It is important to get the background to this story in order to properly understand the issues at stake. It is true that he is a right-wing evangelical zealot and no friend of women’s causes, but the hill he has chosen to die on is one that is of great importance to women’s rights and the place and role of women in society as well as worker’s rights in general, though he himself is a not a champion nor defender of either.
His twitter feed rails against covid restrictions, the left, homosexuality and witchcraft of all things and he is the author of a book entitled The Hedonism and Homosexuality of John Piper and Sam Allberry, those two being part of a discussion amongst Calvinists about faith and good works, from what can be gleaned on the internet, placing Burke to the right of many evangelicals. The title itself would cause anyone to grimace.
As is now common in some parts of the world, a child requested that he be addressed by a new name to reflect his illusory identity and be referred to, when not directly addressed, as they/them rather than the usual and correct grammatical use of he/him. An email was sent to staff informing them of this, Burke replied by email stating that this was a violation of his religious beliefs. The fact that it is an elite fee-paying school where the students are clients above all else, may have been a factor in their decision. Burke replied that he would not comply and tried to challenge management over this issue. It was his way of challenging them that would used by the school to justify his suspension and the court cases. The court case and contempt hearings are to some degree background noise. They are not the essence of the case.
There are two points to the case, one is the imposition of trans ideology and the other is workers’ rights.
The child requested a change in usage of pronouns and name. There is no law in Ireland that mandates the usage of what are now laughably called preferred pronouns. They are not preferred they are imposed breaking with the grammatical rules and common understanding and also aim to break with our understanding of reality. They are also part of a wider campaign to subvert and undermine women’s rights. Burke’s refusal to go along with this nonsense should have been the end of the matter. Instead, the school stood its ground and decided to bring disciplinary proceedings against him, theoretically because of the way he challenged them, but in reality because he refused to bow down on the issue. No dissent on the issue of pronouns and trans rights is tolerated by the great and the good. It is not that long ago that various organisations including Amnesty International signed an open letter calling for the suppression of the views of those women who “defended biology”.(1) It is not different. It is an attempt to enforce a view that conflicts with material reality.
Burke is a religious zealot and a thoroughly objectionable character but the points raised in his case apply to all teachers. Can teachers be forced to comply with the pronoun nonsense and be force to teach as fact that you can change sex, or that there is a third gamete i.e. non binary and this gamete comes into existence through sheer will power and the taking of a decision? The answer should be no. What will happen to teachers who refuse? And this is where the case has real implications for teachers.
Recently the unions who had remained silent on the issue have been forced by circumstances to speak up. They have expressed concern at the fact he was dismissed as dismissals normally involve gross misconduct. They are concerned at the speed with which he was dismissed.
You would wonder at the speed at which the dismissal took place. It took place the day after the disciplinary hearing, which is very unusual. If this goes to an appeal, you can expect that every aspect of the process will be examined in minute detail.(2) They were also concerned at his dismissal as such, as it was not normal. Indeed, and when the next teacher stands up on the issue, what will happen? One of the notable things about the stand-off is that whilst the Irish Times claims that students wrote a letter to Burke about the disruption to school life caused by him turning up and the heavy media presence, there have been no statements from either other teachers or parents. One would expect the teachers and the parents to say something if they were fully in support of the school’s position. They haven’t done that. No one has spoken out against it either, indicating that they are fearful of the consequences.
There are precedents in Ireland. In 1982, Eileen Flynn was sacked from her job as a teacher because she was co-habiting with a married man (divorce was illegal at the time). Her life-style did not match the ethos of the Catholic Church who ran the school. She took a case against them and lost. Now in these dark times a new religion is being rammed down people’s throats with the same mix of threats and fear and dogmatic orthodoxy. Whilst the Catholic Church demanded that we believe in transubstantiation, that the bread is transformed literally into the body of Christ, the new priests demand we believe that men can really transition into being female. Both of these positions are absurd. Bread is bread, not meat and men are not women and can never become women.
The issues are important. Even people like Burke have rights and whilst he is not someone we could find common cause with, even on this issue as he is not motivated out of concern for women’s rights. His case is the test case that will decide the future and as such his case, as loathsome as he may be, deserves our support. The new high priests should keep out of our minds, the language we use and also out of the teaching of science just like the old ones were told to keep out of our bedrooms.
(1) See Irish LGBTQ+ community stand in #IrishSolidariT against transphobia on Trans Day of Remembrance.
(2) The Irish Times (22/01/2023) Concern among teacher unions over handling of Enoch Burke’s dismissal.
⏩ Gearóid Ó Loingsigh is a political and human rights activist in Latin America.
Gearóid, if I understand the sequence of events correctly, Enoch Burke over-reacted to an email concerning a student whom he didn't even teach.ReplyDelete
He was suspended on full pay because of his behaviour rather than for the position he took. Even though I'd have no truck with fundamentalists like Burke I do see merit in some of the issues your article raises.
