Friday 16 October 2009

Jan Moir: homophobic bigot

Reading Jan Moir's hateful, homophobic rant about Stephen Gately's death on the Mail website this morning was one of those totally jaw-dropping, lost for words moments that the tabloids still manage to inflict.

As Anton and Jamie and many, many others quickly pointed out, the problems with the article began with the headline:

Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death

Of course, the coroner said he died of natural causes: fluid on the lungs. But the use of natural, in quote marks, was for no other reason that to point out Gately was gay. It's saying: his death wasn't natural because he wasn't 'natural'.

But Moir's article was just as vile as that headline. She wrote:

Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this.

So even when the coroner says 'natural causes', medical expert Moir says it can not be a natural death. Amazing.

And then there was the key passage:

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.

Let's be clear about this: the death of Gately says absolutely nothing about civil partnerships and it's an utter disgrace to suggest otherwise. Would Moir attack marriage because Harold Shipman or the Wests were married?

Of course not.

And notice how the second paragraph is phrased. 'Gay activists' makes it sound like heterosexual people don't call for 'tolerance and understanding about same sex relationships'. Moir proves she doesn't.

And then:

Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael. In many cases, that may be true.

'They say' and 'in many cases that may be true'? Clearly Moir doesn't agree that all gay men are not like George Michael. Why would one man be representative of everyone? That's as clueless as yesterday's Express front page where all Muslims are tarnished because of the beliefs of a few.

Those gays are all out for cheap thrills in public toilets, she's saying.

To Moir same sex relationships, which she claims to support, are just not the same as heterosexual ones, because homosexuals just aren't quite the same. They aren't quite 'natural'.

And why the need to drag in the suicide of Kevin McGee? It is completely irrelevant to Gately's death unless you are trying to make some cretinous point that same sex civil partnerships are somehow a danger to your life. She appears to be saying Gately died of being gay.

That's why at the end of the article she refers to a:

very different and more dangerous lifestyle

Unsurprisingly, Twitter went beserk. Jan Moir became the trending topic. Stephen Fry weighed in. A Facebook campaign began. Then the Mail's advertisers started to get targetted. Did they want their products on the same page as Moir's bile?

Marks and Spencer's said no thanks:

"Marks & Spencer does not tolerate any form of discrimination," said a spokesman for the retailer. "We have asked the Daily Mail to move our advertisement away from the article. This is a matter for the Daily Mail."

The MediaGuardian story added:

Nestlé added that it contacted its media buying agency MindShare to investigate having its ad removed, but the Daily Mail had already stripped the web page of advertising.

That is wonderful. A brilliant example of how reader power in the new media age can hurt newspapers.

The Mail also decided to change the headline to:

A strange, lonely and troubling death . . .

'Lonely'? It's an odd choice of (replacement) word given how much Moir is intent on telling us that there were two other men in his apartment when he died.

But that change completely fails to repair the damage - the main hate is in the article. Changing the headline is re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

Charlie Brooker wrote an excellent piece; the story became the lead on MediaGuardian.

The PCC were bombarded with over 1,000 complaints which caused their website to crash. And their response was to suggest that unless there is a complaint from Gately's family, they'd ignore everything else.

Apparently, a general outcry over homophobia isn't good enough to warrant considering a complaint.

Which is why people using Twitter or Facebook are going to increasingly take direct action against newspapers in this way - targetting advertisers and online campaigns, for example. The PCC is simply not up to the job of keeping them in line, and dole out the most ineffective and feeble punishments for transgressions.

And then Jan Moir weighed back in with a 'response' - defiantly not an apology - of such crassness, it makes it all even worse. She doesn't even say sorry for the hurt she may have caused Gately's family. She begins:

Some people, particularly in the gay community...

See? It's those gays again, causing the trouble. She goes on:

However, the point of my column-which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read

Which is a totally obnoxious response. We have all read it, that's why we're all so pissed off.

She went on to repeat that there's is clearly something dodgy about Gately's death:

Yes, anyone can die at anytime of anything. However, it seems unlikely to me that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately's death - out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger - did not have a bearing on his death.

'Anyone can die ay anytime of anything'? That's weird, because in the actual article, Moir stated quite clearly:

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.

But now they can?

And on the civil partnerships point, argued:

I was suggesting that civil partnerships - the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting - have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.

Well that's not really what you meant, is it Jan? Because that's not what you said. That's how we all came to misunderstand you. You were saying that two people in civil partnerships have died recently and tried to make the point that something about their lifestyle was to blame.

She ends:

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.

It's an interesting use of the word 'undertones'. The homophobia and bigotry was there for all to see. Undertone doesn't even begin to describe it.

And for someone from the Mail - architect of the whole Sachsgate affair - to complain of a 'heavily orchestrated campaign' would be funny if Moir wasn't being so unpleasant. But the reaction was an entirely natural response to what was an awful, awful article. This is something everyone could read for themselves. It's not like, say, getting people riled up over a radio show from two weeks before that none of them had heard.

Of course, it was Moir who wielded the poison pen, but let's not forget that other people at the Mail must have OK'd the column before publication. Indeed the Belfast Telegraph reports that the piece did not appear in the printed Irish version of the paper. Was this an admission by Mail executives that they thought it was likely to be inflammatory?

And Mail editor Paul Dacre must seriously consider his position as Chair of the Code of Practice Committe. His paper has been responsible for what looks to be the most complained about newspaper article in PCC history. How can he possibly continue to sit on the Committee that oversees the Code, let alone Chair it?

Incidentally, on Sachsgate, Moir wrote:

They fatally underestimated public taste, values and our strong sense of British fair play.

Something Moir now knows all about.


  1. I've read all about this and i myself am appaled at the article. I'm glad this has happened and like you say this is the age of the internet and we will continue to do this until this shitrag is stopped.

  2. The new headline suggests he died a 'lonely' death - another jibe at civil partnerships in general and his relationship in particular?

  3. Words fail me when it comes to describing the stpidity of this vile worm of a woman


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