“Do Your Own Research”

Okay. Let’s talk about Graham Linehan. I will not be sharing any of his hateful words or activities here. This is a safe space.

Graham Linehan is a former comedy writer, now a full-time anti-LGBTQ+ activist and bully. He was recently interviewed by Rosanna Lockwood on TalkTV and he pulls this little trick straight out of the QAnon playbook. He rants about some people he doesn’t like and throws out some allegations, then says this little phrase “all of this is available online“. He implores the TalkTV audience to do their own research.

Earlier this week I listened to an episode of The Bunker which featured an interview with James Ball, author of The Other Pandemic: How QAnon Contaminated the World. I recommend listening to the episode. In it, he discusses how far-right conspiracists use this phrase “do your own research” to push people into a pipeline to radicalisation.

The trick works by using terminology specific to their movement to guide your research. “Sex-based rights” is a perfect example. To be clear, there is no such legal-concept as “sex-based rights”. It’s been found in a few books starting in the late 1960’s but it’s by far not as common a phrase as, for example, “women’s rights“, even given how its usage has grown in recent years. The reason they use “sex-based rights” is to give you a key phrase that will take you to other resources by authors who use the same terminology, i.e. other anti-trans resources. They tell you “sex-based rights are under attack”, followed by “do your own research” with the expectation that you will type “sex-based rights” into your search engine of choice and be inevitably directed to a long list of links to anti-trans articles.

Part of the reason it works is because of how good it feels to “uncover” something yourself. Whether it’s QAnon or anti-trans activism or any other conspiracy theory, when you follow all the breadcrumbs and find logical consistency that you can piece together it feels like your mind has been blown by a discovery you’ve made yourself. The term radicalised people use for this is “being peaked”. What you don’t realise is that while you may have walked down the path of discovery yourself, they directed you down that path knowing exactly where it would lead. You didn’t independently solve a crime, you solved an escape room. The evidence and the solutions were laid out for you to follow.

All conspiracy theories, including anti-trans, have a logical consistency within themselves but only a tenuous connection to the real world. They simply don’t need it and the reason they don’t need it is because you didn’t do your own research. You read other peoples’ articles that contained a key phrase to get you to read them. If you don’t have your own laboratory or polling company, odds are you didn’t do your own research and never have. Anyone who tells you to do your own research is not to be trusted and is likely trying to radicalise you.

Back to Graham Linehan. A comedy night in which he was due to appear was cancelled recently and LGBTQ+ rights activist Peter Tatchell leapt ill-advisedly to his defence. He said this:

Tweet from @PeterTatchell: I disagree with trans critic #GrahamLineham but do not support him being cancelled at #Edinburgh It looks like discrimination based on belief, which is unlawful under #EqualityAct Best response to #Lineham is counter arguments & evidence, not by bans

This struck me as a very naive response. Counter arguments and evidence don’t work against conspiracy theorists like Graham Linehan. If you give him a platform all he will do is make the pre-planned tirade he wants to make, filled with radicalisation key phrases and followed with an encouragement to the listener to do their own research. The only argument you can make against him is “that’s not true” but it doesn’t matter. The radicalisation pipeline he wants to send you down doesn’t need to have any truth to it. It only has to be logically-consistent with itself (mostly, anyway) and it will work. People will be radicalised. Anyone who gives him a platform is partly responsible for this and it’s the main reason I’m not sharing anything Graham Linehan has said or asking you to seek it out for yourself. There’s nothing to be gained from it.

You only need to take one look at what Graham Linehan is and what he does to see that he’s not worth listening to. He is the only “women’s rights campaigner” in history to have been divorced by his wife for his campaigning. He uses his platform on Elon Musk’s website to abuse trans people with slurs and stolen photos. All that ever spits from his mouth is hate-filled bullshit and half-chewed microwaved carbonara. Do not use counter arguments against him. Do not play chess with the pigeon.

I recommend you treat anyone who tells you to “do your own research” with complete contempt unless you’re a literal researcher talking to another literal researcher. Look at who’s asking you to do their own research and the people they choose as allies. Honestly for me the whole so-called “trans-rights debate” in the UK was solved when I looked at which side the Tory party picked. If that’s not enough for you, there are plenty of well-respected long-standing international human rights organisations doing rigorous research into what’s happening in the UK and drawing conclusions. ILGA Europe ranks countries in Europe based on their laws and policies and how friendly they are to LGBTI people. The UK was first in their rankings up until 2015. It’s now 17th. The United Nations Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity has called out the so-called trans debate in the UK specifically for causing a surge in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes.

Sod doing your own research when the UN is telling you your country’s fucked up and never side with the far-right on issues of equality.

Instead, please donate to Gendered Intelligence to improve the lives of trans people in the UK. Thanks for reading. Except you, Graham. Get a life.