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Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in Debate, In the news | 8 comments

Julie Burchill article withdrawn

Julie Burchill’s vicious article, the one I was complaining about a couple of days ago, has been withdrawn by the editors. It no longer appears at Comment is Free, and nor do the many comments on it, most of them critical of Burchill.

I imagine that there might be different reactions to this from my readers. If so, please debate it, but try to be courteous to each other.

I’m in two minds, myself. I suppose this could be seen as some kind of victory for the forces of reason and kindness over a very nasty article (and an author who has previous form in this respect). If Burchill had withdrawn it on her own initiative, preferably with some kind of apology or indication that she was repudiating it, I’d probably be content with the outcome. As far as I know, however, it didn’t happen that way and she is unrepentant. Under the circumstances, I’d prefer that the article be left there, in its original place, if only so what happened can be documented in future stoushes involving Burchill. Fortunately, it has been quoted widely, but it would be better if we could all see the whole thing, and see it easily, so that it’s possible to demonstrate just how hateful it was, even when all of those repugnant comments are viewed in context.

But you may disagree. I’m open to argument on this.

  • My opinion is that the article should not have been deleted, but should have been updated with a substantive preface explaining a ‘retraction’ at beginning of article, and ideally it should include a couple links to pro-trans rights orgs or advocates (the ‘trans lobby’ if you will). Deleting the article not only ‘hides the hate’, but it also deletes and hides the comments that were under the article. Also, this article went out in print media, so the hate has only been ‘hidden’ online, and we should encourage the Guardian to issue olde timey print retractions.

    I’ll stop there before I get too long winded.

  • Kevin S.

    There are plenty of ways this might still be available: Wayback Machine, Google cache, somebody taking a screen shot. The last one is probably the least likely, since nobody probably expected a major newspaper like The Guardian would send this down the memory hole so completely (at least for those who didn’t save the print paper).

  • RussellBlackford

    I imagine there are people tracking down cached versions and screenshotting them even now. But it’s still not as easy/satisfactory as having the piece right there on the site, even with a prefatory apology by the editor.

  • michellegraham

    The Telegraph has reproduced it at Toby Young’s blog with, I believe Julie Burchill’s permission, at

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Deleting it is censorship which I disagree with. Surely, it is better to have her opinions out in the open where they can be seen and debated, than to have them hidden away.

  • Chill Chick

    It’s a moot point, or heading that way. In the internet age, posts come and go but information accumulates. I’ve had the experience of posting comments, seeing them deleted, and then seeing people post screencaps of my comments.

  • She can publish it on her blog. In a newspaper, it’s a loser.

  • As a Yank, I used to read UK music magazines with great relish, discovering new bands and enjoying some really rather rollicking scrums constructed out of of the English Language. I ran across Burchill at that time, and admit I was intrigued with her head shot more than anything else. It looked good.

    Then I read her columns.

    Even back then she was a self-important, underinformed, narcissistic harridan whose crude lack of impulse control, raging opinions, and complete circumscribing of the cosmos within her crabbed and nasty prejudices was repellant and even worse, stupid. A bitch I could handle, easily, but not a careless, unfeeling and unrelenting one.

    All of that would have been water under the bridge if she’d slept with me, of course, but since I was 6000 miles away without a plane ticket, well, it never happened. It may not have happened if I was 10 feet away. Anyway, I forgot her and never read her stuff again. No reason to. So color me bemused when I ran into her on Desert Island Discs sounding like Pippi Longstocking, and clearly having learned absolutely – and I mean absolutely – nothing in the intervening 25 years.

    How on earth does such a woman make a living floating such sacks of poison over the shallows and worshipping within her own rotting cathedral of Burchill all these years? You Brits never cease to amaze me. Julie Burchill? Really?