Vilification? Vindication?

27 October 2009

A couple of things have been causing a fuss this last week, there’s been a lot of fuss about the BNP’s appearance on Question Time and ongoing debate about Jan Moir’s article in particular.

Earlier this week I was convinced that Question Time was the wrong format if you thought it was going to show the BNP up. Well, was I wrong? I think it’s fair to say that the normal Question Time format was abandoned. People agreed it was a five against one kicking of Nick Griffin with Dimbleby and the four panelists directing their views very clearly. Even Griffin agrees. The questions chosen were challenging Griffin – there was nothing on the Postal Strike, for example, which would have clearly appeared at any normal Question Time. I’d agree that a low key grilling on Newsnight would have been better and less sensational. People, though, seemed to agree he performed badly, even his adjacent pannelist said he was creepy.

Which, incidentally, is what Griffin called gay people. Or at least, he said most people (particularly christians) find the sight of two grown men kissing “…really creepy”. Now this was in response to a question about whether the Daily Mail should have printed Jan Moir’s article (which I have posted about here and here). Moir, of course, ‘clarified’ her story on Friday. Apparently. Not only did she only actually apologise to Gately’s family for the timing of what she wrote, not the content, there are many people who think she’s trying to rewrite history, not clarify what she meant.

And when she says her “observation that there was a ‘happy ever after myth’ surrounding such unions was that they can be just as problematic as heterosexual marriages” I’d have to question who actually promulgated this myth about civil partnerships all ending happily ever after? As a Twitter follower of mine said “No-one. The myth itself is a myth”.

So what of these two stories? There’s something as worrying about the acceptance of public pronouncement of such views – whether they’re racist or homophobic – as there would be if they were silenced. The debate about whether the BBC or Daily Mail should have allowed publicising of such views is as worrying as the fact that they did. Because there’s freedom of the press, but there’s also a need to think about the way you say things. Whether it’s the way you question a BNP member on TV, or the way you express uncertainties about a death, there’s a responsibility. I’ve already posted on the implications of publicising ‘hate’ – the increase in homophobic attacks and hate crimes and implication of acceptibility by what people write, or the BNP appearance on Question time being “the trigger that turns into an attack”. And sometimes maybe you have to question whether it’s actually the right thing to do, to use the right you have. Or whether, for the benefit of your business, your medium, the public at large (people have been vocal in saying the BBC should take it’s share of blame for any increase in racist attacks, and there’s been concern that BNP membership will increase), you should think twice about whether you use the right you have to say what you want. Or whether you should think twice before you make a decision – whether you think about the implications before you say it. Because the responsibility is in your hands. Will your actions be vilification or vindication for people’s actions? And, frankly, is it really worth it?

A comment on hate crimes

21 October 2009

Last week I posted about about an Daily Mail comment piece by Jan Moir with an undercurrent of homophobia and thoughtless premise. This week the BBC are reporting that homophobic crime in London has risen by nearly a fifth, according to the latest figures on incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police.

The article says that while it’s believed that more people are reporting homophobic crime that’s most probably not the only reason for the increase. The increase is real. And it’s happening. “I don’t know why it’s happening but homophobic crime is definitely increasing,” says Kate, manager of gay pub George and Dragon in Hackney Road – reports the BBC. Just last week Ian Baynham died after a homophobic attack in front of many people in Trafalgar Square, right in the heart of London. Patrick Strudwick, writing on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free pages today also argues that the increase in hate crime is real, and not just a product of greater degree of reporting and measure of Police success.

It’s not that long ago that David Morely was killed on London’s South Bank and just ten years since the Soho pub bombing.

It’s important not to be complacent about hate crimes and homophobia. Jan Moir’s article and dismissal of gay relationships, and the others that still appear, does nothing but continue to undercurrent of homophobia – it does nothing to fight hate crimes and arguably fosters them. Hate Crimes need to be fought against and clearly unacceptable. People who take a laissez-faire attitude to homophobia need to consider what impact this can have on people who feel that hate crimes are justified, are OK.

I’m not saying Stephen Gately died because he was gay, but he obviously did.

16 October 2009

Jan Moir’s article for the Daily Mail this morning was – at the least – badly conceived and at worst homophobic and bigoted. It’s been a massive story on Twitter all day, and led to the Daily Mail pulling adverts from the page.

Jan’s article

Let’s start by pulling out a few snippets of what she said (I am selectively quoting here, read in context here):

The sugar coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this. After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. And I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy.

The reaction

Moir suggesting there was nothing “nautral” (her quotes) about his death has provoked a strong reaction:
It is “little more than ill-informed conjecture and sickeningly insensitive bad taste” and she “implies that there is something inherently immoral, dirty and wrong about same-sex relationships by dragging poor Matt Lucas [whose former civil-partner recently committed suicide] into her vile logic”.
• She insinuates “Gays can’t help but be hedonistic and do drugs, are rampantly unfaithful, unhappy and DIE!”
• Her train of thought is obscure: “Is Jan Moir really trying to link drug use with being gay? Or saying that civil partnerships will lead to death? Or what is she trying to do?”

