It’s called accountability, ever hear of it?

JK Rowling, transphobic hack, is angry with Graham Norton, amusing talk show host.

Rowling wrote: Enjoying the recent spate of bearded men stepping confidently onto their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throw their support behind rape and death threats. You may mock, but takes real bravery to come out as an Old Testament prophet.

Neither Norton nor Bragg referenced rape or death threats in their statements.

He didn’t even mention Rowling! Here’s the horribly offensive thing that Norton said.

“If people want to shine a light on those issues then talk to trans people. Talk to the parents of trans kids, talk to doctors, talk to scientists. Talk to someone who can illuminate it in some way.”

How awful. Doesn’t he know the proper authorities on trans rights are cranky neo-fascists?

Then he went further.

The phrase “cancel culture” has become a ubiquitous catchall that celebrities may cling to after they make a controversial or offensive statement.

But Graham Norton doesn’t think that’s the correct description for what really happens when fans criticize “canceled” people. The right word, he says, is “accountability.”

Norton, the host of a titular BBC talk show, tackled the thorny topic of “cancel culture” at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this week. Speaking to interviewer Mariella Frostrup, Norton decried the concept of “canceling” anyone who still has a sizable platform from which to speak.

“You read a lot of articles in papers by people complaining about ‘cancel culture,’” he told Frostrup. “You think, in what world are you canceled? I’m reading your name in a newspaper, or you’re doing an interview about how terrible it is to be canceled.”

“I think [‘cancel culture’] is the wrong word,” he continued. “I think the word should be accountability.”

Exactly right.

And now Graham Linehan, Rowling sycophant, oblivious toady, and professional hate-monger, has been sucked into the conflict, the poor man.

Speaking to GB News’s Andrew Doyle at the Battle of Ideas festival in London, Linehan said he was “disappointed” by the comments from Norton. He said: “I find Graham Norton personally such a betrayal, because one of the first things he did was his role on Father Ted, there is no way he cannot know about what’s happened to me.

“For him to say there’s no cancel culture, I don’t know what to say about it, but he’s really disappointed me.”

Linehan also addressed being dropped by Hat Trick Productions from involvement in a musical version of Father Ted because of his views. He said: “The way I look at it is, it’s preemptive cultural vandalism. It’s something that’s been cancelled before it even appeared.

“I don’t really know what to say except they’ve never told me what I’ve done wrong. They’ve never told me what I’ve said that they disagree with.

“When I asked once, someone in the room rolled their eyes, as if it was obvious. Well, actually, it’s not obvious.”

Actually, it is obvious. We could start with your willingness to go on GB News, but also…

He had also been a very active and prolific tweeter on popular micro-blogging website Twitter, and in recent years had focussed on attacking trans people and being a general TERF. He opposed the trans charity Mermaids in a rather transphobic post on Mumsnet (a parenting website known for rabid transphobia), and was called out for this by hbomberguy in the latter’s famous marathon charity livestream to raise money for Mermaids, in which he raised over $340,000.

On June 27 2020, Graham Linehan was permanently banned from Twitter, due to violating several of their hateful conduct policies. On March 9, 2021, he announced that his anti-trans activism had caused “such a strain that my wife and I finally agreed to separate”.

You mean his wife never told him what he’d done wrong? I can believe it.

GL’s Wife: Graham, I’m divorcing you.

GL: What? Why?

GL’s Wife: Because you wallow in self-pity, and you’ve become a hateful twit forever ranting about where people should go to the bathroom

GL: Someone is using the wrong bathroom? Quick! To the Twitter machine! Sorry, dear, this is important, we’ll talk later.

Shorter explanation: you’re being held accountable for your transphobia, Glinner. Obliviousness is not an excuse, and neither is “cancel culture”.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    A few years back on one of the Patheos pages–it was either Dispatches or Friendly Atheist– I saw a comment from right-wing troll proclaiming that “speech with consequences isn’t free speech!” It seems that the so-called “Free Marketplace of Ideas” they go on and on about is a bit of a lie.

  2. says

    I’m curious, Razor88: What part of Rowling’s profession (author) and book sales do you imagine renders the woman incapable of being an anti-trans bigot? Seeing as how you attempted to defend Rowling against the charge of being an anti-trans bigot, not by pointing to any views she’s expressed, but, rather, by waving your hands in the direction of her profession and book sales. Hm?

