Thursday, 5 March 2009

Who is Michael Causer?

Remember Rhys Jones? The young Liverpool boy who was killed - shot in the back by Sean Mercer - after leaving a football practice session. His desperately sad story, received blanket coverage.

Remember Anthony Walker? The Liverpool teenager killed with an ice axe in a racist attack. His desperately sad story, received blanket coverage.

Now, do you remember Michael Causer? He was a Liverpool teenager battered to death while he slept. Chances are, you won't have heard of him. Go to the websites of the Mail, Express, Sun, Times and Telegraph and search for his name. Nothing will come up. In the spate of murders of teenagers that have had lots of media coverage in the last year or so, the death of Michael Causer was ignored. Why?

Because he was gay.

The background to the case can be read in an Independent story which revealed the accused was acquitted in Feb 09. You can also find stories in the Guardian about the case. But the other papers didn't think it was worth reporting.

Ben Summerskill of Stonewall is quoted in the Indy story as saying: “It is testament to the lack of seriousness with which these kinds of incidents are treated. They are simply not regarded as newsworthy. The BBC has reported every single murder of an adolescent in the past 18 months in this country as a national news story, but not this one.”

Why would Michael's death not be considered newsworthy? What is it about him that distinguishes him from the others?

He was gay.

It is hardly surprising giving the way these newspapers report gay issues - the Daily Star still thinks the word 'fruit' is acceptable (no direct link, but it was 23 May 2006, in front page headline) and thinks all gay men carry handbags.

When a story about using pink balls in cricket in The Sun gets the headline: 'Looks like it's gay-Lord's!' and the first line: 'CRICKETERS may look like they are batting for the other side — hitting PINK balls,' a story written by the almost certainly made up reporter James Clench.

When The Sun can write about Carmen Electra on 23 March 2007 which begins: 'Carmen Electra has been accused of sharing a lesbian love affair with rocker Joan Jett'. Accused? In what other relationship has the word accused appeared in that way?

Remember the 30 January 2007 front page, published at the height of the Celebrity Big Brother Shilpagate affair? (I know this is not meant to be mentioned because of the impending death of St Jade of Goody, but I'm going to anyway). Why was homosexuality left out?

You could say because it was a front page about racism, but then why was 'chav' included?

Then again, had they included it, they probably would have given the boy holding the sign a pink outfit and handbag...

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