Notes and Comment Blog

The vulnerable lose the right to name their oppressors

Jun 16th, 2019 11:50 am | By

BBC News in 2014:

The Paedophile Information Exchange was affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties – now Liberty – in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But how did pro-paedophile campaigners operate so openly?

A gay rights conference backs a motion in favour of paedophilia. The story is written up by a national newspaper as “Child-lovers win fight for role in Gay Lib”.

It sounds like a nightmarish plotline from dystopian fiction. But this happened in the UK. The conference took place in Sheffield and the newspaper was the Guardian. The year was 1975.

Child rapists were trying to go mainstream.

The group behind the attempt – the Paedophile Information Exchange – is back in the news because of a series of stories run by the Daily Mail about Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman.

The Daily Mail has revisited the story of PIE to ask how much Harman and her husband the MP Jack Dromey knew about the group during their time working at the National Council for Civil Liberties, now Liberty, in the late 1970s. PIE was affiliated to the NCCL from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

I guess paedophiles were Identifying As liberators of children.

PIE was formed in 1974. It campaigned for “children’s sexuality”. It wanted the government to axe or lower the age of consent. It offered support to adults “in legal difficulties concerning sexual acts with consenting ‘under age’ partners”. The real aim was to normalise sex with children.

Journalist Christian Wolmar remembers their tactics. “They didn’t emphasise that this was 50-year-old men wanting to have sex with five-year-olds. They presented it as the sexual liberation of children, that children should have the right to sex,” he says.

I guessed correctly. “Won’t somebody please think of the sex-starved children?”

It’s an ideology that seems chilling now. But PIE managed to gain support from some professional bodies and progressive groups. It received invitations from student unions, won sympathetic media coverage and found academics willing to push its message.

It’s wrong to say that PIE was tolerated during the 1970s, says Times columnist Matthew Parris. “I remember a lot of indignation about it [PIE]. It was considered outrageous.”

I don’t think there was any equivalent in the US.

One of PIE’s key tactics was to try to conflate its cause with gay rights. On at least two occasions the Campaign for Homosexual Equality conference passed motions in PIE’s favour.

Lemme just repeat that.

One of PIE’s key tactics was to try to conflate its cause with gay rights. On at least two occasions the Campaign for Homosexual Equality conference passed motions in PIE’s favour.

Sound familiar at all?

Most gay people were horrified by any conflation of homosexuality and a sexual interest in children, says Parris. But PIE used the idea of sexual liberation to win over more radical elements. “If there was anything with the word ‘liberation’ in the name you were automatically in favour of it if you were young and cool in the 1970s. It seemed like PIE had slipped through the net.”

That sounds so quaint, doesn’t it? Now the magic word is “identity” – so much more sensible and reality-based than “liberation.”

When Polly Toynbee interviewed O’Carroll and Hose in the Guardian in September 1977 she heard men incredulous at the lack of support from the press. They seemed genuinely aggrieved at what they called a “Fleet Street conspiracy”. One of them told her: “We would expect the Guardian, a decent liberal newspaper to support us.”

Again, so very familiar. All right-thinking people agree with us, and dissenters are terfs prudes.

There were divisions within progressive circles. In 1977 the Campaign for Homosexual Equality passed by a large majority a resolution condemning “the harassment of the Paedophile Information Exchange by the press”.

A Guardian article in 1977 noted with dismay how the group was growing. By its second birthday in October 1976, it had 200 members. There was a London group, a Middlesex group being planned, and with regional branches to follow. The article speaks of PIE’s hopes to widen the membership to include women and heterosexual men.

Toynbee talked of her “disgust, aversion and anger” at the group but added that she had “a sinking feeling that in another five years or so, their aims would eventually be incorporated into the general liberal credo, and we would all find them acceptable”.

Familiar at all? Yeah?

I found the BBC article via a thread of Debbie Hayton’s.

Broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr Trump

Jun 16th, 2019 11:04 am | By


It turns out there are drawbacks to having a president who is too childish and reckless and self-serving to be trusted with…anything, basically.

But hey, happy Flag Day, or something.

Neat boxes

Jun 16th, 2019 10:35 am | By

Et tu Natural History Museum?