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 1

    Oh goodie! A fascist troll to play with.

    According to the disgraced, mentally ill dwarf Myers she is a transphobic hack!!

    Why do you right-wing knuckle-draggers assume that financial success translates into virtue?

    “J.K. Rowling can’t be a bigot because she’s a best selling author!” or “”Donald Trump can’t be corrupt, he’s a successful hotel owner!”

    Who cares? Wealth and notoriety doesn’t make you a good person. If anything it’s quite the opposite, moron.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 10

    Not you’re tiny micropenis. I probably couldn’t find it under all those folds of gut fat.

  5. specialffrog says

    @razor88: Is the ’88’ an indication that you are a white supremacist? If not you might want to look into what that means online if you only want people to think you are a certain type of bigot.

  6. Artor says

    It’s pretty clear what the 88 stands for in our new commenter’s nym. What a revolting, worthless POS!

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 11

    Are we talking about your “Canadian” girlfriend, or your Waifu body pillow?

  8. cartomancer says

    I suppose when you’re a mediocre to poor children’s author sitting on an outsized pile of money with nothing to do all day, niche hobbies like being a disgusting bigot must seem appealing.

    Mind you, it is encouraging to note that the transphobes are so intellectually bereft that all they have is misrepresenting people so badly it would be impossible to tell who they’re supposed to be talking about it they didn’t say so themselves.

    Even if there wasn’t a fundamental issue of human rights, equality and protecting the vulnerable (the trans community) from the vicious (their enemies), the behaviour of the TERFs would be enough to discourage any sane person from taking their side.

    Which, from a quick survey of the grottiest parts of the internet where these dreariest of bigots dwell, it very much has!

  9. says

    Oh boy, the racist transphobic morphin’ troll is back.
    He’s banned again.
    Clean-up in progress.
    He’ll probably be back shortly under a different pseudonym, and will be deleted again.

  10. says

    This, by the way, is a troll you should ignore, because I’ll recognize him by his racism and obscenity and will zap him fairly quickly.

  11. cartomancer says

    At least She-who-shall-not-be-named provided the world with a series of mediocre-to-poor childrens’ books before taking up a life of idle bigotry on the internet. One wonders what trolls of the more usual kind like our guest here have contributed.

    Unless our troll actually is the lady in question writing under yet another pseudonym. In which case, nothing of value has been lost.

  12. StevoR says

    Being held accountable for what you say isn’t new.

    Labelling it “cancel culture” is but the idea that people say awful things leads to people face real consquences especially at a social and financial level – including opportunities to further their messages is pretty much a sold a sHumanity itself and maybe older still I think. Isn’t it?

    Of course what and who people are permitted or condemned for saying and being has changed and varies a lot from society to society, era to era. I thing we are improving quite a lot in this regard.

  13. Louis says

    @Akira MacKenzie, #12,

    Not you’re tiny micropenis. I probably couldn’t find it under all those folds of gut fat.

    HEY! Some of us resemble that remar…

    …I mean, what?


    This type of crap from the usual suspects is so dull. This might just be me, but I hate the terms “woke”, “cancel culture”, “political correctness” etc. There’s just “bigotry” and “opposition to bigotry”. Everyone’s a bigot to some extent, we’re all compromised, we’ve all grown up in cultures with bigotry in them and inherited a bit, none of us is pure, we’re all hypocrites. It’s simply a matter of degree, awareness, and attitude. And yes I know these are alternative/cultural terms for the same idea, I just favour being blunt about this. Call a bigot a bigot, work on not being a bigot yourself. And we’re done. Let a thousand flowers bloom, YMMV.

    So Graham Norton is right, cancel culture, such as it is claimed to be a phenomenon wielded against “noble truth tellers” is a fiction. If people are going to be bigoted openly, other people are free to point this out (this is free speech, sorry my dudes), and other people are even free to decide not to work with them, or vice versa and anywhere in between and around. We’ve had this discussion as a species once or twice. I’m pretty sure there are books on it. Hell, I’m pretty sure there are stone fucking tablets on it.

    In the video of the interview, Mariella Frostrup set Graham up with an easy pitch he could have smacked out of the park, and I genuinely think he fucked up by not doing so.

