Thou shalt not take Caitlyn Jenner’s name in vain

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Free Speech

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A  cautionary tale from Australia for anyone who was toying with the idea of saying ‘WTF?’ about the gushing global media coverage of Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal. Paul Barry, host of ABC’s Media Watchdog, a weekly media-analysing TV show Down Under, did just that, and he was virtually thrown on the barbie. It has ended with him being warned by a trans expert that ‘words can be deadly’ and can ’cause quite a lot of psychological grief’. Yes, that’s right, say anything remotely critical of the worldwide love-fest for Bruce-cum-Caitlyn and you will be accused of causing psychological and societal harm.

Barry’s sin was to misgender Caitlyn – misgendering being secular societies’ equivalent of blasphemy – and to ask why a one-time athlete’s decision to have a sex change, or whatever it’s called these days, has become such massive international news. ‘FFS’, he tweeted. ‘Why in heaven’s name is he such big news?’ In those nine little words, Barry committed two great crimes. First, he referred to Caitlyn/Bruce as ‘he’, which confirms that he is in thrall to the insane idea that people who have penises are men. And secondly, he dared to ask why a man having breast implants and a makeover for the cover of Vanity Fair made waves worldwide, hitting the headlines everywhere and causing Twitter to go into meltdown.

The backlash against Caitlyn-denying Barry was swift and unforgiving. The Twitterati went berserk, with angry keyboard-bashers declaring themselves ‘absolutely gobsmacked’ by Barry’s comments (really?) and branding him ‘disgraceful’, ‘offensive’ and ‘bigoted’. Complaints were made to ABC, which decided that Barry’s comments were ‘not in contravention of the ABC’s social media guidelines’. After the Twitterstorm came the media feeding frenzy. Barry’s nine-word question on Twitter was covered in the Courier Mail (‘Barry should have used the name Caitlyn’), the Daily Mail (‘Barry slammed for referring to Caitlyn as “Bruce”‘), and Buzzfeed (which hoped that ABC would be ‘having none of it’, none of its presenters daring to diss Saint Cait).

Hot on the heels of the media came the self-styled experts. Kate Doak, an Australian transgender writer, said Barry had ‘gone over the line’ (what line? Who drew it? Who polices it?). She described Barry’s words as ‘deadly’ and said they could cause ‘psychological’ harm. Religious heretics were accused of morally corrupting people’s souls; trans-querying heretics are said to harm people’s psychology. Aussie observers just couldn’t believe someone had dared to question the global hoohah over Bruce/Caitlyn. One said ’99 per cent of the world were supportive, encouraging and kind’, but there is always that ‘one per cent who try to ruin everything’. Clearly, only complete, society-wide enthusiasm for Caitlyn is acceptable. These people agog that a handful of folks still say ‘Bruce’ and don’t think that Vanity Fair cover should be headline news sound like Saddam Hussein complaining that he only got 96 per cent of votes.

The harrying of Paul Barry speaks to the trans Orwellianism I wrote about for the Spectator this week. Refuse to bow down before the Big Sibling (a gender-neutral Big Brother) of trans ideology, and you will be railed against and threatened with expulsion from polite society. The atmosphere around Bruce/Caitlyn is nuts (no offence intended by that n-word). And deeply ironic, too – the very same right-on people who probably mocked those who mourned for Princess Diana and think only an idiot would go to church and pray before a painting of the Virgin Mary have now outdone both Dianamania and mariolatry to create a hysterical, stifling climate in which even a nine-word question can see you accused of bigotry and deadliness. So, world, you have been warned. Ask no questions, not a single one, of the Caitlyn craziness.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Free Speech


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