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January 05, 2018

Furor Over ‘Porn Addict’ Named To U.K. Education Board

LONDON, UK—Just two weeks after her top deputy was hounded from office over a porn-at-work scandal, British Prime Minister Theresa May faces more pressure over another political appointee with a porn connection in his background. Education officials in the United Kingdom are demanding that May remove right-wing journalist Toby Young, a self-described “porn addict,” from his position on a national education oversight board. On December 20, U.K. First Secretary of State Damian Green, a longtime friend and political ally of May’s, resigned after admitting that he had made false statements to May and others about porn on his government computer.  This week, though, Young joined the 15-member Office for Students, a governmental committee designed to insure that British students receive “value for money” in their educations. But May immediately heard protests from education professionals over what they called Young’s history of sexist and otherwise offensive writings and remarks. Young, an editor and columnist at Britain’s venerable conservative Spectator magazine, is perhaps best known as the author of the 2001 memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, which became a movie of the same title in 2008, starring popular British comic actor Simon Pegg as Young. But also in 2001, Young published an article in The Spectator titled “Confessions of a Porn Addict,” in which he boasted of watching “several thousand” porn films, including the groundbreaking 1972 classic Deep Throat “several times.” In the article, Young praised women who appear in porn films as “completely liberated beings.”  But Young has also made a series of crude remarks about women that have sparked the protests against his appointment to the U.K. education oversight board. For example, on his Twitter account, he repeatedly remarked on the size of Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s breasts, and claimed that during photo shoot with Lakshmi, he had his “dick up her arse.” Young was a judge on two seasons of the cooking competition program. He made a similar comment on Twitter about British TV presenter Claudia Winkelman, writing, “What happened to Winkelman’s breasts? Put on some weight, girlie.” In addition to his comments about women, Young has also made remarks in support of eugenics, and ridiculed people with disabilities.  Young has called his previous comments “sophomoric” and “politically incorrect” and reportedly deleted thousands of postings from his Twitter feed this week. Britain’s National Education Union, which represents about 500,000 British teachers, wrote a letter to the U.K. education secretary calling Young “sexist and homophobic.”  “It is surprising, given the very public nature of these comments, that [Young] was not ruled out as an unacceptable appointee in the first place. The general public would not expect politicians or teachers to hold these views and the same standards should apply to members of this important new body,” wrote union leaders Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney. Though a staunch conservative, Toby Young is the son of British sociologist and political reformer Michael Young (aka Lord Young of Dartington), who was a key Labor Party figure and a leading force in creating Britain’s post-World War II welfare state, and who is also known for coining the term “meritocracy.”  Pictured: Toby Young on the set of How To Lose Friends and Alienate People

 
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