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Author Gets Unpleasant Surprise During Radio Interview

BBC interviewer points out errors in Naomi Wolf's book on homosexuality
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2019 2:55 PM CDT
In this 2012 photo, author and political consultant Naomi Wolf speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(Newser) – Author Naomi Wolf went on BBC radio to plug her new book, which details harsh punishments homosexuals faced in 19th-century England. The problem? Interviewer Matthew Sweet pointed out two fundamental errors in Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love, per Boing Boing. For instance, Wolf talked about how she discovered "dozens of executions" of gay people, but Sweet informed her that she was misinterpreting the old legal term "death recorded." The term means that a judge sentenced someone to death, but then allowed the person to live as an act of leniency.

"I don't think any of the executions you've identified here actually happened," Sweet tells Wolf. After a slight pause, she says, "Well that's a really important thing to investigate." (You can listen to the exchange here.) Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt says it will look into the issue for possible corrections before the book's scheduled release next month, reports the AP. The second error is that Wolf assumed the charge of "sodomy" in old legal records applied only to homosexuals. In fact, it also was used in cases involving the abuse of children. (Read more Naomi Wolf stories.)

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