The freedom to say only things that do not offend is not a freedom worth having. While the German media establishment continues to debate whether ‘cancel culture’ exists at all, a new Debatten-Unkultur has long been growing in the background. This ‘non-debate culture’ no longer bothers to refute opposing viewpoints or opinions with counterarguments. Instead, it focuses simply on silencing others — or even on completely ‘erasing’ them from the consciousness of readers, listeners, and consumers. And I take this very personally because it directly affects me as an author, journalist, and speaker.

Spotify, the online provider of music and podcasts, has demonstrated exactly how the ‘cancel culture’ works in Germany. The company recently removed an interview with me about my new book, Noch Normal? Das lässt sich gendern! (Still Normal? This can be Gendered!), published in 2020 FinanzBuch Verlag in Munich, from its platform because  — apparently — the content of my conversation with the podcast “indubio” was deemed “unacceptable.” According to Spotify, the interview, they informed us, had “violated their content policies.” There was no further explanation. Instead, the entire episode of the podcast was simply removed. I was thus effectively ‘cancelled.’

When we inquired further, Spotify replied to our questions about their decision by sending us elsewhere — telling us that we should “ask our web hosting service,” since “they were informed of the deletion.” Oh, and by the way, Spotify continued, “do not reply to this email because it will not be read.” As in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, you are only given the verdict — not the charges against you nor even the possibility of defending yourself.

Conveniently, Spotify has no branch office in Germany. They cannot be contacted nor anyone found with whom to speak. The anonymous ‘executor’ of Spotify’s verdict did send us a perfunctory notification in the name of someone named “Karin” (who could just as easily have been called “Jane Doe” since no one knows her identity).

Birgit Kelle portrait courtesy of Kerstin Pukall.

By now I’m used to such ‘punishments’ from the social media networks — especially Facebook, where I’ve been banned numerous times for violating their ‘community standards’ —  after having been reported on by amateur censors (those ‘busybodies’ who report perceived infractions as a hobby). In fact, recently, my criticism of Mattel’s hijab Barbie earned me a seven-day ban from the platform because my question of whether there is also a suitable playhouse in which dear Ken can flog Barbie if she refuses to wear the lovely scarf was considered ‘unseemly.’

The reason for the ban was that I had hurt the feelings of a religious community — and, yes, I’ll exercise the freedom to do so, especially when it impinges on women’s rights. Incidentally, this is exactly what the chapter titled “The Women’s Sacrifice” in my new book is about: the fact that even some so-called feminists (including gender icon Judith Butler) prefer to celebrate the Muslim veiling of women rather than defend their freedom.

On Twitter, complaints about my tweets come as surely as an “Amen” in a church, no matter what I write. I have also grown accustomed to the fact that at some of my events on the topic of gender, I require police protection because of the militant protesters; and I’ve gotten used to people regularly demanding that I be ‘disinvited’ to appear on television shows — because people like me “should not be given a platform.” This happened most recently after I presented my new book on the private broadcaster Sat.1: I was pronounced “out of touch” by a celebrity transvestite and ‘LGBT warrior’ — but it could just as easily have been a member of parliament from the Green Party. I’ve seen it all.

But now my ‘trans-criticism’ seems to have upset Spotify. The debate about what a woman is — and whether a ‘trans’ woman is also a ‘real’ woman or just a ‘fake’ woman (when compared to a biological female) — has made heads roll. J. K. Rowling can tell you a thing or two about this. Apparently even having ‘bestselling author status’ will no longer protect you, seeing how Twitter users wished her death with the ghoulish hashtag: #RIPJKROWLING.

If you dare to criticize the aggressiveness, excesses, and the overreach of the ‘trans’ movement, instead of just nodding politely, and if you point out that ‘trans’ women are hijacking women’s shelters, sports, locker rooms, and prisons around the world (making trouble with their apparently ‘all-female penises’) then the oh-so-tolerant LGBT front will wish you dead. But perhaps they mean it as satire?

Image courtesy of Blackcat under CCA BY-SA 3.0.

On these topics, some people in Germany remain in a rainbow-colored ‘Sleeping Beauty’ slumber. Unfortunately, my book will be a rude awakening. Gender is not funny: it has already cost women their physical integrity and their sexual self-determination — and, increasingly, alleged ‘trans kids’ will pay for it permanently with their mutilated bodies and their health. (On this topic, I recommend Chapter 5, titled “Stolen Femininity” and, above all, Chapter 6, “Sacrificed Children” from my book.)

It’s amazing that out of millions of podcasts, Spotify deleted the episode on my book because it allegedly violated their “community policies.” I had simply talked about my new book, Noch Normal?, and had presented its meticulous research, providing numerous examples of what is being done in the name of ‘tolerance.’ It’s interesting to note that, at the same time that my episode was deleted, Spotify in the U.S. had a fierce debate on its hands about the extremely successful podcaster Joe Rogan. Spotify had recently taken him under its roof with a multi-million dollar contract. The roof, however, had immediately collapsed, since Rogan is quite outspoken, with strong views which the LGBT lobby considers “heteronormative.” An aggressive campaign is currently being waged against him because he invited the ‘trans-critical’ author Abigail Shrier to speak on his podcast, and the debate in the U.S. is on whether he should be censored — or whether this falls under freedom of speech.

‘Trans-criticism’: this is the real reason that a podcast episode with the title “Trans-Babies and Puberty Blockers” can simply vanish on Spotify. It is no coincidence or technical glitch. It is, instead, evidence that the company is systematically scrubbing all ‘trans-critical’ episodes from its portfolio — while, at the same time, keeping all of its LGBT-friendly material, so that one can listen to countless stories of successful ‘sex changes’ on the portal.

The fact that discourse is no longer allowed or desired and the ways in which ‘cancel culture’ — through defamation, denunciation, and guilt by association — is used to prevent open discourse on contentious topics — is the topic of the last chapter in my book: “From Freedom of Opinion to Freedom from Opinion.” How nice that Spotify, with its heavy-handed actions, has unwittingly confirmed all of my prognoses about the dark future of freedom of expression!

The freedom to say only harmless things is not a freedom worth having. I do not intend to only post cat pictures online so as not to offend anyone. Rather, I will continue to say everything that needs to be said, even — and especially — if it is not harmless. That is a freedom worth having and defending. ◼️