Joan was assigned Jonathan at birth.

To register our disquiet

Jun 16th, 2019 10:14 am | By

Today in the Times:

Mick Hartley shares the letter:

The LGBT charity Stonewall has a Diversity Champions programme, which UK universities are rushing to associate themselves with, thereby demonstrating their commitment to inclusivity and the battle against transphobia. Hidden away near the bottom of the Sunday Times letters page today, a large number of academics – mostly women – express their concerns:

As academics we are writing to register our disquiet over the inappropriately close relationship between the LGBT charity Stonewall and UK universities, via the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme.

The membership requirements of this programme are in tension with academic freedom. For instance, university members must instigate specialist trans policies, in addition to general equality policies, which outlaw “transphobic” teaching and research material but offer no clear definition of what would count as such.

“Transphobic” and “transphobia” never are clearly defined, are they, probably because if the definition were clearly spelled out, too many people would see how bonkers it is. It’s considered “transphobic” to say [write, teach] that men are not women.

Alongside Stonewall’s definition of transphobia as including any “denial/refusal to accept . . . gender identity”, this leaves academics unable to question the contested notion of “gender identity” without fear of sanction.

That’s no accident. They don’t want us to question the contested notion of “gender identity”; they don’t want “gender identity” to be called a contested notion, we’re supposed to call it an absolute and unquestioned fact.

Equally, Stonewall’s guidance advises against inviting any speaker to a university who would deny “that trans people are the gender they say they are”. This is a further unacceptable restriction upon free academic debate.

You know…this item is one of the things I hate about the dogma the absolute most, this idiotic insistence that what people say they are should never be questioned. That is bullshit. Of course we can question what people say they are! They can get it wrong, and they can lie; they can even do both. They can, we can, everybody can – we can all be wrong about what we are.

People can’t just show up at universities and “say they are” professors and hijack the nearest lecture room. People can’t show up at your house and “say they are” your best friend and invited to dinner. People can’t “say they are” stable geniuses and expect to be listened to with attention and reverence. The whole idea that this is some core principle of enlightened political thinking is a massive con game.

The programme requires staff to undergo “trans awareness training”, during which tendentious and anti-scientific claims are presented to academics as objective fact, without the opportunity for scrutiny: for instance, that “gender is how people interpret and view themselves” and that “1 in 100 are born with an intersex trait”. In our teaching, we’re exhorted to “ask the pronouns” of students. Yet many of us would deny that pronouns refer to an inner feeling of gender identity, and wish to say so.

There are other areas that some of us wish to explore and question, such as the ramifications of Stonewall’s new doctrine that female-attracted trans women, with penises, are “lesbians”; an “affirmation model” for gender-questioning children; and the social changes caused by opening up women-only spaces to self-identified women. It is imperative to interrogate the radical shifts in thinking that all this implies, but we feel inhibited from doing so in the intimidating atmosphere produced by Stonewall’s influence.

We therefore urge Stonewall to clarify that it fully supports academic freedom of thought. Failing this, we ask universities to sever their links with this organisation altogether.

Signed by:

Prof Kathleen Stock, University of Sussex; Dr Katie Alcock, Lancaster University; Dr Sophie Allen, Keele University; Prof Rosemary Auchmuty, University of Reading; Dr Michael Biggs, University of Oxford; Prof John Collins, University of East Anglia; Dr Madeleine Davies, University of Reading; Sarah Davies, University of Salford; Prof Catharine Edwards, Birkbeck; Prof Debbie Epstein, Roehampton University; Prof Rosa Freedman, University of Reading; Prof Leslie Green, University of Oxford; Sarah Honeychurch, University of Glasgow; Sian Hindle, Birmingham City University; Dr Chloe Houston, University of Reading; Dr Susan Matthews, Roehampton University; Dr Ruth McGinity, University College London; Michele Moore, University of Essex; Dr Kath Murray, University of Edinburgh; Dr Deirdre O’Neill, Brunel University; Christine Peacock, University of Salford; Dr Marian Peacock, Edge Hill University; Prof Jo Phoenix, Open University; Dr Laetitia Pichevin, University of Edinburgh; Dr Jon Pike, The Open University; Dr Eva Poen, University of Exeter; Kathleen Richardson, De Montfort University; Prof Sophie Scott, University College London; Dr Holly Smith, University College London; Prof Judith Suissa, University College London; Prof Alice Sullivan, University College London; Selina Todd, University of Oxford; Dr Mary Turner, University of Huddersfield; Dr Stuart Waiton, Abertay University; Professor David Pilgrim, University of Liverpool

