Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 14th January 2013

The Observer's decision to censor Julie Burchill is a disgrace

I'm shocked by the decision of the Observer to remove Julie Burchill's controversial article about transexuals from its website. You can see a cached version of the piece here.

Whatever you think of its politics, the Observer is a paper with a great liberal tradition. For it to muzzle one of its own journalists – albeit a freelance contributor – on the grounds that some people on the Left found her views distasteful is a betrayal of everything the paper is supposed to stand for. (To read more, click here.)

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 14 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share

Comments page 1 of 1 - 14 post(s)

Re: The Observer
Posted by teleMac on 14-01-2013 22:40:

Thank you!! Mwa. Now must run back over there.

(Pause to bookmark this).

Re: The Observer
Posted by A.Devine on 15-01-2013 01:15:

Hi Toby, always liked your blog but never posted a comment before.

Yet, I'm afraid that my first comment is going to be to disagree with you.

I understand we need to protect free speech, I really do. Has this woman simply posted her views in a calm, rational and polite way I would have defended her, despite disagreeing with pretty much all of the points she makes.

However, she didn't. She produced a purposefully offensive, vulgar and nasty article when there was simply no need to do so. Why exactly, did she need to refer to transsexuals with terms such as "a bunch of dicks in chicks' clothing" and "bed wetters in bad wigs" when simple, clinical terminology would have conveyed exactly the same sentiments.

She has shown herself to be lacking in both class and intellect by resorting to nasty name calling in order to get her point across - something any talented writer should have no need to do.

I have to admit wondering why any respectable newspaper would hire the woman after this, having now proven her vitriol more suited to the pages of the sun or daily sport

Re: The Observer
Posted by sarah on 15-01-2013 10:52:

I'm shocked that you would wish to republish a piece so vile as this. The fact that the observer removed it should have been clear indication that it has no journalistic merit and is merely a load of hate speech. Furthermore it breaks the editors code of practice on all of the following grounds:


The article frequently talks about transsexuals as a general group but makes it seem as if all transsexuals are trans* women. This is misinformation as less than half of transsexuals are trans* women.

The author talks of language used by the LGBT community to refer to trans* people (transgender) and non-trans* people (cisgender). The author likens the prefix cis- to things like "syph, cyst, cistern" while the origin of it is in the latin. (trans - on the other side, cis - on the same side)


The last paragraph is a clear act of intimidation with language such as "You really won't like us when we're angry."


The article implies that all trans* women are pornstars; The author clarifys a point, made by her friend Suzanne More, about "brazilian transsexuals" by stating that women should not try to look like these "oven-ready porn stars".

The article completely demonises the whole community by portraying the author's friend as the "victim" and the community as some "mob" "lobby". The author also likens the community to a boy who murdered his parents.

The author frequently uses slurs throughout the article, not limited to "dicks in chicks' clothing", "bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs", "Shims, shemales, whatever you're calling yourselves these days" and "trannies". The author even makes mention that she knows that she is using slurs by saying "I know that's a wrong word". This sort of childish name-calling makes it obvious that the piece is just a load of hate-speech.

Re: The Observer
Posted by Alma on 15-01-2013 13:02:

I am incredibly shocked and saddened someone got such a major platform to show how they think some women are less equal than other women. As if trans women are some sort of untermensch.

But thank you for republishing it. People need to see the crap transgender people face on a regular basis; getting misgendered, being called horrible things, repression, hate, etc. And why? Because they are just being who they are.

Re: The Observer
Posted by Cube on 15-01-2013 14:12:

You are a complete Bell-end if you think it was about what she wrote and not about how she wrote it. Coming soon, Toby Young to reprint an article on the downsides of unfettered immigration in a national housing crisis festooned with the words "nigger", "camel-jockey" "eastern-european alcoholic wifebeater", "muck-eating foreigner", "raghead"

If you think that's not comparable you're fucking kidding yourself.

Re: The Observer
Posted by swardell on 15-01-2013 14:20:

All news outlets engage in censorship, its called an editorial process. The Observer badly dropped the ball on this one and have ended up looking foolish. However the decision to 'unpublish' (a queer word if ever there was one), is not really a blow against freedom of speech any more than the editorial process at large.

