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Conservative journalist misgenders Sam Smith and says ‘non-binary doesn’t exist’, gets expertly shut down

Emma Powys Maurice September 17, 2019

Conservative journalist Douglas Murray on the BBC Radio 4 Today show (Twitter/@BBCr4today)

A Conservative journalist who misgendered Sam Smith and claimed there’s “no such thing” as non-binary was quickly put in his place by a fellow journalist live on BBC Radio 4.

Douglas Murray appeared on the radio show after writing a Telegraph article on Sam Smith entitled “Vacuous liberal wokeness is now beyond parody”.

He told host Martha Kearney that he disagreed with the BBC’s use of they/them pronouns to describe Sam Smith, and repeatedly misgendered the singer throughout the discussion.

He said: “[They] previously came out as gay, came out a bit later as genderqueer, [they] now say [they’re] non-binary, which means among other things [they] want to have plural pronouns used of [them]. 

The BBC immediately on its website said: ‘They said in their statement’ and so on. Now, this isn’t the biggest thing in the world, but how about this, why can’t we think about what this claim actually is.

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as non-binary. I don’t think there’s any such thing, and I think a lot of people know that too, but because we’re so bad at discussing it, the BBC immediately starts to say, ‘OK we’ll massively distort and maul our language if somebody’s got a claim.'”

Murray was quickly put in his place by former Guardian journalist Afua Hirsch, who delivered an eloquent and pointed put down.

“At every point that there has been change – I would describe it as positive social change – there have been voices like Douglas’s who’ve said, ‘This is madness, why are we having to use these silly terms and be so politically correct,'” she said.

“The same thing was said about feminism in the 70s, the same thing has been said about not using derogatory words towards people from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

“I think it’s healthy to have conversations about these subjects, but I read your column Douglas, and I felt that it almost verged on bullying. This is somebody who has made an expression of [their] identity and how [they] want to be described and I don’t know why you feel so threatened by it.”

In the interview Murray also complained about the “problematisation” of issues such as race, gender and sexual orientation, which in his eyes should now be “as irrelevant as possible”.

As he lamented the “weaponisation of identity” and the “fighting attitude” associated with it, Hirsch reminded him of the importance of continuing to fight for minorities’ rights.

“The reason that we’ve made the progress … is because of progressive forces who have fought these battles,” she said. “These weren’t gifts that were given to us by right wing voices, these are things that people have had to make huge sacrifices and consistently push for.”

Murray in the studio with host Martha Kearney (Twitter/@BBCr4today)

And she couldn’t resist the opportunity to deliver another dig at the right-wing journalist, who is known as a frequent critique of Islam.

She quipped: “I do find it very ironic to hear Douglas talking about the weaponisation of identity, because throughout his career he’s spoken about identity in a highly weaponised way.

“He’s talked about the threat of Muslim immigration, of whiteness disappearing and being in jeopardy, this is a very racialised way of looking at the world and it highly weaponises these very same issues.”

More: BBC, BBC Radio Four, gender-neutral pronouns, non-binary, Sam Smith

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