The feminist American author Naomi Wolf was corrected live on British radio about a fundamental factual error in her new book, which falsely claims that certain men were executed for sodomy in Victorian London.
Wolf was stunned to learn from her mistake in an interview on Thursday with BBC Radio 3 journalist Matthew Sweet, who gently pointed out that she had the British legal term & # 39; recorded death & # 39; had misinterpreted.
& # 39; I found a few dozen executions, & # 39; Wolf Sweet told about her research into Old Bailey prosecutions of sodomy in the 1800s for her new book, Outrages: Sex, Censorship and The Criminalization Of Love.
& # 39; I don't think you are right, & # 39; Sweet shot back. & # 39; Recorded death is what you have identified as executions in most of these cases. It doesn't mean he was executed. & # 39;
Feminist Naomi Wolf (left) was stunned to learn from her mistake in an interview on Thursday with BBC Radio 3 journalist Matthew Sweet (right)
& # 39; It was a category created in 1823 where judges could refrain from pronouncing a death sentence against any of the main convicts they considered suitable for grace, & # 39; said Sweet.
Wolf & # 39; s new book will be released in June
& # 39; I don't think that one of the executions you found here has actually happened, & # 39; he continued.
Wolf reacted bewildered: & # 39; Well, that is really very important to investigate. & # 39;
Sweet on a particular case presented on page 71 of Wolf's book, that of teenager Thomas Silver, who she writes was & # 39; actually executed for committing sodomy. "
& # 39; Thomas Silver has not been executed & # 39 ;, Sweet says in the interview, and makes a contemporary newspaper clipping that shows that Silver's sentence has been converted.
The Windsor and Eton Express article from 1859 reads: & The prisoner was found guilty and a death sentence was recorded. The jury recommends the prisoner to be merciful because of his youth and the judge said he would put the communication before the competent authorities. & # 39;
Prisoners are seen in the gallows for mass execution in Old Bailey in the 1780s. The Judgment of Death Act of 1823 introduced the commuted sentence of & # 39; death recorded & # 39;
In her book, Wolf describes the case of Thomas Silver, a teenager who, according to her, was executed for sodomy in London in 1859
A newspaper cut from the time shows that Silver's automatic death sentence was transposed, as well as that his crime was much more serious than Wolf reported
Sweet also pointed out that the nature of Silver's crime was more disturbing than Wolf's description of a & # 39; unnatural violation & # 39 ;.
The Express reported that Silver, then 17, was convicted of the dejected assault of a six-year-old boy, adding that & # 39; the evidence was totally unsuitable for publication & # 39 ;.
Prison records show that Silver was serving a prison sentence in Newgate.
Wolf recorded Twitter to admit that she had made a critical mistake in her book.
& # 39; An error occurred on page 71 and page 72 of my book Outrages: Sex, Censorship and Criminalization of Love & # 39 ;, she wrote. The 14-year-old Thomas Silver, sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for sodomy, was ultimately not executed, nor was the 60-year-old John Spenser. Corrected. & # 39;
What is a sentence of & # 39; recorded dead & # 39; in Old Bailey
Open-air Justice Hall at Old Bailey is seen as it was before enclosure in 1737
In 1823, the British Parliament approved the Death Death Law, which reformed the death penalty by allowing judges to convert the death penalty for all crimes except betrayal and murder.
At that time there were more than 200 crimes with compulsory death penalty according to English law, but royal grace had become routine for minor crimes.
Criminals would systematically denounce the death penalty from the dock, knowing that they would be kept free from execution for minor crimes.
To reform the system, the new law required a judge to introduce a death sentence in the report for mandatory capital crimes, but the judge could then convert the punishment itself instead of waiting for an inevitable royal pardon.
Thus, & # 39; recorded death & # 39; meant the opposite of & # 39; pronounced dead & # 39 ;, because a death sentence had to be declared verbally for an execution.
The error drew a massive impact from both academic and lay commentators, some of whom pointed to Wolf & # 39; s history of doubtful claims.
Wolf, a former adviser to both Bill Clinton and Al Gore presidential campaigns, was praised in 2014 for claiming ISIS hostages were actors and the group's beheading videos were a hoax.
During the time that former President George W. Bush was in office, Wolf made the controversial claim that his government was planning a secret fascist takeover of American society.
In a statement, Wolfs American publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said the mistake was unfortunate, but he believed that the overall statement of Wolf & # 39; s book is still true.
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