You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Free Speech’ tag.

I never thought that I would become politically homeless in my lifetime.  The tenets of class analysis, proletarian struggle, looking after the less fortunate in society seemed like a rock-solid bulwark to hold.

Lately though, the Left I see is rife with witchhunting, purity tests, and outright excommunication for heretical actions (and non-actions).  Disagreement is met with a extreme paucity of charity and hostility that at one time, was the sole domain of the fundamentally religious right.

I understand times change, but the illiberal Left today doesn’t resemble anything I ever signed up for.  So, the next step I suppose for me is the coming to terms with being more politically unmoored as time passes.

Obaid Omer shares a similar experience but his narrative speaks of a journey from the full embrace of Islamic religious values to a seeking solace in Liberal values of the West.  In his journey though he observes a chilling similarity between his religious roots and the new set of ‘liberal values’ (hence the title of this post the Fuaxgressive Left) that are flourishing today.

“But when I came back to Canada in 2014, I returned to a different country than the one I had left.

I had left a country that was proud of being the opposite of what bothered me about Islam, that was proud of a tradition of free inquiry and free speech, open debate and civil discourse. The Canada I returned to resembled the religion of my youth more than it did its opposite.

I left a culture that was steeped in a sentiment that could be summed up as, “I may disagree with what you say, but I respect your right to say it.” I returned to a culture summarized by, “I disagree with what you say, so shut up.”

Quashing debate and argument seems to be the name of the game these days, as certain opinions have been designated as unapproachable or ‘settled’ topics.  In a society that values the free exchange of ideas almost everything has to be on the table.  Odious free-speech must be protected along with the prosaically milquetoast free speech.

“The dam broke. Once they started calling it racist to criticize Islam, it was easy to shut the conversation down completely. The accusation meant the accused was morally beyond the pale, and thus completely dismissible. Words like micro-aggressions, trigger warnings, and safe spaces became mainstream. An emphasis on pervasive racism grew exponentially. To even question the extent to which racism was everywhere resulted in accusations of being a racist. Like with religious blasphemy codes, you can only talk about certain topics in specific ways.”

Ask your local MP what their definition of Woman is.  I’d be surprised if you got a response, because like discussing the extent of racism in society, trying to discuss female rights, boundaries, and safety has been designated a no-go zone by the gender reactionaries – the people that believe that men can become women simply by saying so.  Oppose their dictates and suffer the consequences: insults, threats, and if you happen to be a public figure the loss of your job or opportunities because the zealots get in touch with your employer.  Not very free-speechy I’m afraid.

I couldn’t help but notice there was an almost fundamentalist, faith-like aspect to these claims. It was as if in the years since I’d been gone, our society had decided to adopt the blasphemy codes of my youth. When I heard people asked to check their privilege or introspect the ways they have been racist, it sounded like the inner jihad that Muslims are supposed to perform to make sure they are on the correct path.

How did this happen? How did the religious tenets I had abandoned come to take over the liberal culture I had abandoned them for?”

When liberals lose sight of the basic principles of liberalism, this is what happens.    Yeah. The fauxgressive left is really big on the Rationalism or Individualism tenets anymore.

“And just as in Islam, there is a jockeying for who is the accurate representation of the faith, Sunnis or Shia, in the social justice camp, believers decide who the true representatives of each oppressed group are. Fall afoul of the right political view and you will be denounced; people throw around terms such as “political blackness” or “multi-racial whiteness.” Just as apostates from Islam are said to not have been real Muslims, detransitioners are told they were never really trans and Black people who speak out against the tenets of critical race theory are told they’re not really Black.

In Muslim countries, biology textbooks will censor evolution. Now, due to gender theory, biology is similarly coming into conflict with an ideology—and losing. A mixture of post-colonial theory and critical race theory is behind a push to disrupt texts, a call to decolonize the Western Canon and school curricula. Critical social justice ideologies are in direct conflict with Enlightenment values and the rigors of the scientific method, like Islam, and are thus a huge threat to liberalism—like Islam.”