    After pointing out that John Cleese and people like him are easy targets for Graham Norton’s comments re: the cancel culture, Mariella Frostrup went on to say “…but for example, JK Rowling, then, I mean that’s harder to make a point with isn’t it? When you look at someone expressing what may or may not be popular opinions but to be deluged with the kind of anger, rage, and attempts at censorship, seems to me something more than just a middle aged man kind of not being able to say something he used to say in the days of empire.”

    Graham Norton, quite correctly, pointed out his lack of expertise in the area, and said “talk to the experts”, in essence. A very good answer. What he did excellently is remove himself, recognise his privilege and lack of dog in the hunt, and highlight experts. Where I think he fucked up is by failing to insert a boilerplate “no one deserves harassment and death threats etc”. He could easily extend that to “..which trans people face…” if he wanted to light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance. He could even say “like that which JKR has experienced”, which she has. And whether you think she should or not, whether you think she is deserving or not, it’s an undeniable fact that JKR has experienced death threats, harassment etc. Speaking purely for me, I think it is fine to point that out, state that one is opposed to harassment of that nature, and also point out that trans people, almost all (all?) in a much more vulnerable position socially than JKR experience this kind of harassment. Again, YMMV.

    The boilerplate is the gimme. Once sentence, knock it out of the park, easy peasy. It takes no effort and it is a great opportunity to centre the harassment of trans people as a segue to the next point. It also neatly undercuts many of the criticisms of transphobes. Add an eyerolling “OBVIOUSLY…” prior to “…deserves harassment…” for added obvious! Okay, so transphobes will still chuck teddy from pram, but it’s there to see that no one condones harassment. This was the direction of Frostrup’s question, and why I think this omission was the one error (in an excellent response, don’t get me wrong). Also a great opportunity to point out that Frostrup agreed with Norton’s point earlier about the non-existent nature of cancel culture for those who complain about it from a public platform. JKR has a whopping great platform, as do many of her ideological chums. I know, I know, armchair quarterbacking, but the great advantage of an interview like this is you do get the opportunity to speak (hopefully uninterrupted) so a couple of those easy subpoints can be made.


  14. unclefrogy says

    gee whiz I thought it would be an interesting thread with a good number of comments but alas just another loudmouthed pest now thankfully gone, Oh well.

  15. unclefrogy says


    blockquote> What he did excellently is remove himself, recognise his privilege and lack of dog in the hunt, and highlight experts.


    that is what he always does he steps back from the center of attention even when delivering jokes in his monologues. it is why he has been around so long.
    that people like JKR get some of the same treatment that she encourages with her irrational bigoted attacks is no surprise.
    “If you do not the heat get out of the kitchen”

  16. Louis says

    @Unclefrogy, #37,

    Sure, I can see the “heat/kitchen” argument, and yes, JKR’s actions are “plausibly deniable” in terms of inciting/encouraging violence etc. (“Plausibly” as in “not at all plausibly”!) And I agree with you about Norton’s generosity in terms of his interviewing style.

    I don’t agree that, whether or not someone judges JKR’s conduct means she deserves harassment and death threats (and this is the end of the spectrum I am dealing with, not merely insults or similar), that people should harass her. I don’t think anyone deserves that because it’s a bloody stupid thing to justify. I think (and again, YMMV) that the response to people like JKR is more effective when it is “When you do what you are doing here, I get death threats” as opposed to “I know where you live and I’m coming to kill you”. But, and I freely acknowledge this, I am not someone with skin in this game (I am someone who has experienced significant bigotry on two axes though, so I empathise). Equally, I am not being prescriptive. You do you.

    This might sound incongruous from me, I am not a “reach across the aisle” type. I am a “stomp them into the ground” type, so I don’t believe in {ahem} “non-robust” responses to bigots. I don’t think it is always the right thing to make peace, or peaceful outreach, to bigots. Quite the reverse, I actually (probably controversially) support/am comfortable with the judicious use of actual violence. When punchy Nazis march in the streets, I don’t think not-punching them is the right plan. Punch Nazis. However, if the Nazis can be effectively (and successfully) opposed without punching them, don’t punch them.

