Features, Long Read, Politics

The Public Humiliation Diet

Reading about James Gunn’s defenestration by Disney for having tweeted some off-color jokes 10 years ago, I was reminded of my own ordeal at the beginning of this year. I’m British, not American, a conservative rather than a liberal, and I didn’t have as far to fall as Gunn. I’m a journalist who helped set up one of England’s first charter schools, which we call ‘free schools,’ and I’ve sat on the board of various not-for-profits, but I’m not the co-creator of Guardians of the Galaxy. In some respects, though, my reversal was even more brutal than Gunn’s because I have spent a large part of the past 10 years doing voluntary work intended to help disadvantaged children. It is one thing to lose a high-paying job because of your ‘offensive attitudes,’ but to be denied further opportunities to do good hits you deep down in your soul. At least Gunn can now engage in charity work to try and redeem himself, as others in his situation have done. I had to give up all the charity work I was doing as a result of the scandal. In the eyes of my critics, I am beyond redemption.

My trial-by-media began shortly after midnight on January 1, when I started trending on Twitter. The cause was a piece about me in the Guardian newspaper which had just gone live. The headline read: “Toby Young to help lead government’s new universities regulator.” That was a bit misleading. I was one of 15 non-executive directors who’d been appointed to the board of the Office for Students, a new higher education regulator, not one of its leaders. The reason was because of the four schools I’ve co-founded and because I’m one of a handful of conservatives involved in public education. Liberals outnumber conservatives on nearly all public bodies in Britain and the Office for Students is no exception. Of the 15 non-executive directors announced on January 1, only three were identifiable as right-of-center, myself included. The chair, Sir Michael Barber, is the former head of research for a left-wing teaching union and spent eight years working for Tony Blair in Downing Street.

But I’m also a journalist and in the course of my 30-year career I’ve written some pretty sophomoric pieces, many of them for ‘lad mags.’ I spent 48 hours in the Welsh mountains simulating the selection course for the Special Air Service, Britain’s elite special forces unit. I went undercover as a patient at a penis enlargement clinic in London. I even got a professional hair-and-make-up team to transform me into a woman and then embarked on a tour of New York’s gay bars to try and pick up a lipstick lesbian. I wrote a best-selling memoir about these and other misadventures in journalism called How to Lose Friends & Alienate People that was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Simon Pegg. In other words, not your typical appointee to the board of a public regulator.

I’ve also, like James Gunn, made some pretty stupid jokes on social media many moons ago that I wish I could take back. But they’re out there, along with everything else I’ve ever written, and it doesn’t take long to find them. And the reason I was trending on Twitter is because literally thousands of people were Googling me and coming up with reasons why I wasn’t a fit person to be on this board.

I thought the row would blow over within 24 hours, but what began as a Twitter storm turned into a major story (it was a slow news week). Nine days later, when I announced my resignation from the Office for Students, I was leading the BBC news.

How did that happen? Well, it didn’t help that I’m pro-Brexit and was a prominent campaigner for the Leave side in the referendum about Britain’s membership in the European Union. Many distinguished academics thought that alone was enough to disqualify me from regulating Britain’s universities. The British professoriat is passionately pro-EU and believes anyone who doesn’t share their view is a racist bigot.

But the main reason I became such a lightning rod is because I had been appointed by the Prime Minister. If it could be shown that I was an unsuitable person to sit on this board, that would embarrass Theresa May. And boy, did they go at it. Nine days later I had been tarred with all the vices of a privileged white male—tarred and feathered.

The first wave of attacks took the form of dredging up articles I’d written in the past and mining them for evidence that I held unpalatable views. For instance, someone on Twitter dug up a 17-year-old piece I’d written for the Spectator, where I’m an associate editor, headlined: “Confessions of a Porn Addict.”

Notwithstanding the headline, it was actually a fairly serious article defending the British Board of Film Classification’s increasingly liberal attitude towards pornography and pointing out that sexual violence is more prevalent in countries with draconian anti-pornography laws—such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia—than in Holland, Denmark, and Sweden.

In support of the argument that porn doesn’t deprave and corrupt, I referenced the poet Philip Larkin’s fondness for bizarre erotica and cited an incident he relayed in a letter to the novelist Kingsley Amis. The most celebrated English poet of the post-war period was loitering outside a sex shop in London’s red light district, too embarrassed to go in, when suddenly the owner stepped outside.

“Was it bondage, Sir?” he politely inquired.

As a matter of fact it was.

Unfortunately, in the course of relaying this anecdote I described Larkin as a “fellow porn addict.” Hence the headline at the top of the piece.

It was the sub-editor’s idea of a joke—and I thought it was funny too, until the article was cited as evidence that I wasn’t a fit and proper person to serve on a public regulator. It was a good illustration of Kingsley Amis’s rule about self-deprecating remarks: “Memo to writers and others: Never make a joke against yourself that some little bastard can turn into a piece of shit and send your way.”

A couple of hours after it surfaced on Twitter, the London Evening Standard ran a piece headlined: “New Pressure on Theresa May to Sack ‘Porn Addict’ Toby Young from Watchdog Role.”

That was followed up by the Times of London the next day: “‘Porn addict’ Toby Young Fights to Keep Role as Student Watchdog.” The story began: “Fresh pressure to remove Toby Young from a new universities watchdog was heaped on Theresa May yesterday when it was revealed he has admitted to being a porn ‘addict.’”

Note the use of the word “revealed,” as if this unsavory fact had just come to light, rather than been dug up by some online metal-detectorist frantically searching for anything I’d written that could be deemed ‘offensive.’ One of the few people to come to my defense was Fraser Nelson, the editor of the Spectator, who marveled at the prosecutorial zeal of my enemies: “At one stage, the top 10 articles in our online archive (going back to 1828) were all Toby Young’s, as his army of detractors were hard at work.” It goes without saying that no one is actually offended by any of this material, or at least very few people. After all, it would be a bit odd if people spent hours trawling the internet in the hope of finding opinions or jokes that genuinely upset them—and then broadcast them far and wide in the hope of upsetting lots of other people, too. Rather, they’re looking for stuff they can pretend to be shocked by, Captain Renault style.

When Fraser told me about the search activity, I joked that at least a new generation of readers was discovering my work. But, of course, these offense archaeologists are about the least sympathetic readers an author could have. They’re just looking for sentences and phrases they can take out of context to cast you in a bad light. The same technique has been used to shame Kevin Williamson, Bari Weiss, Daniella Greenbaum, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin, Jason Riley, Heather Mac Donald, Jordan Peterson, Charles Murray, and countless others. It’s cherry-picking—or rather, cherry bomb-picking. As Ben Shapiro, another victim of this tactic, wrote recently: “It’s not that these people are hated because they’ve said terrible things. It’s that they’re hated, so the hard Left tries to dig up supposedly terrible things they’ve said.”

The term “offense archaeologists” isn’t mine, by the way. It belongs to Freddie deBoer, the essayist and blogger who wrote a brilliant piece about the toxic effect that this climate of intolerance is having on public discourse. “That’s what liberalism is, now—the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists,” he wrote. I would link to it but he’s deleted it, presumably because some Witchfinder General sniffed it out and started preparing the ducking stool.

The most serious of the charges against me is that I’m a ‘eugenicist.’ That claim was based on an article I’d written for an Australian magazine in which I discussed the possibility that in the future a couple might be able to fertilize a range of embryos in vitro and, after analyzing their DNA, choose to implant the one likely to be the most intelligent. If that ever does become possible, the first people to take advantage of it will be the rich so they can give their children an even bigger head start. In other words, it will make the problem of growing inequality and flat-lining social mobility across the industrialized world even worse.

My solution, as set out in the article, was that this technology, if it comes on stream, should be banned for everyone except the very poor. I wasn’t proposing sterilization or some fiendish form of genetic engineering. Just a type of IVF that would be available for free to the least well off, should they wish to take advantage of it. Not mandatory, just an option.

I called this “progressive eugenics,” which in retrospect was clearly a mistake. It was more like the opposite of eugenics—free IVF for the poor—but few people bothered to read the piece. The fact that I’d used the E word was enough to damn me.

That was exhibit A in the case for the prosecution.

Exhibit B was my attendance at an academic conference at University College London last year at which some of the speakers had a history of putting forward contested theories about the genetic basis of intelligence. My reason for going was because I had been asked—as a journalist who has written about genetics—to give a lecture by the International Society of Intelligence Researchers at the University of Montreal later in the year, and I was planning to talk about the risks of venturing into the nature-nurture debate, particularly if your views run afoul of blank slate orthodoxy. I thought the UCL conference, which was invitation-only, would provide me with some anecdotal material that I could use in Montreal—and it did. I referred to the clandestine gathering in my lecture, comparing these renegade academics to the Czech dissidents who used to meet in Václav Havel’s flat in Prague in the 1970s.1

So, because I discussed a form of embryo selection in an Australian magazine, and because I attended this conference at UCL, I was the Spectator’s answer to Josef Mengele. It doesn’t matter that my father-in-law is Jewish and under the Nuremberg Laws my children would have been murdered because they have a Jewish grandparent. In the eyes of my critics, I was a Nazi.

According to the Green Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas, my “horrific views on eugenics” rendered me “unfit for public office.” The left-wing journalist Polly Toynbee wrote a column in the Guardian headlined: “With His Views on Eugenics, Why Does Toby Young Still Have a Job in Education?” The Labour politician Dawn Butler, the shadow minister for women and equalities, accused me on Question Time, Britain’s flagship current affairs program, of “talking about eugenics and weeding out disabled people.”

She just made that up, by the way. I have never talked about “weeding out disabled people.” I found that particularly distressing because I have a disabled brother and I am a patron of the residential care home he lives in. I hope he wasn’t watching Question Time that night.

That’s one of the worst aspects of seeing your name dragged through the mud—the fear that people you know and care about are going to believe some of the terrible things people are saying about you and the feeling that there’s nothing you can do about it. You can get out there and defend yourself, of course, but once the calumnies have gathered momentum it’s hard to stop them metastasizing. To paraphrase Mark Twain, a piece of fake news gets all the way round the world and back again and starts trending on social media before the truth has put its boots on. A researcher at MIT recently published a paper in the journal Science showing that the truth takes six times longer, on average, than a lie to be seen by 1,500 people on Twitter.

Another example: an essay I wrote in 1988 about the English class system, which included some unflattering descriptions of socially awkward boys at Oxford, was dredged up as evidence that I was opposed to poor kids going to university. A former BBC journalist and self-professed Marxist accused me on Twitter of “[despising] working class kids who try to make good through education.”

Hard to know where to start with that one. As an Oxford undergraduate, I was part of a widening participation program that involved visiting schools in deprived parts of the country to try and persuade the students to apply to the university. I joined the US-UK Fulbright Commission as a Commissioner in 2014 and have supported the Commission’s work to secure full scholarships at American universities for British students from disadvantaged backgrounds. At the high school I helped set up, four out of every 10 children are from under-privileged backgrounds and our exam results put us in the top 10 percent of all high schools in England. 83 percent of our graduating class this year got college offers, 63 percent from Russell Group universities, Britain’s Ivy League.

How could an essay I wrote 30 years ago—30 years ago—be a legitimate basis on which to judge my attitude towards social mobility and not all the work I’ve done since? As David French wrote in the National Review about Ben Shapiro, we should judge people on the sum total of their work, not some isolated tweet or hot take.

In my case, it was as if observing progressive speech codes when talking about certain groups—such as disadvantaged kids—is more important than actually helping them. In today’s topsy-turvy world, virtue signaling trumps being virtuous.

The allegations continued. Two of the most hurtful ones against me were that I’m a misogynist and a homophobe.

Those claims were based on ill-judged comments I’d made on social media. Like James Gunn, I had deleted them—because they were asinine, ill-conceived attempts to be provocative, usually late at night after several glasses of wine—but the outrage mob thought that made them more indicative of what I’m really like, not less. In their eyes, these were the moments I had let slip the mask of decency and revealed the hideous gargoyle beneath.

Six years ago, I tweeted something about the cleavage of an MP sitting behind the leader of the Labour Party in the House of Commons and three years before that I made some similar observations about several female celebrities, including Padma Lakshmi, the Indian cookbook author whom I used to work with on a food reality show. That was enough to get me labelled a misogynist.

Those tweets were awful and I wish I hadn’t sent them. I’m not convinced that objectifying women is itself a form of harm, but it dehumanizes them, turns them into something ‘other,’ and that can be a way for men to give themselves permission to cause harm. But does sending those tweets make me a misogynist? Someone who hates all women, including my wife who I’ve been happily married to for 17 years and our 14-year-old daughter? That verdict has a horrible finality about it, as if I will forever be defined by a few lapses of judgment and nothing else I have done—could do—will assuage the guilt. To rub the point in, numerous people expressing outrage about this on Twitter added the hashtags #MeToo or #TimesUp, as if I am morally indistinguishable from Harvey Weinstein. For the record, I’ve run several medium-sized organizations in my career and employed hundreds of people and I’ve never been accused of sexual harassment or discrimination or anything remotely like that. On the contrary, I’ve always been supportive of my female colleagues. If you write off all men who’ve engaged in locker-room banter as misogynists, don’t be surprised when that term stops eliciting the moral outrage you expect. It’s the feminist equivalent of playing the race card.

Eight years ago—again on Twitter—I described George Clooney as being “as queer as a coot.” That made me a homophobe. Again, stupid thing to say, but the dictionary definition of a homophobe is “a person with an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people.” I wanted to protest that I had taken on Nigel Farage, then the leader of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party, in a public debate about gay marriage. That in the secondary school I helped set up I had worked hard to create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ staff and students. That some of my best friends are…

But I knew I’d just be howling into the void. Trial by media is like being in the dock at a Soviet show trial—no due process, no inadmissible evidence. Guilty as charged, next stop social Siberia, as Steven Galloway discovered. But unlike Galloway, who was falsely accused of rape, I was sort of guilty. Whenever I lapse into self-pity in the company of my friends and claim I was the victim of a witch-hunt, they gently point out that I wasn’t entirely innocent. The women accused of being in league with the devil in 17th-century Salem weren’t actually witches, whereas I had written the offending articles and tweets. I was a self-described “porn addict,” even if I hadn’t meant that line to be taken literally.

My counter-argument is that some of those accused of devil worship were, in fact, guilty of other offenses, such as adultery, but that didn’t make them witches. Like deputy governor Thomas Danforth, those sitting in judgement upon me claimed to be able to peer into my soul and see the festering corruption within. I wasn’t just being accused of having thought and said some inappropriate things. Rather, those were evidence of a diseased mind.

My most egregious sin was a tasteless, off-color remark I made while tweeting about a BBC telethon to raise money for starving Africans in 2009. That was reproduced on the front page of the Mail on Sunday, Britain’s second-biggest-selling Sunday newspaper. The headline ran: “PM’s Disgust at Student Tsar’s Sordid Tweets.” I’d now been promoted from “helping to lead” the new universities regulator to “student tsar” in order to fuel the outrage machine.

At this point, the cry for my scalp had reached fever pitch. An online petition calling for me to be sacked from the Office for Students had attracted 220,000 signatures. My daughter was refusing to go to school. My wife said that if one more person came up to her and said “Are you okay?” she was going to hit them. I felt I had no choice but to issue a public apology and stand down.

In one respect, that was a mistake. I had been warned that abasing yourself at the feet of the outrage mob and apologizing would just embolden them. They will take it as a blanket admission of guilt and demand that you be removed from all your remaining positions until you’ve lost your livelihood—and so it proved to be.

