Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Daily Star sets on 'good taste'

There has been much media coverage of the homophobic attack that left trainee policeman James Parkes in hospital, fighting for his life, with:

multiple skull fractures and fractures of his eye-socket and cheek bone.

It comes just a couple of weeks after Ian Baynham died from injuries sustained in a homophobic attack in London.

The headlines on the stories of the latest crime vary slightly. The BBC's Homophobic attack on trainee Pc and Independent's Police officer fights for life after homophobic attack are straightforward.

Both the Mail (Gay off-duty PC left fighting for life after horrific assault by mob of homophobic teenage thugs) and the Sun (Gay policeman is beaten up by teenagers for being homosexual) feel the need to emphasise 'gay' eventhough a homophobic attack would hardly be on anyone else.

Yet it is encouraging to see the papers covering the story. Compare that to the disgraceful way the murder of Michael Causer, also gay, also from Liverpool was hardly mentioned at all by the media.

And there's always one paper which shows the old prejudices still exist. The tabloids show these prejudices all the time and, as Jan Moir proved, even a tragic death doesn't usually stop them.

But can there really be any excuse for the Daily Star to write about the attack on Parkes under the headline:

Tasteless, unpleasant, stupid. Yes, you don't expect much else from the Star, but can they really not even accept a 'gay' might exist without putting quote marks around the word.

The last time they wrote about a yeti/Bigfoot they didn't feel the need to put quote marks around the words. So why do it with gay?

Of course, given that it was a homophobic attack, the fact of Parkes' sexuality inevitably becomes part of the story.

Yet if an ethnic minority police officer - trainee or otherwise - had been assaulted, would the Star write: Yobs set on 'black'? OK, with the Star you never know, but it's highly unlikely.

But such wording - and such a use of quote marks - serves only as an on attack minority groups, to emphasise that they are 'different'. And the attacks on Baynham and Parkes show why this daily vilification of minorities is so dangerous.


  1. Funny you should mention the Star using quotes; the other day I followed a link that was posted by Anton to an old Star story about poppies being allegedly banned by muslim shops: http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/57516/Poppies-banned-in-terror-hotspots/

    And I noticed that there is a button at the end of the story inviting the reader (if you haven't destroyed your monitor in a fit of rage) to click for more 'News'.

    It is so refreshing for the Star to acknowledge that it publishes 'News' as opposed to actual News.

  2. "eventhough a homophobic attack would hardly be on anyone else."

    I dunno, "homophobic attack" is about the attacker's motivation, so if they think the victim is gay, that would do it. I agree that it's not necessary to underline it in the headline though.

  3. I suspect they 'quoted' the word to avoid the accusation of 'outing' him, i.e. the victim might state he isn't gay. In other words, it's taking the place of the word 'alleged'. (Yobs set on alleged gay).

    However, by doing this, they're still saying 'gay' is a label that should avoided, since the only time the word 'alleged' is ever used in is phrases such as 'alleged murderer', 'alleged thief'.


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