Every once in a while, around annual exams time for secondary schools, Indian media will show images of people scaling walls to get to open windows. They are professional ‘delivery’ boys hired by anxious parents from the ‘cheating mafia’ to obtain copies of the exam from students inside the building and then return pre-prepared answers to the questions to their children writing the exams. Almost invariably, the images are from my home state of origin Bihar. The situation represents a confluence of many factors: grinding poverty, the importance of educational qualifications for upward mobility, ‘corruption’ that is so ubiquitous as to have lost any societal stigma, and the grim determination of parents to give their kids every possible leg up in the fiercely competitive environment. A guest article for the BBC on 9 November 2014 by Craig Jeffrey of Oxford University examined the phenomenon and quoted several students who insisted cheating is their ‘democratic right’ and ‘birthright’. Examiners can be bribed and often are by the rich families and cheating is the poor man’s alternative. Why should our children suffer in the next generation, parents have said to me, with the clear subtext: who are you to cast a moral judgment on our particular circumstances?
Even if you didn’t agree with the moral choices made, you could understand the desperation of the parents, in conditions of scarcity, to grasp at education as the ticket out of dignity-denuding poverty. But little did I anticipate that the belief in cheating as a fundamental human right would shortly sweep Western societies.
Speaking in Philadelphia on 13 July, Joe Biden launched a full-throated attack on efforts by Republican-controlled states like Florida, Georgia and Texas to enact voting law reforms like requiring signature verification. Describing the racist ‘Jim Crow’ laws as ‘the most egregious attempts to harm the integrity of our democracy since the Civil War’, he said ‘voter suppression laws’ were motivated by the ‘big lie’ that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Attorney-General Merrick Garland has initiated legal action against Georgia for enacting ‘restrictions with the purpose of denying the right to vote on account of race or colour’. For the Wall Street Journal’s editors, attacks on Florida’s and Georgia’s laws are based on deliberate misrepresentations. Republicans, by contrast, use the language of ‘voter integrity’. What’s important, of course, is laws and procedures that both enhance the ease of voting and protect the integrity of the vote against fraud. Consider the requirement for photo IDs. They are increasingly commonplace for any number of activities like flying and for entrance to a growing number of buildings and sites. It’s been truly bizarre to see CEOs condemn the reforms and take their business to other states when their own airlines require photo IDs for boarding planes. Many have pointed out it’s easier for people to vote in some of the Republican states than in several Democratic states, including Biden’s home state of Delaware. One could conclude that Biden’s strident opposition, not Trump’s continuing claims, raise suspicions about the circumstances behind his victory in last year’s election. Or, to put it another way, the Democrats seem to believe in a constitutional right to cheat in elections.
Of course, this is fully consistent with the Democrat’s agenda to acknowledge gender identity based solely on a person’s subjective belief and self-identification. And to enforce the same through the laws and tribunals, preferably bypassing the court system if at all possible (or if they can get away with it). We were recently treated to the unalloyed joy and pleasure of a Wimbledon triumph in the Ladies (thank God they have stuck to this designation redolent of decades of dignified and graceful tradition) competition by Ash Barty. The nation’s reigning sweetheart won many Aussie hearts all over again with an inspirational and thoroughly deserved championship. For over a decade, the Gentlemen’s competition has been dominated by the big four of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. Imagine if one of the top level competitors in the next tier, who has never managed to get his hands on the trophy at a single major, chose to self-identify as a woman and went for glory, fame and fortune in the Ladies’ draw. Given the known advantages in strength, size, speed and stamina of males over females, few experts doubt that anyone from the men’s top ten even outside the fab four would comfortably win a woman’s championship at the majors. Would that represent progress to be celebrated or cheating to be condemned?
Recently there’s been some media discussion of race-shifting. Personally, I fail to see any difference in logic or principle between a Caucasian who wants to identify as an Aboriginal and a male who wants to identify as a female (mercifully, even they lack the chutzpah to claim these as a birthright). Even more strongly, in either case, if it’s important to the self-worth and esteem of the individual concerned, go for it. But we must draw the line if anyone wants to claim special privileges or material benefits from the science-defying change of racial or gender identity: a scholarship, literary or creative arts grant here or a job preferment and promotion there. New Zealand, the first country in the world to give women the vote, will be sending a trans woman to the Tokyo Olympics to compete in weightlifting, where of course the biological male attributes confer no advantage whatsoever. If this isn’t cheating, we should retire the word from the dictionary. As Amy Brooke informed us, Laurel née Gavin Hubbard changed his name at age 35 and turned to living as a woman. Julie Bindel is right: ‘Laurel Hubbard is the beginning of the end of women’s sports’. It destroys the fundamental principle behind gender segregation in sports to begin with. Her would-be competitors in Tokyo should boycott the event, with the full understanding and vocal support from their governing bodies. It’s one prong of the move to cancel women and colonise their spaces. To think that men are once again successfully erasing women’s identity to reverse progress, hard won over the last two centuries, to create safe and co-equal spaces for women; and that rape and ogling enablers who back predatory males’ legislated rights to access women fellow-prisoners and women’s changerooms believe they are the virtues-upholding members of society.
In this ode to the gods of cheating, dogma has displaced biology with callous disregard for the violence, distress, trauma and unfairness inflicted on women and girls.
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