Yep, it’s moving toward (or has already jumped ship from actual liberal values) batshite crazy inside the hallowed halls of so many of Canada’s institutions now.  The federal government, Universities, social institutions.  We should heed Omer’s warning:

“I have had the good fortune to meet and speak with many brave people in the fights against fundamental Islam and critical social justice. As I once did when speaking to Muslims, I keep hearing about the silent majority that is opposed to CSJ.

That silent majority needs to become vocal very quickly. We need more people to be brave enough to speak up and push back. The long march through the institutions is sprinting into the final lap, and it cannot be allowed to win. Take it from an ex-Muslim.”

 

 

You hate to see it, but again male entitlement and fragility win out over the concerns of women.  Apparently, this billboard is considered offensive and not allowed in the public sphere.

Of course women who continue to fight for their rights within Canadian society, are no strangers to small setbacks.  I sense this is only the beginning, as I imagine this billboard will be going up across Canada to raise awareness of how totalitarian the gender identity crowd is becoming.

 

Hey folks. Just got a threat from a transactivist on twitter about DWR.

Let’s hope they are full of bullshite and that wordpress isn’t craven.

I’ll keep you updated.

Arb

Cancel culture is the mirco level of what is happening in many parts of our online culture.  The macro: group dynamics, power dynamics, and class are what drive the process.  As critical thinkers and active citizens we need to be aware of both levels and how they interact and form the popular social currents in our society.

The most often suggested tonic to cancel culture is free speech.  I tend to agree with that proviso, but I would add that free speech is not enough to guarantee a social dynamic that is immune from the ravages of cancel culture.  Free speech must be coupled with a citizenry that has the wherewithal to think deeply about issues and be capable of frank analysis of the positions and arguments that they make, otherwise the utility of free speech becomes decidedly limited.

People have to be able to agree to listen to each other for free speech to work as we imagine it should.  Yelling at each other from ideological fortresses accomplishes nothing.

I would suggest that the ability to compromise is one of the key ingredients that is required to make a society that values liberty and freedom work.   There is a great deal of work to do in this regard as the barriers in place, as described by the JSTOR article, enumerates.  Overcoming cancel culture will involve not only improving our own critical faculties, but also helping others make that very same transition.

 

 

“Perhaps more than anything else, cancel culture will be seen as an intrinsic part of life lived publicly in this decade, with the downfall of powerful Hollywood producers, racist and sexist comedians, white supremacists, and clueless corporations left in its wake. Cancel culture, not unlike cyberbullying, has also had its more “innocent” victims, ordinary citizens who said the unacceptable thing in a public forum. Is the destructive power of cancel culture too much?

Many perceive this phenomenon of cancelling as a very new and scary thing that young people do, so much so that they’re ready to cancel the whole thing. Even Barack Obama weighed in on it recently, cautioning young people not to be overly critical and judgmental, as though the very idea of “cancelling” must always wrong and unreasonable, regardless of what is being criticized or how problematic it may be. Obama’s negative reactions to this kind of power being wielded by a groups that are relatively powerless, as an establishment figure (no matter how benevolently he presents himself), are perhaps not unusual.

The social psychologist John Drury shows that the discourse around crowds, collectives, and people power have historically been problematic and negative, revealing the class biases and political ideologies of those commentators who describe them. Communities and crowds out of step with societal norms are often presented as something to be feared, and this is something many of us internalize. Crowds are scary. Even as we speak, there’s civil unrest, protests, demonstrations, and strikes happening all around the world, for a myriad of different reasons, in a decade that began with the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street protests. These movements have not often been described in flattering terms.

The kind of language that’s used to talk about groups of people assembled together—or their collective actions seeking to change the status quo—often maligns communities as irrational, “mobs” or “rioters” with uncontrolled, invalid emotions, a kind of faceless contagion that presents a threat to civilized, law-abiding society and the ruling establishment. As Drury points out, this language systematically delegitimizes the aims of these collectives as being trivial, if not dangerous:

If the crowd is pathologized and criminalized, then its behaviour is not meaningful. There can therefore be no rational dialogue with it. Since the crowd is not part of the democratic process, it is legitimate and even necessary to suppress it with the full force of the state.

