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Julie Burchill's rant against transsexuals stirs up trouble on both sides of the pond

January 14, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
British writers are better at cutting insults than any other writer in the western world and get away with far more than American journalists. Even so, columnist Julie Burchill is facing a public roasting from left-wing groups, including demands that she be fired or charged with a hate crime, for a scathing column she wrote Saturday in The Observer, which was pulled from The Observer website 15 minutes after I published the original version of this blog on Monday morning.

Burchill's insult- and profanity-laced rant was directed at a large group of transsexuals who had criticized her buddy, feminist writer Suzanne Moore, for an essay in "The New Statesman." Many transsexuals took to Twitter and demanded that Moore apologize for writing the line: "We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual." Never mind that Moore's overall message was a criticism of sexism and prejudice against women and why those things make women angry.

Burchill's response was breathtakingly vulgar and offensive, to the point that I probably can't repeat most of what she said in this blog. Her main argument appears to be that people who were born men and chose to have surgery to become women should not criticize "natural-born women" who deal with violence against women and job inequalities and other issues every day.

"We are d--- if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs," wrote Burchill, in one of her tamer insults.

Everyone else seems to be grabbing the popcorn and watching the battle from the sidelines.

"I've got to be honest; I've found the spectacle of the cream of the progressive movement re-enacting the final scene from Reservoir Dogs strangely exhilarating. It's like watching a grainy video from the 1970s, with Norman Mailer sitting in some run down cinema in Greenwich Village, swearing at Germaine Greer, and screaming "You damn harpies!" at every women in the room," writes Dan Hodges in The Telegraph, who thinks this proves that certain left-wingers are certifiable.

My take on it, from my seat thousands of miles across the pond, is that it's a pity how easily people are offended these days. Moore's and Burchill's original rants would have been better deflated with humorous insults about working class, leftist feminists, not self-righteous posturing over which group has the right to feel more offended and more downtrodden.

But I fear that humor is something that is lost to people on both the far left and the far right and we are all poorer because of it.

 
 

Article Comments

(1)

rajiihammr

Jan-19-13 3:54 PM

Very thoughtful piece Andrea. Yes, the Brits are especially skilled at the insult and if people are browbeaten into submission we are all ill served for it. That is the ugly side of that oft miss used expression "political correctness".

 
 

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