In the weeks that followed I was forced to resign from the Fulbright Commission, stripped of my Honorary Fellowship by Buckingham University, and I had to give up my nine-to-five job as head of an education charity—the one that paid the mortgage and enabled me to put food on the table and clothe my children.

But I don’t regret apologizing, not entirely, because it was heartfelt. When I saw my puerile tweet on the front page of the Mail on Sunday I was filled with a burning, all-consuming sense of shame. I wanted to crawl into a cupboard and hide. My first thought was: “Thank God my father’s not still alive.”

My dad, Michael Young, was involved in education too. He helped set up the Open University, Europe’s largest higher education institution, and was elevated to the House of Lords by James Callaghan, a Labour Prime Minister. Several pieces appeared after I resigned saying I had disgraced his name, including one by a journalist who’d known my father and whom I’ve always liked and respected. This same man had written a relatively sympathetic profile of me for the Guardian seven years earlier. That’s one of the most disheartening things about being shunned and cast out by your colleagues—the people you hoped would stick up for you join the lynch mob along with everyone else. It was as if he was taking me aside into a dark room, handing me a glass of whisky and a revolver and telling me to do the decent thing.

Being publicly shamed is a brutal, shocking experience that strips you of your dignity and I’ll always look back on it as one of the low points of my life. But, thankfully, my thoughts never turned to suicide. Others haven’t been so fortunate. Earlier this year, Jill Messick, a Hollywood producer, became the subject of an online witch-hunt when she was falsely accused by Rose McGowan of covering up for Harvey Weinstein. She decided not to challenge McGowan’s account because she didn’t want to make it harder for other victims of sexual harassment to come forward. But the gap between the person she knew herself to be and the anti-feminist villain she was being portrayed as on social media became too much and on February 7 she took her own life.

It’s that gap that causes the pain. Quinn Norton, who was hired and then fired by the New York Times in the space of eight hours following an online mobbing earlier this year, wrote a good article for The Atlantic about her ordeal. She said her detractors created a “bizarro-world” version of her, an online doppelgänger. It was the usual show trial in which people dug up things she’d said on social media in the distant past, deliberately turned a deaf ear to nuance, irony, and context, and transformed her into a pantomime villain. You know in your heart of hearts that that’s not who you are, but the willingness of others to believe the worst can lead to self-doubt. If so many people think I’m a bad person, maybe I really am.

This is a form of cognitive dissonance, I think. Surveying the burning wreck of my career, I was initially consumed by a terrible sense of injustice. Why me? What have I done to deserve this? I hadn’t realized it before my life unraveled, but I had been laboring under the illusion that we live in a fair universe—the just world fallacy. I thought that if I was, on balance, a good person, the universe would somehow take that into account when deciding my fate. I’m not religious—I don’t even believe in karma. At least, I didn’t think I did until events conspired to make it crystal clear that karma is a big fat stinking lie. Then, to my astonishment, I found myself in a state of shock. It’s all so unfair! But like many people whose worldview is upended by reality, instead of abandoning my just world hypothesis, I doubled down on it. Not consciously, but semi-consciously—involuntarily. Cognitive dissonance. So I began to think, “Maybe I deserve all this public ignominy and shame.”

That triggered a few depressive episodes, but what saved me from spiraling down into the full-blown, clinical depression that often follows an experience like this was exercise. During those nine days in January when I became the most reviled man in Britain I lost half a stone (seven pounds). I joked to my wife that I was on “the public humiliation diet.” Like many middle-aged men, I’ve often dreamed about losing weight and getting into shape, but haven’t had the time to do anything about it. Now, unexpectedly, I did. I decided to bank that half a stone, lose some more weight and do some exercise—finally get rid of that spare tire. So I’ve been doing 15 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) every day, often followed by five minutes of stomach crunches, then a run or a swim. I’m now two stone lighter than I was on January 1 and, while I can’t claim to have a six pack, I do have the faint outline of one. (I can see it, even if my kids fall about with laughter whenever I tense my stomach muscles and say, “Look, look!”)

It’s been wonderfully therapeutic. In part, that’s because it has enabled me to regain control over some small aspect of my life. Okay, I may not be able to battle the outrage mob and my enemies may have succeeded in destroying my career and ruining my reputation, but, hey, at least I can control my own body weight! Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but it means I don’t feel like a complete victim.

Then there’s the self-flagellatory dimension. Exercising hard, particularly HIIT, hurts. (The clue is in the name.) The part of me that blames myself for what’s happened, and thinks I deserved everything I got, gets a lot of satisfaction from punishing the miscreant responsible.  I’ve become a hair shirt conservative.

Finally, there’s the serotonin. After I’d suffered my reversal of fortune I sought consolation in Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life, but it had the opposite effect. I read the infamous chapter about lobsters and discovered that crustaceans who’ve been bested in a fight suffer from reduced levels of serotonin and as a result become “a defeated looking, scrunched up, inhibited, drooping, skulking sort of lobster, very likely to hang around street corners and vanish at the first sign of trouble.” As with lobsters, so with humans, Peterson argues, which immediately made me think that I was going to start behaving like a pathetic loser in the lobster dominance hierarchy. But, thankfully, I didn’t. And the reason, I think, is because of the exercise, which boosts serotonin. My sudden, vertiginous loss of status—like something out of a Tom Wolfe novel—undoubtedly depleted my serotonin levels. But the daily, intense physical exercise seems to have made up for it. This lobster will live to fight another day.

Toby Young shows off his new body, thanks to the Twitter-shaming abs workout

Six months have passed since I experienced my time in the stocks and I’m still trying to process what happened (as you can probably tell). I keep circling back to the same question: Why were some people prepared to cast judgment based on such meager evidence? Why did certain words I’d used in the past count for so much more than my actions?

I think the answer must have something to do with the rise of identity politics. In the Oppression Olympics, I’m not about to win any medals. As a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered male, I’m an apex predator in the identitarian food chain and, as such, responsible for all the injustices suffered by the oppressed, including historic injustices dating back hundreds of years—colonialism, slavery, sexual exploitation, you name it.

That’s the context in which I was labelled a “homophobe” and a “misogynist,” not to mention a “porn addict,” a “eugenicist,” and someone who “despises working class students.” As far as the hashtag activists are concerned, all white, heterosexual, cis-gendered males are guilty of those sins—and that goes double for Brexit-supporting, middle-aged Tories. They assume we must hold all these toxic beliefs because how else could we justify the ‘structural inequality’ that preserves our privileged status? It simply doesn’t occur to them that there’s an intellectually respectable case for free-market capitalism, or that there could be a moral basis for opposing end-state equality—100 million plus killed by communism, etc.—or that those of us who don’t share their philosophy are equally concerned about justice. The conservative tradition is entirely unknown to them.

Even if your social media history is squeaky clean, you’re going to have difficulty persuading the intersectional Left that you have a useful role to play in public life if you tick all the wrong demographic boxes, as I do. The best thing you can do is ‘check your privilege’ and stand aside. This is how Suzanna Danuta Walters, professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, put it in a recent comment piece for the Washington Post titled, “Why can’t we hate men?“:

So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this… Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong.

Maybe I’m kidding myself. After all, some of the other people appointed to the board of the new regulator were men—even white, heteronormative men—and no one objected to them. But it was a disheartening episode for someone who’s been involved in politics all his life and was looking forward to contributing more. As a non-executive director of the Office for Students, I was hoping to address some of the problems afflicting Britain’s universities—soaring tuition fees, grade inflation, the growing intolerance for unorthodox ideas—by sitting round the table with people of different views and having a lively debate. The person who replaced me is a liberal, which means the number of ‘out’ conservatives on the 15-person board has been reduced to two. As Jonathan Haidt has pointed out many times, our society prizes every kind of diversity except the one that matters most of all—viewpoint diversity. We’re not going to come up with democratic, workable solutions to difficult problems if we stay within our echo chambers and refuse to engage seriously with our opponents.

Which is why it pains me to see fellow conservatives mimicking the mobbing tactics of the identitarian Left, whether it’s going after Al Franken, Joy Reid, or James Gunn. We should not embrace the witch-hunter’s credo that says people are defined by their worst moments, that if you’ve said something crass or insensitive about a victim group, particularly if you’re ‘privileged’, then you suffer from a form of original sin so deeply imprinted on your soul that no amount of good works can expunge it. The outrage mob seem to be in thrall to a particularly unforgiving religious cult. Nietzsche said that the West’s tragedy in the 20th-century was that we would be afflicted by the same puritanical abhorrence of out-group behavior as our Christian forebears, but because we could no longer bring ourselves to believe in God there would be no way to save these malefactors—guilt without the possibility of redemption. Good theory, wrong century.

Will I get a second chance?

I’m still writing for the Spectator, which has never wavered in its support, doing some editing for Quillette (thanks Claire!), and working on a book about the neo-Marxist, postmodernist Left. None of this pays the mortgage, but it keeps me busy. My wife Caroline, a lawyer who gave up her job to care for our children, has re-entered the work force, so our household income should recover.

In March, I stepped down from the board of the charity I co-founded that looks after my schools—the fifth position I’ve had to give up since my public shaming. That was the biggest blow of all. I’ve written an international best-seller, starred in a one-man show in London’s West End, and co-produced a Hollywood movie. But getting involved in education and trying to give others the opportunities I’ve had is easily the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I hope that one day, when this period of liberal McCarthyism has passed, I’ll be allowed to resume that work.


Toby Young is a British Journalist and an associate editor of The Spectator. Follow him on Twitter @toadmeister

1 A flippant analogy, perhaps, given that the speakers at the conference weren’t risking imprisonment for their unorthodox and—in some cases—inflammatory views. Nevertheless, the fact remains that many honest scientists, like Charles Murray and Linda Gottfredson, are routinely defamed as ‘white nationalists’ by the ostensibly respectable Southern Poverty Law Centre and the perfectly legitimate study of individual and group differences has become highly dangerous to a person’s livelihood and reputation. This ought to worry anyone concerned about academic freedom and the right of behavioural scientists to carry out research. 

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  1. Dear Toby- Although I feel your pain, it was the left that started this nonsense. Those of us “right of left” have exercised forbearance of retaliation for 10 years. Appeals to decency and civilised behaviour have fallen on ears not just deaf, but cruel. Apologies are taken as admission of guilt and used to justify further attacks. The only way of going back to the old rules is if everyone does so, and it appears that sadly the only way to accomplish this is to inflict enough pain on the Social Justice Warrior Left that they abandon the tactics of social media shaming, deplatforming and depriving people of their livelihood. Liberal use of the defamation laws is called for as well. Armour up, these are evil times and they’re going to get worse. Max Waters.

    • “As a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered male, I’m an apex predator in the identitarian food chain and, as such, responsible for all the injustices suffered by the oppressed, including historic injustices dating back hundreds of years—colonialism, slavery, sexual exploitation, you name it.”

      Give it a rest – you and all his ilk of utter buffoons. One might have expected some learning and humbleness and even wisdom might have crept in. But self pit yat this extent?

      And look at the exaggerations!? Who the fuck is blaming this shameless prat for anything all that? No one. And then there are mindless twerps who massage this “ego” to no end.

      • TarsTarkas says

        Reading, you had better hope no one digs through your personal data and social media messaging, because one day you will run afoul of the SJW error-hunting brigade (and probably not even know it until it is too late). They will find whatever dirt they need to nail you to a wall (or manufacture it if necessary) and you will find yourself swiftly abandoned by everyone you thought you could count on for fear of being next. These Judges of Righteousness are totally intolerant of the slightest transgression, they are fervently relentless, they have no mercy, they never forgive, and they will never ever stop until you have been ground into the substrate.

        • ” run afoul of the SJW error-hunting brigade”

          I am a nobody who will stay a nobody.

          “These Judges of Righteousness are totally intolerant of the slightest transgression”

          Like what xtianity in Europe used to be pre-modernity. There is probably always going to be moral authoritarians in one way, shape or form. And if you don’t know how to duck and dive…

          – –

          Nothing all that much has happened to Young. Anyone who has kept on his writing knows how much he has actually loved all this and loves this kind of attention.

          • PaoloP says

            He’s pissed because Young has not been punished enough.

          • @ Paolo Pagliaro

            What a rude little twerp you are. If you are going to reply to me – then at least have the guts to speak to me directly.

            “He’s pissed because Young has not been punished enough.”

            Why should I be? I don’t think he has been “punished” or needs to be.

            If such a self pitying piece was was written by a Leftie…

      • Doug Deeper says


        Yeah, beat on this poor bloke some more. NO compassion for this obviously guilty criminal!
        Clearly you are compassioned out, feeling as you must for the Jihadis, antifa, and heck, you have to feel for the 10,000 MS-13 poor, misguided youth stranded here in America.
        Obviously you have your reasons for giving Toby the back of your hand!

        And thank you for YOUR learning and humbleness – comes through like a laser.

        • Guilty of what exactly? In the grand scheme of things – what did happen to him? Nothing much. So this self-pitying nonsense is worth condemnation and NOT sympathy. What the fuck does he want to “compassion” for?

          “for the Jihadis, antifa,”

          Ah yes! Is that the best you could? You frightful little twonk. So if one is not colluding in someone’s nonsensical self-pity then one is guilty of something else entirely.

          “Obviously you have your reasons for giving Toby the back of your hand! ”

          Yes. He should man up and “quietly” move on. Just like he has been preaching. The hypocrite.

          “And thank you for YOUR learning and humbleness – comes through like a laser.”

          Why, my dear… you should have started with this… oh everything would have been forgiven. And I wouldn’t have called you a supercilious nitwit.

          • Doug Deeper says

            Boy, that hurt – right to the core. Your argumentation is clearly devastating. I simply have no answer for “frightful little twonk,” or “supercilious nitwit,” but your opening “What the fuck does he want to “compassion” for?” sort of knocked me out not only by its shear power, but for its effortless grammatical artistry.
            I am simply no match for your rhetorical brilliance. So I give up – you win, besides I have to take a crap. Kind of a free association thing.
            (I do apologize to everyone else for prolonging Nomad’s attention span)

          • “Your argumentation is clearly devastating.”

            It really is isn’t it? Else you would have would have had an answer. But you didn’t. Couldn’t think of anything else so went after a bit of grammar. I love such replies. It inadvertently really does prove that you are beaten. Brains aren’t your thing are they? You poke-headed penis.

            “I simply have no answer for “frightful little twonk,” or “supercilious nitwit,”

            Thank you. Means a lot coming from a misshapen testicle such as yourself.

            “(I do apologize to everyone else for prolonging Nomad’s attention span)”

            Lol! I love the ego… you really think someone gives a flying fuck!

            See all you wanted was a row. One suspects there is a lot of repressed shit in you… best let it all out.

          • Little Black Sambo says

            “…what did happen to him? Nothing much.”
            For your sake I hope the “nothing much” never happens to you. Or did you not actually read the article?

          • @ Little Black Sambo

            “Or did you not actually read the article?”

            That is why I know nothing much happened to him.

          • Brian says

            Reading, there is only one “supercilious nitwit” here…

      • Kevin T says

        We’re not all in your cult though and we don’t share your strange beliefs, such as the Catholic-style Original Sin of being born “white, heretosexual and male” and whatever the hell “cis-gendered” means. Therefore we don’t have to automatically look at someone’s skin colour and sex and put them in victim or oppressor boxes based on lunacy spread by openly Marxist university professors.

        And if any of you were actually oppressed, I could at least take you seriously but show me a “progressive” and I will show you someone whose mummy and daddy make way more than mine and most other people’s, and who have never wanted for anything or suffered in any meaningful way.

