A rebuke:

The Today programme presenter Justin Webb has been partially rebuked by the BBC after he suggested students were lying when they accused a university professor of transphobia.

Introducing Radio 4’s newspaper review last October, Webb said: “And quite a lot of coverage still of Kathleen Stock, the academic from Sussex University who’s been abused by students who accuse her, falsely, of transphobia. She says her union has now effectively ended her career. It’s published a statement of support, not for her but for those who are abusing her.”

Four listeners complained to the BBC that Webb’s use of “falsely” was inaccurate and betrayed a personal opinion. Three also complained of inaccuracy and apparent bias in describing the students who had been protesting against Stock as “abusing her”.

But here’s the problem: saying “students who accuse her of transphobia” would also be inaccurate, in the sense that “transphobia” is a highly loaded and slippery and contentious label. It’s a newish word, and it’s a very convenient weapon against anyone who resists any item in the List of Trans Ideology Rules, no matter how politely and minimally. The word itself reeks of malice and dishonesty, so a good presenter can’t just use it as if it were normal vocabulary.

The BBC’s editorial complaints unit ruled that Webb was not sufficiently accurate when he suggested the accusation of transphobia against Stock had been disproved. This was because the “validity or otherwise of the accusation of transphobia are the heart of the controversy”.

Yes, but so is the validity and meaning of “transphobia.” What is called transphobia is almost always not hatred of trans people at all, but skepticism of the wild truth claims of trans ideology. It’s not phobia to say that Gwyneth Paltrow markets woo, and for the same reasons it’s not phobia to say that trans ideology is yet more woo.

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