In the tents with the girls

Jun 15th, 2019 5:16 pm | By

Janice Turner in the Times:

In 2005, when WH Smith sold Playboy-branded pencil cases, parents argued that little girls were being groomed into porn culture; in 2011, when the Playboy club reopened in Mayfair, it was picketed by feminists who, like Gloria Steinem, saw it as a “gendered version of a minstrel show”; in 2017, Hugh Hefner’s obituaries catalogued the misogyny of his porn empire and sordid mansion. But in 2019, posing for Playboy is “empowering” and qualifies you to be hired as a role model for Britain’s most vulnerable children.

What did I miss? Despite PR spin by Hefner’s son Cooper, men still don’t read it for the articles.

When I saw that Munroe Bergdorf, whose day job is modelling for Playboy, fetish and lingerie shoots, had been made an “ambassador” for Childline, I asked the NSPCC why.

A single tweet.

For which I’ve been vilified by, among others, The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC. None of which contacted me for comment, since this issue is uniquely exempt from fair reporting codes.

Because Bergdorf is trans, you see, so Bergdorf must not be questioned in any way.

So I must say it here. That Munroe Bergdorf is transgender is immaterial.

If the NSPCC hired any woman who’d augmented herself into a hyper-sexualised persona — Katie Price perhaps — I’d ask the same. What about the page three girl Melinda Messenger at Barnardo’s, some said?

Yes, given the world’s gazillion accomplished women, she too is a dismal choice.

Looking like a blow-up doll isn’t the same thing as being accomplished.

Besides, although everyone loves a witch-burning, it was not, as Bergdorf claims, my tweet that caused the NSPCC to sack her. (Which they did unkindly and for which they have rightly apologised.)

It was because “her statements on the public record . . . [were] in breach of our own risk assessments. These statements are specific to safeguarding and equality.”

If your charitable mission is to protect children, your spokesperson cannot — as Bergdorf does — invite kids on social media to contact you privately. This violates online protocols since it encourages children to entrust adult strangers with secrets.

But Bergdorf still says it’s no problem.

Recently Ruth Hunt, outgoing head of Stonewall, was asked in The Observer about fears that gender self-ID could be exploited by male abusers. Hunt replied: “Men are always going to rape women.” It was a revealing statement.

Men will always rape women, so why try to stop them with our hard-won protections like single-sex changing rooms, refuges or prisons. Women may end up as collateral, but then what’s new?

This dismantling of safeguards by extreme trans activists is building a reluctant mass movement. Women are forming new organisations, mustering legal challenges, lobbying politicians.

These are not modern Mary Whitehouses but Labour members, Greens, lesbians; progressive, humane women — including trans women — who marched against Section 28, who’d defend to the death rights of trans people to live and work free from harassment and discrimination.

They don’t want this fight, just as I don’t want to write about it, given the hideous abuse, and the risk to careers and even physical safety it engenders.

They’d rather be running book clubs or the PTA or walking their dogs. But fight they must. Because their inner sirens are screaming.

A guide leader wonders why male-bodied trans teenagers are now allowed to sleep in girls’ tents without parents being told, and is sacked.

The NSPCC tells a concerned parent: “Should the child or adult identity as female then they are female and there are no safeguarding concerns.”

How does the NSPCC know that no man will every claim to “identity as female” in order to be able to sleep (and stay awake) in girls’ tents? It doesn’t know that, it can’t know that – yet it talks as if it can and does. What kind of safeguarding is that?

But women see what is happening.

We know what battering down our boundaries with insults and threats can allow in.

Not, to be clear, from trans people, but potential abusive chancers looking for open doors. Peter Bright, a left-wing US tech writer, argued endlessly with feminists on Twitter about gender self-ID.

As a proud trans ally, he decried “TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] fear-mongering about public restrooms” as “fact free drivel”, asking “Is that a great disaster? That a girl sees a penis?”

