'Immediately folded': Doctor Who writer dumped from BBC anthology over views on transgenderism
The book of Doctor Who short stories, which will be published by BBC Books, was not set to be announced until later this month – but the contribution from writer Gareth Roberts was leaked in advance and caused uproar among many LGBT activists, who began calling for it to be removed.
Some were even riled up and incensed by old jokes Roberts had posted on Twitter in 2017 about transgender women and the “glamorous” names they choose. To add insult to injury, other contributors even threatened to withdraw if Roberts was involved.
Conservative British journalist Toby Young drew attention to the decision on Twitter, calling it an “affront to free speech” by a “publicly-owned company.”
BBC Books is not publicly owned, however, but is a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, in which the BBC is a minority shareholder.
This is shocking. It’s one thing for a commercial publisher to muzzle an author for their dissenting views on transgenderism. But for BBC Books to do it — a publicly-owned company — is an affront to free speech. Why should everyone pay the license fee if some views are censored? https://t.co/AscO0XEApw— Toby Young (@toadmeister) June 4, 2019
In a statement on the controversy, Roberts, who is gay himself, confirmed that BBC Books had “immediately folded” in the face of activists’ demands and had told him that, although he would be paid, his story would not be published as it could make the book “economically unviable.”
In the statement, Roberts wrote that, while he had always “rejected restrictive cultural gender stereotypes,” he also believes it is “impossible for a person to change their biological sex”and thinks nobody is “born in the wrong body.”Also on rt.com Professor suing university after being fired for ‘troubling’ views on gender dysphoria in kids
He added that it was wrong to "medicalise children who don’t conform to gender stereotypes" and argued that his views on the topic are "neither extreme nor unusual."
Debate raged on Twitter, however, where some were delighted to see Roberts’ work had been dropped from the book, citing his "transphobia” and commending BBC Books for ditching him.
Well, Gareth Roberts has condemned himself with his own words in that statement. If you wanted resolute, concrete proof of his transphobia, there it is plainly laid out. I think that more than anything proves BBC Books correct in their decision.— David Cann 🔶 (@drwhofan_194) June 4, 2019
Others felt the controversy was being mis-framed as a free speech issue, saying that it was a simple case of fans and writers having “had enough” of him. His opinions are “not compatible with what the show preaches,” another added.
Gareth Roberts being removed from the #DoctorWho anthology is great, and should mean he is never allowed near the show again. Whatever your opinions on his writing his views are not compatible with what the show preaches.— Ben Williams is in exam mode (@wenbbilliams) June 4, 2019
Some said that while they weren't big fans, censoring or blacklisting writers for their opinions was a slippery slope. "There's never been a time when blacklisting writers or other creatives for ideological reasons was a good thing,” one fellow writer tweeted.
God knows I've grimaced at some of Gareth's tweets, and I don't think we'll ever agree on this subject, but there's never been a time when blacklisting writers or other creatives for ideological reasons was a good thing. There just hasn't. https://t.co/VxPTrPrKGp— David Llewellyn (@TheDaiLlew) June 4, 2019
Sorry to hear this Gareth. I don’t always agree with you, but that’s life. Personally, I enjoy your work and I’ll buy a copy of whatever you bring out next— Martyn Havell (@BadWilf) June 4, 2019
“Sad how those who like to think of themselves as ‘liberal’ are often the ones calling for boycotts & curtailing of free speech,” one mused.
Sorry to read this, Gareth. Sad how those who like to think of themselves as ‘liberal’ are often the ones calling for boycotts & curtailing of free speech. I don’t agree with some of your views (I don’t suppose anyone agrees with anyone 100%) but I support your right to air them.— Tom Spilsbury (@TomSpilsbury) June 4, 2019
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