        • @ Kevin T

          “We’re not all in your cult though”

          Your loss. It is sex, drugs and rock & roll all the way over here.

          “and we don’t share your strange beliefs, such as the Catholic-style Original Sin of being born “white, heretosexual and male””

          We are high and mighty aren’t we? Is we one person or a whole fucking nation? Who is we? And keep your silly little accusations to yourself.

          You lot – the we – certainly do not disappoint. Complete dickheads defending another dickhead.

          – –

          “Therefore we don’t have to automatically look at someone’s skin colour and sex and put them in victim or oppressor boxes based on lunacy spread by openly Marxist university professors.”

          No. Twits like you are brainwashed little jerk offs who post such silly accusations in best hope that they might fit. You haven’t got two brain cells to rub together… so if one isn’t congratulatory of every single member of your alleged camp then one is the enemy.
          Talk about groupthink…

          – –

          “And if any of you were actually oppressed”

          Oh the fucking irony! That is the whole point, you feckless dweeb. Young is NOT a “victim”. Hence this nauseating self pitying piece is complete drivel. This is EXACTLY the sort of stuff post modernists you presumably find so vile write!

          – –

          “but show me a “progressive” and I will show you someone whose mummy and daddy make way more than mine”

          So this is what is about… you are loser son of complete losers to. So this why you are whining so much?

          You turnip! This self pitying twerp Young equally has suffered nothing much! So he should NOT be whining like the “progressives”.

          Dear God Almighty!

      • Michael Johnston says

        Reading Nomad, when you open your comments with insults and ad hominem attacks (“utter buffoons”, “shameless prat”, “mindless twerps”) you present yourself as someone who wants to express anger and contempt more than they want a productive debate. Is that how you really want to come across?

        • Lawrence says

          The high standard of debate in the comments section used to be a fairly unique feature of Quillette. Unfortunately there does seem to have been a degradation of quality recently.

          I’m sure ‘Reading Nomad’ is well aware that his comments add no insight to the discussion. People like him generally aren’t interested in having a productive debate.

        • @ Michael Johnston

          Sweetheart, look again. I reply to insults with more explicit insults. Sometimes I am first with an insults, but clearly not as often.

          I think it is far better and honest to be open about insulting someone than going round the house. Just come out with it. Nothing worse than a repressed insult!

          So try being fair – and look again at whose is the one really being insulting….

          • Michael Johnston says

            The insults I quoted above were all from your first post and not in response to any insults directed at you. How about trying to make an argument without insulting anyone (or using silly epithets like “sweetheart”)?

          • @ Michael Johnston

            “The insults I quoted above were all from your first post and not in response to any insults directed at you.”


            “How about trying to make an argument without insulting anyone (or using silly epithets like “sweetheart”)?”

            And why should I? I can do what wish to, who the fuck put you in charge? What has it got to do with you? Why even bother to stop and make this an issue, petal?

          • Nomad, stop dressing up your trolling with a pseudo-debate.

            I ask you to seriously question whether all this is worth your energy. You may find more joy from something productive rather than destructive.

            All the best,

          • @ Gareth Cotter

            Do fuck off you stupid little bastard. So who asked you reply to me? So what got to you? If you think I am troll… then why are you even bothering to reply with fuck all?

            “I ask you to seriously question whether all this is worth your energy. ”

            For me it is.

            “You may find more joy from something productive rather than destructive.”

            Atta boy! So why is it fuck up like you cannot act on their own advice?

      • Primrose Hillbilly says

        Gotta love that the only half decently written piece in your post is the excerpt from the original article!

        What do you think that says about you?

        “You and all his ilk of utter buffoons” – you do realise that TY was writing about himself, don’t you?

        “humbleness” – may I respectfully suggest the shorter word “humility”, which also has the benefit of already existing in the English language?

        “anything all that” – can you elaborate?

        write soon.

        We need people like you online, to ensure our children get a good education.

        • @ Primrose Hillbilly

          “Gotta love that the only half decently written piece in your post is the excerpt from the original article!”

          Well at least I have got that! What have you got? And what does that say about? If you cannot find your own words, you cannot even find someone else’s words either.

          So I am at least, by your own admission, better off than you.

          – –

          “may I respectfully suggest the shorter word “humility”, which also has the benefit of already existing in the English language?”

          And why? What would be the point to this? We both know you are not being “respectful” and that is not your point. And you are desperate to find fault… but “humbleness” is actually a word and correct… yet you came back with this!

          Lol! What the fuck is wrong with you? If you want be insulting why be coy about it? Just go for it…. you silly old nonce.

          “can you elaborate?” No.

          “We need people like you online, to ensure our children get a good education.”

          True! I am well educated after all. A great teacher to boot. It is a pity how lifeless little tits like you pollute the internet.

          Now fuck off.

        • @ Urban Suburbanite (@VladTehEmailer)

          “Respectfully, eat a dick.”

          Gladly. I have no problems in sucking a nice big walloper. 10 inches above only. Pity it rules you out.

      • PaoloP says

        Reading Nomad, like any good lemming on the left, thrives in masochistic self-punishment from his leaders; every morning he wakes up, stands in front of the mirror and slaps himself mercilessly for being white: justly, he feels superior because this way he learns humbleness and even wisdom.
        Thank you for being such an example, comrade RN!

        • @ PaoloP

          “Reading Nomad, like any good lemming on the left,”

          I love the fact I have set off people like you. Especially you! As you are witless little coward.

          But I especially love the fact how in agreement people are with me! Hey! All I have gotten are petty insults back. Some more explicit than others.

          But no one is defending Young. So we are in agreement over the hypocritical self-pitying old tit.

          Oh and I do not consider myself to be Leftie. More like a Right Wing more in the mold of Hitchens – far less socially liberal than Young.

          “justly, he feels superior”

          Ah well…

          • Paul Ellis says

            “But no one is defending Young.”

            I’ll have a go.

            I think it’s largely agreed that people can change, by which I mean they can replace one behaviour with another and not regress. If this were not true there would be no basis for psychotherapy, or psychiatry, or most of education. There would also certainly be no basis for schemes to rehabilitate criminals.

            Toby Young has been a provocateur, a prankster, a bit of a dick, and indulged himself in emitting ‘funny’ tweets late at night whilst pissed, not usually a wise move. Since discovering he couldn’t afford to send his kids to private school he involved himself in setting up a Free School, intending to send his kids there. This work seems to have been transformative for him. He’s become rather more serious and informed, has been involved in setting up a further three schools, and has learned a lot, both theoretical and practical, about the education process and running effective learning establishments.

            This knowledge and experience is of value, and led to a £90K p.a. job as head of an educational charity. Given the size of the charity this salary appears to be market rate for that position. It’s comparable to that for a primary school head teacher. Many other charity heads, most of whom are publicly well to the Left of Toby, earn considerably more than this.

            If we can accept that criminals can be rehabilitated successfully and their behaviour permanently changed such that they don’t re-offend, then surely we can accept that Toby is capable of having left the cleverdick prankster persona behind and has become an educationalist of value to a body such as the Office for Students, not least because in order to avoid groupthink, such bodies need diversity of viewpoint and at least one Devil’s Advocate.

            Another poster referred to Toby’s ‘privilege’. I’m not sure that all ‘privilege’ is avoidable (e.g. high IQ appears largely to be an unearned privilege), but the privileged can certainly put their privilege to social use. However unfair and unearned Toby’s privilege might be, he appears to have put it to good use with his educational endeavours and been of benefit to society.

            Toby Young as the Prodigal Son? Why not? We seem to approve of this concept for other members of society.

          • @ Paul Ellis

            Good reply. But I’ll explain what my problem is with Young.

            Fine. I am not overly keen on his: “cleverdick prankster persona”. But that was all it was. No, I do not think he is this horrible criminal or anything of the sort. But if you are going to be this way then be firm about it. Giving in? Deleting tweets? And then whining about it?

            I have read a few of his pieces in the Spectator and I always got the feeling he was baiting the Leftie crowd a bit. And when pressure came he cracked. Weak!

            Oddly I do like someone like Piers Morgan on Twitter. Whatever else the man is… he has weathered all sorts of storms and silly accusations of racism and sexism etc. Here is the thing – he has stood behind them.

            Unlike someone like Stephen Fry – who has a fine brain – but is often such a pitiful wet blanket. Perhaps some of it is down to his mental health problem – I don’t know.

      • Wilson says

        You demonstrate precisely what he’s talking about quite proficiently. Albeit with the usual ironic smattering of typos resulting from such unbridled confidence.

        • Lol! Dear Lord! Either you are another fuck up – or someone who has already took a leathering. I can do this all day… put away utter uglies without anything to say.

          Why don’t you come back with another username after a we while till the comments are open.

    • Totally. The point of this piece is how easy — and therefore unfair — it is to find destructive items in anyone’s online life. Yet strangely Young never makes this point with his own accusers. It would have strengthened the piece enormously (at least in my eyes) if he had picked a couple of accusers more or less at random and found seriously compromising quotes in their own records. Given how easy one suspects this ought to be I don’t quite understand why research groups with agendas like this haven’t been organized already. Maybe they have been.

    • Blindspot Patrol says

      For the love of all that is good, please stop replying to “Reading Nomad”. They are incredibly obviously trolling. Getting a reaction — ANY reaction — is the whole point of their inanity. They will consider it a win all day long. I didn’t think it had to be said on the internet at this point, but apparently it does: PLEASE, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!

      • Brian says

        Blindspot, of course you are correct. The key thing is spotting the troll early on (ideally, if your skills are honed, at the first ejaculate). If you don’t feed them, they (usually) quickly move on. On the upside, it looks like everyone stopped feeding Reading once you posted this. Lessons learned, one hopes.

    • Herbert Herbertson says

      ask the Dixie Chicks if the left started it. Ask Phil Donahue.

    • Adrian Smith says

      I think it is Toby’s moral and social duty to sue the shirts off these scum, who masquerade as concerned citizens, whilst being the reverse. At the very least get Mrs |Young to fire off a few well crafted lawyers letters demanding public retractions and apologies. If he sits there and lets them get away with it he is almost as bad as they are

    • Phoenix44 says

      Good for you Toby for coming through this, but how many others have curbed their words and hidden their opinions to avoid this sort of deranged and malevolent witch-hunting? And I note that it wasn’t just the twisting of what you wrote that was bad, but the fact that some decided that gave them license to lie about you as well.

      I am unsure where this leads, but it is nowhere good. I fear for the future in ways I have never done in the past,a s the UK and the US swings towards an unpleasant authoritarianism, driven as ever by people who think they represent virtue and know how the world should think and speak. That so many of those people lack self-awareness and so cannot see what they are doing is no excuse, nor any reason for hope.

      Progressives appear to have decided that any and all behaviours are justified, if they further your causes, an idea that would find a home with the fascists and totalitarian communists of the 20th century.

      • Jenny Hughes says

        I think there’s a need to make a differentiation here between several issues. Is the public sector dominated by the so called liberal Left who loathe Tories and use their loathing in a naked and mindless way to attack anyone who they believe doesn’t subscribe to their ideology? Yes (and I’ve been there). Is social media an anodyne and cowardly platform for anyone to advertise (and hide behind) their views without the first idea of the complexity of the issues they comment on? Yes of course. Has Toby Young behaved in a way (past or present) which destroys his reputation and brings the PM into disrepute by supporting him (regardless of the good he may have done)? Yes, and this is quite aside from his political leanings. Perhaps he should recognise the former (that’s politics now) but be contrite and self aware about the latter.

        • Jenny….
          I wrote (and deleted) a long comment, but I think my argument could be summed down to: ‘I have never hear of, nor read, Toby Young. Not a single negative comment here, including yours, has offered any proof of his inability to be an asset to the education council, or the children it serves. None have addressed the direct examples given and shown why they are incorrect or not the real issue. It all seems personal in nature, rather than factual.’

          “At the high school I helped set up, four out of every 10 children are from under-privileged backgrounds and our exam results put us in the top 10 percent of all high schools in England. 83 percent of our graduating class this year got college offers, 63 percent from Russell Group universities, Britain’s Ivy League.” -Toby Young

          This is a good qualification to be on an education council. Refute it. (i.e. does his school cherry-pick the best students? Does it cost 6X as much as other schools? Seeing as it is in percentages, is this school really only serving 7 kids? Does all the credit really belong to someone else?)

          These would be a good arguments that a totally ignorant person like me could understand and agree with. “He sucks, but it isn’t political”, isn’t.

  2. Steve says

    “Reading about James Gunn’s defenestration by Disney for having tweeted some off-color jokes 10 years ago”

    First sentence was basically enough. “Off-color jokes”? Did you read the stuff this guy wrote? Do you know the kind of people he was in direct communication with concerning these “jokes”? (hint: pedophile subsequently convicted of producing child porn). He wasn’t telling “off-color jokes” about a wide range of topics. Like Louis CK (who at least confined his depredations to adults), he kept drilling into one particular “funny” topic: raping and molesting young children.

    Anyone defending this guy — a bloody obvious pedophile who now tries to hide behind “jokes” — is little better than he is. If these were really only jokes then Gunn wouldn’t have scrambled to delete hundreds of tweets once this became public. He’s part of the sickening Hollywood subculture that seeks to normalize pedophilia. As with Polanski, the true character of many people becomes obvious when we see who leaps to their defence.

    I have two young children and people like Gunn make me simultaneously nauseated and trigger happy. Fuck him and his despicable groupies.

    • Brett McS says

      “No one is ever ‘just joking'” turns out to be a pretty accurate rule of thumb. Disney were definitely correct to get rid of this guy, if only from an abundance of caution.

      • Robert says

        Disney didn’t get rid of Gunn because of some kind of “moral” ground, but only because some people started a campaign on twitter, which means Disney was fine with it until potential spectators noticed these tweets. This is only a question of profitability. They fired Roseanne Barr in 2 hrs after her single tweet. It took them years to fire Gunn! Double standard it is. And it’s the same with this article. Toby Young suddenly understands what is going on, but only when someone he knows or appreciate is affected. He didn”t give a damn about it before.

    • Ed Everett says

      I’ve had a look at Gunn’s tweets. Sick is a fair description of them, simply not funny to anyone who isn’t (I imagine) compromised in their experience or behaviour. Still, you should consider that Toby chose a bad example to set alongside his own, just an unfortunate intro. I know Toby Young is a very decent writer, with nothing malign about him. It was just a bad choice of intro. I had to search to find the sick tweets, although the context of them is the most troubling part (as you say, the people he was in contact with via them).

    • Phoenix44 says

      So you have decided to just go full nutter and decide a man is a pedophile based on virtually no evidence whatsoever. Better hope nobody sees your attack as a means of deflecting eh? Who knows where that could lead, if you think making unfounded accusations of such a serious nature is just fine.

    • Josh says

      Your logic is impeccable – why would anybody scramble to delete tweets if those tweets were ‘only jokes’? I can’t think of a possible reason. They must have been true!. Nobody would delete them because of, say, the idea of a massive online mob mischaracterizing things. That simply never happens. Who on the Internet would mischaracterize some tweets? Nobody, I tell you! Never happens.

      Nor does anybody make jokes where the punchline is “look how transgressive I’m being”. That form of humor does not exist, and even if it did, I would not understand it. What’s funny about a show like South Park? Nothing at all. Well, not to me, anyways. Never heard of the Artistocrats. Nobody ever makes inappropriate humor without inadvertently revealing they are secretly really meaning those things.