No one could argue that it’s pleasant to be at the bottom of a pile on, virtual or not. It’s true that people can band together for the wrong reasons, but, funnily enough, they can also band together for very good reasons. Cancelling someone, in terms of public shaming, or shunning, or just being criticized, is, again, nothing new, though it is arguably different in how quickly and severely it can happen online. The English professor Jodie Nicotra points out that such a thing has always been a part of community life and, in fact, a part of building and maintaining a community’s values. Whenever people have deviated from the norm, there have been public acts of shaming, from the scarlet letters or village stocks of Puritan life to the ritual public head shavings of thousands of French women who were suspected of fraternizing with German soldiers in World War II.

Cancel culture is, on the one hand, less severe than these acts of public shaming, because it is mostly linguistic and communicative. On the other hand, it can seem more extreme, because unlike these historical events of past shaming, it’s unconstrained by geographical space and can involve large numbers of people in what can become an unrelenting personal attack. And that certainly can have unintended repercussions. Because social media, especially Twitter, is loosely joined together by a network of weak ties, it actually makes it easier for new, especially negative information, such as rumors or criticisms or even fake news, to spread quickly. It’s not constrained by closely linked social circles where information eventually stops spreading after repeatedly being shared by multiple people.”

Internet Life Media

The crusade to cancel my talk at Toronto Public Library

October 18, 2019

4:50 PM

This week, three Canadian writers launched a petition demanding the Toronto Public Library cancel a room rental for a sold-out event, ‘Gender Identity: What Does It Mean for Society, the Law, and Women?’ Sounds frightening, I know.

The local women organizing the event, a group called Radical Feminists Unite, asked me in June if they could bring me to Toronto to speak about gender identity legislation and women’s rights, unhappy that the debate was not being given space in their city. This is not an uncommon sentiment. The events I have been asked to participate in generally have been organized by regular women who have serious concerns about how gender identity ideology and policy could affect, and already is affecting, women’s sex-based rights. Canada in particular has been resistant to this discussion. Due to media blackouts, harassment, bullying, threats of violence, smear campaigns, censorship, and ostracization, a few brave women have had to force the conversation, at great risk.

In January, a couple women took it upon themselves to organize an event in Vancouver, ‘Gender Identity Ideology and Women’s Rights.’ These women had no budget, no public or political power, no history in activism or organizing events, and no agenda, other than to open up a conversation they feel is desperately needed. The panel, held at the Vancouver Public Library, featured me and two other longtime feminist activists with impeccable records fighting male violence against women. The organizers and I received numerous death and rape threats, were protested, and were libeled by politicians and the media. The VPL forced us to move the event after hours (to 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight), claiming that protesters posed a risk to patrons and staff. They attempted to charge us thousands in security fees in an effort to pressure us to choose another venue, surely aware we didn’t have that kind of budget. The chief librarian, Christina de Castell, issued a statement saying the library did not agree with ‘the views of Feminist Current,’ my website. Castell did not say which views the library disagreed with (protecting women’s sex-based rights or the idea that sexist gender stereotypes are not innate?), but regardless, she should not have taken a position, as a representative of a public institution meant to be neutral, nor should she have spoken on behalf of the VPL, as not everyone at the library is in agreement with her apparent opposition to both biology and women’s rights. Vancouver’s mayor labeled me ‘despicable’. Canada’s national public broadcaster, the CBC, located across the street from the library, refused to cover the event or contact me for comment, despite hosting a panel prior to the event, speculating whether panelists might say anything constituting ‘hate speech’. Of course none did. Despite protests, the event went off without a hitch and was incredibly respectful, inspiring, and galvanizing. The impassioned talks are available on YouTube for anyone to watch and see for themselves.

But why bother? Listening to words and forming an educated opinion based on said words is no longer a popular pastime.

Things have played out similarly in Toronto. The primary difference is that it is now writers leading the charge. You know, people who should be invested in reading and using words correctly.

Not only that, but writers of all people should be defending freedom of expression and a public library’s decision to uphold its mandate, which, per the TPL’s response to the petition, is to ensure meeting rooms are available to the public ‘on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use’. The statement goes on to say: ‘As a public institution, our primary obligation is to uphold the fundamental freedoms of freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.’

