I have never had any respect for Julie Burchill, finding her consistently loathsome and, worse, her writing to be unbearably crap. I did, however, find Suzanne Moore’s articles to be halfway decent most of the time. I had no idea until the transphobia row this month that Burchill and Moore were bosom buddies, let alone that both women have deep issues with trans people, M2F in particular judging from the hateful vomit each has spewed up online and/or in print over the last few weeks.
Moore has since proven herself quite the revisionist, forgetting perhaps that what goes online and is high-profile tends to have staying power. She has painted herself as misunderstood or misinterpreted but there is no mistaking the way in which she built upon what might, charitably, have been an originally unintended sleight by pouring undiluted hate speech onto the fire through social media.
Burchill, meanwhile, as always, refuses to apologise for what was her own contribution of hateful insults and mockery, which appeared in The Observer in defence of her friend. And let’s be honest, anyway, who’d believe her? What she wrote was an honest outpouring of genuinely-held bigoted views.
We can sum up both women thus: I am ‘real’ woman, hear me roar.
Quite grotesque, really. Shockingly ignorant, hopelessly prejudiced. It pisses me off immensely that people like these two—and that other prize pillock, Toby Young of The Telegraph, who reposted Burchill’s piece, with her approval, after it was taken off The Observer‘s website—get paid quite a bit for their opinions.
The readers editor of The Observer, Stephen Pritchard, has finally issued a response that says nothing new—we’re terribly, awfully sorry, somehow the transphobia hate piece got published quite by accident—and he utterly fails to acknowledge, let alone respond to, calls from a great many people, not only within the trans community, for a commitment from the newspaper and its sister publication, The Guardian, not to commission Burchill again and to sack Moore, along with whoever let Burchill’s article through.
The readers editor does go to the trouble of telling us The Guardian and The Observer are entirely separate. This is grade A bullshit. They share the same website and there is much cross-pollination. He also seems to say there was no one person responsible for publishing the piece. Again, bull. Ultimately, that would be the editor, who is obviously trying to hide behind a crowd: it wasn’t me, guv, it was the teaboy… It was the cleaner… It was the girl on college placement… It was the cafeteria manager…
The so-called liberal wing of the British press comes out of this smelling of shit, not roses. What was needed to move on was a fast, decisive cull and fudge-free apology, with a commitment to never again deliberately bait an entire community (and, despite the paper’s protestations, letting Burchill loose with a remit to hate on trans people was a deliberate baiting). As these things have not been done, today’s damp bleating from Pritchard can only further frustrate, divide and drive away readers.