Following an FBI sting in which he believed he was grooming a mother into allowing him to have sex with her children, Bright has confessed to discussing “engaging in sexual activity with minors”.

But don’t worry, girls, everything will be fine. We magically know this because we say so.

Mermaids wants more of it, much faster

Jun 15th, 2019 3:31 pm | By

Susie Green of Mermaids accidentally posted a bunch of highly personal emails online.

Andrew Gilligan in the Times:

Many of the emails, written between 2016 and 2017, included the full names of the parents and children, pre- and post-transition, along with telephone numbers and intimate details of treatment and care. They were sent in confidence by the parents, or forwarded by other agencies, to Susie Green, chief executive of Mermaids, the high-profile transgender children’s support group.

The messages could be found through a simple online search until Friday, when Mermaids removed them after being contacted by this newspaper.

Alongside the client emails were hundreds of often revealing internal ones showing trustees’ concerns about Green’s leadership, accusations from parents that Mermaids felt like a “cult” and alcohol problems at residential weekends putting children “at risk”.

Green appears to have thought she had set up a private email group, using a common webmail platform, to share information with her trustees. But she, or Mermaids, had failed to read her group’s homepage which said that its “archives are visible to everyone”.


But that’s ok, go ahead and trust her with struggling unhappy children anyway, all she wants to do is help them block puberty and then transition to the other sex.

[Mermaids] was given £500,000 by the national lottery, £128,000 by the BBC’s Children in Need and £35,000 by the government. It also has the support of Prince Harry, City banks and large parts of the media.

Green was series consultant on Butterfly, the recent ITV drama about a transgender child that gave a flattering portrait of Mermaids, with its logo visible in some scenes and a script reflecting the group’s talking points.

It all seems very hasty,  but hey, it’s only changing sex, sometimes with surgery but sometimes merely with a lifetime of hormone-fiddling drugs. What downside could there possibly be?

Green, who took her own son, aged 16, for a sex-change operation in Thailand, believes medical intervention is “absolutely vital” for children unhappy with their biological sex.

Mermaids wants more of it, much faster. It campaigns to end the NHS ban on children being given sex-change hormones that reduce fertility and require lifelong medical support. Most doctors believe that children, who may change their minds, are too young for this irreversible step.

Green claims the lack of such treatment is making children suicidal. She has said patients of the main NHS clinic that treats gender-dysphoric youngsters, the Tavistock Centre in north London, have a “48 per cent suicide attempt risk”. The true rate, says the clinic, is less than 1 per cent.

48 per cent, 1 per cent, whatever. Green is so well-meaning!

Green, an IT consultant, has no medical training. Responding on Twitter to an NHS psychiatrist who accused her of “making stuff up”, she wrote that “you need to f*** off. You know nothing.”

A Tavistock clinician said: “Mermaids push simplistic views, emotional blackmail and conscious misinformation at parents. They do so much harm.”

In evidence to MPs, Mermaids complained that the Tavistock spoke too much of the “uncertainty and complexity” of gender transition. It singled out a doctor at the clinic by name as “anti-trans” and demanded “a thorough audit of staff and their views”.

Yeah. It’s not uncertain and complex at all, it’s as simple and benign as getting a haircut. Susie Green, with no medical training, must know all about it, unlike those “science” types at the Tavistock.

Given this tension, one surprise of the private emails is the apparent closeness of the relationship. Perhaps the pressure was working. Sally Hodges, a senior Tavistock manager, promised to “co-ordinate” the text of the clinic’s website with Mermaids. “It would be valuable to think with you about the content going forward,” she wrote. The clinic’s director, Polly Carmichael, told Mermaids it was good to be working together.

“Perhaps the pressure was working” – Andrew Gilligan has a way with understatement.

It’s reminding me of Jonestown again. A whole bunch of people doing what this one narcissistic psychopath told them to do, even though many of them had doubts and would have preferred to leave…but the pressure was working.

