We all make mistakes. Some are bigger than others. When that happens, you need to fix it and acknowledge it immediately. Yet, it gets to become rather embarrassing, disastrous actually, when you realize that virtually your entire body of work is wrong because you screw up the legal term. That’s what happened to Naomi Wolf’s latest book, "Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love."
Wolf wrote that scores of executions were carried out in the 19th century for homosexual behavior. Ms. Wolf also didn’t know a key sodomy case in her book was actually in reference to child sex abuse. Oh, and “death recorded” also threw her off (via Daily Beast) [emphasis mine]:
During the interview with journalist Matthew Sweet, Wolf realized she’d made two huge errors in her book. The host pointed out two serious problems with her work. First, she assumed “sodomy” means homosexuality, but Sweet pointed out that, in one key case in her book, it was referring to child sex abuse. Second, she mistakenly believed the 19th-century legal term “death recorded” meant the convict was executed, but it actually meant a death sentence wasn’t carried out because the prisoner was pardoned and freed. So Wolf’s claim that there were “several dozen” executions for homosexuality appears to be based on a complete misunderstanding of old court records. “I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened,” said Sweet.
Everyone listen to Naomi Wolf realize on live radio that the historical thesis of the book she's there to promote is based on her misunderstanding a legal term pic.twitter.com/a3tB77g3c1— Edmund Hochreiter (@thymetikon) May 23, 2019
Daily Wire has more on Street’s dissection of Naomi’s book:
Street asked, “Several dozen executions?”
Wolf answered confidently, “Correct. And this corrects a misapprehension that is in every website, that the last man was executed for sodomy in Britain in 1835.”
I don’t think you’re right about this. One of the cases that you look at, that’s salient to your report is about Thomas Silver. It says, “Teenagers were convicted more often. In fact, that year, which is 1859, fourteen-year-old Thomas Silver was actually executed for committing sodomy. The boy was indicted for unnatural offense. Guilty, death recorded. This is the first time ‘unnatural offense’ entered the Old Bailey records.”
Thomas Silver wasn’t executed. “Death recorded.” I was really surprised by this, and I looked it up. “Death recorded” is what in, I think, most of these cases that you’ve identified as executions, it doesn’t mean that he was executed. It was a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon.
Street replied, “’Death recorded.’ This is also, I’ve just read you the definition of it from the Old Bailey website. But I’ve got here a newspaper report about Thomas Silver and also something from the prison records that show the date of his discharge.”
Wolf: “’The prisoner was found guilty and sentence of death was recorded.’ Ahh. ‘The jury recommended the prisoner to mercy on account of his youth.’”
Here’s the thing: we all make errors, but only liberals can be forgiven for them, not conservatives. Again, it’s the two separate set of rules nonsense. So, these are the learned ones who cannot be challenged, who are the “fact-checkers” because conservative media just cannot be trusted. Yeah, that whole thesis gets bashed in the face with this rake stepping episode. Back to the drawing board, I guess, though this isn't the first time Wolf has peddled inaccuracies. In fact, she went on a full-blown psycho warp tour in 2014 when she questioned the ISIS beheading videos and suggested that the U.S. forces in West Africa helping to stem the Ebola epidemic were actually trying to bring it back to the United States in order to facilitate an authoritarian takeover. Even Vox had to call her out back then:
Author and former Democratic political consultant Naomi Wolf published a series of Facebook posts on Saturday in which she questioned the veracity of the ISIS videos showing the murders and beheadings of two Americans and two Britons, strongly implying that the videos had been staged by the US government and that the victims and their parents were actors.
Wolf published a separate Facebook post...suggesting that the US was sending troops to West Africa not to assist with Ebola treatment but to bring Ebola back to the US to justify a military takeover of American society. She also suggested that the Scottish independence referendum, in which Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom, had been faked.
Her initial posts on ISIS repeatedly stated that confirmation of the authenticity of their beheading videos "has not happened yet." Wolf said that the media was ignoring "journalistic red flags" in that the sole source of the videos had been "SITE, which is run by an anti-Muslim activist with half a million dollars in US funding in 2004." (In fact, the videos were widely distributed on open-source jihadist online outlets. Maryland-based nonprofit SITE monitors extremist social media.) She also detailed an alleged incident, which I was not able to confirm, of a website "based in Doha, address registered at a private intelligence firm in the UK" that she said had spread news of a Canadian journalist, who turned out not to exist, taken hostage in Syria.
This culminated in a now-deleted post, reproduced below, suggesting that the ISIS beheading videos had been staged, as had the initial abductions of the two American journalists and two British aid workers killed on camera. She hints that she believes this was done by the US military.