Couldn’t Make It Up

I’m sorry to keep coming back to this story, but it is a fine illustration of the depths to which the British media will sink when they think that they have a defenseless minority that they can persecute at will. Let’s have a brief recap.

It all started when Suzanne Moore said something mildly insensitive (possibly out of ignorance) in an article, and was questioned about it on Twitter. Instead of engaging with her critic, she flung off a series of insults about trans people, got the predictable response, then left Twitter in a huff claiming that she had been driven away.

Then Julie Burchill leapt to her friend’s defense with an article that was basically a whole string of insults about trans people all gathered into one place and held together with protestations of Ms. Burchill’s poor, working class nature, as compared to the wealthy and highly educated trans community. The Observer got a lot of stick for publishing this, so they withdrew it, probably to escape the embarrassment of the huge amount of criticism they were getting on their website. Burchill immediately re-sold the piece to her old working class buddy, Toby Young (the son of Baron Young of Dartington), who published it in the Telegraph, where it remains online to this day.

We have since been treated to a succession of articles by concerned journalists explaining how bad it is that Ms. Burchill should be treated in this way, because getting paid twice for a piece of writing that is currently available to be read all over the world means that she has been subjected to censorship thanks to the lobbying of the evil and powerful trans cabal.

Yesterday Roz Kaveney was summoned onto BBC Radio 4’s Media Show to discuss the issue with Mr. Young (who, by the way, goes by @toadmeister on Twitter). You can listen to it here. You may notice, as I did, that Roz’s comments have been clumsily edited so that she’s cut off in mid flow several times. Toadmeister, on the other hand, is allowed to talk freely. Roz explains what happened here.

The irony of someone being accused of censorship of an article that is freely available worldwide having her words edited out of a debate on the subject is presumably lost on the commentariat. However, I was chatting with Roz on the phone earlier today and we both agreed that the BBC probably didn’t intend any malice. It is just that they had a debate between a member of the nobility on one hand, and on the other a representative of a minority group, all of whom the World Health Organization and the NHS regards as mentally ill, and they gave prominence to those speakers accordingly.

Meanwhile Suzanne Moore has taken to the Guardian to explain how belief in freedom is incompatible with equality, so equality has to go. She reports her recent experiences thus: “The wrath of the transgender community has been insane.” Well of course. As we are all mentally ill, what does she expect? But of course you will all have seen the vile and vicious way in which I have attacked Ms. Moore here. (Julie Burchill must be sick with envy of me.) And there’s more. If you really want to see how leading members of the trans community have poured hatred and bile on poor Ms. Moore’s head I recommend that you read Christine Burns and Paris Lees.

The original fuss, of course, was caused by Moore’s unfortunate use of “Brazilian transsexual” as a punchline. Well Pink News discovered that a Brazilian trans woman was murdered this very week. That’s not actually very surprising as the murder rate for Brazilian trans women is currently running at between 2 and 3 every week. But hey, they had a picture of the unfortunate woman in a skimpy costume, and as nothing says Important News Story more loudly than big boobies they ran with it to help explain why some trans people were so upset with Moore.

Moore threatened them with legal action.

Because, you know, freedom of speech.

This morning Moore is claiming that her threat was just a joke. I guess you can interpret that in two ways. On the one hand she may still be in desperate need of lessons on how to use social media [Hint: 😉 is good for indicating a joke]. But it is also possible that she has learned very quickly how to troll for outrage so that she can then continue to paint herself as a victim.

There is one aspect of the whole thing that I find troubling. Some trans people are saying things like, “It would never happen if I was black/disabled/Jewish/Muslim/etc.” Ironically these are some of the same people extolling the virtues of intersectionality. There is no greasy totem poll of oppression, people. This sort of highlighting of the actions of a few extremists in order to smear the bulk of a despised group gets done to many different groups, not just us.

