Channel 4 are banning the episode of ’The IT Crowd’ ‘The Speech’, bowing to the demands of the same ideological extremists who send death and rape threats to JK Rowling.
A week or so ago, I got a letter from Channel 4 telling me they were taking the episode down as part of a wider effort of ‘cleaning house’ of ideologically incorrect content. “Specific to this conversation is the IT Crowd episode, The Speech, which has, over recent months had numerous complaints about transphobia.”
I bet it has. Of course, this is part of a harassment campaign that has targeted me for three years, and Channel 4, like every other clueless corporation, didn’t even seem to be aware of my position in the debate.
Again, from the letter: it is fair to say that transphobia has grown in public awareness since this episode was made in 2008; attacks on trans men and women are rising and their place in society is vulnerable and some way from being legitimised. Whilst this episode is undeniably a feat of great comic ingenuity and it is clear that the prejudices of the character Reynholm sabotage his own happiness, the view of myself and others is that the episode ultimately risks appearing to endorse the view that trans women are in fact men and, more seriously arguably legitimises violence against them. For these reasons we do not think it is appropriate for it to remain on All 4.
I replied as follows:
I want to make my position clear on this matter. The reasons given for censoring 'The Speech' are, I believe, religious/ideological in nature and are therefore an attack on my right to freedom of speech.
I do *not* agree with the statement that "Transwomen are women" because it has huge implications for women in terms of safeguarding, sports, equal representation in public life and so on. Also, it is a biological impossibility and therefore a religious belief that I certainly do not share. Bruce Jenner is not the same sex as my mother. Sex is real, and it is a source of oppression for women, historically and globally.
Secondly, I note in the letter certain debunked statistics about assaults on trans people. Trans people are, in fact, one of the safest demographics in the UK. This is Stonewall training speaking through Channel 4 and I will never accept it a) because it's not true and b) because of what they did to me and my family. We asked them three years ago for a more respectful, less toxic debate and they said no.
Well, they're having it now. Mermaids is about to fall apart, and Stonewall will have to answer why they were associated with them.
May I also say, that if you start bowing to the demands of extremists, you will never stop. This is a bigger fight than you realise and you don't have to enter it in this way.
I won't pitch the new sitcom just yet.
As part of the wider house-cleaning enterprise, I presume Channel 4 will also be banning…
The episode of ‘Peep Show’ where Jez sees an attractive woman at a club, and his internal voice, seeing she’s interested, says “maybe she’s a tranny”, looks down at her crotch and says “that’s no tranny”.
The episode of ‘Spaced’ which contains the following exchange:
She's non-gender specific.
You mean he's a tranny?
More than that.
What, a big, fat tranny
The episode of ‘Brass Eye’ where Chris Morris wears blackface as the rapper Fur Q?
The episode of ‘Father Ted’ where Jack calls rabbits “Hairy Japanese bastards”?
The episode of ’Father Ted’ where Ted does a cruel impression of Chinese people?
The episode of The IT Crowd with my impression of a Mariachi band member.
Of course, I don’t think any of these should be banned. But Channel 4 is being disingenuous when they pretend it’s part of a wider enterprise, when they disappear my show but not others. And I’m entirely serious when I say that Channel 4 is banning the episode for religious reasons. “Transwomen are women” is a statement of belief, which I do not share. Channel 4 are behaving disgracefully by participating in this insult to women. I won’t work for them again until the episode is reinstated.
I've just emailed to following to the general complaints address, to Chief Exec, Alex Mahon, and Director of Programmes, Ian Katz.
Dear Channel 4,
I understand you are removing the IT Crowd episode “The Speech” from your schedule and I write to protest this ridiculous and cowardly decision in the very strongest terms.
Firstly, The IT Crowd is unique, brilliant and perfectly crafted and the series deserves to be broadcast in its entirety. It is hugely disingenuous and hypocritical to pull this episode under the pretence of ‘house cleaning’ while so many others comedies with far greater cause to be deemed ‘offensive’ remain untouched.
You are enabling a co-ordinated harassment campaign against the series writer, Graham Linehan, which has nothing whatsoever to do with his work. By removing the episode in question, you are caving into bullies and allowing activists to influence your policy. This sets a dangerous precedent.
The Channel 4 statement that trans people are more susceptible to violence than anyone else is not supported by the statistics; trans people are one of the safest demographics in the UK.
Furthermore, you suggest that the position of trans people in society is “Vulnerable and some way from being legitimised”. That is hardly borne out by your pulling an episode from one of the best and most successful comedy series your channel has ever produced after a handful of insincere complaints, is it?! I cannot think of any other social group with such influence and power.
On a more general note, I am alarmed to see you’re allowing a particular ideology to dictate your output. This sort of mob-led censorship has no place in any sector of the arts, but particularly not in comedy.
I should say also, thank you, Daily Glinner gang, for tracking down those other examples.