Of all the smug, bitter things the Guardian has published over the years, its review of Róisín Murphy’s new album has got to be one of the worst. Ms Murphy is a musical genius but a wicked woman, the review essentially says. Why? Because she committed the blasphemy of criticising puberty blockers. Switch off her
By Brendan O’Neil
Of all the smug, bitter things the Guardian has published over the years, its review of Róisín Murphy’s new album has got to be one of the worst. Ms Murphy is a musical genius but a wicked woman, the review essentially says. Why? Because she committed the blasphemy of criticising puberty blockers. Switch off her music, ready the stake!
Murphy’s album Hit Parade is released today. It is being adorned with praise. Some are calling it the album of the year. Even the Guardian’s reviewer, through teeth so gritted I’m sure they got chipped, calls it ‘masterful’ and gives it five stars.
But it’s a ‘compromised’ record, says the Guardian. It comes with an ‘ugly stain’. You see, it’s a record made by a woman who had the temerity, the sheer audacity, to express a prohibited point of view. Oh Róisín, why couldn’t you be a good girl and just smile and sing?
Murphy’s crime was to write a short post on her private Facebook page questioning the wisdom of giving puberty blockers to gender-confused kids. These drugs are ‘absolutely desolate, big Pharma laughing all the way to the bank’, she said. ‘Little mixed-up kids are vulnerable and need to be protected, that’s just true.’
Where’s the lie? Many experts are concerned about the ‘long-term physical effects and other consequences’ of pumping teens with powerful drugs that block the onset of puberty. Norway, Finland and Sweden have restricted puberty-blocking out of concern for kids’ physical and mental wellbeing.
Murphy merely gave voice to a caring, sensible, rational belief: that kids should be free to go through puberty without shame or interference. And yet she was hounded by the digital mob. She was damned as a transphobe. Her record company reportedly has ceased all promotion for her album. Some venues cancelled her gigs. It’s a story as old as time – the woman who spoke out of turn must be shamed and hidden from view.
And now the Guardian says her new record is ‘a masterful album with an ugly stain’. The ‘sincerity’ of this record has been ‘compromised’ by its maker’s sinful views, apparently. The review even slams Murphy’s apology for the upset that her views caused, on the basis that ‘she didn’t apologise for her original assertion, only the division she had sowed’.
In short, the blasphemer has not fully recanted. She has refused to damn herself and beg for absolution for her wrongthink. And thus she and all her works remain ‘stained’. ‘Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me’, says the angry God of the Old Testament. ‘Though you apologised for hurting people’s feelings, the stain of your transphobia is still there’, say the jumped-up gods of cancel culture.
As to the idea that Murphy sowed division – that is pure untruth. It wasn’t the woman who expressed her honestly held beliefs who caused all that fury and friction online – it was the mob who hunted her. It was Murphy’s mostly male persecutors, the people who shamed and sought to silence her, who turned a perfectly normal situation – a woman having an opinion – into bitter censure. Murphy was the victim here, not the instigator. I thought the Guardian was against victim-blaming?
The Guardian review speaks of Hit Parade as if it were morally corrupted art, an ethically compromised record that many will struggle to enjoy. Unless you were one of the ‘tiny, privileged industry contingent’ who heard this record before Murphy opened her big gob about puberty blockers, you may not be able to ‘cultivate a relationship with Hit Parade free from this association’, it says.
This, to be blunt, is insane. Most discussions about separating the art from the artist revolve around long-dead painters who abused young women or composers with fishy far-right views. Here we are talking about a singer who wants to protect children from harm. That such a perfectly normal and good moral instinct has been rebranded as ‘bigotry’ is all the proof we need that society’s self-styled moral guardians have lost every bit of the plot.
In 2006 there was a great documentary about the Dixie Chicks called Shut Up and Sing. It was about the severe backlash these country-music women experienced when they dared to criticise George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Who could have guessed that 20 years later it wouldn’t be angry right-wing shock jocks telling outspoken women to ‘shut up and sing’, but the Guardian, the left, the right-on.