In breach of the BBC’s requirements on impartiality

BBC to its talking heads: you WILL say men are women; that’s an order.

The BBC has upheld a complaint against Today presenter Justin Webb after he said “trans women, in other words males”.

Webb made the comment during a discussion about new International Chess Federation (FIDE) guidelines on 22 August last year regarding whether being biologically male can give players an advantage in the game. A listener complained that the comment amounted to Webb giving his personal view on a controversial matter in breach of the BBC’s requirements on impartiality.

The only sense in which it’s “controversial” to say a man is a man is the one where tiresome people make a big stupid stink about saying a man is a man. That’s not a very important or urgent sense of the word, and it has nothing to do with the truth of the matter.

The BBC‘s executive complaints unit said, in a ruling published on Thursday, that it was not in a position to determine Webb’s personal opinion on the issue but that it was not necessary to do so in order to judge whether he had breached impartiality rules.

It said: “The ECU understood Mr Webb’s intention in using the phrase ‘trans women, in other words males’ was to underline the question arising from the FIDE guidelines but noted a press line issued at the time included an acknowledgement that his phrasing did not convey an entirely accurate impression.

“In relation to impartiality, however, the ECU considered it could only be understood by listeners as meaning that trans women remain male, without qualification as to gender or biological sex, and that, even if unintentional, it gave the impression of endorsing one viewpoint in a highly controversial area.  It therefore upheld this aspect of the complaint.”

But it isn’t a “viewpoint.” It’s a fact, a reality, a true statement. Ask a farmer. They don’t ask their cows and ewes what gender they identify as. Why don’t they? Because it would be otiose. Cattle and goats don’t bother fretting over their magic genders, they just eat their grass and stay away from wolves. Be more like cattle.

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