The Deleted Judith Butler Answer (Guardian US)

Sep 8, 2021

Hi all, as you may know I had an interview with Judith Butler published yesterday, in the Guardian US.

The final three paragraphs from Butler were removed later that evening, a move I made it clear to my editors I did not endorse at all.

I went offline for some hours, and returned to discover that plenty of people had posted Butler's removed answer on Twitter. I'm now posting it here, as I believe it deserves a more stable platform.

This was my original question (which was the main focus of complaints, as it referenced events in Los Angeles that had become an on-going legal case since time of interview):

It seems that some within feminist movements are becoming sympathetic to these far-right campaigns. This year's furore around Wi Spa in Los Angeles saw an online outrage by transphobes followed by bloody protests organised by the Proud Boys. Can we expect this alliance to continue?

When told that the question had attracted complaints, I provided this proposed revision: 

It seems that some within feminist movements are becoming sympathetic to these far-right campaigns. In 2019 NBC news reported that the US right wing lobbying group The Heritage Foundation had hosted 'gender critical' feminist perspectives. Remarkable given the Heritage Foundation is pushing for restrictions on abortion, as seen in Texas.

To me this seemed to preserve the overall matter at hand, without risking any bias to an on-going legal case. As Judith Butler's answer did not respond to the Wi Spa affair directly, it didn't seem to knock their response out of context at all.

Instead the Guardian deleted both the question, and Judith Butler's answer. I have urged them to reverse this decision, and already received apologies from Guardian US — but as of yet, it remains deleted.

This is quite simply an act of censorship, and not at all what I expected when I agreed to write for Guardian US.

I could say a lot more about this, but for now I'd just like to express my bitter disappointment at this opportunity to clear up confusion around a world renowned thinker ending up here.

My hope was simply to give Butler a chance to outline their core views on performativity and identity (terms which are not only widely misunderstood by a broader audience, but often put back to front). And to explore their relevance in today's context, where 'gender' has become a flashpoint for both left and right political movements. Now it seems like the controversy will get more attention than the points made by Butler themselves.

Let's hope for better in the future, and demand it!

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