What was she going on about?

So what was she saying? And what should we think about it?

Firstly she seems to dismiss that Gately died of natural causes. As far as I know she’s not a medical expert, nor does she have access to more autopsy information than the rest of us. Even the Daily Telegraph point out that this is like Chris Morriss’s Brass Eye “Genetically, paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me. Now that is scientific fact. There’s no real evidence for it, but it’s scientific fact.”

But more worrying is what comes next. She talks about his sexuality and clearly states she thinks there is something sleazy about his death. She points out that Gately and his partner had been out clubbing the night before. She points out they brought somebody back to their apartment. She makes accusation and innuendo that is very clearly bigoted. And implies that this caused his death. Now then Jan, it’s one thing to make unfounded medical claims that you know nothing about, but it’s another to make a thinly-veiled attack on gay relationships implying that they’re sordid, they result in drug taking and unhappiness and lead to death.

Finally she concludes that Gately’s death “strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships”. (I don’t know who she’s aiming this at. Has somebody said that Civil-Partnerships are more likely to be happy-ever-after than heterosexual marriages?) She links Gately’s death to that of Matt Lucas’s former partner. There’s a clear underlying tone that implies gay relationships are the cause of unhappiness and – well – death.

Moir has since issued a statement that she only wanted to point out that there are unanswered questions about his death (I guess she knows something that the coroner, his family and we don’t – I wish she’d tell us), and thinks that “In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones”. She is wrong. Firsty the the campaign against her was clearly not “heavily orchestrated” – the outrage on twitter was the result of many individuals showing disgust – even some Daily Mail website comments showed the same disgust. But – and this point is key – if this was what she wanted to say she should have done so without the undercurrent of bigotry, sordid accusations, wild medical claims and veiled implications that homosexual relationships are invalid. She’s a clever woman. She could have done so.

More reaction

The Daily Quail parodied her article wonderfully: “Some might say the death and the fact that the deathee was gay are unconnected. To them, I say: ‘no’. Look at the facts – he died, and he was gay. Therefore he died of gay. If a young, healthy man dies whilst suffering from a cold, obviously nobody would suggest that the cold had killed him, but with gay it’s different. Medical reasons, and that. Isn’t it? Yes, I think it is.”


Follow-up, 7pm:

Two brilliant pieces by Charlie Brooker and Alistair Campbell

Tweet n Whine

5 March 2009

Did i touch a nerve with my moaning minnie post about those grumbling, whiney whingers who do nothing but moan moan moan and complain? I think I may have done. I have nothing against getting what you’re due, I have nothing against complaining about bad service, but – let’s be clear – this, and  “life’s crap” whinging, are not the same thing.

Like I said if I get a bad service I will complain – whether it’s to the waiter who made me wait too long, the hotel with the broken toilet or my MP who voted for the Iraq war. But whinging is a reprehensible disease (let’s call it daily-mail-fever or have-your-say-itis) which not only drags yourself down but all those whom you carelessly sneeze over…

I think I’ve insulted my new-found friends over at LondonComplains (oops), here’s our twitter corresponace:

  • me: @LondonComplains please get lost you whinging twits (OK I admit, I started it… hehe… but did they really think I’d be at all interested in following their depressing tweets? I thought I put it fairly eloquently anyway…)
  • LC: Thanks for the insult. If you think being sick of the way our taxes are wasted & we’re maligned is ‘whinging’ then you need help!
  • me: nobody thinks taxes should be wasted but I actually have a life and would rather enjoy it than whining about tubes&parking
  • LC: So instead you’re whining about the people you think are whining about tubes& parking. And you claim to have a life? Methinks not
  • me: i’m not whinging about you, I’m pointing out the fallacies of your tweets (here I linked to my blog just so they could actually see what I thought about their grumpy whineyness)
  • me: i’d love to continue this conversation but i’m off out for dinner with a friend (I told you I have a life)
  • LC: Haha I’ve seen your page. You’re the saddest geek round these parts, and that’s saying something.. now run along. *pats head* (ah yes, run along little boy… but *score* they’ve seen my blog before, good to know…)
  • me: what an intelligent comeback *yawns* (and at this point I ran out of the door on the way to dinner)
  • LC: Er, isn’t there some trendy eaterie [sic] you should be polluting right now so you can post tweets tomorrow about what you ate? Idiot.. (why the ‘saddest geek round these parts’ would possibly be going to a trendy eatery is beyond any logical comprehension, but why should that surprise me… but actually I enjoyed a very nice two-for-one pizza with my friend Andrew at Pizza Express thank you very much…)