This response was unacceptable to the writers and thousands of Torontonians (many of whom I’m certain would consider themselves ‘progressive,’ even ‘feminist’) wanting my talk canceled. Indeed, those who have signed the petition, ‘Stop Hate Speech from Being Spread at the Toronto Public Library,’ have publicly stated I am guilty of ‘hate speech’ and compared the organizers to a ‘hate group’. The petition, authored by Alicia Elliot, Catherine Hernandez, and Carrianne Leung, reads:

‘Those who want to disseminate hate speech today know that they can misrepresent, then weaponize the phrase ‘freedom of speech’ in order to get what they want: an audience, and space to speak to and then mobilize that audience against marginalized communities. While everyone has freedom of speech, we want to once again point to the limits of those freedoms when certain acts and speech infringe on the freedom of others, particularly those in marginalized communities. We also want to point out that hate groups do not have a right to use publicly funded facilities to meet and organize. This is precisely why TPL has a community and event space policy: to determine who and who does not have the right to use its facilities. There is a difference between denying free speech—and what is known as deplatforming, which is when you refuse to allow hate speech to be disseminated in your facility. This has been an effective tactic to stop those who capitalize on spreading hate speech, such as Meghan Murphy.’

The problem is I’ve never engaged in hate speech. I have made very basic statements about biology, such as ‘men aren’t women’ and ‘male bodies and female bodies are different.’ I have also argued that some spaces should be women-only, including changing rooms, transition houses, and prisons. I have said that individuals cannot change sex through self-declaration and that a boy is not a girl because he prefers dresses to pants. I have said that women have particular rights in this world due to the fact of being born female. I have said that women have not experienced discrimination in the workplace, in the home, in universities, and in politics because of anything they feel or because they somehow ‘identify’ with feminine stereotypes. In fact, it is the desire not to be limited to gender roles that inspired feminists’ ongoing fight.

Usually, I say this all warmly. I’m not generally an angry person but quite jovial, in fact. I don’t spend much of my energy hating anyone beyond slow walkers and morning people. I’m just telling the truth.

The writers who initiated the petition say they will no longer participate in events held at the TPL unless the library cancels my talk, which is fine, I suppose. It is their prerogative if they wish to hold readings for their friends in spaces untainted by free thought. Surely the condos their parents bought them have shared rec rooms available for such gatherings? Cozy bubbles seem better suited for those needing to protect themselves from triggers such as people with different opinions and experiences, anyway.

The whole scene strikes me as nauseatingly elitist, especially the entitlement with which these ‘progressive’ people approach members of the public — in this case, women with no particular social, political, or economic power — as though they should have the power to determine what we all think or say. As though they have the right to dictate what a library, of all places, should allow to be discussed within its walls.

These protesters are primarily middle- and upper-class people who have had access to opportunities most people in this world have not. Who live in relative safety, free from state persecution — who have the privilege of freedom in a world that continues to host dictatorships and incredibly repressive regimes that quite literally jail and murder those who fail to toe the party line. They have taken a postmodernist theory invented primarily within the walls of academia — that is, the notion that material reality is determined by inner feelings — and are attempting to impose it on the general public via force. These people have taken on the position of dictator, threatening to throw those who won’t adopt their nonsensical mantras in jail. Indeed, a former politician with the NDP, Canada’s leftist party, publicly claimed the event was ‘illegal’ while her supporters said I should be jailed.

On Thursday, Toronto mayor John Tory said he had contacted the library in an attempt to have the event canceled and is ‘disappointed’ the library declined to do so. What is in fact ‘disappointing’ (indeed, appalling) is that the mayor of Toronto does not understand the TPL’s mandate as a public institution and opposes freedom of expression.

These leftists seem unaware that opposition to free speech has not treated their presumed heroes kindly. They have so easily forgotten Emma Goldman, who was imprisoned for distributing information about birth control. And Rosa Luxemburg, arrested and killed by the GKSD, a German paramilitary unit instructed to suppress the communists. Surely the suffragettes deserved to be jailed and beaten for fighting to win women the right to vote, as their ideas were deemed too ‘radical’, not only by their opponents but other feminists and abolitionists. They have apparently not paid much attention to the female activists arrested and tortured in Saudi Arabia for advocating that women be allowed to drive. Journalists continue to be murdered in Mexico for reporting on police corruption and the drug war. But no matter. Protecting free expression is clearly a relic of the past, before we had multi-billion-dollar social media companies on hand to police dangerous speech. (‘On top of that, she has been banned from Twitter for violating their Hateful Conduct Policy’, the petition reads, as though In Big Tech We Trust is an appropriate mantra for supposed social justice advocates.)

