Paddington Bear-loving Evan Davis certainly went to town on Harry Miller on PM yesterday. Evan later defended himself on Twitter, maintaining that he was being impartial. Others, however, disagree.
A transcript is needed.
Here's how Evan began the programme:
And this is the news bulletin:Evan Davis: Hello there. The High Court has ruled in this man's favour, saying the police went too far in defining his anti-trans tweets as hate rather than legitimate mockery:Harry Miller: You police stand behind a chocolate fireguard called the College of Policing Guidelines. It will not shield you. You will get burned.Well, that anti anti-trans tweeter will join us shortly.
Newsreader: The High Court has ruled that Humberside Police acted unlawfully after they visited a man at his workplace over a series of allegedly transphobic tweets. Trans activists have described the judgment as worrying because it failed to establish the threshold for acceptable speech. The Humberside force said it had acted in good faith and would learn from what happened. Here's our legal correspondent Clive Coleman.Clive Coleman: In 2019 a transgender woman complained about Harry Miller's tweets. Humberside Police went to his place of work. He was questioned, told he could be prosecuted if he continued and a non-crime hate incident was recorded. Mr Miller argued the police guidance breached free speech and required no evidence of hate nor of a specific victim. Mr. Justice Knowles ruled the guidance was lawful but the way it was applied by police disproportionately interfered with Mr. Miller's right to free speech. "In this country we've never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi", he said. "We've never lived in an Orwellian society".
And now comes the interview.
It was one of those interviews where the interviewer says at least as much, if not more. than the interviewee. During it Evan described Mr Miller as "obsessed" and "weird".
I've underlined some of Evan's most striking interventions. Was he baiting and insulting Mr Miller?
Here, to end, is a flavour of the online discussion about the interview:Evan Davis: When does mockery become hate speech? The issue is alive today after that High Court judge ruled that Humberside Police had gone too far in deeming tweets mocking the whole idea of trans people changing their agenda. The police had not said the tweets were a crime but they did visit the man responsible for them and log his words as a non-crime hate incident. Many think the police are hopeless at judging these issues, going way too far sometimes in a wokely direction. In this case it was all the more interesting that the man doing the tweeting was in fact himself a former policeman. And we can talk to him now: Harry Miller, who founded the campaign group Fair Cop. Thank you for joining us on PM Mr Miller. Can I just first ask, do you accept there are limits on free speech and it can at some point turn into hate speech and could be reasonably stopped by the law?Harry Miller: We've never, ever suggested that there shouldn't be limits to free speech.ED: Right.HM: When it comes to harassing people, when it comes to malicious communications, when it comes to targeting people, we're not for that at all.ED: Right.HM: What we are for is for free and frank and satirical discussion around a range of subjects, including the whole issue of gender identity. And I do take issue with your introduction that I was 'an anti-trans tweeter'. I'm not anti-anything. I am pro-women, and I'm pro-democracy, and I'm pro-discussion, and I'm pro-free speech.ED: OK. I think anyone reading your tweets would say you're anti-trans. Let's just call a spade a spade. I mean...HM: No, no, what exactly...ED: ...I might have misunderstood...HM: No, what exactly is there in there that's anti-trans?ED: Well, you're mocking the idea at [sic] people changing gender.HM: I'm mocking the idea that it is possible for an immutable characteristic like sex to change just because somebody says so. That's an idea that's worth mocking.ED: Well, certainly the trans community feel you have mocked them and I think, you know, I've just read the tweets. I'm looking at some of them now. I think the listener would benefit from knowing it's reasonable to call them 'anti-trans'. But look, you accept the limits. You say you accept you're not against the idea that there can be something called 'hate speech'. Do you think you would have launched this kind of, if you like, sequence of tweets on an issue you might feel more sensitive about? Race, for example?HM: No, of course I wouldn't, because that's not an issue. Race is a thing. The notion of race is not up for discussion. The government hasn't called upon its citizens to discuss the notions of race. It did call upon its citizens to discuss the notion of gender in relation to reforms to the Gender Recognition Act reform. That's what I engage with, so it's just not a fair question.ED: OK, can I...I don't want to put you in the psychiatrist's chair here, Mr Miller...HM: No, go ahead, I'm quite happy. I'm relaxed.ED: What is it? You come across as a bit obsessed about something which you could quite happily ignore. You could have your view. You're not really debating here. It's sometimes a little bit sweary, isn't it? It's quite insulting. Some of it, you could say, is satirical, you know, 'I'm a fish and I want, I regard my right, don't misspecies me'. You could call that satirical. Other bits are just very insulting.HM: No, they're not. There's nothing in there that's insulting at all. Tell me where I've been insulting.ED: OK, well, Adrian Harrop. You called him "a gloating bastard. Harrop doing what he does best". It that not...? "Is Trans Day of Remembrance a thing then like an actual one?"...