Having said all that, the article was really revolting; crude and uninformed. If the subject matter had been about a racial minority rather than the trans-gender community I doubt you would have either republished or been upset at its removal from the guardian website. There is little difference between characterizing trans gender people as "wig wearing bed-wetters" than black people as "melon eating savages". That you find the former acceptable and the latter not (I hope) really points to your own prejudice.

The sad reality is, trans-gender people are disproportionately subject to harassment and violence worldwide (especially, as it happens, in Brazil).

Re: The Observer
Posted by Delilah Slack-Smith on 15-01-2013 23:00:

While I disagree with pretty much everything Ms Burchill said in her article, I fully agree that she has the right to publish it. Unlike you, Mr Young, I however regard it as a bigoted work of vilification rather than an admirable polemic.

While I can't blame the Observer for wanting to distance themselves from such an appalling article, I do feel it would have been better for them to leave the article up. In my experience, the best way of dealing with bigots is to let them show their true faces, so I would like to commend you for helping your friend Ms Burchill to continue destroying her reputation by leaving her article publicly available.

Re: The Observer
Posted by Ramtin Shawker on 16-01-2013 17:03:

What did Mr. Young find offensive about the Guardian article on paedophilia?

Re: The Observer
Posted by jess on 16-01-2013 18:02:

Its not **distasteful**, its hatred.

Replace the trans references with, say, "black" or "jew" and see how it reads then.

Shame on you Toby - I enjoy your Spectator columns, but I would have expected you to have been able to distinguish commentary from hatred.

Re: The Observer
Posted by Irony Jim on 18-01-2013 10:24:

Is Julie Burchill a woman? She looks like a bloke in drag, which is why I thought her article odd.

Let's see if that gets censored.

thanks for your share
Posted by Tydayhawn on 15-10-2013 08:48:

Magnificent web site. Plenty of useful information here. I am sending it to a few friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you in your sweat!

thanks for your share
Posted by injusiala on 15-10-2013 09:29:

I like the efforts you have put in this, regards for all the great articles.

Ztcwq Dto Danc Rfl Gevzxe
Posted by DennisOa on 30-12-2014 08:46:

need humble rocker outsoles, clean magazine linings and are therefore hand padded. These specific specialized shoes or boots usually are higher priced in comparison with classical footwear. Not only a probability could you determine to end up being rotating out running using information. Utterly each female can purchase utilization pertaining to rings on almost a couple of instances every year. Hermes Hand bags Birkin This girl would like looking forward to creative imagination, Bordo Ron Lauren Athletic shoes quick content articles and as well guides together with journeying. The world wide web is approximately People Figuring out Details (PII) in electric powered manner. Hot Achat BraceletUnhealthy fat gain is a huge risk level. These are just adequately very little to setup along with a lawsuit filer's rear once more current account or perhaps a females stream-lined book bag. several or maybe more .

Qndkd Vql Frmt Zrl Brxqhm
Posted by DennisOa on 30-12-2014 15:22:

require modest rocker outsoles, clean up rag linings consequently they are hands cushioned. These specific specific shoes and boots are generally costlier when compared to old-fashioned footwear. Not only a likelihood could you determine to always be winding out running with data. Absolutely every single female can get utilization concerning bracelets in at least two or three situations every year. Hermes Hand bags Birkin The woman want testing thoughts, Bordo Ralph Lauren Tennis shoes easy articles and in addition ebooks having traveling. The internet is approximately Us Figuring out Facts (PII) within electric power method. Succulent Habits BraceletUnhealthy weight gain has become a threat stage. They are really merely sufficient little to set up along with a lawsuit filer's back once more bank account or perhaps girls sleek and stylish pack. three or more or maybe more .