At what point in history has suppressing subversive speech benefited the marginalized? Or anyone, really?

The CBC again failed to include the organizers or myself, the speaker, in its ‘coverage’ of the event. On a segment that aired Wednesday, Gill Deacon, host of Here and Now Toronto, spoke with Elliot, who stated that I was ‘trying to take away the rights of people’, ‘preach[ing] against human rights’, and did not believe ‘transwomen should have protections’ under the Human Rights Act or Criminal Code, claiming this constituted ‘spreading hate’. That none of this is accurate was of no concern to Deacon or Elliot. The CBC sees no need to allow me to speak for myself and explain my apprehensions because, I assume, my arguments are so reasonable people might agree with me. While Elliot claimed that I was ‘lying’ when arguing that gender identity legislation could override women’s rights, this has, unfortunately, already happened, as we’ve seen men transferred to women’s prisons, where they have assaulted female prisoners; women forced to leave shelters and transition houses on account of being made to share rooms with men; women and girls made to compete with and against males in sport; women’s organizations denied funding for having a women-only policy; and of course as we’ve seen a number of estheticians dragged to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for declining to wax a man’s balls, because that man claimed to be female. What Elliot says there is no evidence for, there is ample evidence for. Which of course she would know, had she ever read my work, listened to my talks, or engaged in conversation with me, rather than using her platform to spout bigoted nonsense.

Ironically, if not for free speech, these individuals would not feel so safe to libel those they don’t like — which appears to be the go-to strategy of the Woke and Online. One wonders why they believe their speech should protected — even when hateful or slanderous — but not the speech of others. It is a modern hypocrisy I will never understand.

Unfortunately for these protesters and petitioners, the TPL will not be canceling the event, and I will continue to speak the truth in the face of threats, slander, harassment, ostracization, and actual hate speech. I will do this not because I have anything personally to gain from doing so but because I could not live with myself otherwise. I will not be silent while women’s rights are eroded, and I will not lie either under duress or to make friends. My integrity is worth more to me than my comfort or popularity, and yours should be too.

Meghan Murphy is a writer in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her website is Feminist Current.

Radical Feminists Unite is a Toronto-based organization of diverse women who work toward the preservation and advancement of the rights of women and girls. We have organized a lecture at a Toronto Public Library branch by Canadian feminist journalist Meghan Murphy, taking place on October 29th. We are not a hate group, and we do not espouse hate speech, or advocate for the removal of rights from any marginalized group.

We have invited Meghan Murphy to speak because she is respected as an important feminist voice, not only in Canada, but around the world. She has built one of the largest and most read feminist websites in the English speaking world, and has exemplified bravery and steadfastness in her refusal to back down on behalf of women.

Neither we, nor Meghan, are looking to remove anyone’s right to safety, dignity, and freedom from discrimination. We believe that these are fundamental rights that should be guaranteed to all human beings. With regard to trans people, and specifically trans women, we believe that specialized services such as rape shelters, prison accommodations, gender neutral washrooms, and other social programs should be available to meet their specific needs as a marginalized community. To state that we are looking to take away these rights, and that we even question the existence and humanity of trans people, is an outright falsehood.

In 2017 Meghan Murphy testified before the senate regarding the impact bill C-16 would have on women and girls. She focused on how we define men and women, what it means to be male or female, and how masculinity and femininity have been the tools of our oppression. She talked about the dangers of enshrining something as ill-defined as gender identity in Canadian law. Meghan pointed out that the ability for males to be accepted as women on the basis of their internal sense of gender identity, rather than being classified according to sex, has widespread consequences for women. We believe these consequences cannot be ignored and should be discussed.

