Sacked to appease the snowflake sociopaths: Her striking satirical tweet sparked a social media firestorm – and cost her a prestigious newspaper column. But in this fearless and unrepentant essay, JULIE BURCHILL reveals why she won’t be silenced
Like many an illicit love affair, it was bound to end in tears.
I was hooked on the pull of Twitter’s little heart icon racking up more and more ‘likes’ and — despite deadlines — couldn’t stop myself from sneaking back to bask in the kindness and kill-threats of strangers several times a day.
Whenever I read some Nervous Nellie bleating about the cruelty of social media, I just didn’t get it: for me, scrapping in cyberspace is merely bracing, like the plunge into a cold sea first thing in the morning, which I also do.
On date nights with my husband, my trigger finger would be twitching. There were three of us in this marriage — me, my husband, Daniel, and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
I was hooked on the pull of Twitter’s little heart icon racking up more and more ‘likes’ and — despite deadlines — couldn’t stop myself from sneaking back to bask in the kindness and kill-threats of strangers several times a day
As someone who has had a love-hate relationship with the platform since 2011 (time flies when you’re wasting it), my reaction on hearing that some fellow controversialist had been forcibly relieved from tweet duties was invariably mixed.
First ‘Oh, you poor thing!’ — followed fleetly by ‘Oh, you jammy dodger!’
I knew I was spending a stupid amount of time on it and, unlike Facebook — through which I’ve met some of my best friends — it’s like the world’s angriest pub at chucking-out time.
I wasn’t even an innocent bystander; in the winter of 2020, entirely due to my own drunken stupidity, I had a book contract cancelled after I mocked a young writer about her religion — not my finest hour.
Yet still the lure of Twitter was too strong to step away from the bluebird of yappiness.
This time I can’t blame the booze — just my own irreverence and sparkling cynanide wit.
Ten days ago, having read that the Sussexes (in the latest foray of what I coined ‘The Grabdication’) had named their baby after someone to whom they have brought nothing but grief this year, and that they apparently bought the website lilibetdiana.com two days before the news was made public, I called them out on their sanctimonious virtue-signalling with a pithy tweet: ‘What a missed opportunity — they could have called it Georgina Floydina.’
What Woker wouldn’t choose to name their child after a martyr to systemic racism rather than after a woman who heads a racist organisation intent on inflicting genetic damage on its hapless members?
Ms Burchill posted on her Facebook page that she had been let go from her position at the Daily Telegraph
My language on Twitter was sober, wry and entirely without racist intent. But that never bothers the blue-haired, non-binary screaming mimis who infest the site, who have the attitude of Violet Elizabeth Bott if she’d joined the Stasi
When an amusing discussion about the likely first words of the new baby ensued (baby Archie having blessed us with ‘Drive safe!’ and ‘Hydrate!’) I suggested ‘Free Palestine!’
I can’t stress enough how much I deplore the murder of George Floyd: if I made the laws of the U.S., I would unhesitatingly hand out the death penalty to the policeman who killed him.
What I was mocking was the type of people who — like H&M — live in gated communities while espousing BLM’s politics of social upheaval, without giving any thought to the damage that pro-BLM riots do to poor and black Americans.
‘Defund the Police’, for example — a slogan shrieked by BLM’s Marxist leaders in the wake of Floyd’s death — causes huge harm to vulnerable minorities, as the orgy of looting and violence in U.S. cities such as Portland, Oregon, has shown.
My language on Twitter was sober, wry and entirely without racist intent. But that never bothers the blue-haired, non-binary screaming mimis who infest the site, who have the attitude of Violet Elizabeth Bott if she’d joined the Stasi.
In 2015, I wrote: ‘This is the age of the Cry-Bully, a hideous hybrid of victim and victor, weeper and walloper. They are everywhere, these duplicit Pushmi-Pullyus of the personal and the political.’
They were soon flocking to accuse me of racism, but as they probably accuse the milkman of racism for daring to deliver only white milk, I thought no more about it and went out to stimulate the economy.
Imagine my surprise when I returned to Twitter the following morning to find I was ‘trending’. When I was a girl, trending would have indicated something pleasant, like scoring a new chain-belt from Chelsea Girl.
Now it means being hunted by a bunch of inadequates waving their pitchforks in cyberspace to compensate for a lack of bulk in other departments, from the brain downwards.
People all around the world were calling me a racist — I’d even made Newsweek! I’ve always been an attention-whore, but this orgy was too out of hand even for me.
The fact that I had called the baby ‘It’ seemed to trigger the snowflake sociopaths particularly, so I put that straight, posting: ‘I called the baby it as a nod to non-binary BS — and if you think you can make me respect a violent criminal who once held a gun to a pregnant woman’s stomach, you’re in for a very long wait. Have a good time with your pearl-clutching life-wasting woo-woo, clowns!’
As it turns out, I was wrong about this — Floyd was convicted of threatening a woman at gunpoint during an armed robbery in 2007, but there is no evidence to suggest she was pregnant.
And, to be fair, after his release from prison in 2013, he did become a Christian, post anti-violence videos to social media and volunteer with charities — even if he struggled to hold down a job.
