Gareth Roberts, who has written for both the BBC television show “Dr. Who” and authored spin-off books based on the series since the 1990s, has had his most recent story cancelled amid protests over his use of the term “trannie.” In a Medium post today, Roberts addressed the controversy and gave some insight into how the left’s pernicious cancel culture works.
Apparently Roberts had been commissioned to write a story for an upcoming anthology for BBC Books, a company partly owned by the BBC, did so, was paid for it and was, as any writer does, just waiting for the book to come out. But not so fast. It turns out that in 2017 Roberts tweeted something that some fans and co-authors thought so horrible that his story should be shelved. That tweet read “I (heart emoji) how trannies choose names like Munroe, Paris and Chelsea. It’s never Julie of Bev is it?”
According to his post, once it became known he was an author for the anthology, “a section of the Dr Who fandom agitated for my removal. Also, some of the other contributing authors to the book (I don’t know who) threatened to withdraw if I was involved. BBC Books immediately folded to these demands, and I was informed that although I would be paid my story would not be published, as they judged – wrongly, in my opinion – that a potential boycott would make the book ‘economically unviable.’”
His post, which is worth reading, is remarkably calm for someone who has effectively just had his story banned. Perhaps this has all just become so commonplace that it doesn’t even shock us anymore. Roberts writes that as a teen in the 1980s he was a member of the London Lesbian and Gay Teenage group, and that terms like queer and trannie were commonplace.
His offending tweet is a gentle jibe, but carries some truth worth considering, and which might have been what touched off the ire of his detractors. A fundamental feminist critique of the trans movement is that it fetishizes femininity, in fact bolstering female stereotypes that feminists have tried to minimize. Roberts says he finds these stereotypes “harmful and constricting.”
This was not an attack on any individual. It was not a threat. It was a measured, if humorous, way to highlight how the trans movement puts women in a box of men’s making. Whether one agrees with Robert’s position or not (I happen to), it is clearly not grounds to tear pages out of an anthology. And if it is true that the BBC told him his story would make the book “economically unviable,” then the BBC should be ashamed of itself. Succumbing to such a heckler’s veto is absolute cowardice.
Something has to be made clear to these bullies who seek to exterminate the public activities of anyone who dares disagree with their fantasies about gender. Intimidation will not work. If the trans movement wishes to convince those who accept the biological definition of sex, or don’t use language the way they want people to, the way to do it is through reasoned debate, not petty boycotts. A small group of advocates do not get to upend millennia of understanding about sex and gender with a wave of their hand and shout “bigot” at anyone who says, “Are you sure about that?”
Roberts closes his essay with an interesting question: “My opinions on transgenderism are neither extreme nor unusual. It would be interesting to know if BBC Books/Random House would be prepared to pull from publication writing by Sharron Davies, Graham Linehan, Linda Bellos, Robert Webb, Germaine Greer, Lionel Shriver, Julie Burchill or Martina Navratilova.”
I would be interested to know the answer to that question too, except I’m worried the answer would probably be yes.
Roberts has refused to apologize for his tweet, for which he should be commended. He does not say what his future may be with the BBC or the “Dr. Who” franchise. Sadly for him, those who support him are less keen on boycotts and keener on free speech, so we can expect little backlash to his situation.
Chalk up another scalp for the wokesters, but let them understand the rest of us are watching. We see that this is getting worse. We see the good and decent people being cancelled left and right. We see the illiberal and Orwellian nature of their double speak, and they will not convince us through boycotts and threats, even if the BBC wilts in the face of their discontent.