Friday, October 23, 2009

The Hardest Word Lacking Feeling: Jan Moir has Spoken Again

So Jan Moir has spoken again, below is her article in full with my comments in red. yeah I've pinched the format straight off Cardiff Blogger from her first article.

Last week, I wrote in this column about the death of Boyzone star Stephen Gately.

To my horror, it has been widely condemned as 'homophobic' and 'hateful'. Obviously, a great deal of offence has been taken and I regret any affront caused. This was never my intention. Interesting then that the whole opening tenant was to build up from Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger. Then to speculate about the demises of Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney and Britney.

To be the focus of such depth of feeling has been an interesting experience, but I do not complain. After all, I am not - unlike those close to Stephen Gately - mourning for the loss of a much-loved partner, son, family member and close friend. Oh yeah, that was clear they were prepaying to bury the guy the next day, when you wrote this piece, even casting aspirations at the mother saying her insisting of the family heart history was irrelevant.

To them, I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral. Pity you didn't think of distress in you timing of publishing.

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? You not heard of Richard Gasquet whose toxicology results indicated partaking in cannabis but was cleared after supposedly kissing a girl who had. I dread to think how my toxicology tests would look after delivering leaflets on certain estates.

We were told that Stephen died of 'natural causes' even before toxicology results had been released. This struck me as bizarre, given the circumstances. Actually you're own article said the lawyers stated they believed. Also those present had more idea of what actually went on leading up to that incident that you did, with your spurious remarks.

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. Well I doubt you would have had a go at civil partnerships, gay activists, mentioned the sad suicide of Kevin McGee. Nor the coming out story.

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.

It is worth stressing that the version of events I recounted in my column had already been in the public domain, having been described in detail in several newspapers. Surprising I remember reading that there was a three bedroom flat. That Dochev found Stephen on the sofa and went into Cowles room to wake him. Normally I find that leaving a bed I've shared with someone they would have been stirred no matter how careful I've attempted to be.

What had been reported about that night is that Stephen and his civil partner Andrew Cowles went to a nightclub and brought back a Bulgarian man to their apartment. Yeah as I've done numerous times with friends because otherwise I'm on the 23:18 home, no fun. I don't sleep with all of them as a result. Dochev had actually been a friend of the couples for years.

There were also reports of drug-taking. Yet the official report, the one that matters, denies drink or drugs were any part of it. Following this, it was reported that Cowles went to the bedroom with the Bulgarian, while Stephen remained on the sofa. The eye witness statements that Dochev went to a guest bedroom leaving the partners on the sofa, then woke Cowles in a different room. Such speculation is denied in a court of law. I have never thought, or suggested, that what happened that night represented a so-called gay lifestyle; this is not how most gay people live. Oh yeah, well you've jumped to your own conclusions, most of those press reports came before any toxicology tests and didn't feature on the official post mortem.

Rather, I thought it a louche lifestyle; one that raised questions about health and personal safety. Wow, guess I shouldn't be allowed to stand up then

There have been complaints about my use of the word 'sleazy' to describe this incident, but I still maintain that to die on a sofa while your partner is sleeping with someone else in the next room is Objection! (see above), indeed, sleazy, no matter who you are or what your sexual orientation might be. Again no. We have your partner and another asleep somewhere in the flat, you

My assertion that there was 'nothing natural' about Stephen's death has been wildly misinterpreted. Well seeing as the coroner said cause of death was natural, to even deny they was a natural enough cause places you in an area of unearned expertise.

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. Anyone's sudden death that has not been seen by a doctor in the past week is referred for post mortem, d'oh.

As for Stephen's civil partnership, I am on the record as supporting same-sex marriages.

The point of my observation that there was a 'happy ever after myth' surrounding such unions was that they can be just as problematic as heterosexual marriages. Don't know where this happy ever after myth idea comes from. Nobody expects all civil partnerships to last just as nobody expects every heterosexual marriage to last, but we all hope that each one does.

Indeed, I would stress that there was nothing in my article that could not be applied to a heterosexual couple as well as to a homosexual one. What nothing? You sure? Care to reread, see above comment about linking a suicide to a death of this nature. Only link both gents happened to be gay. Would that have been applied to a heterosexual couple in the same boat?

This brings me back to the bile, the fury, the inflammatory hate mail and the repeated posting of my home address on the internet.

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. Sorry Jan it wasn't orchestrated. My agenda would have been to end such hatred bile and uninformed opinion about the health issues as much as the homosexual ones. Indeed what was orchestrated was the Mail's campaign against Ross and Brand about their comments on Andrew Sachs and even that didn't have the same impact.

However, I accept that many people - on Twitter and elsewhere - were merely expressing their own personal and heartfelt opinions or grievances. This said, I can't help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged? Or was it a failure of communication on my part? Well answer that second question yourself....could you have worded it so that it didn't reek of bigotry and social intolerance? You covered a lot of ground and used a lot of phraseology that suggested the former. But you're paid for communication skills, as am I, you work it out.

Certainly, something terrible went wrong as my column ricocheted through cyberspace, unread by many who complained, no I read and reread it getting more disgusted with each reading yet somehow generally and gleefully accepted into folklore as a homophobic rant. I've seen some rants in my time and they were nowhere near as abhorrent, factual inaccurate and speculative as what you wrote.

It lit a spark, then a flame and turned into a roaring ball of hate fire, blazing unchecked and unmediated across the internet.

Yet as the torrent of abuse continued, most of it anonymous, I blog under my own name I also had thousands of supportive emails from readers and well-wishers, many of whom described themselves as 'the silent majority'. The outcry was not as one-sided as many imagine. A 'silent majority' of thousands. Wow! Must have been really underground I've seen very few people saying anything positive. Also was this majority more than the 25,000 who took time to write to the PCC.

Their view, and mine, was that it was perfectly reasonable of me to comment upon the manner of Stephen Gately's death, even if there are those who think that his celebrity and sexuality make him untouchable.

Can it really be that we are becoming a society where no one can dare to question the circumstances or behaviour of a person who happens to be gay without being labelled a homophobe? If so, that is deeply troubling. No. We put when they question the official reports, statements and even the words of grieving relatives irrespective of sexuality of the deceased we do. Add to that innuendo in the way the questioning is done and well...yes.

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. Hardly surprisingly a statement lacking from the original and failed to be said in your first response to this issue.

So after all that self justification no admission of factual inaccuracy. No acknowledgement that 12 young people do die of sudden coronary disease every week in this country. I've since learnt of a cousin of someone close who has also passed away at 20. No apology to Margaret Gately for inferring she is a liar about familial medical history.

There is an apology for the timing. But a failure to realise that the framing and language used really does look like a homophobic rant. The fact that a similar piece was carried by Christian Voice (run by a suspiciously similarly initialled person to Ms Moir's anonymous partner) and clearly was homophobic in intent does not bode well.

Sorry may be the hardest word, but Ms Moir has only used in relation to the timing of her article not its content, rumour mongering or emotive language.


Rachel said...

Bloody excellent.

Well done and thanks

Rachel said...

Didn't know you were blogging here.

Also excellent

Mr. Mxyzptlk said...

she might as well done a nick griffin 'she did not know why she said what she said'


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