way beyond being just a ‘left vs right’ issue.

Read on...

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The author of the article below is still on Twitter & as you’ll see if you check their timeline – very staunch.

Transphobia: How the trans-hostile media coverage began in the UK | by Mimmymum | Medium

Gender criticals that I’ve come across just seem to enjoy being nasty, upsetting people, and getting a reaction. Try not to let them get to you. But also do remember that many people are genuinely ignorant on the subject and so just swallow whatever gubbins ‘reliable’ sources tell them to.

Alison, via email

This is to say what a great bit of writing, dear Alex/Rose. My dearest friend is trans, and I went through the entire process with them, though that is a cold word for something so profound. I have been utterly disbelieving of all the utter crap I have read.

You bet I have supported the trans community to the hilt, though they truly are just part of the wide diversity of human existence. At the age of 81, I am saddened to see the deterioration of so many people into blind prejudice of any sort. I shall keep fighting for all those people who are persecuted for being themselves. Thank goodness for the likes of Alex/Rose and for the Canary.

Love and hugs.

Betsy, via email

I thought we’d sorted everything out years ago and trans people were simply a tiny subsection of people in our society. Imagine my horror to find out that a proportion of the people I call friends are now the biggest enemies of the state. Their crimes, some of them are victims of violence and abuse and may need to share spaces with other people who are victims of violence and abuse. Also, they all need to pee!

I am forever grateful to the queers who came before me and made it possible for me to live my authentic life. Some of the people I owe my gratitude to are and were trans people. Why the rest of the population are concerned about where queers pee, rather than kids going hungry, police protecting cishet rapist men, or migrants drowning in full view of the coast is beyond me.

Wherever you stand on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, if you don’t stand with our trans and gender non-conforming siblings, you’re standing on the wrong side of history and the rest of us won’t forget or forgive.

Tracey, via email

Earthquake within Catalan independence movement in the municipal elections

In the last autonomic elections in Catalonia in 2021, the three pro-independence parties (ERC from the center-left, JUNTS from the center-right and CUP from the left) won 52% of the votes. A kind of unofficial referendum, which showed the desire of the people of Catalonia to be able to decide to leave the Spanish state as a solution to the constant disagreements and the irreconcilable way of living the political, economic, and social.

This divergence can already be found in 1714, when the Crown of Castile imposed itself by force of arms over the Crown of Aragon. The way in which the Crown of Aragon managed its internal diversity with an autonomy respectful of the different territories that made it up (Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia and the Balearic Islands), and how the Crown of Aragon related to the Crown of Castile, seeking mutual respect, came to an end.

That 52% verdict in a legal election reinforced the mandate of the 2017 referendum for the independence of Catalonia and which unleashed a fierce repression by the Spanish State: judicial threats (hundreds of accused, millionaire fines, prison sentences, politicians dismissed by “lawfare”), police threats (harassment of demonstrations, the “Operation Catalonia” carried out by an illegal and secret police group to damage the independence movement, illegal espionage with Pegasus, possible blackmail with the information obtained in this espionage), media threats (singling out, criminalization, and dehumanization of the Catalans and their demands).

And in this context, the 52% victory has not been translated into any concrete policy of the Catalan Government (formed by ERC and JUNTS) towards self-determination, but rather into obedience towards Spain, support to all the projects of the Spanish Government, and a totally failed attempt of Catalonia-Spain dialogue (they have met twice in three years). In the end, JUNTS left the Catalan Government which has continued with only ERC.

Then, in the municipal elections of 28 May there has been a large abstention of Catalan pro-independence voters as a measure of punishment to the pro-independence parties themselves. It has been demonstrated that the Catalan pro-independence movement, which is citizen rather than partocratic, is still mobilised, and will not allow the Catalan pro-independence parties to evade their responsibility to carry out the independence of Catalonia.

If the citizens had continued to vote, as always, massively for the pro-independence parties they would have understood that they could continue their renunciation and the postponement of independence until the next generation. 530,000 voters abstained (+10%), almost all, 330,000, from the pro-independence parties. The party in the Catalan government, ERC, has lost 300,000 votes (-37% of its votes), the CUP has lost 44,000 votes (-25% of its votes) and JUNTS has risen a little (only +3%).

Abstention is usually interpreted as a sign of disinterest in politics, but this increase seems rather the opposite, since in Catalonia interest in politics is among the highest in the world according to surveys. This increase in abstention is attributed to the most convinced independentistas who, despite losing their share of power, are trying not to be swallowed by institutional politics and are sending a powerful message to the independentista parties to rectify their strategy.

Regarding the mayoralty of Barcelona, despite the fact that a pro-independence party, JUNTS, has won the first position, the coalition of JUNTS-ERC has not achieved the government of Barcelona, because in the end a very forced pact of anti-independence (socialists, left and right) has been imposed, which has given the mayoralty to a socialist.

Just at the end of these municipal elections, the Spanish Government announced the calling of state elections for 23 July. Possibly, as the pro-independence parties have not made any changes to their strategy, pro-independence voters will persist in the strategy of punishing the pro-independence parties to make them react. We will also have to be attentive to see if, in Spain, the right wing of the PP and the extreme right wing of VOX will take power, as the polls predict.

Jordi Oriola Folch, Barcelona, via email

The threat of AI

Dear Canary

I don’t think you have covered this topic (apologies if you have), I know something popped up on Novara media recently, so it’s gaining traction.

I watched this podcast interview with Mo Gawdat (ex Google tech guy; not the one who left recently saying AI was a problem, one who left before that).

The podcast might not generally be up your alley as it’s by Steve Bartlett, tech CEO. However, the things Mo talks about are not only interesting, but something we all ought to be talking about and planning for. AI is here, it’s getting scary smart, has been taught coding (so it can replicate itself) and has been let loose on the internet.

Mo talks about the threat coming in the next 2-7 YEARS! The time is now.

Wanted to share in case you’re able to run a feature on it. It is an existential threat to humans and modern capitalism means we are not, as ever, making good decisions.

It is really worth a watch

Sharon, via email

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  • Show Comments
    1. The Problem I have with the “trans rights issue” is that trans rights activists seem to rely on censorship. A recent example is a comment that was deleted on an article on “trans rights” on June 12. Instead of answering the points raised in the comment, Alex Rose Cocker simply deleted it, leading me to feel he could not answer the points.
      The problem with “Trans rights” activists is that when people raise points about women’s safety, children’s welfare or women’s sports they are labelled “transphobic” in much the same way that critics of Israel are called “anti-Semitic”. This makes it look like TRAs (trans rights activists) are defending predatory men, child groomers and sports cheats. Maybe that is their purpose.
      By not condemning Isla Bryson, the double rapists, as a charlatan and a chancer, they would not have looked like they were defending rapists. Briana Ghey may not have been murdered.
      The activities of TRAs reflect badly on trans people.
      Also by attempting to censor opposition TRAs are also a threat to democracy. But the Pharmaceutical companies will be making big profits.

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