The pressure is working; pressure does work. That’s one reason I despise this movement so intensely: it relies so very heavily on pressure instead of anything less coercive and more persuasive. There is far more slogan-flinging than reasoned argument, and far more bullying and ostracism than compassion and generosity. It’s becoming more and more difficult every day to think of it as a political rights-based movement like others as opposed to a cult that attracts every raging disordered narcissist on the planet. Even if I thought they were right in their confusion of “gender” with personality I still wouldn’t want anything to do with the movement, because their rhetoric and behavior are so repellent.

Image result for jonestown

Their crime was to help the wrong kind of human beings

Jun 15th, 2019 12:14 pm | By

Kenan Malik thinks maybe it shouldn’t be a crime to help people in emergency situations.

In Arizona on 11 June, a jury was unable to reach a verdict on Scott Daniel Warren, a college lecturer accused of conspiracy to transport and harbour migrants after providing them with food and shelter. He faced up to 20 years in jail. He may still do if there’s a retrial.

Meanwhile, in Sicily, Pia Klemp, the German captain of the boat Sea-Watch 3, was charged with assisting in illegal immigration after rescuing migrants in distress in the Mediterranean. She, too, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Warren and Klemp are the latest victims of a disturbing trend that has gone almost unnoticed: the threat by the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic to put on trial anyone who provides rescue or humanitarian help for migrants.

He found more examples at Open Democracy.

In both Europe and America, the authorities claim that aid for migrants acts as a “pull factor”, increasing the numbers willing to risk a dangerous journey. The idea that someone treks across the Sahara, through war-torn Libya and into a rubber dinghy to brave a sea that has become the graveyard for at least 30,000 others attempting that same journey, on the off-chance that they might meet a rescue ship, or sets off on an arduous march through Central America and faces the perils of a life-sapping desert because they are convinced they will find a jug of water at the end, stretches credulity. Many studies have, indeed, shown that rescue ships on the Mediterranean do not increase numbers of migrants, but abandoning rescue attempts increases the number of deaths.

Isn’t it enough to say no? Is it necessary to kill some by way of broadcasting the no?

It’s an approach that suggests that only certain kinds of people are deserving of humanitarian aid. Had Warren been helping Americans or Klemp rescuing Europeans, they would have been hailed as heroes. Their crime was to help the wrong kind of human beings – those wearing the wrong colour skin, believing in the wrong God, possessing the wrong passport or no passport at all.

That’s an obscene moral standard and one that would be unacceptable in any other context. Yet so successful has been the anti-migrant agenda of recent years that there is barely a discussion of such practices. It’s important to resist the criminalisation of solidarity, not just to defend migrants’ rights but also because it is corrosive of civil society and, in the words of the lawyer Frances Webber, helps outlaw “decency itself”.

We’ve seen that before. It doesn’t take us anywhere good.

The empowerificationality of Sarah Sanders

Jun 15th, 2019 11:57 am | By

Sarah Sanders was a terrible press secretary but Arwa Mahdawi suggests that wasn’t her real job.

Sanders was never really hired to be a press secretary. Her real job, I’d venture, was to be a Very Visible Woman. Her real job was to be the female face of a deeply misogynistic administration; to play the role of the empowered working mother and make the Trump administration’s crass patriarchy more palatable.

Mind you, it cuts into the Very Visible bit if you stop holding press briefings.

There’s no better example of how effective Sanders was at using her sex as a shield than the speed with which a number of high-profile female journalists jumped to Sanders’ defense when Michelle Wolf made a joke about the press secretary at the 2018 White House correspondents’ dinner.

“Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable,” MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski tweeted at the time. (Wolf didn’t make a joke about Sanders’ looks; this was a willful misinterpretation.) The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman similarly announced that it was admirable Sanders “sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television”.

At that rate I guess we have to say it’s admirable that Trump doesn’t nuke us all for our intense criticism of his corruption, criminality, misogyny, racism, cruelty, incompetence, ignorance, recklessness…

Money from all directions

Jun 15th, 2019 9:39 am | By

Robert Reich itemizes the corruption:

When he was in Congress, the current White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders, then proposed loosening regulations on them. Mulvaney was also acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of all things.

Let’s have a refresher on what payday lenders are.

According to a 2015 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 12 million Americans take out payday loans each year and spend $7 billion on loan fees. Though the interest rates commonly are disguised as fees, they effectively range from 300%-500% annual percentage rate (APR).

