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Tuesday 15 January 2013

Littlejohn And Transgender Ignorance

We’ve enjoyed a few days without the lame-brained part of the Fourth Estate and their hangers-on seeing an event which can be spun as constraining press freedom and, in Pavlovian style, howling “Leveson” at anyone who will listen. But this short intermission of quiet reflection has been brought to an abrupt end today by the Mail’s unfunny and talentless churnalist Richard Littlejohn.

Transgender, Guv? It's just more queers, innit?!?

Last week, pundit Suzanne Moore wrote a piece containing a remark to which many transgender people objected. Ms Moore subsequently closed her Twitter account. This clearly irked Julie Burchill, who penned a rant attacking trans people which was published in the Observer. Ms Burchill excelled herself in her specialist subject, and that is her propensity to cause offence.

The Burchill article was roundly condemned, not least by Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who is (no doubt by mere coincidence) a favourite target for the obedient punditry of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. She called for Ms Burchill to be sacked by the Observer, which was not possible as the paper does not employ her. But the point was made.

Enter Littlejohn, in full righteous hack defence mode, and, yes, howling “Leveson”. “What we are seeing increasingly is a sinister collaboration between politicians and pressure groups to silence free speech” he asserts, except that one check of the Featherstone Twitter feed shows very clearly that her call was a personal one. Then comes the assertion that she also called for the Observer’s editor to be sacked, too.

What the MP actually posted

Sadly, this claim, based on Ms Featherstone’s response to another Twitter intervention, does not stand up so well. She did say “they both can go”, which suggests “no objection if editor gets the sack”, which is not the same thing. But this is a mere side-show in Littlejohn’s attempt to frighten the Mail’s readership and keep them ignorant of anyone who is transgender.

So we are told of “the militant ‘trans’ lobby ... The ‘trans’ lobby is one of the great 21st-century growth industries ... You may have noticed how everything from crime surveys to applications for library tickets and parking permits now begin with demands to know whether the person applying is the same sex they were at birth”. So that’s invention, invention, and no I haven’t, thanks.

And there is no conspiracy at work here, although the possibility that Julie Burchill crossed the line into the realm of hate speech – directed at a group who are easily vilified because so many know so little about them – looks rather strong. Littlejohn wouldn’t stand for that kind of thing with any religious or racial minority, so why he has apparently discounted the possibility here is unclear.

Unless he was so busy kicking Leveson that he managed not to notice, of course.

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