      But my two kids are materially, measurably safer now that we’ve made sure that evil dude is out of movie-making, because his humor was gross and unfunny and yuck. Those jokes are violence against my kids!

      (Thank you, Steve, for so eloquently illustrating Toby Young’s point as a living exhibit.)

  3. Tamara Perez says

    Good luck Toby. It will pass as all things do – though I doubt that’s much comfort.

  4. Brett McS says

    The social media torpedoes the Left have launched against conservatives have, almost without fail, largely missed their target and returned to take down more of their own. Of course that doesn’t mean there have been no conservative victims, and I dearly hope that the great Toby Young can recover from this ordeal.

    Because the Left see themselves as innately good (instead of fallen), they excuse their own behaviour in their own minds and don’t give it another thought. That leaves them far more susceptible to the finger pointing they engage in against others. Perhaps with enough reversals like the #MeToo movement’s they may learn to not be so quick on the trigger.

    One thing is for sure: If the Left don’t experience any pain – only gain – due to their finger pointing hypocrisy it will only get worse (as it has been doing). Some negative feedback is definitely required.

  5. ScarletNumber says

    Steve is being ridiculous. Also, Gunn deleted his Tweets to try to placate the mob. Don’t act like it is evidence of anything.

  6. Charles Murray says

    Toby, a point will come when a still, small voice from deep within says to you “Fuck ’em.” That’s how you’ll know the worst is over. It happened to me around 1996, so it may not be rapid. But the big change you can start now (if you haven’t already) is actively to avoid reading anything that mentions you. If you come across something by mistake, don’t respond to it. Fuck ’em.

    • Thanks Charles. A psychologist friend told me that I’ll have to go through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Sounds like the correct sequence is exactly the reverse.

      • Ed Everett says

        If you’re in the right, it IS the reverse.., except replace denial with refutation

      • Very disappointing that a psychologist told you that. The ‘five stages of grief’ stuff isn’t even taken seriously in psychology these days.

  7. Ed Everett says

    Hi Toby, as someone who’s enjoyed your work on and off for years I was sad to see you impacted in this way. I know you’re a practitioner of gentle persuasion and not polemic so it must have been tricky to defend against the blowhards of the left and bigoted centre. Gentle persuasion often employs mildly radical or risque elements to cement the ‘ordinary bloke’ image, but as you point out, this leaves a trail of non-politic comments which can been gathered by the shamans of personal destruction. Of course you were encroaching their territory and that is how advanced these so-called thinkers are: tribalist and territorial (ooh, look at me going all civilisationally judgemental). Thank you for your deployment of your skills in vital areas of public interest. I hope it inspires others who like a scrap to get in there and start scrapping. I know I would like to, hearing your story. I felt at the time: punch back twice as hard, but you had already mildly shown them and their standards so much respect it would have been impossible. We have to do better, for the sake of the children, like.

  8. Readers may be interested that I looked up Young on Wikipedia recently and the final line of the opening paragraph described his tweets in some strongly evaluative way. I tried to change the sentence so that it would conform to Wikipedia’s commitment to a neutral point of view, but it has been edited back several times. It now describes the tweets as ‘misogynistic and homophobic,’ even though it would be easy to find a formulation that got the main facts of the case across without taking sides. (For example, ‘he was fired after a series of controversial tweets came to light.’) Others are welcome to join the discussion and editing, of course.

  9. alan says

    The only problem with this self pitying article, Toby, is that you are an appalling, arrogant arsehole who deserves all this and much worse.

    • Ed Everett says

      Alan, what to say except to return the insult? You clearly are projecting…

    • L. D. says

      Why does he deserve so much worse?
      Help me understand. I am not being sarcastic.

      I don’t understand the vengeful perspective and have wondered about this.

      Does arrogance deserve loss of job and familial stability?

      Does having an “incorrect perspective” deserve loss of job and familial stability?

      I ask because I have witnessed some awful things and have heard people say, “She/he deserved it.” I always thought that it was really harsh, even if the peraon was an arse.

  10. mila shennsey says

    free speech does not equal freedom from the consequences of speech. to Quote Jordan Peterson “You’re not perfect, so stop blaming other people or ‘society’ for your problems and take responsibility for yourself”.

    Dont be a victim, stand tall and fix yourself before you blame the media/Left/Academia for your problems.

    • The Banana says

      “free speech does not equal freedom from the consequences of speech” that old saw. If the consequences of your voicing your mind are the Sturmabteiling beating you up then I’m not very impressed with your free speech credentials.

      Or, as J.S Mill put it much more eruditely than I am capable of,

      “Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.”

  11. Good Christ that was a long, long winded whinge. And one which closed with – it’s been six months, can I have all my nice jobs back now please? Give me strength. The amount of onanistic maudlin sentimentality throughout the piece is retch making as well.

    • Ed Everett says

      It’s called ‘having your say’, but that isn’t much in the ‘common rulebook’ of leftthink.

    • stephen buhner says

      I am rather astonished by the vitriol of a number of these commentators, especially on this site. the one thing that seems clear from reading them is that there is virtually no ability of the commentators to extend courtesy nor to understand that they, themselves, possess limitations, arrogance, limited sight, the same kinds of faults that belong to all people and which, with the mature sight of greater age will appall them as they age.

      The arrogance of this kind of certitude is one of the most shameful of the behaviors of my liberal tribe at present. It is designed to remove humanity from any person who raises the ire of the binary thinkers among us. It comes from a deplorable inability to perceive the world or human beings with any sophistication or complexity of thought.

      During the Balkan conflict, the Serbs often cut off the faces of those they killed, the ideologues among us now do it symbolically. No face, no humanity. And so no need to regard them as human, as like us. No need to understand our own capacity for evil which, in the end, is a far greater problem. As Elizabeth Kubler Ross once told me (which a concentration camp survivor had told her): “Each of us has a Hitler inside us and if we do not come to terms with it then the evil will never stop.”

      One of the easiest ways to determine if this part of the self is active is to notice whether or not you are removing the human face from the person you dislike. Though, of course, this does demand a willingness to engage in rigorous self-examination, something which seems to be in short supply these days.

      • LAW says

        This site has consistently had the most civil, intelligent comment section I’ve ever seen on the internet. Especially so because the comments are essentially anonymous. I suspect that will change as Quillette grows in popularity. It’s a damn shame.

        • Paul Ellis says

          Oh, I dunno. The Register’s commentariat can be at once highly intelligent, highly informative, and side-splitting. I’ve rarely seen it degenerate into flaming, and it’s great fun to learn useful stuff whilst also laughing your socks off.

          I’ve learned to be wary of people who take themselves too seriously, and outlaw humour. They’re both standard features of despots.

      • J.Ryall says

        @Stephen Buhner

        “The arrogance of this kind of certitude is one of the most shameful of the behaviors of my liberal tribe at present.”

        This. A million times this. History’s worst atrocities were carried out by people with unshakable moral certainty about their cause. The recent article about Cambodia on this site is a rather chilling reminder of this. Hopefully this madness dies down sooner than later, but I have grave doubts about that. Cheers for the excellent comment.

      • Absolutely spot on. It is deeply unsettling to me that these simple truths not unflinchingly self-evident to everyone, regardless of ideological stripe. Thank you for this powerful and timely comment.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Well said, Stephen.
        For some reason we seem to have lost the ability to distinguish between ideas and people.
        I once knew a great man who went by the name ”Big Sid” He spent many years in New Guinea as a farm owner/manager before retiring. He was well-known as being the kindest of men.
        Once every few years Sid would come to visit my parents. I never understood his connection with them. In any case, he used to refer to his workers in PNG as ”my coons”. Even in the 1970s this gave me pause. Surely this was evidence that he was a racist. But as we talked, it became quite clear that Sid loved his ”coons”. He knew that their culture was not as advanced as the culture of the west and that he had to treat them differently because of that. Nevertheless, he cherished them and treated them as he would wish to be treated (he was fond of quoting Matthew 7:12). My point is that Sid was not ”racist” but that if a modern progressive had heard him refer to black people as ”coons” they would have immediately assumed so. They would have condemned him without listening to his stories about how much he enjoyed their company.

        • Heads Will Roll says

          I still think it’s appalling he called these people his “coons.” What’s worse it sounds like he felt he needed to treat them differently because their culture “was not as advanced” as his own. It all just sounds condescending and trivializing. I am sure your heart is in the right place, but I would ditch the Big Sid story as an illustration of anything noble.

    • L. D. says

      Hi Aindreas,
      What is wrong with wanting your nice jobs back? Who wouldn’t?

      I suppose you haven’t been humiliated in a public manner. Should this fate ever befall you, you will find that all you crave is the desire to right yourself.

      Give a person the chance to say something in defense of themselves and hope when you trip over your shadow someone will extend the same grace to you.

  12. stephen buhner says

    Hi Toby, thanks for this article. I found it deeply helpful with some of my own struggles (not nearly so extreme as yours). I found your comments on the just world fallacy and your link to that especially useful. Many of the targets of the extremist members of my liberal tribe tend to be people who have spent much of their life as activists for the general good (Al Franken is a good example). And i suspect that most of them also experience difficulty because of their deep acceptance of what you are calling the just world fallacy. Such a belief seems to me to be foundational in many people and a major conflict with that world view is psychologically destabilizing. I wonder, after reading your piece, whether or not that is part of the reason that so many members of my liberal tribe are going along with the extremist ideologues that have started to wag the dog, a root survival fear not only of being cast out or attacked in a similar fashion but even more profoundly the fear of loss of a belief in the just world paradigm. In any event, you have given me much food for thought. Thank you. And thank you as well for surviving your McCarthyite moment. In this time of cultural insanity I think there are going to be many more of us who are cast out one way or another. All of us are going to be forced, whether we wish it or not, to do deeper thinking than we ever expected and to face unpleasant truths, about ourselves, our compatriots, about the inevitable tendency of normal people to do evil in the name of good. Thanks again for your courage in speaking out.

    • Thanks Stephen. I think a lot of ideological extremism is rooted in cognitive dissonance. As Reinhold Niebuhr said: “Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.”

  13. Frank says

    This absolutely reeks of self-entitlement. Exactly what we’d expect from the obnoxious Toby Young

    • Phoenix44 says

      Who cares what your utterly subjective opinion is? You disliked Young before you read the article and lo and behold you make a puerile comment about how much you still dislike Young afterwards. Do you honestly think your prejudice is interesting to anybody?

      • Frank says

        “Do you honestly think your prejudice is interesting to anybody?”

        You may want to ask Toby the exact same question.

        PS – everyone’s opinion is subjective.

  14. Phoenix44 says

    Good for you Toby for coming through this, but how many others have curbed their words and hidden their opinions to avoid this sort of deranged and malevolent witch-hunting? And I note that it wasn’t just the twisting of what you wrote that was bad, but the fact that some decided that gave them license to lie about you as well.

    I am unsure where this leads, but it is nowhere good. I fear for the future in ways I have never done in the past,a s the UK and the US swings towards an unpleasant authoritarianism, driven as ever by people who think they represent virtue and know how the world should think and speak. That so many of those people lack self-awareness and so cannot see what they are doing is no excuse, nor any reason for hope.

    Progressives appear to have decided that any and all behaviours are justified, if they further your causes, an idea that would find a home with the fascists and totalitarian communists of the 20th century.

  15. Pat Geary says

    Still have great respect for Toby, and enjoy reading him in the Spectator.

      • Peter from Oz says

        If you must have a Jodrell, go and do it in your mummmy’s basement and don’t subject the rest of us to your endless onanism

        • And back to you, your repressed thug. Go and post your mindless hatred somewhere else. And try not to poison the rest of us.

          You pretentious tit!

  16. Dana Reed Thurston says

    As I read this, it became clearer the difference between your situation and the James Gunn situation.

    You were attacked for your beliefs. Those beliefs were not in lock step with the power elite in England (and you were in the company of 17.4 millions of your countrymen). You were a bug to be squashed. You were a heretic to the globalist agenda.

    On the other hand, James Gunn shared jokes publicly that, while in context with friends may be considered “funny”, were absolutely reprehensible. And they were shared in an atmosphere (Hollywood) where paedophilia is already a topic of concern.

    And these “jokes” were not at the expense of paedophiles but, rather, almost a paean to paedophilia. As were the “jokes” of several other Hollywood types. I dare say, if they weren’t Hollywood types, they would be ostracized from their communities. Put those tweets into the Twitter account of any politician or educator.

    While we all clutch our pearls at the attack on free speech, one wonders what ever happened to the attitude of ‘if it saves one child’? And as some have pointed out, free speech does not eliminate the consequences of free speech.

    I am a fan of Roman Polanski films. He is a great film maker. But should we excuse his rape of a minor because of his artistry (I am guilty of, at least, ignoring the implications of his acts)? But we excuse his rape because Hollywood told us that a little rape shouldn’t make us stifle a great artistic voice. I suspect my life would be no different, however, if I had never seen “Chinatown” but that 13 year old girl’s life would be much different had she not been exposed to Mr. Polanski. (I am reminded of one comedian making the joke that if his daughter had to be raped, he would only hope it would be by someone as talented as Polanski.)

    Our penchant for excusing acts and statements by “talented” or “genius” artists is disturbing. It is the dual carriageway of logic. It is a two tiered system of judgement.

    • LAW says

      I’m generally of the opinion that we should forgive people and totally abandon Twitter witch hunts. But with the current state of the world, I fear it may take total war to show that – there’s almost nobody who hasn’t said or done something objectionable if you look hard enough, and it looks like “offense archaeology” will become the norm for both sides. Sadly, we will lose some good people from public life, but at some point people will call a truce and Twitter shaming will stop being socially acceptable.

      With that being said the Roman Polanski thing really pisses me off. All these people who are suddenly #metoo #timesup outraged are mostly the same people who love Polanski and gave him a standing ovation when he won for the Pianist. It’s so goddamn hypocritical. Same goes, to a lesser extent, with Woody Allen. That dude is absolutely gross and people still call his daughter a liar. Believe all women, except for those accusing that funny old guy that we like. This kind of hypocrisy is part of why I don’t take almost any of the #metoo crap coming out of Hollywood seriously. Most of it is trying to climb the victim status ladder, as opposed to trying to get nasty people out of the industry.

      • Bill says

        I recall watching an Amy Schuler show not even 3-4 years ago which would see her reviled. Her joke was basically that she stopped dating latinos because she liked the sex to be consensual. It received lots of laughs before that became the type of joke that would require banishment, threats of impeachment, and charges of racism. The humor of the past is the outrage and “proof of evil” today.

  17. Anand R Raghavan says


    Thank you for this thoughtful and honest piece.

    It brings into sharp focus how social media accentuates hypocrisy. The swiftness with which it manipulates people into the mentality of a mob – to identify crime and pronounce punishment with self righteous indignation. Without even going into the validity or superficiality of the data it is based on.

    Any human being who retains the capacity to listen to their own heart would realise that good and bad co-exist within it.

    The world needs less judgement and more empathetic engagement.

    Lets hope your article trends long enough to cast a pebble in that direction.

  18. James Gunn unfairly lost a job he was very qualified for based on some sick jokes.

    Young was a crony appointed to a job he was unqualified for. It’s not totally fair that he lost the job based on his old writings or tweets, but he should never have had the job in the first place. His only ‘expertise’ in education was at secondary level, running free schools as part of a programme which seems to be more expensive and wasteful than normal state schools with little actual benefit in terms of outcomes.