Compare that the 15%-30% APR on credit cards or 10%-25% rate for a personal loan from a bank or credit union and it’s hard to see why anyone would go this route.

According to Pew, the typical payday loan customers are mainstream workers, those earning at least $30,000 a year. Payday lenders target financially strapped customers who don’t qualify for credit cards or have very low credit limits, mostly due to past financial problems.

Let’s see now, what kind of people are likely to fit that description. Hmm. Oh yes, I know – poor people! People with no money can’t get credit cards and can’t accumulate savings, so any unplanned expense can require borrowing, and borrowing at extortionate rates makes them even poorer. It works that way with housing, too – people with no money are seen as risky so they’re forced to pay inflated rents to cover the risk. It’s heartwarming to know Mick Mulvaney profits from this horrible trap, isn’t it.

When he was Trump’s special adviser on regulatory reform, the Wall Street billionaire Carl Icahn sought to gut the Environmental Protection Agency rule on ethanol credits, which was harming his oil refinery investments.

This week the Guardian reported that a real estate company partly owned by Trump son-in-law and foreign policy adviser Jared Kushner has raked in $90m from foreign investors since Kushner entered the White House, through a secret vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands. Kushner’s stake is some $50m.

They love Donnie’s New Job – it’s like a Niagara Falls of cash for them.

Just a little tweak

Jun 14th, 2019 4:46 pm | By

Yay progressive Vermont?

Vermont health insurance regulators are planning to tweak Medicaid rules so transgender youth no longer have to wait until age 21 to seek gender-affirming surgery.

The changes are aimed at removing barriers for people seeking a suite of surgeries in order to alleviate gender dysphoria, a conflict between a person’s gender identity and physical gender, said Nissa James, policy director for the Department of Vermont Health Access.

Well, see, that’s one of those things that can swing either way, depending on how you look at it. It’s “removing barriers” or it’s “removing protections” – depending on how terrific you think it is that kids under 18 can get their breasts or penises cut off because they don’t feel at home in their bodies.

The changes would be “enormously positive” for transgender people in Vermont, especially individuals in their late teens, said Dr. Rachel Inker, who runs the Transgender Health Clinic at the Community Health Centers of Burlington.

“Having young people have to wait until they were 21 just didn’t really make any sense,” Inker said.

Because people under 21 absolutely never change their minds about a decision as they get older.

These surgeries are life-saving, said Dana Kaplan, executive director of Outright Vermont, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth.

Gender identity develops as young as three, he said.

“Here is an opportunity to say you can live the life that is authentically yours,” he said. “Why would we get in the way of that?”

Hmm. Let’s see. Because people who are 16 or 14 or 12 don’t invariably know for certain what the life is that is “authentically theirs”? Because in fact people that age are rather famous for being changeable and easily influenced? Because a breast or a penis once cut off is cut off for good? Because you’re supposed to be the adults, not the excitable teenagers?

A “staggering” percentage of transgender and non-binary youth have reported considering suicide, Kaplan said. Having access to medical care that affirms their identity can save young people years of the distress caused by living in a body conflicting with their gender identity.

Or it can cause them a lifetime of distress caused by living in a body that they had mutilated as teenagers.


Jun 14th, 2019 3:52 pm | By

The Justice Department agrees with Trump that he doesn’t have to show anyone his tax returns if he doesn’t want to, so there.

The Justice Department released Friday its legal opinion supporting the Treasury secretary’s refusal to hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Last month, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal issued a subpoena to Treasury and the IRS after the agencies rebuffed the Democrat’s request for six years of the President’s personal and business tax returns. Neal is invoking a little-known provision of the tax code which states the Treasury Secretary “shall furnish” the committee with the return information.

Legal experts are not impressed.

Flag rape

Jun 14th, 2019 11:50 am | By

In breach of our own risk assessments

Jun 14th, 2019 11:42 am | By

The Guardian two days ago:

The NSPCC has offered the trans activist Munroe Bergdorf a “full, frank and unreserved apology” for abruptly cutting ties with her in the face of social media criticism of her appointment.

The child protection charity announced last week it would have “no ongoing relationship” with Bergdorf, 48 hours after she told her Twitter followers how proud she was to have become the first LGBT+ campaigner for its counselling service Childline.