HM: No, no, no, no, no...
ED: (high pitched) I'm just reading you the tweets! I mean, they're insulting, aren't they? There's no point in saying they're not insulting.
HM: No. No. I had no idea. I had never heard of Trans Day of Remembrance. I saw it on a TUC tweet and I said, "Is it a thing?" I'd absolutely no idea...
ED: (interrupting) "What's the Witchfinder General gloating about now?". That's insulting to the people who are...
HM: That was aimed at Dr...
ED: (interrupting) "Shon Faye, clothing fascist, utter...", I'm not even going to say the word. You can't pretend you're not being insulting or that you're not being anti-trans. Of course you are. You might as well be honest about it.
HM: No, I was being Dr Adrian Harrop because he was celebrating the no-platforming of the feminist Megan Murphy, and Shon Faye, I can't remember why I tweeted that. I think he compared...I think he was having a go at somebody's dress sense. So I wasn't having a go because he was trans, I was having a go at him because he made some ridiculous comment online.
ED: I don't know, do you feel like this is like engaging with the Government's debate about the subtleties of the Gender Recognition Act or is this just a kind of weird tirade from someone who's got no particular connection?...I don't know if the trans community has ever hurt you in particular. It just seems weird that you would want to go out there and bait and insult other people, even though you may have the right to do so.
HM: Right. The High Court has said that I didn't bait or insult anybody. The High Court said that I wasn't even in the foothills of baiting anybody. What I did in the public market square of Twitter was engage in a lively debate. That's what I did. I don't apologise for it, and I would encourage people to join in and do it. And I was speaking on behalf of women...
ED: (interrupting) I don't know, most of the time you don't seem to be speaking up on behalf of women. You seem to be actually putting trans people down. That's a very different thing, isn't it?
HM: No, because that was 30 tweets over a period of two months. I tweeted hundreds of things during that period. They were the tweets that somebody separated out, so you're taking individual tweets way out of context...
ED: (interrupting) I'm taking the tweets that have been the subject of the case today. But anyway, you stand by the fact...and this is. I think this is the important point of agreement, that there can be such a thing as hate speech and it is about drawing a line and the argument is about where you draw the line.
HM: Yeah, but the real story here is that Humberside Police were compared to the Gestapo and the Stasi. I think that's the real story.
ED: Harry Miller, thank you very much for joining us.
- Sar: Evan Davis is being extremely inflammatory calling Harry anti-trans over and over.
- Suzanne Evans: Agreed. I just listened to this and was appalled at Evan’s approach. In complaining about his interviewer being ‘insulting’ (for expressing widely-held views), he then actually insulted him again and again. Textbook example of how wrong-headed some BBC news people have become.
- Mr Misunderstood: Completely agree. Evan Davis didn't conduct so much an interview as a hostile interrogation. He kept insisting his opinion was fact by repeatedly calling tweets "insulting" and allowing no disagreement with that opinion. Typical BBC now, though.
- Karl Dunkerley: He treated an innocent man as guilty and treated a guilty police force as if it was innocent. He put the innocent man through the trial all over again. Another example of why my long-held faith in BBC News reporting has collapsed.
- Mr Misunderstood: My thoughts exactly. During the "interrogation" I kept saying to myself "cripes, Evan... are you trying this man all over again cos you didn't like the verdict? And then puffballed "Tiffany" from Cambridgeshire police!
Ah yes, and that is the punchline of all this: As Mr Misunderstood says, Harry Miller's hostile interrogation was immediately followed by a much softer interview with Tiffany from the police.