    So it’s not surprising that making him a higher education regulator attracted a backlash. The “progressive eugenics” thing may have been unfairly distorted, but at the same time, it’s not like Young actually knows enough about genetics to make sensible recommendations about public policy in this area. He’s a PPE graduate who didn’t even get the grades required for his course, and got in by a combination of an administrative error and the intervention of his dad, who was a Baron.

    He was appointed for tribal reasons because he comes from a certain class of people (Tory Oxford PPE grads), and as a typical specimen of such, he is a classic example of why Britain is so screwed now: he’s not very bright, replaces domain knowledge with rhetoric, and seems like and impressive to other not-very-bright PPE grads who give him important jobs.

    The smearing of Gunn was far worse than what happened to Young, because Cernovich inflated some shock humor into accusations of actual paedophilia, which even commenters on this article have fallen for.

    • Ed Everett says

      Have you read the Gunn tweets (I’m guessing Toby didn’t)? Unrepeatable and truly sick, no parallel to any innuendo that I have experienced and I have heard quite a lot… But by all means get on your high educational horse and claim that it was all about his qualifications. Nonsense, there was never an argument made along those lines against Young, it was all about PC. However, you do reveal the main issue among your ilk: class envy. Frankly the thing I like about Toby Young is his classlessness (in a positive way). He knows how to live among many types of people. Just evidently not among cloistered leftist academics and ‘senior teachers’ with chips on their shoulders that they are not as commercially rewarded as they think they should be (a frustration which is thoroughly merited and a source of great personal enjoyment on my part).

      • I have read the tweets. They’re just sick jokes. If you’ve never heard jokes like that, you’ve lived a sheltered life.

        I didn’t claim that the outrage was about his qualifications, just that he wasn’t qualified for the job, so the outcome was correct, although possibly for the wrong reasons.

    • Veen says

      If he was appointed because of “tribal reasons because he comes from a certain class of people (Tory Oxford PPE grads)”, why is it that almost everyone else appointed to the same committee is of the opposing tribe?

      His experience, as he pointed out in the article, is in getting under-privileged children into university via the schools he co-founded, something they do well. This is a valuable viewpoint if the goal is actually to improve outcomes for that group.

      • I don’t object to appointing someone to the committee who’s not a typical po-mo lefty. It’s just that they should pick someone who is qualified.

        Under the Coalition government, Ben Goldacre did a review about opportunities for evidence-based education policy. Almost none of the policy proposals from the left or the right are based on actual evidence, because education researchers don’t do controlled trials. So Goldacre would have been a great appointment, but it seems like his input has since been ignored.

        Founding a secondary school might give you experience of how to get kids into university. But that doesn’t mean you know anything about how to set policy for what happens at universities, beyond the admissions process.

        Young also doesn’t provide any figures that would provide a comparison of whether his school is actually outperforming state schools. This is the typical politician mindset of regurgitating figures to support your policy, but there is no way he is capable of analysing figures or evidence to determine correct policy.

    • Craig says

      Young was involved in setting up four free schools that helped a vast number of under privileged children into higher education. He was more than qualified to hold the role. Part of the reason he was hounded out of the job was because he was proving that the free school system can work.

      • Any school will get some under-privileged children into higher education. Where is the evidence that free schools in general do better than state schools at this? There isn’t any. The Sutton Trust review concluded that free schools exclude more disadvantaged pupils than state schools. https://www.suttontrust.com/research-paper/free-schools-analysis-nfer/

        I would love to see education policy being set based on actual evidence, rather than either po-mo lefty bollocks or right-wing traditionalism.

    • ga gamba says

      His only ‘expertise’ in education was at secondary level, running free schools as part of a programme which seems to be more expensive and wasteful than normal state schools with little actual benefit in terms of outcomes.

      There’s playing the man and there’s playing the ball. If substantiated by evidence, your sentence I quoted is an example of attempting to play the ball, which is fair play.

      But… rather than proceed with evidence (that’s the basis of your opinion, right?) the remainder of your comment left the rails. You write Young doesn’t know about genetics because… no valid reason given. He’s unqualified because he shouldn’t have been admitted to Oxford and he read PPE. Given he’s written on the subject, you should have been able to pull evidence of his ignorance and inaccuracies. Where are they?

      You add: “… it’s not like Young actually knows enough about genetics to make sensible recommendations about public policy in this area.” Yet, you prefaced that by writing his comments on eugenics had been “unfairly distorted”. Hold on, if he’s uninformed on genetics and eugenics, why would his comments need to be “distorted” in the first place? Were his inaccurate opinions distorted to accurate ones? That doesn’t seem plausible, yeah? Let’s assume your assertion is accurate. Why then was this not the crux of his critics’ argument against his appointment? Seems to me it would be a slam dunk. Perhaps the neo-Lysenkoites were those doing the distorting and not Young himself.

      Further, you write that he would be making recommendation about public policy on genetics. Would he? I checked the remit of the Office of Students. It’s quite long, but suffice it to say it’s designed “to encourage the growth of a competitive market that informs student choice, to intervene when the market is failing in areas such as equal access, and protect the interest of its consumers,” namely students. Where do you see the Office of Students’ remit making public policy on genetics? And, of course, Young is just one man of fifteen, so he’d have to persuade the other fourteen members to accept his views, ones that you’re admitted have been “unfairly distorted”.

      You continue with an attack on his background and his intelligence. Substantiate this with more than clichés.

      The mob Mr Young faced was playing the man. This includes you, though you attempted to put a veneer of fair play on it.

      • I didn’t intend to suggest that he’d be making policy recommendations about genetics for the Office of Students.

        His genetics article cited popular articles and books, not the primary research literature, including regurgitating some dubious sources like Charles Murray (I know much of the left screams about eugenics any time genetics is mentioned, but Murray does seem to have a racist agenda). I doubt Young could explain the difference between broad-sense and narrow-sense heritability. He’s certainly not capable of assessing the quality of a research paper or carrying out a GWAS. That kind of superficial understanding is fine for a pop science journalist, but he obviously doesn’t “know about genetics” at a level beyond dinner party conversation.

        There is an actual discussion about intelligence and genes to be had (and I agree that the neo-Lysenkoism of the left is a problem here), but it’s for geneticists and education researchers to have it, not thinkpiece writers.

        So why did he write an essay arguing for a particular eugenics policy? He knew it would wind up the left, so he can’t really complain when they got upset by it. What he proposes probably isn’t feasible anyway. It’s unlikely that many poor people will want to go through IVF and discard embryos just to potentially make their kid a bit smarter. If he has strong opinions about making embryo selection for IQ available, let him try to get appointed to a bioethics committee, not an education committee.

        His experience running free schools does arguably make him qualified to contribute to policy for *secondary* education. Although he quit that after 5 years, saying that he didn’t realise how difficult it would be and that his previous views were naive: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/toby-young-admits-running-a-school-was-harder-than-i-thought-as-he-backs-down-as-free-school-ceo-a7017651.html

        So why was he appointed to make higher ed policy? His opinions on the matter are no more valuable than his opinions on genetics, or those on free schools before he actually tried running them.

        Unfortunately, the political culture in the UK hates actual experts who can handle complexity, and prefers talking heads like Young. This is part of the cultural issue where elites are raised to be confident, glib bullshitters and are used to hiring the little people to handle anything which requires actual difficult work. Then they end up in positions where they are required to handle detail, leading to disaster.

        • ga gamba says

          OK, this is a better comment. Since you now concede you didn’t “intend to suggest that he’d be making policy recommendations about genetics for the Office of Students,” we can ignore your second, third, and fourth paragraphs since they are not relevant to the performance of the job he was appointed. Layman’s knowledge in one field does not automatically mean the same in all other subjects. It would be relevant if he were appointed to a grant committee evaluating genetics research proposals. Thankfully he wasn’t, so we dodged a bullet there. Whew!

          Your fifth paragraph has validity. I think it would have much more validity if he were the sole member of the board. Many others appointed to the board have experience at the tertiary level, so I think that angle is covered. I think experience at the secondary level has merit because it’s the feeder for uni. Time and time again I read the Guardian reporting underserved and marginalsed students are at a disadvantage because they don’t have parents who guide them effectively through the application process. I read of otherwise qualified students who never considered Russell Group schools because they “are not for people like them.” Even their teachers discourage them. They’re fish out of water in their interviews.

          That he stated his previous views were naive suggests to me a willingness on his part to be open-minded and flexible enough to recognise his shortcomings and adjust. I think this is a strength.

          I certainly think experts are needed, but we find that often senior leaders are generalists. They rely on experts. Would it even be possible for a person be an expert in all things relevant to an organisation? Is the dean of the school of medicine an expert on neurology, cardiology, and obstetrics? Is air force general an expert on submarine warfare? Or even aircraft repair? Experts have their niches. And they also have their blind spots. Having a few generalists around may even aid those experts in crafting messages to be understood by politicians, journalists, and the layperson. Certainly in many fields expert jargon exists that has to be made clear to those not in the know.

          This “experts” argument I saw arise during the Brexit campaign – I recall it was Gove who dismissed their forecasts out of hand. Interestingly, the Bank of England’s experts predicted all kinds of immediate economic catastrophes that did not pan out. We can look to other examples of failed expertise. The many financial experts who didn’t foresee the economic collapse of 2008. The experts who claimed China’s and North Korea’s military programmes would proceed at a much slower pace than they have. The experts who didn’t see the collapse of the Soviet Union. Experts are still bickering about whether coffee will kill me – I no longer care. And, of course, two experts analysing the same data may arrive at different explantions for those figures to exist. Heck, we have numbskulls like Trudeau swallowing the mythical gender wage gap (univariate analysis of patriarchy) hook, line, and sinker. We should also not ignore the existence of those experts who opt to accept the prevailing wisdom because it’s the safer to be part of the herd. “Everyone else was predicting it too,” is the usual defence when things go opposite.

          • If his experience in secondary education was strong enough to get the job, then why was he appointed outside of the normal recruitment process? I’m sure there are plenty of experienced headteachers who would have been better qualified. It was just cronyism.

            Of course senior leaders need the advice of experts and can’t understand everything in detail. That point doesn’t really apply to this case, where Young was supposed to be on a committee of experts *advising* leaders.

            Sure, experts can differ and there is a risk of groupthink misleading an entire field.

            But it’s wrong to dismiss expertise just because expert predictions aren’t always accurate. Maybe the Bank of England predicted Brexit impacts too early (probably because markets priced in a very soft Brexit or second referendum), but it’s still pretty clear that Brexit has damaged the UK economy and will cause serious economic slowdown when it actually happens.

            Leaders need to know which experts to listen to. Most people in the financial sector didn’t predict the CDO crash, and a lot of economists are co-opted by the financial industry, but some academic economists *were* warning about it.

            When Boris Johnson compared the potential impact of Brexit to the Millennium Bug to suggest it’s all hype, it’s clear that he didn’t understand that the Millennium Bug had limited impact only because experts did years of work to update software systems and prevent it. You don’t need to be an expert to understand the basics of what happened with the Millennium Bug, but Johnson doesn’t even have a layman’s understanding, showing that whatever ‘experts’ he relies on don’t include any computer scientists. Similarly, Trudeau wouldn’t believe in the naive version of the gender wage gap (not adjusting for different types of work done by men and women) if he had discussed the issue with some economists rather than gender studies campaigners.

            If you want an ‘expert’ to tell you the best way to raise the quality of preparation for university, should you appoint someone who has systematically analysed different types of secondary education and their impacts? Or someone who only has 5 years of experience and is committed to pushing a particular model of secondary education and rejects any attempts at evidence-based assessment? It depends if you care about actually delivering the best policy, or if you just want an ideological fellow traveller.

          • Paul Ellis says


            “If his experience in secondary education was strong enough to get the job, then why was he appointed outside of the normal recruitment process?”

            I can think of two reasons:

            1. ‘Cronyism’ was going to be the only realistic way of getting an alternative viewpoint and experience appointed to the Office for Students; or

            2. Someone somewhere had had just about enough of Toby Young’s involvement in education, and decided that the best way to get him totally blackballed was to get him a crony appointment to a body dealing with students in tertiary education. That would be very likely to provoke an online backlash which would do the job, at arm’s length, with complete plausible deniability.

            If 2. is correct, it worked a treat and Machiavelli would be cheering.

          • ga gamba says


            There ya go. You’re moving closer to playing the ball now. It’s possible.

            Sadly, what you bring forth now was very little of the criticisms then.

            But it’s wrong to dismiss expertise just because expert predictions aren’t always accurate.

            I’m not arguing that.

            Leaders need to know which experts to listen to.

            Indeed. We agree here. And there’s the rub. Do will heed the expert advice of the economist from the Austrian School or a Marxist? Does the leader accept the conventional wisdom (later proved wrong) or that lone voice: “Stop! You’re headed off the cliff!” It’s safer to go with the crowd, isn’t it?

            The number of years is, at most, of minor importance. To me this is still playing the man and not the ball. Given the choice, would you opt for the less or incompetent expert (doctor, mechanic, hairstylist, teacher, etc) whose been on the job for 20 years or a talented person with 3 years? In the absence of evidence other than x number of years sometimes it’s tough to differentiate.

            For many years I lived in a very hierarchical culture that deferred to age and title. It doesn’t always work out as intended. Some elders aren’t wise. Deference allows professors to show up to lectures with yellowed notes of out-of-date info written decades earlier. Seniors who are threatened by their juniors’ talents shunt them off to other departments outside their field of competence or dead-end projects. Further, there are those who spend years pursuing fool’s errands. Is 40 years studying alchemy 40 wasted years? Resoundingly yes? Perhaps not. We still learnt things from these efforts, though what we learnt wasn’t the alchemists’ intent. Personally I have no objection to a people spending years and even a lifetime in such a pursuit provided that their dominance isn’t so absolute it thwarts others researching the opposite – then we’re in Lysenkoism. At one point Copernicus was the young guy saying, “Hold on here…” And some of our discoveries were unintended results.

            Let’s not forget about a century ago almost all experts came from one particular class. If all others were deferential to their expertise then many important reformist voices would have been silenced.

            It depends if you care about actually delivering the best policy, or if you just want an ideological fellow traveller.

            The elected leaders, those who are responsible to appoint senior leaders of the bureaucracy, are ideological. More of the electorate chose them to implement policies that are closer to one ideology, such as free-enterprise capitalism, than another, such as Marxism. This is the nature of the game. I’ll presume almost everyone “cares” for the “best”; it’s how this is defined is where the swords are drawn.

            To oppose or support someone like Young one needs to delve into what he says about the topic at hand and analyse his results.

  19. IAC says

    The one word missing which is enough for a social hanging in education circles, or most places, is “Tory”

  20. Toby made a lot of enemies on the liberal left but they were worth making, and despite all the problems I doubt he will find himself short of money.

  21. Politics is for some years suffering from the over abundance of bland men and women. Public life, it seems will suffer the same fate. If you are too cautious with your thoughts and words you end up saying nothing of any interest

    • Nicola says

      So what? Politics is filled with show boaters. I’d rather have smart people who are cautious with their thoughts and words any day.

  22. Richard says

    ‘Will I get a second chance?’ asks Toby Young. I sincerely hope not!

    • Does it matter to you, that, in spite of his distasteful sense of humor, he has actually done more good for underprivileged children than most of his critics combined? Is purifying the public sphere so important worth the price of any future good that he might have done?

      • Richard says

        Veen, how many underprivileged children has he helped? Do you have a figure? Best wishes.

        • Craig says

          At the high school I helped set up, four out of every 10 children are from under-privileged backgrounds “and our exam results put us in the top 10 percent of all high schools in England. 83 percent of our graduating class this year got college offers, 63 percent from Russell Group universities, Britain’s Ivy League.”