Bergdorf, a model, said she had not been contacted by the charity before it issued its statement abruptly ending their relationship with her and, in a letter seen by the Guardian, nearly 150 NSPCC employees spoke of their “embarrassment and shame” at their employer’s decision.

The story does eventually get to why the NSPCC dropped Bergdorf, but it’s way down the page.

[Peter] Wanless [the CEO] said the decision to cut ties with Bergdorf – which was made by the charity’s board of trustees – was nothing to do with the fact that she was transgender.

He explained: “The board decided an ongoing relationship with Munroe was inappropriate because of her statements on the public record, which we felt would mean that she was in breach of our own risk assessments and undermine what we are here to do.”

Bergdorf had been been criticised for inviting children to get in touch with her directly on social media. The NSPCC had also faced criticism on social media that she was an inappropriate “sexualised” role model for children, and accusations that she was a “porn model”.

Does Bergdorf seem ideal as an ambassador for a child protection charity? Not to me. There are people who groom children for prostitution or personal rape or both, and having a sexualized (without scare quotes) trans woman as a child protection ambassador looks a tad grooming-like. (Why a trans woman especially? Because it’s mostly not women who groom children into prostitution.)

So why did the NSPCC invite Bergdorf to be an ambassador in the first place? Apparently it was the idea of the NSPCC’s Celebrity and Talent manager, James Makings.

Meet James Makings:

Earlier this week the news broke on Twitter that James Makings, Celebrity and Talent Manager at the NSPCC, had made rubber-themed pornography at work.

One film linked to the leading children’s charity employee was titled ‘Cub Pisses and Wanks in Rubber at Work’ – a still from the film features a childish cartoon animal placed strategically over what seems to be Makings’ penis.

This was a new act in a larger drama that has seen the NSPCC attacked from all sides. Makings was responsible for recruiting controversial transgender activist and glamour model Munroe Bergdorf as an NSPCC ambassador.  The appointment of Bergdorf, who has no background in child protection, attracted a raft of criticism after it was revealed the model was found to have advised children struggling with their sexuality or identity to ‘drop me a message on insta’.

Ok but surely we’re not going to kink-shame this nice fella, are we?

Many of those who accused the NSPCC of transphobia following the decision to drop Bergdorf have now rallied to support Makings, the Celebrity and Talent Manager and amateur pornographer at the charity. Those who have raised concerns about the employment of a man who makes pornography from the offices of a children’s charity have been smeared as homophobic, as if being gay absolves one from the responsibility of behaving appropriately at work.

Coverage of the issue from Pink News identified a tweet in which Makings was called a ‘perverted narcissist’ as evidence of apparent homophobia.

In a statement the NSPCC said: ‘We have been made aware of the images. The NSPCC has guidance for social media and if there was a problem, we would take action.’ One might ask why making pornography at work is not seen as a ‘problem’ and why the NSPCC are standing by someone who has such disregard for sexual boundaries.

See, it’s at work. At work at the NSPCC. In a multi-cubicle toilet. With film posted online.

High profile figures, including Guardian journalists Owen Jones and Dawn Foster, stepped in to support the NSPPC in standing by their employee- as if filming oneself masturbating in office lavatories while wrapped in PVC was an intrinsic part of being gay. To my mindset, the old trope that gay men are fetishist perverts is in itself homophobic.

Arguably, what is most fascinating about this case is how acceptable it has become to perform fetishes in public, and how male sexual behaviour that clearly over-steps the bounds of acceptability, is ignored for fear of accusations of ‘phobia.’ That not one outlet has to date covered what is in affect a national safeguarding scandal at the heart of the UK’s biggest children’s charity is a testament to the power men hold when they protect one another’s interests.

Boundaries? What boundaries? Away with all boundaries!

Honest as the day is long

Jun 14th, 2019 10:12 am | By

The birthday boy.

Wise guy

Jun 14th, 2019 9:41 am | By


He did say that. Stephanopoulos asked why McGahn would lie under oath to Robert Mueller, Trump said “To make himself look like a better lawyer.” He also told Stephanopoulos “You’re being a little wise guy.”