In the meantime, my newspaper, the Telegraph, asked me to write about the American academic Dr Naomi Wolf being suspended permanently from Twitter for spreading anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced the arrival of their second child this month
As I wrote the column, I thought of my own current kerfuffle and I wondered, not for the first time, if I should jump before I was pushed.
I felt a jolt of sheer envy at the thought of all the life Dr Wolf would get back — even if she would spend most of it looking at nutty videos on YouTube.
That would be the way to do it — bow out like a smug old Frank Sinatra rather than having to be led away by the authorities because you live in a loopy-loo land of your own, in which you’re making such a racket you’re disturbing others, as had happened to Wolf for selling snake oil on our mutual drug of choice. There’s the rub.
When I call Twitter a drug, it felt more intense than cocaine, which I took for 30 years and gave up overnight five years ago.
I don’t believe in addiction — it’s just a word that people use when they’re too weak to take responsibility for their actions — yet here I was, craving a hit whenever I was separated from my laptop.
Surely it was time to stop? When I returned to the scene of the thought-crime, I was still trending — and my supporters and detractors were going at it like corgis on crack.
All the usual bottom-feeders had come out of the sewers to taunt me about my son’s suicide.
And although I feel oddly impervious to this (with monstrous detachment, I found myself correcting their cretinous spelling and grammar — ‘you’re ded son’ — rather than reacting in the approved manner), many of my followers were becoming upset as they, too, had experienced loved ones taking their own lives.
One very young lady in particular was so protective of me and seemed so distressed on my behalf that I finally felt emotion, wondering what she’d been through to make her feel that way.
I went to the Deactivate page — and I clicked. A decade of boasting and beastliness disappeared!
‘I’ve come off Twitter!’ I told my husband, and we had the most gorgeous evening. I didn’t miss it at all, and when I got home felt no need whatsoever to reactivate. I was free!
A bit too free, it turned out. Two days later — last Tuesday — I got the heave-ho from the Telegraph, my innocent quip having gone viral and been denounced as ‘disgusting’ and ‘despicable’.
A barrister — the mother of mixed-race children! — who had joined my merry online throng was suspended from her job for saying that Meghan should have named the baby after her mother, Doria, or maybe her best buddy Oprah — ‘Doprah’ being a compromise. At least I had company on the Naughty Step.
While this was happening, the naughty cricketers’ tale was unfolding, wherein young athletes including Ollie Robinson were being lambasted over tweets they had posted as teenagers.
Their excuse was youth — but what was mine? Well, for a start, humour is rarely gentle and when it is, it’s rubbish; I do wonder how Dorothy Parker’s acid tongue would have fared if she were starting out today.
As with much of wokeness, there seems to be a sexist and misogynist element, in this instance towards witty women who have a savage streak.
Another ‘excuse’ — really, just a fact — is that I grew up in wilder times, when anyone could say anything to anyone without them running to tell Teacher.
I went from the English working-class straight into journalism at 17; that’s got to make you tough. I despise the current wisdom which fetishises feelings and believes that vulnerability makes you virtuous.
It doesn’t; it makes you self-centred, boring and wet. I was formed in a time when being offended was something to mock rather than respect; when a cat may look at a king, or a bitch diss a duchess.
I’m not upset in the least about losing my Telegraph column. I’ll always be grateful to them for ending my Wilderness Years; however, I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t often moaned to my husband about them rejecting my more provocative ideas and giving me more pedestrian topics — which I did splendidly anyway.
I even thought about resigning a couple of times, so I’d be a hypocrite to wail about being sacked.
But generally, for journalism, and for young writers with spirit, it’s a very bad thing indeed — and it’s been happening for quite some time, since the unique interviewer Lynn ‘Demon’ Barber was sacked by the Sunday Times in 2018.
Newspapers with no original voices will decline even more rapidly than they would anyway in the digital age.
It’s ironic that a conservative newspaper which castigates cancel culture cancelled me for castigating wokery. (Sounds like a tongue-twister!)
Of all my sackings this is the most illogical; all the people who demanded my sacking would never dream of buying the Telegraph anyway.
We live in an age of cultural insanity, a topsy-turvy land where men are women, harassment is justice and the Left are jostling to tug their forelocks and call for those of us who criticise royalty to be punished.
As Sex Pistol John Lydon put it: ‘I never thought I’d see the day when the Right would become the cool ones giving the middle finger to the Establishment and the Left become the snivelling self-righteous ones going around shaming everybody.’
I grew up being told ‘You can’t say that!’ by bourgeois people older than me: as a sexagenarian, little has changed except the fact that the bourgeois bed-wetters are now younger than me.
Woke is the revenge of the dullard on the wit, the curtain-twitcher on the hedonist, the wallflower on the whirling dancer. I may be sacked, but no sackcloth and ashes for me. I’m looking forward to a gorgeous summer in Brighton, writing for anyone who’ll have me.
I can also be my outrageous self on my new Substack subscription account, Notes From The Naughty Step — for which, incidentally, I briefly revisited Twitter in order to post a link. I felt no urge to hang around — I’ve kicked the habit!
In the autumn, I’ll be back with my book, Welcome To The Woke Trials. And thanks to Twitter, the Telegraph and a pair of hypocritical fibbers whose fantasy land is so fragile brilliant journalists (me) must be silenced in order to maintain the illusion — it will have a whole new ending.
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