    In my experience (and I am happy to be wrong), JKR’s actions are not in the “punch Nazi” category, her actions are in the “horrific hate speech”, “encouragement and incitement of hate speech”, and “magically not condemning advocation of violence by some of her chums”. I think, therefore, at the level of what is effective, it’s possible to counter her with speech and legislation (the standard hate speech statues that I agree need to be beefed up to protect trans people).


  17. dstatton says

    Another possibility: this guy made a proposal that the producers thought was shitty, so they “cancelled” him.

  18. unclefrogy says

    I agree violence is not the answer but it is a fact that it exists and and some will threaten violence and will act when they think they can get away with it (or not).
    many sayings abound like what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow.
    I have no particular sympathy for those who espouse hate and discrimination who get negative results as a result.

  19. bcw bcw says

    The thing that always struck me about Rowling’s Potter world was how ugly, inept and corrupt the magic world’s government was- kind of Maggie Thatcher without intelligence. Given the magic spells that could have required truth, honesty and disclosure in government action, Rowling’s government is self-centered and ineffective. Given the spectacular powers magicians have in her stories; murder, war and attacks on the helpless Muggles are inevitable. A government as she describes it would have dissolved into Russian-like chaos long before the times she describes. Her vision of government reflects her own moral and ethical poverty, I think.

  20. bcw bcw says

    @43, I think Rowling got away with her horrible world vision because children don’t understand much how human interactions determine their world. They are just interested in stories of good friends and images of them overcoming a bewildering world.

    It’s adults like me that notice that every Potter denouement occurs when something previously forbidden or impossible becomes possible to enable the big turnover that reverses Harry’s imminent loss.

  21. bcw bcw says

    @44, it’s a pet peeve of mine that science fiction can make up any fiction it wants but it needs to be internally consistent with the conceits it uses. Nothing quite makes sense in Dune, but the story is true to its world. Rowling, on the other hand, claims there are consistent magic rules and then changes them whenever she writes herself into a corner. The only author that pissed me off more was Michael Chricton, especially with the end of Andromeda Strain where the entire outcome depends entirely on a complete mischaracterization of evolution. Even as a twelve year old, I went WTF?

  22. drsteve says

    I only came to the series as a young adult with a certain amount of distance, but I actually always thought the handling of the ineffectual and/or corrupt Wizard government was a strength in terms of the aesthetic she was working with.

    Creating an internally coherent adult Wizard political culture to set the relevant characters and subplots in would have been a waste of energy given that the key thing about any element in this series should be how it’s experienced by or how it affects Harry and his friends. The important thing about the Wizarding Establishment is how it keeps presenting them with endless variations of flawed authority figures who fail to adequately protect or help the kids because of cowardice, or bureaucratic inertia, or greed, or actual malice, etc, etc— forcing the heroes to grow up and get the job done themselves.

    Presenting these authority figures in big, broad strokes without fussing about the details is the right approach to teach its audience some importance and valuable wisdom about life.

    At the end of the day, I think Dolores Umbridge remains a perfectly pitched, iconic depiction of a certain kind of self-righteous reactionary, and that the unsettling turn of events where she has turned out to be the closest thing the series has to an avatar for its creator hasn’t actually undermined this success.

  23. Silentbob says

    The thing that always strikes me about people like mattsillyclown is how empty their lives are. I mean they literally have nothing else to live for. So pathetic.

  24. says

    I just opened up this post and; well, thank you PZ for the unenviable task of repeated ‘clean-up on aisle bigot’. I missed all the troll crap. Just empty comment headers. It reminds me of someone we remember at a political convention orally battling an empty chair. There seems to be a distinct imbalance of hatred, violence and ignorance weighing down the ‘rightwing’ side of our social equation.

  25. says

    Also, thank you to all the other commenters for thoughtful contributions. That troll was making this post look like the loud, hateful repugnantcant world outside this blog.

  26. says

    Don’t thank me, I’ve got the tools to make it trivially easy. I’ve got a button that shows me all the comments on every post, and then I filter it to show me just the troll’s comments, and then I go down the row click-click-click making them all disappear. He’d be even more frustrated than he obviously already is if he knew how little effort it takes to destroy all his clever, witty, complex repartee.

  27. Nemo says

    Speaking of rape and death threats, I reported one of each that I found in the replies to an AOC tweet the other day. Twitter came back and said they didn’t violate their policies.

    I dunno what it takes to actually get banned from Twitter, but it’s gotta be really bad.