Your name:



Twitter @GeorgePaterson_ @DailyMirror Telegraph front page says opposite.  (7 hours ago)


What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood -
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray -
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch -
George Osborne and tax credits: how tough decisions get made -
The Alan and Camila Show -
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter -
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win -
Corbyn's first seven days -
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey -
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons -
Fact Check: Britain has admitted over 5,000 Syrian refugees, not 216 -
Inside Westminster's free school -
The BBC denied The Great European Disaster Movie was EU-funded. That was untrue -
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair -
Robert Conquest obit -
Reporting on fit for work deaths isn't fit for purpose -
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that -
The Timothy Hunt witch hunt by Jonathan Foreman -
West London Free School Primary praised in guide to best state schools -
In defence of free schools by Toby Young -
Data briefing: free schools by the numbers -
Malcolm Gladwell's books are books are analgesics for those who seek temporary relief from abiding anxiety by John Gray -
The hypocrisy of Mehdi Hasan by Guido Fawkes -
Intolerance of humanists who attack faith schools by Brendan O'Neill -
The 13 Most Guardian Headlines Ever -
MC Gove in da house by Michael Deacon -
The criminalisation of journalism by Mick Hume -
Why educationalists hate Michael Gove by Frank Furedi -
Profile of Nigel Farage by Edward Docx -
Margaret Thatcher: The softer side by Andrew Roberts -
Margaret Thatcher: Warrior by Matthew Parris -
Margaret Thatcher: Punk savior by Niall Ferguson -
Muslims infected by virus of anti-Semitism by Mehdi Hasan -
Mila Kunis interviewed by hapless Radio 1 DJ -
Postmodern Tories by Roger Scruton -
The Wired magazine article that inspired Argo by Joshuah Bearman -
Panic! The anatomy of a political crisis by Dan Hodges -
The British intelligentsia's libel against Israel by Melanie Phillips -
Review of Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Zöe Heller -
The Guardian has become the Vichy Evening News by Dan Hodges -
Spectator would defy new state regulator by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
Daily Mail investigation into the Leveson Inquiry - Daily Mail
The hight-minded, Left-wing paedo hunters by Frank Furedi -
Britain's press must remain free by Tim Luckhurst -
Obit of a legendary Labour whip by Nick Robinson -
Referring to students as "learners" is infantilizing by Denis Hayes
Toby Young for Prime Minister by Jake Wallis Simons -
The election that never was by Damian McBride -
JK Rowling's new novel is boring, Left-wing agitprop by Jan Moir - Daily Mail
Naomi Wolf: Dotty and Dim by Zöe Heller -
Gove Levels - Daily Mail
The End of Men? by Hanna Rosin -
Five conservative messages smuggled into Dark Knight Rises by John Boot -
Multiculturalism? Nonsense. The Olympics are a victory for patriotism and common British values by Dan Hannan - Daily Mail
Martin Durkin's dyspeptic view of the Olympics opening ceremony -
Batman: The ultimate conservative hero by Robert Colville -
The day Gordon Brown came to power by Damian McBride -
Owen Jones *is* Justin Beiber by Dan Hodges -
Why Britain shouldn't be part of a European super-state by Charles Moore -
The shame of Britain's public school elite by Matthew Norman -
In defence of Murdoch by John O'Sullivan -
In politics, you're either up or down by John Kampfner - The Independent
James Lovelock recants - Daily Mail
Let's give Polly Toynbee the Britain she wants by Tim Worstall -
Why Labour should support free schools by Andrew Adonis -
Free schools are breaking down barrier to decent education for all by Charles Moore -
The anti-academies campaign is led by Trots, says Michael Gove -
Profit need not be a dirty word in education by Fraser Nelson -
The Magnificent Victory at Cardinal Vaughan by Charles Moore -
Academies policy has been rapidly vindicated by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
Mossbourne Academy's outstanding A-level results - Guardian
I blame therapy culture for the riots by Dennis Hayes -
Why I'm a Conservative by Toby Young -
The Government must crack the teaching unions by His Grace -
"Ideological" is Labour's empty insult by Dominic Lawson - The Independent
Peter Sissons dissects the BBC's leftwing bias - Daily Mail
Interview with Toby Young in Attain magazine -
Topic of Cancer by Christopher Hitchens - Vanity Fair


Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone


AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from

  • Buy the DVD from

  • IMdb Page on the film