Quotes, ‘present’ and absent

: several posts on this blog have remarked the BBC use of what some of my colleagues call ‘scare’ quotes to distinguish between left-wing experts and right-wing ‘experts’, right-wing terrorists and islamic ‘terrorists’ and so on (see examples here and here). An amusing story on BBC Ceefax yesterday (it may in time be less amusing for the baby girl involved, of course :-/) gave a classic example of not using quotes.

US Man gives birth to daughter

The story was that a woman who had had a ‘sex change’ operation (arguably a rather unsuccessful one even by the low standards of these things :-)) had acquired sperm from a sperm bank / anonymous donor and so given birth. The story seemed to give the facts clearly enough (I certainly have no criticism on that score): the woman was stated to have had her breasts amputated (and perhaps other cosmetic assistance towards presenting herself as a man in society) but had not been neutered, so her still being able to give birth was no surprise.

Now, I can quite see that from a professional journalist’s point of view, the headline

Woman gives birth to daughter

lacks something, but I found myself musing on why the headline was not

‘Man’ gives birth to daughter

and why the story used male pronouns throughout, always he, never ‘he’.

The story did indicate that she had, after the operation, managed to get herself legally registered as a man. ‘The law is an ass’ is a well-known quote and I should in fairness raise the abstract possibility whether the BBC might actually credit her with the ability to sue if not referred to as he, or (not quite so unlikely) be colourably able to pretend such concern. However it seems more likely that there were no quotes for the usual reason: if it suits the agenda, report it straight (or should I say ‘straight’ in this case :-)); if it does not, report it in quotes.

Whatever the reason, next time any of my colleagues wish to question the BBC’s use of quotes, this non-use will give them a demanding standard to judge by: most right wing ‘experts’ and islamic ‘terrorists’ are less deserving of quotes than was this ‘man’.

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23 Responses to Quotes, ‘present’ and absent

  1. Jack Bauer says:

    US Man gives birth to daughter

    Of course, we all know that this is impossible. So what sort of idiot could write this headlne. Well, a BBCbot for starters.

    Only women have the equipment to conceive, carry and give birth. Gosh — I though we had sex education at skool to clear up this ignorance. No wonder the UK has the highest level of female school kid pregnancies in Europe.

    This sick woman should be in deep therapy (but that’s a separate argument).

    This woman who has clearly taken massive of amounts of testosterone, which could have untold effects on this poor benighted child.

    She should be looked at for child abuse. If she was consuming massive amounts of alcohol or crack cocaine, she would be prosecuted in the US.


  2. Jason says:

    Oh great, thanks for reminding me of this just as I’m eating my breakfast.

    The New York Post has been following this story with macabre glee, knowing fine well the reaction it inspires in your average working class non-liberal New Yorker (the real kind). The day they featured it on the front page, along with a picture of what looked like an unshaven bus driver with a baby-hump, I lost count of how many times I heard “oh Jesus, oh my gad, what da hell is dat” on the streets and on the subway. I love the Post, they presented the story as it should be presented…..”Roll up, roll up, see the freak”….instead of the BBC’s “a man gave birth to a baby, not that there’s anything wrong with that” bullshit.

    The New York Post also has great editorial cartoons, I forget the name of the artist, but everyone has big noses and fags hanging out of their mouths. The day they had the man-baby story, the cartoon showed an operating theater with three or four doctors huddled in conference next to the “man” who was straining with “his” legs in stirrups. One of the doctors was saying “Any suggestions?”


  3. adam says:

    poor poor child.


  4. Lurker in a Burqua says:

    …………….and people worry about Islam!


  5. Millie Tant says:

    It’s cos it’s her…er…his right to be referred to as a man, innit? Get with the programme, man!


  6. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Isn’t this a deleted scene from ‘The Life of Brian?’


  7. disillusioned_german says:

    Maybe it’s just me but I see a large, dark room somewhere in the basement at Al Beeb’s headquarters… there’s a crazy scientist (imagine Frankenstein) working to prove natural laws don’t exist. And he comes up with a man who gives birth to a baby. Horror movie – no doubt about it.

    I was wondering. If I called myself Claudia would I be able to get into a women’s prison???


  8. Jack Hughes says:

    This is a general post …

    Muslims ‘under siege like Jews’

    “A government minister has warned that many British Muslims “feel like the Jews of Europe”.

    Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik, who is a minister for international development, stressed that he was not equating the Muslims’ situation with the Holocaust.

    So far, so good. Another muslim playing the victim card. But the only bias is to report this speech at all.

    So “Muslims are the new Jews”.

    Sadly we are given no information or arguments to back up this idea. Are there any parallels at all ? And does this analysis help anyone ?

    Might as well say “Muslims are the new rock’n’roll”. Just as well-argued – ie not at all. Just as useful.

    Then we read He said: “I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe.

    This sentence just does not make any sense. I would hazard a guess that some muslims feel happy today, some sad, some feel tired, some might even feel bored.

    But don’t worry – here is a Jew to agree:

    David Brown, from the Jewish Life Education Centre, said he did see some parallels between the persecution of Jews in the 20th Century and the contemporary treatment of Muslims.

    David Brown is not the Chief Rabbi. He is not Rabbi Lionel Blue. He is not even a Rabbi at all. He helps to run a Jewish youth club.

    The writer had to search long and hard to find a Jewish voice to agree with the story.

    And hang on a minute – don’t they usually find someone to disagree – a dissenting voice ? What about impartiality ? What about the idea that Malik’s point is poorly argued, or unhelpful, or even bonkers ?

