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Anti-trans, anti-gay writer Julie Burchill says her 30-year cocaine habit was a ‘cheap thrill’ that she ‘gave up overnight’

Vic Parsons January 13, 2020
Julie Burchill

Julie Burchill in 1999. (Andrew Hasson/Getty Images)

Notorious British anti-trans columnist Julie Burchill says that using cocaine every day for three decades caused her no “lasting damage”.

Burchill, who self-describes as a “Murdoch concubine“, came out as a long-term user of the Class A drug in a Spectator column.

In the piece, “Why I’ve given up cocaine”, Burchill writes: “Three years ago, after three decades of taking cocaine on a daily basis, I gave it up overnight.

“Over-eating, gambling, shopping, pornography — there’s no cheap thrill that can’t be mastered with a little self-control.”

Playing into the stigma of drug users being “weak” and “out of control”, Burchill – unsurprisingly – discounts the multitude of reasons other people may not be able to, or may not choose to, stop using drugs overnight.

Drug users who are in abusive relationships, prisoners, homeless people, those without the financial resources to “just quit”, those with mental health issues or who are coping with trauma may all have reasons for taking drugs that prevent them from being able to suddenly stop taking them.

But why expect empathy from a woman who thinks that coming from a working-class background makes her narcissistic tendencies “quite understandable”?

“I got away from cocaine without doing lasting damage to myself — but I’ll never know what I did to others,” Burchill concluded her Spectator column. “That’s something I’ll just have to live with.”

But we do know the damage she did to others – some of it, at least.

Burchill has been quite prolific in her output as a writer – something presumably unrelated to her cocaine use – and almost the only way she hasn’t been discriminatory is in the range of people she’s aimed her vitriol at.

Julie Burchill: A (very brief) list of receipts.

Julie Burchill – not to be confused with Julie Bindel, also a prominent anti-trans commentator – infamously called transgender women “bedwetters in bad wigs” and “shemales” in a 2013 Observer column, which was removed from the Guardian website after receiving widespread criticism.

Eight-hundred people wrote to the Press Complaints Commission about Burchill’s column, and the Guardian launched an internal inquiry.

Calls for Burchill to be fired for her anti-trans views came from many, including Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem MP who helped bring in equal marriage in the UK, who called for Burchill to be sacked for her “bigoted vomit”.

It was just one of multiple times she attacked the trans community, and her anti-LGBT+ stance is not limited to trans people.

In a Spiked column called “More Trans Pride? Oh please, no”, she managed to shoehorn two harmful stereotypes about bisexual people – that bi people are greedy and overly sexualised – into one sentence when she wrote “I don’t understand why B is included – what’s oppressive about having twice the chance to pull?”

And gay men have been attacked by Burchill, too, with yet another angry column deriding gay men’s desire to have families by using a surrogate parent to carry their child.

“There’s something narcissistic in demanding your own biological children,” the person who called herself an “attention whore” wrote, after Tom Daley and husband Dustin Lance Black welcomed the birth of their first child, in a piece that called surrogacy “the renting of wombs by rich men who define themselves by not needing women”.

“Can I really be called homophobic for thinking this,” she asked, rhetorically. Rhetorically speaking, the answer is yes.

An incomplete list of those that Burchill has been hateful towards, mocked, ridiculed and targeted include: Muslims, non-binary people, sex workers, young people, #MeToo feminists and people whose sexual preferences include kink.

While it would be tempting to link an altered state of mind to Burchill’s columns, it’s glaringly obvious that plenty of people who use drugs manage to get through life without regularly spouting this kind of abuse.

If only Burchill’s editors would follow her lead. It would take just a little self-control in mastering their desires, when they’re next tempted to commission her for cheap, thrilling clicks.

 

 

 

More: Julie Bindel, julie burchill, press complaints commission, Spiked, The Spectator

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