Most sane people I believe will object to enforced speech on these 'trans' matters. That's not to say though, that those same sane people would necessarily reject a request from a 'Gerard' to be called 'Geraldine'.
Could Burke not mannerly acquiesce to such a request by addressing the student with both their given name and the newly taken one?
There are even younger children being abused by the religious - circumcision. I said before that in years to come those children should be able to take a lawsuit.Delete
Unlike you, I strongly disagree with this piece. But the blog is about facilitating free inquiry and different ideas.
Science has the power to move against biological determinism. Perhaps the question is simply is it a power worth exercising? My own experience is that for those who have made the transition from A to B, I cannot genuinely see them as A. They seem B to me, B to themselves and B to most others who interact with them. I am not going to get hooked on some biological dogma that makes them a prisoner.
But as I said before, what is most disturbing is that people are being forced to be silent on matters that demands more noise.
I have no sympathy for Burke and as a trade union activist who deals frequently with people being sacked, there is nothing in his case that would worry me. I have seen a lot of cases where due process has been denied. I wish all verdicts were as swiftly delivered.
Moves advocating for compelled speech by the 'woke' crowd are forcing that silence you mention, and yes this particular issue does demand more noise. Some of what's happening is not completely removed from genital mutilation.Delete
Whereas I have no qualms about adults undergoing gender reassignment interventions I do have issues with provision of puberty blocker drugs to children from as young as eight years of age.
This blog never lays on a welcome committee for the Dictatorship of the Woketariat.Delete
Woke can be so fundamentally debilitating that some of its more damaged adherents have been treated by religious trauma counselllors.
Regardless of what the Woke wish, I think you called it right in your opening comment about being mannerly. There are rules in the workplace which we can breach if we choose but will be disciplined for it. Any school has every right to prevent teachers from preaching to kids. Who would want to preach to a child around this issue. Teaching not preaching is what Burke is employed to do.
Whereas your concern is on puberty blockers for eight year old children, my concern is on attempts to silence you expressing such concerns.
And yet continued attempts at silencing discussion on 'trans' issues is what's happening more and more. People with opposing positions are often de-platformed and any possibility for reasoned debate is immediately closed down with ad hominem accusations of the challenger being 'trans-phobic'.Delete
As an example, In March 2022 Helen Joyce was due to appear on a panel to discuss her book and views on gender theory. This panel would have been part of an event for an expected 100 to 150 trainee child psychiatrists organised by Great Ormond Street Hospital and Health Education England. Before the event the organisers received allegations against Joyce and were warned "There is no possible way in which this event can possibly be a 'safe environment’ for LGBTQ+ and especially trans participants". Joyce was disinvited days before the event, which was later postponed. Joyce responded by saying, "It's outrageous that a journalist who has written a best-selling book spelling out the harms of this bizarre, evidence-free ideology is no-platformed and subjected to a smear campaign."
In her book 'Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality' she presents a cogent argument against current interventions for minors and to my mind makes well-reasoned, scalpel-like dissections of the issues involved. (Highly recommended, a well worth read for anyone interested in such issues).
I think that's right. There are attempts to coerce people into silence on the matter. Woketoids can often resemble fascism-lite in their response to ideas they do not like.
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh commentsDelete
Yes, I agree that he could use the chosen name and as you say it could be as simple as Gerard to Geraldine, though often it is not. Names are socially defined and change across boundaries. Yury is a male Russian name, but when it became popular in Colombia it was as women's name. So no problem there. However, the pronouns they/them are in the 3rd person and people are being told that when they speak in the 3rd person about the student, i.e, when the student is not present or even in the classroom not being directly addressed how you are to speak of them is controlled against all the evidence of your eyes and ears and also beliefs in Burke's case. That is compelled speech. The choice words I use to talk about Leo Varadkar when not present (always in my case) are not those he would like. The pronouns are the slippery slope to rapists being housed in a female prison. If he is a she, then she should be in a female prison regardless of crime. I think not.
Good article and I agree with the author. Wishful thinking should not replace obvious fact. As a side note, the amount of claims in the UK alone from people who underwent "Gender reassignment/Mutilation surgery" when they were children in the eyes of the law is going to be eye opening. Imagine surgeons working on children not even old enough to vote, drink or fight and mutilating them for life. It's something Mengele would have approved of. Fuck compelled speech a spades a spade. This is a looming disaster.ReplyDelete
I tend to agree with Steve on this particularly the issue of "reassignment/Mutilation surgery when they were children". It cannot be acceptable to operate on children as young as eight on something as life changing as this. Adults who have come to a logical and happy conclusion for themselves about their sexuality and gender then yes, no problem, but kids, no a deffinate no, no.ReplyDelete