Bill C-16 added Gender Identity and Gender Expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act. On the surface, this appears to be an important and progressive step for the rights of trans people. But this amendment actually comes into conflict with other protected characteristics also named in the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as the right to single sex spaces and provisions, and freedom of religion (for women who, due to their religion, are prohibited from sharing intimate spaces or coming into physical contact with males); as well as complicating rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as freedom of association, and freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. A good example of how these rights compete with each other can be found in the case of JY vs Various Waxing Salons, which was heard before the BC Human Rights Tribunal in July, and is currently pending a decision.

Practically, we believe there is an important difference between males and females, and that being able to distinguish between the two in law is essential to the maintenance of women’s rights. This does not mean we deny the existence of trans people, who may experience gender and/or sex dysphoria and come to identify more closely with the gender roles associated with the opposite sex. We do believe, though, that a discussion needs to be had about how this affects women’s existing, hard won rights- specifically the right to single sex spaces such as prisons, changing rooms, rape shelters, and women’s sports. We also believe that the choice of Statistics Canada to record statistics by self-identified gender, rather than biological sex, will have a negative impact on the ability of advocates to track violence against women and trans people, as well as to know who commits particular crimes, and who the victims of those crimes are. As these stats are used by policy makers and private researchers, it is our contention that the accurate representation of sex in these stats is vital to the well-being of women and trans people.

This event, while now sold out, was open to the public, and will have a question period following Meghan Murphy’s presentation. We consciously priced the tickets at $5 each, so that the event would be as accessible as possible to all. It is our hope that this event will open a desperately needed dialogue among people who hold many different thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.

We are honoured to host Meghan Murphy here in Toronto. An understanding of biological sex is not hateful, and meeting to listen and discuss the impact of the collision of sex and gender in Canadian legislation does not amount to the promotion of discrimination, contempt, or hatred. We would like to see all marginalized people provided for, and think there are solutions to these issues of competing rights, but finding and creating those solutions requires an open and honest discussion of sex, gender, and the law. 

The VPS is not allowing both UBC and the VPL to participate in the parade because both institutions allowed controversial speakers to hold events at their venues on the basis of free speech. However, the VPS deems both speakers—anti–SOGI activist Jenn Smith and Feminist Current founder Meghan Murphy—as discriminatory and transphobic.

The terms ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ get thrown around quite a bit these days.  I think it is important to note that as of late these concepts are becoming more of gatekeeping ritual than anything else.  Quashing and silencing critical opinion in the name of diversity is chillingly ironic, but it is happening and the latest example is in Vancouver with their Pride Committee.  I applaud David Cavey and his decision not to attend pride due to the totalitarian stance they are taking toward the Vancouver Public Library.  Vancouver pride actively tears at the laws and practices that have allowed events like Pride to actualize, I imagine because ideological purity is more important than the base principles of a free and democratic society.

What was the Vancouver Public Library’s crime?  Hosting an event that featured Meghan Murphy as a speaker.  Honestly, Vancouver Pride can take the expressway to ‘go fuck yourself’ at this point.  If your ideology requires the silencing and deplatforming of feminist critics then exactly how strong and just are the arguments that support your cause?  Not allowing your critics to speak is bullshit and is indicative , in my opinion, of an misogynistically incoherent set of beliefs.

In the Feminist Current Tonje Gjevjon writes:

“In Vancouver, federal Conservative candidate David Cavey announced he wouldn’t be marching in the city’s Pride parade this weekend after the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) banned the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Public Library from participating. Cavey has marched in the parade in the past, but took a stand in favour of free speech, challenging the VPS decision to ban UBC and the VPL for allowing speakers who challenge transgender ideology to book space for events. In a press release, Cavey stated:

“As publicly funded institutions, both are obligated to ‘host’ whomever wishes to rent their property — within the limits of the law. They don’t necessarily agree with the speakers. But to punish them for following their obligation to respect free speech, the exchange of ideas and intellectual freedom, is plainly wrong…

…We encourage other political leaders and campaigns to join us in taking a principled stand on behalf of UBC and the VPL on inclusiveness, free speech, intellectual freedom, and diversity of opinion and refuse to march in the parade unless its organizers reinstate these respected local institutions.”

He was promptly accused of “transphobia” by Nicola Spurling, a member of the BC Green Party.

When it comes to Pride, everyone is expected to join in, whether they want to or not.”

 

 

 

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