Don’t have kittens

We’ve been in the “making shit up” stage of the anti-trans culture war for a while now, but this story takes the biscuit: the completely invented tale of a school pupil identifying as a cat has moved from the Telegraph and the Independent into Radio 4, because our media is hopelessly broken.

Imagine calling yourself a journalist or editor and writing or publishing this as a news story.

The student in question is in Year 11, but began using the pronoun “catself” in Year 9 “when the whole thing with neo pronouns started”, the pupil said.

She described how lessons could be completely derailed if a teacher attempted to get the child to reply to a question in English rather than meowing.

It took three Telegraph writers to write that, presumably with crayons.

What’s particularly bad about this is that there’s audio of the supposed event, and that audio demonstrates that all the reports about it are lying: it’s a recording of a child being bullied. And nobody seems to care, apart from Mic Wright. He writes:

Now the Mail, along with The Times, and The Telegraph — the three central pillars of anti-trans coverage in the UK — are pretending the story is about a child identifying as a cat rather than two students picking on another student by comparing their gender identity to “[identifying] as a cat or something…”

[writers and editors know] that there was no child “identifying as a cat” and the claim that the teacher reprimanded students for not accepting the other student’s feline identity is totally in bad faith.

The cat-child is an urban legend beloved of anti-trans campaigners, and it’s made the press in various guises in the US, Australia and the UK. Every single time, it’s been complete bollocks. The origin is simple and sad: a few years ago it was revealed that in the aftermath of a school shooting, one US school started keeping cat litter as part of its terrorist kit: in the event of another shooting, the litter would be helpful because kids trapped in an ongoing attack would be able to go to the toilet.

But that’s not all. Our schools are also packed with children identifying as horses, dinosaurs and the moon. Except, of course, they aren’t.

The Daily Telegraph does not have extraordinary evidence, it has anonymous sources, obvious horseshit, and an ideological motivation to push this story.

What we’re seeing here is a particularly clear example of how the bullshit pipeline works. I actually posted about it on Twitter, only to be proved right about ten minutes later:

The danger of that Telegraph article, as ever, isn’t that its few readers will believe the made-up story. It’s that it launders hate group propaganda into the mainstream. It’s sitting on a BBC researcher’s desk right now as a possible phone-in discussion or news item.

Ten minutes later, I discovered that they were talking about it as if it were a real news story on the Today programme.

Here’s the pipeline in action.  First of all an anti-trans pressure group invents a story and passes it to a tame journalist in the right-wing press, who is perfectly happy to print absolute shite if it enrages the readers.

That newspaper then makes its way to the BBC, where it becomes an item on the Today programme and gets the attention of politicians and other media outlets.

That in turn circulates the made-up story more widely, encouraging the right-wing press to push the story more with a little bit of help from rent-a-gob MPs. And before you know it, the Prime Minister is promising to take action against something that didn’t happen, doesn’t happen and won’t ever happen – action that will likely cause very real harm to the very real people the anti-trans pressure group concocted the whole story to attack.



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