Definitely no misogyny here

Jun 14th, 2019 8:43 am | By

Another day another campaign to destroy a feminist woman…not by Trump or the pope or a local fundamentalist church but by…The Woke.

I saw a loathsome tweet abusing her yesterday (and immediately followed her) but didn’t realize it was part of a campaign.

What a campaign.

That’s it – that’s the one I saw yesterday. The “stank white pussy ass bitch” one.

The Woke sent a letter demanding she be fired.

The Woke held a demo to heap more abuse on this one feminist woman.

Campus officials appear to be rushing to comply.

Such a lack of fundamental understanding

Jun 13th, 2019 6:02 pm | By

Like a toddler with a flamethrower.

Nearly two years ago, FBI Director Chris Wray set up an office tasked solely with stopping the type of Russian interference efforts that infected the 2016 campaign.

On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump undercut the whole operation in a matter of seconds.

Which, if you think about it, makes total sense – the Russians want Trump, so naturally he wants them to interfere. He doesn’t want the FBI to stop them; he wants the FBI to open the door for them and ask if they’d like a sandwich.

In an ABC News interview, the president first proclaimed he would have no problem accepting dirt on his opponents from a foreign power, then said Wray was “wrong” to suggest the FBI needs to know about such offers.

The comments, according to interviews with nearly a dozen law enforcement veterans, have undone months of work, essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them. And it has backed Wray into a corner, they added, putting him in a position where he might have to either publicly chastise the president and risk getting fired, or resign in protest.

Just three months after Wray assumed the top FBI post in August 2017, he told Congress that he had set up a “foreign influence” task force to stymie future election meddling efforts.

The team brings together counterintelligence, cyber and counterterrorism officials — nearly 40 in total, according to a New York Times story — and coordinates with all 56 FBI field offices. It also works with the Homeland Security Department, state and local governments, as well as the major social media companies that Russian agents used to spread disinformation and stage fake rallies meant to incite voter anger.

The breadth of the effort has to match the scale of the problem, Wray said at a White House briefing last August. “Make no mistake — the scope of this foreign influence threat is both broad and deep,” he said.

“It has to be demoralizing to some extent and confusing and, let’s face it, unprecedented, to have a commander in chief who has such a lack of fundamental understanding about the work the Justice Department and intelligence community do in this area,” added Greg Brower, the former top FBI liaison to Congress who served under Wray during his first months as director.

“To flat out say the FBI director is wrong on this or any other issue is, in and of itself, stunning” Brower added. “It’s tougher for the leadership, the appointees of the president, who know the president is wrong, who have to wonder about his fundamental lack of understanding about what those agencies are doing.”

There’s nothing to wonder about. He’s a criminal, and he has the mindset of a criminal. He does what’s good for him, and is wholly indifferent to everyone else. It’s not complicated.

So many different levels

Jun 13th, 2019 5:32 pm | By

No no no, cry the Republicans, we must not have laws requiring candidates to alert the FBI if a foreign government – say, Saudi Arabia? North Korea? Turkey? – offered help. That would be…erm…umm…inconvenient! That’s it! It would be too much trouble, so no.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) blocked an effort by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) to pass a bill via unanimous consent requiring campaigns to report any offers of foreign assistance to the FBI.

“We are all for free and fair and honest elections. … These reporting requirements are overbroad. Presidential campaigns would have to worry about disclosure at a variety of levels. So many different levels. Consider this: vendors that work for a campaign, people that are supplying some kind of voter service to a campaign. … It would apply to door knockers, it would apply to phone bankers, down to any person who shares their views with a candidate.”

Warner then countered that Blackburn’s reading of the legislation is “not accurate .., The only thing that would have to be reported is if the agent of a foreign government or national offered that something that was already prohibited.”

Still too much trouble. Also, we want the information. Next item?

No lie untold

Jun 13th, 2019 1:52 pm | By

Sarah Sanders is leaving. Someone even worse will replace her, but at least we won’t have to look at that furious scowl any more.

Two and a half year, not three and a half, but whatever – she goes out as she came in.

“I guess there’s an investigation”

Jun 13th, 2019 12:44 pm | By

Hey George, I know more about prosecutors than you’ll ever know.