          Try reading the article you are commenting on.

        • gda says

          How many have you helped? Give us the number and let us compare objectively. If Toby has helped even one more than you, then will you admit he’s a better man than you?

          Or just continue to strike out mindlessly?

          • Paul Ellis says

            Craig isn’t referring to himself: he’s quoting directly from Young’s article, but his post is missing the leading quotation mark. That was clear to me when I read the post.

  23. C Young says

    Chin up. I’m sure you’ll find a way back.

    This was very likely inevitable. I love dark humour, but once you’ve engaged in it publicly there is no way back. A private provocateur can no longer become a public figure. Rod Liddle is never going to be director general of the BBC. Literalism rules the web.

  24. What a self-pitying piece! Overall it was quite right you got the boot – poetic justice. Let us be honest, other than these childish rants, you are hardly worth all that as a journalist.

    • Chandler Hall says

      How many times do you intend to reply? You seem rather emotional about this.

      • This was my comment and not a reply. If someone has a pop at me – I try to reply in kind. Regards.

    • gda says

      With such a foul and noxious personality it’s no wonder you deem yourself to be a Nomad. Tell us, is that really because you wander the earth in a vain search for a home where you don’t alienate everyone around you by your assholery?

      Get some help, son.

      • @ gda

        “With such a foul and noxious personality”

        I must be a mirror to you.

        “Tell us,”

        Who is us? Is this just you [a single person] commenting or more than one?

        “Get some help, son.”

        Thanks for the advice, daddy. But i don’t think I need it. I am not anywhere as near as nasty and vile as you are.

  25. Andre says

    The problem is that very few people read. It would be more efficient to publish a series of videos on YouTube titled ‘I publicly call such and such a lier’. Show them writing or saying something about you and explain what you said or wrote in reality. Fight back, and never apologize!

  26. NobbyDazzler says

    Dear Toby,

    Get a f****** big gun, one that’s belt fed and not magazine fed, find a group of these SJW’s and pull the trigger. Don’t let go until you’ve run out of ammo.
    Load another belt and find another group. Repeat.
    They are not going to go away, nor will they cease. It is impossible to understand their view in any reasonable, rational or logical way, and if questioned on their view they are unable to offer any reasonable, rational or logical answer but will call you all-sorts of names for even questioning them.

    Lots of love
    NobbyDazzler x

    • Heads Will Roll says

      Resorting to violence is never the answer. Joking about committing mass shooting events should never be a sane person’s first instinct.

    • Emblem14 says


      Time to start thinking about moderating the comments. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Posts like the one above will be an albatross around your neck.

      There’s a smell of burning excrement in the air.

  27. patrick cull says

    I thought it sucked at the time and I think it sucks even more knowing you lost the work/life balance you had with your wife and family. Funny thing about being a white male etc. It’s like we get brought up in test tubes filled with entitlement. I was raised by my mother, who became a professor of art in South Africa and have been surrounded by incredibly wonderful and strong, intelligent women my whole life. You would think some of that would have rubbed off on me?

  28. James Thomas says

    All this ancillary talk about Hollywood pedophiles. I can feel the (rightful) disgust pouring out of the keyboard of some of these more right-leaning comments. But is Hollywood where the pedophiles go? It would seem that the Catholic Church has been orders of magnitude worse on aiding and abetting pedophilia.

  29. tds says

    Maybe I missed it, but at what point did society approve of a retroactive social criminal code? I find the examination of a previous generation’s social behavior through the lens of this week’s social rules to be reprehensible.

    I very much doubt society really approves of this type of mob behavior that is executed like pincer movements in a military campaign. It is clearly a tyranny of the minority.

    The mob’s power is their documentable pile of bodies. Somebody has to stand up to this mob and just loud and proudly give them the finger. Trump did it, and we can all see where it got him. I wonder how many people who collapsed under the weight of the mob regret not doing this as they look at the ceiling before they go to sleep. You might as well go down swinging.

    My favorite philosopher had the right attitude: I Yam What I Yam and Dats What I Yam.

    • TarsTarkas says

      You are obviously some sort of bigot to make a comment like that (NOTE: SARCASM).

      One can never accuse the Virtuous of wrong-doing or wrong-thinking because they are ipso facto pure and right, which means you must be some sort of unbelievably evil person to try and ‘smear’ them.

      The problem there is no mechanism in place to punish social media trolls, no-fact accusors, and false witnesses, they just move on to the next twitterstorm and repeat their evil.

  30. Benjamin Perez says

    The progressive purity spiral will no doubt, in short time, take down almost all of our own (yes, a progressive is writing this); conversely, the conservative tornado will not only lift most of their own but will likewise plough right over what few progressive purity trippers remain standing. The forgiveness of, for lack of a better term, “sins”—especially venial sins, and most especially venial sins committed during one’s youth and/or in one’s distant past—is not only possible but laudable (for both the forgivers and those forgiven gain and grow from the honesty, humility, and humanity necessary to offer or accept actual forgiveness); conversely, absence of sins is impossible: the more conservatives remember this (and the more conservatives remember the meaningful difference between venial and mortal sins), and the more progressives forget this (as well as forget the meaningful difference between venial and mortal sins), the more conservatives will win and the less progressives will win. The Puritans came to North America to build their “City upon a Hill”; no Puritans exist today, and neither does that “City” and neither does that “Hill” (they don’t because they can’t): history strongly suggests that progressives should stop planning that “City,” should stop looking for that “Hill.”

  31. Sally says

    The lesson of all this is that in these liberal intolerant times you can’t be both at the barricades, and at the same time operate behind enemy lines if you are a Conservative. Rosanne Barr had her own show on prime time, but as a Trump supporter she could not make a single mistake at the modern version of the barricades (namely Twitter)

    These rules do not apply on the left. Liberals are allowed to hurl twitter bombs, with impunity while at the same time be protected with high profile positions in media/entertainment/education. They get to play both virtuous and stormtrooper at the same time. Not you Toby or anyone else who has sensible views on things like education. Your past at the barricades was used against you. Not your knowledge of giving young people a good education.

    Unfortunately it is time to force them to eat their own shit sandwich. Force them to live by the same rules they impose on the right. Actually, making the left eat their own shit sandwich in most things is the best way to deal with their insanity. Make them pay the maximum amount of tax. Force them into putting their children in the worst comprehensive schools. (No sneaking out to the private sector) All leftist should be forced to adopt an immigrant child, and bring them into their own house. In fact millionaire Marxists like Gary Lineker should be forced to move into the multicultural areas of a city. I could go on about how every one of their idiocies should be rammed down their throats, but it they were forced to live like this the left would collapse in five minutes. Make them enjoy their own shit sandwich. Make them savour it with relish.

    • See this is what self pitying drivel of an article inspires. This loathing of each other. Why is it any different reading such self pity [Young’s] and this hate filled comment from the Right then it is anything similar the Left comes up with. What a thoroughly unpleasant woman.

  32. Col says

    There is and has been a growing movement to ensure that no one who thinks freely and comments as such should be hounded out of public life. The far-left cannot and will not tolerate any person who stands against their ideology .. this has happened before .. in Germany.

  33. Toby,
    First of all, excellent article. Thank you for writing. Second, I have been following many of those you mention who have been attacked by the mob. I personally am not in the public eye and thus not at as much a risk of loss as someone like yourself, but with even minimal power comes at least minimal obligation. And to me that obligation is to stand for yourself when nobody else will. Again, though I am not in yours or anyone else in the spotlight’s shoes, the only way to defeat this from either side is to stand up to it. Case in point, Bret Weinstein. This happened because of your power and influence and to give that up is what these types of people want…so please try not to fall into their trap. Standup for yourself knowing you are on the correct side and look back only sparingly.

  34. Bob C says

    I was very sorry when Toby Young resigned and even sorrier to read what he has been through since. I hope that writing this article has been in some way therapeutic. The only way this contemptible witch-hunting will end is when people like Toby find the courage to stand up to it and refuse to resign their jobs. Of course that is much easier to say than to do, particularly when one’s family is affected. But, as Jordan Peterson has shown, when you refuse to be cowed by bullies, mobs and rabble-rousers, you acquire the sympathy and support of large numbers of decent people, your good qualities become steadily more apparent, and your arguments start to be judged on their merits. I wish Toby and his family every possible good fortune in the months and years ahead.

  35. M.Y. says


    Congratulations are in order for this is, by some stretch, the most sanctimonious article you have ever written.

    Where to begin?

    Let us first set the scene. You, Toby Young, acquire a position at Oxford University (although ironically not through your own merit, but rather through nepotism). What an honour, what a privilege, what a shining example of how privilege functions in modern society. Receiving an education that children achieving two B’s and a C at A-level can only dream of. Your background is important, as it gives some context to why you may feel so entitled and explain how you were left feeling “consumed by a terrible sense of injustice”.

    You begin the piece with some truly outstanding virtue-signalling. How could anyone possibly take issue with you, after all, you have done “voluntary work intended to help disadvantaged children”. By the way, working as the head of a charity is not the same as unpaid volunteering, and you were on a salary upward of £90k (a point we shall return to later, don’t you worry). Regardless, it was an admirable effort to establish your martyr-like status.

    Next up, you address your ‘crimes’ head-on. This would be commendable if only you had actually taken a fraction of responsibility for them. Instead, you reduce your decade worth of vile tweets and articles to a mere “stupid joke on social media” that you “wish [you] could take back”. This really had me laughing – ‘that’s funny’ I thought to myself, because as I recall Toby Young did take them back, or at least he deleted over 8,000 tweets worth of them immediately after he assumed an official government role.

    The phrase ‘no smoke without fire’ springs to mind – I’m not sure why?

    Now we get to the really meaty stuff (oops, sorry, probably can’t say meaty in this day-and-age – will no doubt offend all those crazy-liberal-snowflake-vegans and we wouldn’t want that, would we Toby?)

    “How did that happen?” Toby asks. Unfortunately, this was a rhetorical question, and Toby dedicates the next 5066 words to explaining exactly how it happened*

    *Spoiler alert: he is utterly blameless; would you believe it!

    Despite what Toby’s Grade C GCE English Literature result indicates, he is actually quite a good writer. He also appears to have his finger firmly on the pulse when it comes to ‘hot-takes’ and lazy cultural commentary (perhaps he got his B in General studies?).

    Regardless, Toby begins “it didn’t help that I’m pro-Brexit” – this is entry-level stuff. Toby has made a very deliberate, some might say ‘textbook’, line of argument in mentioning the dreaded B word. It is a classic Brexiteer manoeuvre which goes something like this

    Person A: says something offensive
    Person B: points out to person A that the thing they said is offensive

    I will admit, at this point I was a little disappointed. I expected something a little imaginative from Toby.

    As so often happens in the right-wing-pseudo-apologist-“but actually it’s entirely the fault of the lefty mob”-style of journalism, Young pulls no punches, going straight in with the fool-proof PWM:

    Privileged ✓
    White ✓
    Man ✓

    For those of not fortunate enough share the lived-experience of a PWM, it is difficult to understand how they have the gall to assert that they are the victims, but they do. All the time.

    Toby goes on to criticise “offence archaeologists” for cherry-picking things that people have previously said which are offensive. To highlight this point he cleverly cherry-picks a list of names, all of which are on the same side of the political spectrum to him, to illustrate how this culture of shame functions. Unfortunately, this very deliberate cherry-picking weakens his point. Perhaps if he’d implemented a diversity-quota he could have better highlighted the way public shaming effects women like Justine Sacco or Monica Lewinsky.

    Instead, Young lazily falls back on the likes of Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson, both of whom have remained successful in their respective fields of work. Sam’s podcast is in the top 100 on UK and US iTunes chart with predominantly 5* reviews. Jordan Peterson is a best-selling author who earns upward of $34,000 per month in Patreon donations. Both men profit from controversy, I’m not sure they’re the best examples if he’s trying to tug on our heartstrings?

    “In today’s topsy-turvy world, virtue signalling trumps being virtuous” – finally, I hear your cry, Toby is exhibiting some self-awareness. Alas, no.

    At approximately 2,500 words in Toby clearly decides he has done enough to paint himself as a good guy, and finally he addresses his tweets.

    Oh wait, no, sorry – ignore that. He just continues to play the victim. Excuse me while I grab my violin and a pack of tissues.

    The “most hurtful [allegations] against me were that I’m a misogynist” he begins by saying. Let us define those two words:

    Misogyny: “the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification”

    Ok, well I think constantly tweeting about women’s tits/ baps/ weight is in line with the above definition: belittling ✓ objectifying ✓ hostile ✓

    It appears that Young felt that one apology, made in a public statement after stepping down from his role as the higher education watchdog, was adequate. Toby was indignant, his comments were “ill-judged”, he’d “deleted them—because they were asinine” and anyway, they were sent during the evening after he’d had drunk a couple of glasses of wine.

    Toby helpful reminds us that he cannot possibly be a misogynist now, because he has a wife and a daughter. Apparently being misogynistic and caring about female family and friends are mutually incompatible. This is interesting, because if my basic understanding biology serves me right the majority of men have mothers at the bare minimum, and yet misogyny is still rife. Weird!

    Now, these tweets *could* be deemed offensive. I don’t think I’d be particularly thrilled if the tits in question belonged to me. The issue for Toby is that his salary was effectively paid for by tax-payers money. The New Schools Network (NSN) received the majority of its funding directly from the DfE, and young pocketed upwards of £90k a year as the head of the ‘charity’. He was then offered a further role as a higher education watchdog, the salary of which would also be paid for by the tax-payer. Unfortunately, the media-storm that followed Toby young called into question his appropriateness for the new role, and subsequently his previous role at the NSN.

    Toby doesn’t like the “finality” of the accusation – I wipe away a solitary tear from my cheek – If only he understood the finality of the world-wide-web upon which he so carelessly expressed these “asinine” opinions. Poor Toby.

    Toby resents sharing a #metoo moment with men who are worse than him. That’s not fair, he should have his own hashtag. For the record Toby has “run several medium-sized organizations in my career and employed hundreds of people and I’ve never been accused of sexual harassment or discrimination or anything remotely like that”. This is truly breath-taking. I am lost for words. This man deserves an award to honour his contribution to the bare minimum of human decency and respect. Well done.

    Oh, and lest we forget, he cannot be accused of homophobia because some of his friends are…GAY?!

    Toby wistfully notes that when he proclaimed he was “the victim of a witch-hunt” his friends “gently point[ed] out that [he] wasn’t entirely innocent” – they were obviously aware of just how fragile his ego is.

    This is good, we’re finally getting somewhere, perhaps an acknowledgement that he is liable? No?
    So close, yet so far.

    It appears that only after his daughter refused to go to school, and his wife became fed up with people questioning her, that he “had no choice but to issue a public apology and stand down”. So noble.

    “In one respect, that was a mistake.” – WAIT, hold the rapturous applause. He doesn’t even stand by his one and only apology that was made off the back of his families distress not because he was actually, sincerely sorry for anything he’d said.

    Whether or not you agree that the repercussions were too severe, the hyperbolic self-pitying. Young complains about having to resign from his £90k a year role, “the one that paid the mortgage and enabled me to put food on the table and clothe my children”. This is particularly grating. In 2015, Young told the Telegraph he lived in a semi-detached house in Acton, West London, where the average house price for a semi-detached home is £1,069,247. I find it difficult to imagine that Young is struggling to provide for his family.