Still, I have learned from this how a proper journalist is supposed to behave, and now I am going to put it into practice. You see, SFWA has just issued the 200th edition of its magazine, the SFWA Bulletin. The cover is graced by a picture of a good looking red-haired woman (see below). Inside Mike Resnick has an article about sexy women editors. In true journalistic tradition, I am assuming that this is All About Me, and will sue.

Firstly there’s breach of copyright. SFWA has clearly used my picture on the cover of their magazine without permission. (And by the way, people, that’s scale armor I’m wearing, not a chain mail bikini. Even I’m not that stupid.) Secondly, if Mike has failed to list me amongst his list of the totally hawtest women editors in the community, I shall sue for defamation.

As a well-known and outspoken feminist writer, I am sure that I can rely on the support of the UK media in my quest for fair treatment.

SFWA Bulletin #200

And see here for some alternative versions, given that Jim Hines and John Scalzi are not available to model.

10 thoughts on “Couldn’t Make It Up

  1. If you had taken the trouble to actually read the article in the SFWA Bulletin, which I suppose is asking too miuch, you’d see that it was a dialogue between Barry Malzberg and myself, praising the skills and contributions of female editors and publishers over the past 75 years…NOT their looks.

    — Mike Resnick

  2. Mike: If you had taken the trouble to actually read Cheryl’s posting and the articles linked from it, which I suppose is asking too much, you’d see that what she was doing was a parody of a particularly egregious series of journalism failures in the British press in the past week.

  3. Thanks Mike, that’s a perfect illustration of what the UK press is doing here. Yes, of course this article is All About You. The next step should be to complain that Kevin has censored you by approving your comment. And if people at SFWA are taking my suggestion of law suits seriously that would be amazingly bizarre. I do hope they are not spending money on lawyers.

    As to your article, if it is available online, I’ll happily read it. As it is I’m having to go by what other people say. The comment I’m seeing discussed most is, “anyone who’s seen photos of Bea from the 50s knows she was a knockout as a young woman.” I’m looking forward to seeing my own editing skills praised in the same way, though I’d like to point out that I look a lot better these days than I did when I was younger. Hopefully my editing skills have improved to match.

  4. Cheryl: I don’t believe it was your comments, or rather your comments alone, that precipitated a letter from Editor Jean Rabe to all the Bulletin’s writers concerning criticism of the cover and the fat that Malzberg and I had the audacity to devote a column to women. (It was 100% female Jean, by the way, who asked Barry Malzberg and I to do the 2-part Dialog on the most important women in our history, one on writers, one on editors and publishers). Barry, who never met Bea Mahhafey, knew her only from her photos in the 1950s, and referenced them in asking abut her. My answer, that she was indeed gorgeous then, was one sentence followed by a couple of pages about her editing, and all the help she — then a very ill woman — gave me when I moved to Cincinnati 37 years ago and knew only two people, her and Legendary Lou Tabikow. As for Kevin, he’s earnest, hard-working, and devoted to fandom, and I admire those traints. He’s been arguing with me at every oopportunity ever since I went on record as not liking the two worldcons he helped run. I’ll just hace to live with it.

    — Mike

  5. Mike:

    Thank you so much for you and whoever “reported” this as perfectly demonstrating the exact point Cheryl was trying to make. And, as Cheryl said, you’ve clearly shown that of course it’s All About You.

    Mind you, if you’re trolling us, then we’ve fallen for it. Maybe we’re the ones with a sense of humour failure.

  6. By the way, I just got a comment on my blog that was clearly posted by a spambot, but was also a well-written summary of the issue I was posting about; I googled to see where it was from and it turned out to be copied from here. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I suppose having your words plagiarised by spammers is kind of a compliment. Good post, anyway.

    1. Interesting. I knew that spambots did this because they’ve tried to spam me with comment scraped from my own site. It hadn’t occurred to me that they’d use my content elsewhere too. Or indeed that they do so inappropriate context. That’s quite intelligent. Of course, as you say, you can easily tell that the postings are spam, but even so, worrying.

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