Naomi Wolf, author of the book, 'Outrages,' sits in front of a bookshelf.

Dr. Naomi Wolf, former advisor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, was speaking with BBC interviewer Matthew Street about her new book, "Outrages," when she learned her main thesis was based on a misunderstanding of the legal term "death recorded." 

In her book, she writes about how several dozen men in Britain were executed for homosexuality during the 1800s. While discussing this topic during the interview, Street explains to her that she had completely misunderstood what "death recorded" meant. She assumed it meant the convicts were executed, but it actually meant they were pardoned and sent free. She also discovered that sodomy doesn't always mean homosexuality, learning during the interview that a key case in her book referred to child sexual abuse instead.

I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened,” said Sweet

You can listen to the interview below. 

Here's the transcript of the part of that part of the interview, via Townhall:

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.”

Street countered:

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.”

Street continued:

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.’”