    In a bizarre yet characteristically narcissistic plot twist, Young inserts a topless photo of himself at the end of the article, unexpectedly pivoting to discussing his self-flagellatory fitness journey that he so ingeniously calls the “Public Humiliation Diet” – very clever.

    As we reach the end of the article I think it is important to note that I am also deeply concerned about the pervasive culture of public shaming. There is a genuine, urgent need to discuss the knee-jerk shaming which occurs on social media, particularly on twitter. Unfortunately, this article is not a thoughtful discussion, Young has not opened up a debate, or constructed a nuanced commentary.

    Instead Toby trots out the same old argument “I think the answer must have something to do with the rise of identity politics”. It goes without saying that this is a highly unoriginal take, but the reason I take issue with the statement is not based upon the absence of creative thought.

    The issue is that articles like this are the bread and butter of identity politics, albeit not the “lefty/ luvvies/ politically correct/ snowflake/ LGBTQ+/ non-binary/ woke” version (god forbid!)

    Identity politics are political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify. On social media it often manifests in a “tribal” way. Here are two examples to illustrate:

    example 1:
    person tweets about any social-justice issue (racism, homophobia, sexism etc)
    twitter responds with: a barrage of ad hominem attacks (ie. swearwords, snowflake, remoaner, commie, liberal)

    example 2:
    person tweets something racist, homophobic, sexist etc
    twitter responds with: a barrage of ad hominem attacks (ie. Swearwords, tory, gammon, cuck, fascist, or simply pointing about that they are racist, homophobic or sexist)

    (Obviously, this is tongue and cheek, I was inspired by master of “caustic wit” himself)
    There is nothing that people like Young love to do more than to use “identity politics” to shut down the criticism (valid or otherwise) made by those whose views they ideologically oppose.
    For someone who is so obsessed with protecting freedom of speech and hates the idea of ‘safe spaces’, Toby seems pretty intolerant to people exercising their free speech. I guess he’s not had much personal experience being a ‘victim’, so I we should cut him some slack…poor chap.

    This is not a sob-story. It is Young’s attempt to both deflect any personal responsibly for his actions whilst simultaneously making sweeping generalisations about those ‘on the left’.

    I don’t disagree with Young’s proposition that the rise of identity politics has a role to play in public shaming. I resent his desperate, and utterly transparent, attempt to frame it as a problem that is exclusive to the “left”. This is utterly unhelpful and will only serve fuel ideological hatred between left and right. You could be forgiven for wondering if that was perhaps the underling motivation for the entire piece…

    • Sally says

      You lost me at……”the most sanctimonious article you have ever written.”

      Quite pointless reading anything more after that. . Don’t know why you bothered writing a book about it.

      • Scott B says


        I’m going to spend 1000 words on a dribbling ad hominem. Please don’t ignore me – I don’t think I could take it…

      • M.Y. says

        Sally, I don’t know why you bothered responding to something you didn’t even read, what a total waste of your time!

        You’re comment, however, is comedy gold. Maybe you should go into stand-up…or perhaps run for the BNP?

        “All leftist should be forced to adopt an immigrant child, and bring them into their own house. In fact millionaire Marxists like Gary Lineker should be forced to move into the multicultural areas of a city. I could go on about how every one of their idiocies should be rammed down their throats, but it they were forced to live like this the left would collapse in five minutes.”

        WOW, This is INSPIRED!

        It is hilarious that you moan about “these liberal intolerant times”, you’re comment is hardly a bastion for tolerance is it…talk about irony.

        • Sally says

          You missed out forcing left wing liberals (Particularly the millionaire Marxists politicians ) to pay lots of tax. Oh, and putting their children into the worst sink hole inner city comprehensive schools for their children. Just like they think working class kids should make do with the crap schools that leftists avoid.

          There is a saying in law that you should prosecute bad law to The fullest. It makes the politicians get rid of bad laws.

          Same applies to leftists. Make them endure their stupid utopian policies. They were happy hounding people out of jobs on twitter for something they said 20 years ago, Well now it’s being turned against them.

          As to being intolerant, no, I’m just asking for wealthy and middle class leftists to be forced to endure their virtuous policies so they can see how stupid they are. High tax, crap schools, and lots of multiculturalism. That should do the trick! After all, if these things are so good, why would a leftist get so angry from having them forced upon them? They have no problem forcing them on other people.

    • tds says

      I kept thinking I was going to get to the part about why his ideas on education were wrong … but after a few thousand word of ad hominem I gave up.

    • What a waste of your time that shit was, eh? Why not go out and enjoy your life instead of being offended and spending your time feeling oppressed. You are oppressing yourself. Get off your backside and do something useful.

      • M.Y. says

        Wow, what a sad little life you must lead Natasha. What part of this response is useful? You have contributed nothing to this conversation.

        For your informational I work in the education sector, and I am studying for a Masters degree. So perhaps hold your unnecessary judgement.

        I don’t spend my time feeling oppressed? No idea what gave you that idea – I am entitled to share my opinion on something I feel passionately about. You could just as well have sent the above response to Toby’s article. The blatant hypocrisy is laughable.

        Have a great day.

    • Arthur Dent says

      Thanks. You just convinced me to become a patron of Quillette.

    • John AD says

      Thanks for this extra perspective. As much as I hate to add to someone’s suffering, and there clearly has been and is, and support any idea that there’s somehow justice in the torment and professional assassination of someone for their boorishnessness and other personal failings, I have to say that getting a different perspective of his “charity” work (working for and getting well paid by a charity, not being charitable), a different perspective on “cloth[ing]” his children, etc, is interesting. I haven’t followed the public saga, and just reading this article alone might have left me with a one-sided perspective.

      Also, again feeling that I might be adding to an injustice, and adding to a person’s torment, I’m a little worried about his role as editor at Quillette. He’s a political person, firmly in one camp. He’s not an academic. Quillette is expressly an outlet for “non-journalists — in particular scientists and scholars — a platform to share ideas without unnecessary editorial interference”. Yes, someone who is not of that ilk can be an editor can be objective and independent, but it’s still worrying that such an overtly political and politically situated person would be an editor at Quillette. I’ve had a nagging feeling that Quillette is getting more of a rightist leaning, rather than an apolitical stance.

      Just to correct one thing you may have wrong – Sam Harris is certainly not on the same side of the political spectrum as Young

      • M.Y. says

        Thanks for your response John. You are right about Sam Harris – my mistake. Apologies

        I have only just realised Toby’s position as editor of this media outlet. It is deeply concerning. It leaves me feeling even more bemused at his comments about having no form of paid work – I am assuming he is paid in his role as editor…

        As I said, I would have welcomed an article about the issues relating to public shaming and humiliation. Sadly, this article was a poor guise for attacking the “left”. It is entirely ideological, and you can see by the comments that it has done exactly what Young set out to achieve – stir up further resentment and anger between the “left” and “right”.

  36. Ethyl says

    Toby, I wish you all the best, truly. I went through a similar experience as support-crew, for a close family member who was publicly humiliated in a devastating way. That relative’s chosen profession is now a permanently closed door. There is so much I’d like to unload here, in sympathy, but… it’s not my story to tell, and it’s now a matter of permanent, searchable, internet record. I can’t invite the internet-troll-(censored)-bastards back again. We’ve all been through enough.

    I don’t know you, and even if it turns out you’re a jerk in real life, I’ll pray for you. What you’re going through, I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    The good news is: you’re an intelligent man with a supportive family. With patience and humility, you can survive this– bouts of depression and all. Perhaps there’s another line of work you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t pay well enough to justify it… now, why not? Ever wished you could spend more time with your family? It took my relative a decade of struggle and crap jobs to come out the other side, but we’ve made it. Finally. It’s a slog. But you can do it. Ask me how I know? Eh, maybe not.

    And stick to your exercise routine. You look great!

  37. codadmin says

    My hatred for the fascist left grows daily.

    Toby, time to dust yourself down and use your vast experience in the media to wage war on these leftist fascists.

  38. harrync says

    The mob mentality is not a leftist problem; it is a human problem. There are plenty of leftists – for example, me – and Jerry Coyne [see him at whyevolutionistrue] – who decry the “regressive left”. And there is plenty of mob mentality on the right – “lock her up” – for having the wrong internet server? Really?

  39. Simon says

    Hello Toby. I’ve always enjoyed your journalism and your books made me laugh. I like you. Whilst your tweets were a bit silly, they’re counterbalanced by your free school work – the kids you’ve helped to to succeed are more important than daft words. Keep going!

  40. chowderhead says

    How people feel about a subject or person is far more important than any demonstrable merits. I just listened to Sam Harris and Ezra Klein “conversing” re: Dr. Charles Murray. It was clear that Harris was working to minimize subjectivity while Klein had embraced and was wholly informed by it.

    My assessment (purely anecdotal) is that too many people are fully engaged in seeking entertainment everywhere and in everything. The bullshit Mr. Young and others have faced has dramatic entertainment value, with the added punch of feeling like the perpetrators made a difference in the world. It’s Monday morning quarterbacking with a tangible payoff. The good news is that this won’t be entertaining forever; the mob will soon bore of it (or get sick of it).

  41. Paul Shakesby says

    Thank you for completing adjusting my worldview and opinion. I seem to have fallen into the trap of judging from headlines.
    How can my view of someone be so ill informed or judgemental
    How can you ever really know anyone! How does our deep psychology lead to assassinating someone’s livelihood. Where does this crap stop!
    Thank goodness for long form journalism, podcasts . All I can do is wish you well!

  42. sagaks says

    The scary thing about situations like yours is how difficult preventing them in the future will be: society seems to be getting more reactive, and the internet facilitates uninformed mass hysteria about non-existing or trivial issues at the expense of solving actual problems. A backlash is building, but it doesn’t sound to me like having another hard front will solve these issues that fundamentally seem to stem from a lack of tolerance.

    That aside, i feel for your situation and hope people will see sense in the end. You sound like you will rise above – i have experienced myself how physical activity and nature can carry one through difficult times.

  43. Mazzakim says

    I’m blocked by Cernovich on Twitter, but if he initiated or has been leading the charge against James Gunn (and considering Cernovich’s obsession with pedophiles, it makes sense) then Gunn’s “defenestration” can’t exactly be laid at the feet of leftist SJWs.

  44. Joe C says

    When social media first came out, this was everyone’s fear. This is exactly why people need to stop using social media. No one is safe.

  45. finlandia100 says

    Toby, you are far too decent and lenient towards your adversaries. As I have discovered through many years working in (and being kicked out of) academia, they are merciless cunts, and should be treated as such.

  46. DBruce says

    I’m seeing a lot of minimising of what Mr pervy specs wrote.

  47. Kevin T says

    You didn’t do anything wrong and you should have ignored them. In some cases the same people who demanded you be fired (Dawn Butler for example) were happy just weeks later to instantly forgive people on their side of politics who behaved much worse than you did (Jared O’Mara). It was nothing more than taking a Tory scalp to them. They’re complete hypocrites.

    James Gunn is a different case. Someone who makes that many references, humourous or not, to raping children has serious issues and needs to be in therapy, not producing entertainment for children. Plus he openly called for others to be fired for more trivial offences so he deserves no sympathy.

  48. David Cox says

    Fair enough, Toby, but the picture would have been a bit more complete if you’d found room in your 5,000 words to remind us of the exact words of the five-boxes-of-tissues joke.

  49. D.B. Cooper says

    And the reason I was trending on Twitter is because literally thousands of people were Googling me and coming up with reasons why I wasn’t a fit person to be on this board…
    But the main reason I became such a lightning rod is because I had been appointed by the Prime Minister. If it could be shown that I was an unsuitable person to sit on this board, that would embarrass Theresa May.

    While I’m earnestly sympathetic to the suffering that Mr. Young (and the like) has endured, it’s difficult to describe these social cleansings as anything but a rhetorical mechanism employed to justify – usually Leftists – political ends.

    They are, in short, a Machiavellian castration masquerading as the moral high ground.

    To be sure, the Right has at times been guilty of much the same, but it is the Left who has, more often than not, weaponized these ideological sophistries as legitimate social grievances against anyone right of center, white, and/or of the male persuasion.

    The question, then, becomes: Why should we take Leftist indignation seriously at all, when it’s quite obvious to most everyone what it truly is – a caustic attempt to delegitimize a political bloc? Why should we take Leftists indignation seriously when Hillary taps Jay-Z “Big Pimpin” to headline one of her political rallies, or when in 2016 Obama invites Kendrick Lamar to the White House on July 4th because the rapper’s How Much a Dollar Cost is the president’s favorite song, not rap song; song. And just in case you didn’t get yourself a copy of that lyrically enriched album, the cover portrays an accompaniment of young scholars on the front White House lawn enthusiastically knelt over the body of a dead white judge with X’s scrawled over his eyes.

    So, why should we take Leftist indignation seriously?

  50. I had to go looking for it as well, whereupon I found the Daily Mail article that helpfully listed all the other off-colour tweets he made. There are probably enough there that he would have earned his sacking regardless of his political stripes.

    I know he had a nice job and now he doesn’t, but I don’t either, even though I can sit at a desk as well as anyone, and I can even operate a smartphone without feeling compelled to joke about having my “d*** up [someone else’s] a****”.

  51. Frederick F says

    Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.

    Imagine if our thoughts just before sleep were recorded and broadcast to the world. And we were then to be judged before all mankind (intentional use of this word) or perhaps just the self appointed judges of moral worth in humanities departments.

    As I read recently, just a few million left to shame before we reach social utopia.

  52. Chad Jessup says

    This quote from Suzanna Danuta Walters, “We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong.” is way over the top. Too many people forget the old adage of whoever rocks the cradle rules the world.

    My ex-wife was raising our daughter to be a second-class person, because she thought females are second-class citizens. Long story short – divorce, daughter raised by me to be an independent, loving, go-getting woman who would never allow herself to be a member of #MeToo.

  53. Andrew Roddy says

    Your friends, Toby, suggested gently that you might not be blameless? Friends can be fickle, can’t they? Perhaps they were just shit friends. Or perhaps they are the best ones you have. Are you appealing to Quillette for some new ones? You seem to have found some. Do you feel these are friendships you can trust? You might be scraping the bottom of the barrell here.
    Friendship and society seem somehow related but sadly ‘ There is no such thing as society!’. Does that real any bells? Perhaps if there is no society there can be no friendship.
    What do you want? Forgiveness? Impossible if you have done nothing wrong and all your words serve only to assert that your misfortunes are of other people’s making. Embrace your real friends, my friend, you will find none here. Your friends are the ones who find the courage to suggest to you that you are, in spite of your shameful protests here, a complete fucking twat. Reading between the lines, I think you know that’s true. They love you in spite, and because, of that. You’re just making a dick out of yourself. Stop. Re-evaluate. Rescue you humanity.

    • john smith says

      Andrew, your post is the rarest of things – bloody good advice in a comments section. Let’s hope that he reads it.

  54. Damian Chalmers says

    I am sorry to hear about how all this affected you. There is much that is thoughtful and interesting in your piece here. I hope your career establishes itself. I do feel, however, that you could have been more forthcoming about the context surrounding your appointment.

    (i) I cannot remember (and have briefly checked since) that your views on Brexit were significant in any way to opposition to your appointment. Indeed, a very prominent Remain colleague of mine spoke out on your behalf. To bring this up is something of a red herring. It also suggests too readily repeating received wisdoms about academics. I think this is a pity as you have clearly (and very wrongly) been targeted because of received wisdoms about your work. I think everybody finding out a little more before judging might not be a bad thing …

    (ii) The central concern for many involved the process surrounding your appointment. Unlike other candidates, you were invited by an old friend to apply rather than just responding to the advert. This old friend happened to be a minister. Also, unlike other candidates, you were not subject to due diligence checks. This was all very blokey. In addition, as you make much of your concerns about disadvantage, it reinforced disadvantage as it was white privileged males looking out for each other. It reflected badly on how the UK is run. Ultimately, you paid the biggest price as this boomeranged to hurt you. when it all became known. My own view is that this was a little unfair as the government was much more at fault on this.

