Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 23 October 2009

Jan Moir "clarification" on Stephen Gately is full of holes - #janmoir

Jan Moir has published a "clarification" about her hateful article last week on Stephen Gately's death today in the Daily Mail. There is a cached version of it you can read here so that I don't need to link to her article. There is also a cached version of her original one here.

She seems to be trying to justify what she did and apparently it's all our fault for misinterpreting poor old Jan. The thing is, her explanation of what she meant is full of holes. I am not going to do a full fisk, I don't have the time or energy but here are a few of her points with my thoughts:

The point of my article was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, Stephen Gately's death raised many unanswered questions. What had really gone on?

After all, Stephen was a role model for the young and if drugs were somehow involved in his death, as news reports suggested, should that not be a matter of public interest?

Ah, the old "public interest" defence! Why is it in the public interest though Jan? The only thing I have seen (alleged) is that some cannabis was smoked on that night. Even if that was true is it really likely to have contributed to the death? Even if it did, why is that in the "public interest". It may be of interest to the public but that is a very different thing. Stephen was not a politician or public servant. This is thin, thin stuff from Moir clutching at straws.

We were told that Stephen died of 'natural causes' even before toxicology results had been released. This struck me as bizarre, given the circumstances.

Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality. If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article.

Really Jan. REALLY? In that case why did you say the following in your original article?:

"Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.

Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.

Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened."

These comments are not compatible with your claim that none of your comments had anything to do with Stephen's sexuality. They had everything to do with it. You specifically suggest that this case (and bizarrely a completely unrelated suicide) raise "troubling questions" and that "happy-ever-after civil partnerships" are a myth. It was hateful and homphobic and trying to deny you said or meant it is desperate stuff at this late stage.

Yet despite this, many have interpreted my words as a 'bigoted rant' and suggested that my motive was to insinuate that Stephen died 'because he was gay'.

Anyone who knows me will vouch that I have never held such poisonous views.

Was someone else typing those words last week then?

My assertion that there was 'nothing natural' about Stephen's death has been wildly misinterpreted.

What I meant by 'nothing natural' was that the natural duration of his life had been tragically shortened in a way that was shocking and out of the ordinary. Certainly, his death was unusual enough for a coroner to become involved.

What you actually wrote was:

"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. All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered."

which seemed to be setting yourself up as some sort of medical expert. Perhaps you could point us towards the actuarial graphs that show massive dips in mortality rates at the age of 33, after all no-one seemingly healthy and fit of that age just dies apparently.

Regarding the reaction to your column you say:

To say it was a hysterical overreaction would be putting it mildly, though clearly much of it was an orchestrated campaign by pressure groups and those with agendas of their own.

There's a big difference Jan between an orchestrated campaign and something that lots of people feel revulsion about when they become aware of it who then decide to act upon it. You are failing to understand the digital world we live in and how systems like Twitter and blogs can accelerate the reaction of the public to something they feel strongly about. Paul Bradshaw on the Online Journalism Blog does a good job of explaining this here.

No Jan, a good example of an orchestrated campaign would be something like the complaints about Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand last year that your newspaper organised. That was a situation where before your paper got involved there had been two complaints and afterwards there were thousands, often from people who hadn't even heard the original broadcast. I sense a bit of Rovian projection going on here (the deliberate projection of one's own behaviour onto one's opponent).

You round off your "clarification" by saying:

Finally, I would just like to say that whatever did or did not happen in Majorca, a talented young man died before his time. This, of course, is a matter of regret and sadness for us all.

So if he was so talented, why in your original piece did you say:

"A founder member of Ireland's first boy band, he was the group's co-lead singer, even though he could barely carry a tune in a Louis Vuitton trunk.

He was the Posh Spice of Boyzone, a popular but largely decorous addition."

This attempt to distance yourself from your words and views will not wash I am afraid Jan. We all saw what you said. It was a nasty, hate filled homophobic piece and no amount of "clarification" will change that.

You should apologise properly. This wriggling you are indulging in now is just pathetic.


Anonymous said...

I agree to that. But isn´t it the journalist way always to abuse what happens for some sensation and then finish it off a short time later with an half hearted apology but at the same time trying to blame the people whom react offended stating you were misunderstood, although there´s nothing to misunderstood about this article??
Jan Moir is in my eyes a homophobic woman who never noticed she was one...


Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

I was disappointed that you opted to censor to the point of expunging my comment on your previous post about Moir and her article and to do so without explanation.

This latest Moir article shows why my comment was fair and appropriate: we do have an infotainment industry populated by people whose values are not those that might be wished and they are in consequence (let us say to please the censor) less than wholesome individuals.

Mark Thompson said...

CRM - I didn't. Your comment is (and always was) still there in all its glory: I've no idea why you think I censored it.

Edwin H Rydberg said...

If someone says Amy Winehouse is a stoner who dresses bad and desperately needs therapy, no one bats an eyelash. But if someone suggests a good looking, popular gay celeb was doing something naughty and possibly illegal the night of his death (and, by all accounts, he was) and it should be investigated, suddenly all hell breaks loose!!?

I see the whole freak out as people looking for something to be angry about. First off, her article was an opinion piece and she's entitled to her opinion. Second, there was no hate directed against any group. Even in your quotes of her article, she never actually makes the connection. Whether that was careful editing on her part or just because she didn't think of it, is irrelevant. So, it takes a lot of reading between the lines to find something to get so angry about.

The short of it seems to be that there are a lot of hypersensitive people out there who seem to want a distraction from the real issues of the world (financial collapse, corrupt big business, attempted genocides, illegal invasions of oil-rich countries, natural disasters...) and have found themselves some Prozac in the form of a scapegoat to lynch.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

! Unreserved apologies! It is still there and you did not censor it!

I thought my comment was gone as I looked under your PCC and Moir post, failing to realise, in my surfing frenzy, because of the similarilty of subject that it was in fact a different thread.

I rejoice that the term infotainment industry scum is allowed! :-)

Again, unreserved apologies!

Anonymous said...

"Certainly, his death was unusual enough for a coroner to become involved."

Isn't a coroner always involved when a death is sudden?