Why have the government let unfunny moron Toby Young tell unis how to do things?
He just sits and tweets about women’s breasts and free speech
I regret to inform you that the internet is very angry. Again. This week's rage is directed at Toby Young, a man appointed to the board of the Office for Students.
Dreamt up by Boris Johnson's brother Jo, the Office for Students (OfS) is the new university regulator. It'll make sure universities run properly, open up access to other providers, and defend free speech. In fact, free speech is a priority of the regulator, says Toby Young, one of 15 people appointed to the OfS. Young is a writer, tweeter, Phil Mitchell lookalike, and pundit who has founded a free school and describes himself as a "right-of-centre maverick".
Pretty innocuous stuff. So why has he been trending on Twitter for the whole of 2018, and why have the Guardian written so many articles about him?
It's not because he's a Tory, or because his dad made a call to get him into Oxford after he missed the grades. Or, that the only time he's funny is when he's trying not to be. Take the "right-of-centre maverick" self-own, or his "In Defence of Toby Young, by Toby Young" (by Toby Young) article – the Spectator equivalent of yelling "VERSACE VERSACE VERSACE" into a mirror.
Realistically, he's not genuinely into eugenics, and probably doesn't hate working class students.
Ridiculous outcry over Toby Young. He will bring independence, rigour and caustic wit. Ideal man for job
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 3, 2018
So, to find out the problem, let's take a look at some of his tweets.
In an act of unprecedented auto-no-platforming, Young deleted almost 50,000 of his these badboys. Now, considering the man hasn't yet figured out how to change his twitter icon to something that's not an egg, and somehow managed to edit his own Wikipedia page over 200 times, you could see this as the act of somebody who's just a bit cack-handed with their phone.
Until you see the tweets. They read like he's done his research on what uni life is like by skimming the comments of a UNILAD Facebook post. This one (banter alert) is about anal rape.
This is fine.
Here, he comments on Claudia Winkleman.
This one is about a segment on dying children during Comic Relief.
Here he breaks his own hashtag.
There are loads, and you can read more here.
Of course, he's defended himself, dismissing the remarks as "sophomoric", and tweeted: "Given that defending free speech will be one of the OfS's priorities, there’s a certain irony in people saying I'm 'unfit' to serve on its board because of politically incorrect things I’ve said in the past." Not so much a call for free speech as a plea for words to have literally no consequences.
In any context, these views aren't okay, but Toby Young not being woke is not the sole reason this is a stupid appointment.
Specifically, what the tweets and the free speech defence demonstrate is that Toby Young (and so probably the people appointing him) appears not to get the issues facing students.
His pre-occupation with a university free speech crisis, an issue of burning concern to everyone except students, is a bit weird. Newspapers love it, but it's overblown.
It's a fringe issue which pales in comparison to other student issues. Take sexual harassment. I'll go out on a limb and say his tweets reveal a mindset which, despite him later saying "I'm a strong supporter of both women’s rights and LGBT rights", suggests there may be other, more qualified people to deal with this issue. Does he take these things seriously? With takes like "Prepare to tiptoe around generation snowflake in the workplace", it's hard to tell.
And, maybe, just maybe, somebody who employs the phrase "functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six" isn't the person you want in the midst of a university mental health funding crisis.
@toadmeister what is meant by "functionally illiterate troglodyte". And if your freedom of speech is so important to you and you would defend everything you've said, why have you deleted 70% of your tweets?
— Paul Potts (@paulpottsmusic) January 4, 2018
Free speech may be a worry for Toby Young, and a priority for the Office of Students, but it's hard to see how speakers having to speak in pubs rather than lecture theatres is a problem on anywhere near the same scale as the record number of student suicides, massive debt burdens, and untold levels of sexual harassment at universities.
So let's be clear: it's not that Toby Young holds different ("politically incorrect") opinions. Intellectual diversity is great, but his misogyny and obsession with a free speech crisis make him the wrong person to sit and say what happens to students.