  55. RadixLecti says

    Judging by the activity in the comments, looks like Quillette has finally started making blips on the radar when SJWs google their chosen victims.


  56. Toby may be a bit of a tit at times, but we all are…I certainly am… this is a great article, sums up why I utterly and totally despise people such as Owen Jones, Caroline Lucas, Polly Toynbee, Paul Mason, Dawn Butler and the entire Labour front bench, Ash Sakar, etc etc etc

  57. Ms Wren says

    The British professoriat is passionately pro-EU and believes anyone who doesn’t share their view is a racist bigot….the usual lies from the self pitying.

  58. Darren W says

    What Mr Young doesn’t mention in this piece, and which those of us in the UK know very well, is that he has made a very lucrative career on what one might call the “political correctness gone mad” circuit. In other words writing provocative and off colour stuff deliberately designed to enrage and annoy liberals. Right wing media outlets pay very well for that kind of stuff.

    One can’t really complain if one has played the court jester all one’s life and people are then sceptical as to whether you are the right person for a serious role.

  59. Nikhil Rao says

    Movingly written, thanks for articulating your painful experience so well. I’ve often felt Twitter would be better if it had a built-in 60 second delay. Once you press Send, if it gave you a minute to reconsider before releasing a thought out into eternity. The professional shamers and the unfortunate shamees might both benefit. Wishing you the best, and thanks to Quillette you have an international support group!

  60. neoteny says

    “bene qui latuit, bene vixit”

    — from Ovid, as quoted on René Descartes’ tombstone

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  62. Jeff York says

    Mr. Young, my condolences for your difficulties. I might wish to be richer than I am, not that I’m hurting, but I emphatically don’t want to be famous for reasons such as this.

    On 12 August, 1995, at the age of 36, I was arrested for the first-and-only time in my life for a misdemeanor, assault, committed by someone else. I had very minimally defended myself. I had ample time to leave before the police arrived but I’d done nothing wrong and didn’t want to appear guilty. There was a witness available to corroborate my version of events but the incompetent Bexar county sheriff’s deputy didn’t talk to him. (Elizabeth Richardson, badge #247, I can only hope that karma caught up with you). To cut to the chase I was arrested and the next eighteen months was a living hell. Both my fulltime job and my position in the army reserve required security clearances and if I’d been convicted the results could’ve been catastrophic. Finally, on 18 February, 1997, Judge Wayne Christian spoke to the witness and subsequently dismissed the charges. An expungement of my record was done (although I’ve found it online).

    I kept both jobs and retired from the army reserve in 2000, just after completing my 24th year. I’m fully-vested in my fulltime job and hope to retired in 2.5 years when I turn 62.

    Best of luck to you, Mr. Young.

  63. Toby,

    As a normal person and not a Snowflake, all you can do is crack on and not let it get to you. It’s the loss of the people that would not back you and keep you in post. It says volumes about the tenderness of institutions to any criticism these days that you could be let go for such trivial reasons.

    Same as bullying in School or the workplace (and bullying it most definitely is and should be called out as such) you have to carry on and not show weakness, or they will be on you like a pack of Wolves.

    As Snowflakes, the lefties think that doing this hurts you and you would (as they trend to do) shrink away after criticism.

    My philosophy is feck ’em. Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

    To stifle ANYONE just because they don’t ascribe to you particular philosophy is just as heinous as denying anyone from (for example) the LGBTQ+ community, a different race or religion, or anyone with a learning disability.

    Just because you don’t have a “label” does not undermine your validity. Not that people should be labelled either. People are people, no labels, no barriers.

  64. Michiel says

    The issue with James Gunn is not so much his stupid and hard-to-defend tweets (as far as I know, they were old and he had already apologized for them before), but the fact that he is a virtue signalling SJW who publicly attacked people on Twitter for not adhering to his socio-political views (ie everyone who is a Trump supporter). As usual with these people, at some point it comes out that they themselves are hardly so virtuous as they pretend to be. I don’t think his life or career needs to be ruined because of this, but I have no problem with him suffering because he’s been unmasked as a hypocritical prick.

    • Bill says

      @Michiel, you missed one thing that jumps to mind:

      Gunn posted offensive tweets in the past and apologized. He is vilified now and the mob demands his lynching.

      Senator Byrd…. I forget, didn’t he do something far more offensive in the past, apologize, and then be recognized as having “changed?”

      Lordy lordy, can you imagine if the election of 2020 were Clinton v Trump? Clinton’s statements about Byrd being her mentor would be proof that she should forever be banished…oh, wait, maybe not.

      It is all selective. Going back 10 years to attack someone is rooted in a desire to simply attack them now based upon something. They go back 20 years to find a clip to attack Trump, but when Clinton or Obama said the same thing 10 years ago, that isn’t brought up to shame their icon. I have no idea what Gunn did unless the digger, the original instigator, really hated GoG2.

      I only mention the above because I had a discussion with a Liberal friend who, after our discussion, admitted there was a bit of a disconnect to his cohort’s view when I challenged how they threw something Trump did/said 20 years ago against him as proof now of something when I posited the same situation about a Leftist darling and was told “oh, but they changed.” The Left view Leftists (and the Right view Rightists to be fair) as capable of rehabilitation. They give members of their cohort the benefit of the doubt while not providing the same to the opposition. Heaven forbid, for example, you bring up all the NAACP awards presented to Trump or some “offensive” jokes out of Southpark or SNL from the past. Do you really think the Devil and Saddam Hussein in bed would go over well? What about Operation Protect Whitey? Or Cartman dressed as Hitler or a “ghost?” Or Chef’s antics/lyrics? Even the jokes of Amy Schumer, Bill Maher, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock from a decade ago would trigger and threats of deplatforming since they were Milo’s predecessors.

  65. Jez Sullivan says

    Toby Young is an entitled prick. He is white male privilege made flesh. The fact he talks of hos humiliation is a testament to both his lack of humility and self awareness.

    A mediocre (but very well-connected) man pushed into saying stupid things because he is essentially living in the shadow of his father. His comeuppance was long overdue and totally justified.

    His vile comments on the working class are the product of a man who has been completely insulated by his background and sheltered from any sort of everyday real-world economic problem. My late father was made redundant and had a Daniel Blake experience. He didn’t just listen to Radio 4. He contributed to Michael Holroyd’s biography on George Bernard Shaw. Not bad for a bloke in a council house.

    The greatest joy of Young’s downfall is that he no longer pops up on national TV trying to tell the rest of us proles how to live. He should fuck off and go quietly.

  66. BIBI says

    The irony! Toby Young doesn’t want to be on the same level as Weinstein and YET he bragged about dressing as a woman and trying KISS YOUNG LESBIANS. Yes, he targeted the young ones. Just read the article. It’s about a homophobic predator in a dress . No wonder why people call him a homophobe and misogynist. He has no self awareness.

  67. I dislike the neo-Stalinist stylings of the SJW hate mobs as much as the next fellow, but I don’t seem to be able to muster much sympathy for this guy. I wonder why. Oh, yuh, now I remember: It’s because he’s so relentlessly unlikable.

  68. Phill says

    Toby, what you have written, reminds me about what happens in group therapy, it called the primitive mind.

    This happens when groups of people get together, and a primitive play gets enacted out.

  69. AnonymousPrime says

    I follow these stories of “public shaming” and have difficulty understanding. I’ve read the WaPo piece by Suzanna Danuta Walters, the piece by Quinn Norton, and there was another guy who was hired by the Atlantic and then summarily fired after a skewering by a number of people (incl Paul Krugman) that I think wrote about his ordeal in the NYT.

    What I always fail to understand is “why do these people care what people online say about them?” – the internet has been a cesspool of bullshit for as long as I can remember. Or even “why do these people care what anyone else says about them?”

    I suppose it may the primary psychopath traits I exhibit… or my own megalomania that makes it hard for me to understand why anyone ever cares what anyone else (most notably online trolls \ left or right). Or maybe I’ll understand if it ever happens to me.

    Glad you’re losing weight and getting fit tho 🙂

  70. Ocean Creature says

    Recently, I learned the term “Jesus smuggling.” So, just so you know, this comment will be about Jesus, but no smuggling, just straightforward and above board.

    A number of years ago, while reading a very New-Agey book, the author suddenly commented that everyone on earth needed to come to terms with the Crucifixion of Christ. I was certainly surprised by the comment and the context, yet now at our time in history it returns to me.

    Toby Young may certainly be a terrible person, but does our Twitter-sphere pillorying of him show us to be virtuous? We are more like the Roman centurions in The Passion of the Christ, lashing him with metal-tipped whips that chop a chunk of his flesh out with every stroke.

    And the glee – the glee of the concentration camp guard as he knowingly invites a Jew to get clean in a shower, the glee of MeToo women when those they’ve outed commit suicide, the glee of destroying the reputation and livelihood of Toby Young based on rumor, invective, hyperbole, and innuendo.

    Christ’s Crucifixion is the drama of us – the drama of who we become when we feel wronged, the drama of the victim’s entitled sense of revenge. – And the drama of the person who gets no honest trial, who receives no due process, who is denied the presumption of innocence.

    I miss the Christian context of our culture. Yes, there were hypocrites, as there are right now. But hypocrisy and the inability to live ethically does not mean that the ideal is not true. As we live into this revenge, perpetrated by the supposedly virtuous, never are the simple lessons of Sunday School more apt: Love your neighbor as yourself and be kind to those who hate you.

    Because that will be your prayer when they come for you.

  71. Truthseeker says


    I have never been on Twitter or Facebook and do not play in the public square to any significant extent. So my lack of relevant experience is to be duly noted for what I am about to say.

    Nobody who is not addicted to their socially media induced dopamine hit cares what you said 10 years ago or did 30 years ago. The average goldfish has a longer concentration span than the electronic hit squad. You should have stayed doing what you were doing to make the world a bit better instead of allowing the facebook pitchfork and twitter torch mob to make it substantially worse.


    • Bill says

      Amen @Truthseeker. The core problem is we have a society full of addicts who get their fix from people giving them thumbs up or following them. This is how they feel part of the “in crowd” or feel validated or feel wanted/loved. As a result, they seek anything they can possibly post to get that next fix. For some it’s the latest video of their dog running around with a go-pro attached to a table-tennis racket. To others, it’s being part of a “movement” without any real knowledge be that movement the #metoo which is vigilante/lynch mob justice against anyone they have a grievance with, or the pink-pussy-hat stuff where their speakers talk about burning down the government. They shout about “TRIBE!” “FASCIST!” “RACIST!” “HITLER!” “TRUMP!” because they know that’ll get them their 1000 thumbs up.

      When I consider things in that vein, and recall old episodes of crime dramas, I wonder if part of the reason why we see this rapid elevation in the social media mob activity isn’t the same underlying mechanism that drives the serial killers. All those episodes of criminal minds talked about the unsub’s violence accelerating as they received a progressively lower “rush” from each activity leading to them continuing to increase violence/pace/etc. They go from killing 1 per month to 1 per week to 1 per day…so they had to catch the unsub quickly! It seems an awful lot like the pathology of the social justice / social media mob.

  72. You hit the nail on the head in your fourth-to-last paragraph, mentioning Nietzsche and original sin. He said we would become more religious but less theistic. It seems clear to me that many want to be gods and pretend to omniscience and perfect judgement in order to seek more power over others. The problem is that they are now starting to eat their own, Robespierre-style. Only a Napoleon will be left standing. I hope not but it seems inevitable, given the type of competition it is.

  73. Hi Toby,

    A very interesting piece, and illuminating considering I had just consumed the ‘headlines’ that you mention. I tend to be left leaning, but I am utterly with you on the issue of diversity of viewpoint, and shallow, vicious way in which people are attacked. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for you and family, but as the great Joseph Campbell pointed out, every dragon comes with treasure. You have faced a dragon (and your family), but you and they are not defeated. Work out exactly what that treasure is!

    The virtue signaling over virtue issue is a horrendous trait expressing itself wonderfully through social media at the moment. I totally believe Carl Jung when he says that no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell. In psychological terms it means that every single one of us with NO exceptions has that shadow side, that we must seek to understand before we can be truly virtuous in any way. As Peterson would put it, you need to know that you might be the prison guard at Auschwitz before you can choose not to be. I think virtue signalers are those trying to drown out the noise of their own evil inner voices, because they are too afraid to admit just what they might be capable of.

    Keep looking inwards, keep pursuing the compassion for others that you have shown in your charitable work, (make sure it extends to your most rabid detractors) and only good can come.

    All the best,

  74. Muckie says

    Young is a hack who made a name for himself by peddling excruciatingly self-conscious “controversial” opinions. He’s not even that good at it – most of his pieces are rambling filler, with a few obnoxious click-bait comments thrown in. A second-rate Ann Coulter, if such a thing is possible. You reap what you sow, Toby.

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  76. donald j. tingle says

    How does one manage to be “forced to resign?”

    Should one feel sympathy for a provocateur who folds in the clinches?

    Was this guy ever anything more than a serial transgressor, in a society where being a political conservative was the ultimate trangession?

    Does anyone think it even occurs to normal men to make jokes remotely involving or relating to sex with children like Gunn did?

    • Bill says

      Forced to resign describes the situation where the employer provides you an option: give us your resignation, or we will fire you.

      By tendering your resignation (forced to resign) you are able to state you resigned when applying for future employment, and any check by a potential employer with past employers will simply return “resigned.” Should you reject that option, then you would face the stigma of having been fired/terminated when applying for future employment.

      Now, being fired/terminated has a negative stigma attached, like a felony conviction, only there is no real due process. Yes, you could “fight the termination” costing you substantial time, effort, and capital, but what is the remedy? In many countries, a court will not force two parties back together. You win the lawsuit, they hire you back and the bridges are burned. Any failure to ascend the corporate ladder will be microscopically examined for retribution and heaven forbid you be a protected class member!

      Hence, the forced to retire is the employment equivalent of “settled out of court’ with neither side claiming responsibility.

  77. opal says

    I once met Toby at a charity do. He was incredibly down to earth, and VERY funny.

  78. Heathcote pursuit says

    Poor Toby, so misunderstood, another who gets paid to have controversial opinions, then gets his arse bitten when they come back to haunt him.

  79. AussieAdam says

    Why anyone is on Twitter is beyond me. A disgusting, pointless echo chamber filled with people who hate themselves so much they have verbally bash and harass others to make them selves feel better. Do as I did some time ago and remove yourself from social media altogether, the restful sleep is worth it.

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  81. Robert Ness says

    Poor, poor Toby… A martyr if ever there was one. Horrible politically-correct liberals causing poor Tobes such pain

  82. Paulo says

    Reading, you have to choose another name because… Well, Reading is misleading!

    • Wow! And that has got me told! Gosh! Reading could not just describe someone who reads could it? I suspect this will stick like an arrow straight through your heart, but I am extremely well read and especially compared to you. And this does frighten people like you and hence why all that you can do is resort to “weak” insults.

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  86. Sydney says

    Gunn’s pedophilia-friendly tweets are being referred to offhandedly as ‘some off-colour jokes’? Wow, Quillette. Is editing just not a thing anymore?

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