    Then we end with another tortured sentence:

    Mr Malik said the apparent persecution made it more difficult for people in positions of responsibility to persuade people to challenge the “small minority of extremists who call themselves Muslims”.

    Note that Malik is prety vague about any action. What to do ? Hug-a-muslim ? All wear burqas ? Stop eating bacon ?


  9. Biodegradable says:

    “Muslims are the new Jews”

    Of course, Muslims claim that the Christian and Jewish prophets were really Muslims.

    Search google for “Muslims are the new Jews”, just like that, in quotes. This isn’t new:


  10. disillusioned_german says:

    Good to see you back here, Bio. Let me sharply phrase the whole affair:

    “Jews are the new Jews”… victimised by muslims in Europe while our governments and media are looking the other way.

    I don’t deny that there are white Jew haters on the continent but to me there’s no doubt that most crimes against Jewish people are “muslim based”.

    The big question is: Will the lefties (Al Beeb, Liebour, The Lib Dims) be on the side of Jewish people or on the side of the religion of piece? I guess I know the answer.


  11. Biodegradable says:

    In fact Melanie Phillips wrote about this in February 2007!

    Why has the BBC regurgitated it now?


    The poisonous climate of incendiary lies about Israel and the global Jewish conspiracy have resulted in the victimisation of Britain’s Jews. So how did the Guardian choose to reflect on this sobering revelation? With a comment piece by Maleiha Malik, which managed to write current Jewish victimisation out of the script altogether and claimed instead that Muslims were now the new Jews. Just as a tiny number of Jewish anarchists at the turn of the last century had led to the stigmatisation of all Jews in Britain, she asserted, so Muslims were now being demonised in an identical manner.


  12. Biodegradable says:

    Hi d_g!

    Casting Muslims as the new Jews means the liberals can sympathise with the Muslims while continuing to hate Jews under the guise of “legitimate criticism of Israel” and anti-Zionism, which as they say isn’t antisemitism.

    Simple really.

    It’s part of the narrative which compares the Israelis to the Nazis and the Palestinian “naqba” to the Holocaust.

    If the Muslims can convince the world that they are the new Jews then where does that leave the real Jews?


  13. disillusioned_german says:

    If the Muslims can convince the world that they are the new Jews then where does that leave the real Jews?
    Biodegradable | 06.07.08 – 2:11 am |

    I don’t know… and I’m in big trouble after calling a high profile German politician names but I will always stand by the State of Israel and Jewish people. Muslims are brilliant at playing the victim card and political correctness (and Al Beeb) is helping them along the way.


  14. Jack Hughes says:

    “Mr Malik’s constituency in West Yorkshire was home to 7 July suicide bomber Mohammad Siddique Khan.

    The MP, who told how his car was firebombed, a car drove at him in a petrol station and said he receives regular hate mail, called for action to be taken to help Muslims feel accepted in society. ”

    I cannot find any reference anywhere to Malik’s car being firebombed. Did this really happen – or is “fake but true” ?

    I did find a reference to a car being driven at him at a petrol station – but in describing this “incident” he says himself that there were no witnesses and the CCTV was not working. Still – we don’t expect a politician to lie do we ?


  15. Jim C. says:

    This isn’t a man. This entity has 2 X-chromosomes and functioning ovaries and a functioning uterus. This is a bearded lady.

    As Abe Lincoln said, “Calling a dog’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”


  16. zamboy says:

    Jim C: Exactly right. Biologically the ‘man’ is female, yet in the mad world we live in, we can re-label anything we like to something else. Sheer lunacy. The liberal-left is obviously cock-a-hoop (no pun intended) over this further blurring of gender, yet I see no-one concerned for the welfare of the child…my goodness, she will have the pee taken out of her at school. If the person who gave birth to her is legally a man then I suppose that she has only one parent, but that parent is both mother and father?


  17. Sharamik says:

    So the Iraqi army, with support from US Armour, has just destroyed the last stronghold of Al-Qaeda, removing the terrorist group as a significant player in Iraqi affairs.


    It’s a great victory, but still no sign of this on the BBC News website.


  18. Mrs Rooney's leotard says:


    yet in the mad world we live in, we can re-label anything we like to something else. Sheer lunacy

    I have no idea what you mean.


  19. deegee says:

    Sometimes weird soft-news stories catch the media’s attention. Apart from NiallKilmartin’s correct attention to the Beeb’s scare quotes use I don’t find anything particularly offensive about the story. I just place it on the list of news of the weird.

    Connection to real life = nil.


  20. zamboy says:

    Mrs Rooney, I mean that if you are a woman and don’t like it then no problem, you can just be legally re-labelled as a man (or vice-versa), despite the fact that the person is still biologically a woman–or man.


  21. David Preiser (USA) says:


    yet in the mad world we live in, we can re-label anything we like to something else. Sheer lunacy

    I have no idea what you mean.

    It means you can relabel Hillhunt as Mrs. Rooney’s thingy. Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

    But here I am feeding your fragile ego again. It’s pretty funny that you still feel the need to come here to get that little boost every day. I’m happy to oblige, of course. Charity starts at home, after all.


  22. Rebel Saint says:

    Ridiculous as this whole event is, the BBC in this case is simply reflecting the whole PC sexual indoctrination that NuLabour have been forcing upon us. Since the introduction of the “Gender Recognition Act 2004” it is in fact ILLEGAL to reveal whether someone has undergone a sex change! The law even allows them to change their birth certificate – a state endorsed changing of historical fact. Remind anyone of a certain book?


  23. Joel says:

    Rebel Saint has undergone a sex change.

    Lock me up.