And just for anyone who missed that, half an hour later

  • LC: Been twittering 24 hours and already some wet wally’s seen fit to write an ESSAY on his own site about how we offend his delicate graces. Ha

…and it was very kind of them to give a ‘floppy noodle’ (as they called me) some publicity…

Now, like I’ve said before, I have no problem with people who can put together an eloquent argument, possibly a paragraph or two, explaining what they think, even if they don’t explain why they think so in detail. But splurging out this tripe over the net just because it’s easy is simply sneezing your phlegmmy germs of depression over everyone around you…

Fine, complain to someone, write to your MP or vote him out, tell someone what you think, but don’t moan and whine, it’s not attractive, it’s a depressive disease and you could be doing something far more life-affirming – something that’ll make you happy or that may, heaven forbid, actually change something…

Do I look like the kind of moaning minnie…

4 March 2009

…who likes those scaremongering, negative, ‘have your say’ style splurgerubbish stories? You know the kind of stuff – things like Facebook Causes Cancer and those whinging whiners who want to tell the world everything about it is rubbish?

You see, I don’t think I am. I think that they should stop moaning and get on with their lives. So why, today, do i have LondonComplains starting to follow me (ME) on Twitter?

This is the kind of moaning, whinging, “isn’t the world crap”, Jeremy Clarkson rubbish that is the mindset Daily Mail-believing moaners have gotten themselves into. And, you know what actually scares me – they actually believe they are right…

They actually spend their time, expend their energy, complaining about things like this, apparently:

  • For how long will London’s tube system continue its weekend paralysis? Last weekend no District, Central or Piccadilly lines. This is insane about the fact the tube’s over 100 years old and needs a bit of TLC?
  • DLR Eastbound stopped for 17 minutes this morning at approx.10.30… broken signal at Westferry. Very late for my job interview. Pathetic… things break, get over it – and ‘very’ late after 17 minutes? Maybe you should have left earlier…
  • Last Saturday (28th Feb) Whitechapel – 200 strong Islamic fundamentalist group protesting for Sharia Law / Jihad in London. Police watch … what do you want them to do? Idiot…
  • Car taken by council last week – permit ran out. Was told £200 fine, turned out to be £350! Was I told of daily £25 fees when I called? NO why not pay your permit?

Oh and in case you didn’t get it – the ‘bio’ tells us this account is run by lots of people, all sick of London’s broken, cheating, stealing, greedy rulemakers…

It’s not that I don’t believe in complaining (heck, complaining about actual things wrong is getting me some special treatment at a Manchester hotel this weekend)… BUT…

why not stop moaning and just enjoy your life? Call me narrow minded if you want but I just don’t see how spending you time, moaning, complaining and worrying will be life-affirming and, in any way, add to the quality of and enjoyment of your own life…

LondonComplains contributors – i feel sorry for you…

Have Your Say

20 February 2009

Friendfeed pointed me to the fact that a friend of mine posted a link to this Friday rant. The blog is dedicated to the stupidity of BBC News Website’s “Have Your Say” – indeed BBC news more generally – encouraging the kind of people that love to moan to write in and tell the world their thoughts on a news story.

Anyway, the real problem with the BBC comments system is the range of options you’re now presented with. You’re left with a choice between clicking “Recommend this comment” or else stepping away from the computer and banging your face on the wall for a few minutes. There’s no button for “This is bollocks”, “I can’t believe there are people this gullible and stupid in the world” or “I pity the confused, angry, cat penis that wrote this”. Even the Daily Mail manages to provide both “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” buttons. The end result of all this is that browsing the BBC’s “Have Your Say” forums makes reading the Daily Mail seem like reading the Socialist Worker. Left-wing bias my fat fucking arse.

Why is the commentosphere full of whinging whiners? OK so the blogosphere has it’s fair share of moaners but at least most of them are committed enough to put some thought into what they’re writing and construct some relatively legible sentences, hell, even put them into paragraphs!

More to the point, why does the BBC, which refused to show the DEC Gaza Appeal for risk of appearing to be impartial allow these halfwits to splurt their ill-informed claptrap all over their “news” pages?

Postcode Lottery

17 February 2009

Postcode freakin lottery, gimme a frakin break. What a load of rubbish – I hear the phrase all the time and it’s  proponents complaining that it’s unfair.

A quick google search requires postcode lotteries of healthcare, recycling, disabled parking badges, rail refunds, even speed cameras.

This morning on Radio 4 there was talk of a ‘postcode lottery’ for autism care – depending which healthcare area you live in you get a different level of care. This followed a story on Planning (yes, not the sexiest of subjects) and a proposal to remove regional planning and leave it to local authorities to decide.

Now make up your minds – what do you want? Local autonomy or centralisation – because, whichever way you look at it autonomy will lead to some areas providing different levels of services by definition. If you choose to look at it by postcodes, that’s a postcode lottery. And the “dailymailirony” is that it tends to be the same people complaining about both things. Do they not see it?

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