The singer has won the argument, so her critics want her silenced
In George Orwell’s 1984, the memory hole is a place where slips of paper containing unwelcome knowledge are deposited, in order that the past be “brought up to date”:
Alas, it is hard to memory-hole things in the Internet age. For instance, much as the BBC might like you to think that Roísín Murphy was never due to have 10 hours of coverage on 6 Music next week, her place in the listings has already been screenshotted. Online, however, it is no longer visible.
The BBC has denied that the decision is related to Murphy’s comments on puberty blockers, though this explanation seems doubtful. Two weeks ago, a private online conversation was leaked in which the singer criticised the use of puberty blockers on distressed children. Since then, Murphy’s record label has stopped promoting her album, while the Guardian’s Laura Snapes produced a ludicrous five-star review-cum-denunciation.
The problem is not that Murphy is ignorant, nor that she voiced an opinion based on incomplete or inadequate knowledge (it would likely have been much easier for her if she had). Contrary to her later statement that “fixed views are not helpful”, this is a debate in which one side has been utterly discredited.
What is more, they know it. They know Murphy is right. What can you do in such a situation, other than try to rewrite history?
Liberal people — or at least, people who think of themselves as such — have sleepwalked into supporting the medicalisation and, in many cases, subsequent sterilisation of gay, autistic and/or sexually abused children. They have lied to these children, telling them that biological sex is not immutable.
One does not need to read the Cass Review’s interim report, or Hannah Barnes’ excellent Time To Think, to realise how horrendous this is. The whole thing was entirely predictable, yet many self-styled “inclusive” people chose not to listen. Now they face a choice between backtracking — and in many cases facing up to lifelong, unnecessary harm they may have done to themselves, their children or their patients — or digging in deeper.
It is especially telling that Murphy is facing erasure for a view she expressed in private. It’s not just unbearable for those still supporting childhood transition to hear the counter-argument in public; it’s unbearable for them to know other people are even considering it.
In Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter’s 1956 work When Prophecy Fails, the authors describe how members of doomsday cults struggle when their prophecies are proven to be false. “The dissonance cannot be eliminated completely by denying or rationalising the disconfirmation,” they write:
If non-believers are simply denied all social, cultural and political status, the same effect is achieved. “Human beings can change sex and children can be born in the wrong body” becomes true if every disbeliever can be erased. Indeed, it’s the only way to make it true, now that the rest of the game is well and truly up.
Ultimately, it’s not Murphy’s music that people are trying to memory-hole. It’s awareness of what they’ve done, of the harm in which they are complicit. It’s knowledge of sex itself.
They will fail, of course, but the death throes will be vicious — vicious, but also pathetic. Delist as many songs as you like, but I’m not sure your conscience will be clear.