It all began with the death of Stephen Gately (as I found out a former lead singer of Boyzone, as I found out a mainstream boy band some of whose hits even I had heard umpteen times on the radio) on the 10 October.
A column by a Jan Moir (who only appeared in Wikipedia as a result of this affair) appeared in the Daily Mail, and it sparked a storm of protest on the Net, being perceived as highly homophobic. Apparently, Marks & Spencer and Nestle thought it better for their sales to ask the Daily Mail to move their advertisements which had been alongside the column’s online version; the Scotland Yard confirmed they were investigating a complaint against Moir; and Polydor, Stephen Gately’s record label, made an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, joining, as of 21 October, either 22,000 (PinkNews) or over 25,000 (BBC) other complaints to the PCC over the matter.
Moir eventually apologised to Gately’s parents, as probably even she realised that publishing the column a day before the funeral wasn’t exactly decent, but denied the article was homophobic.
(She apparently also accused many of the complaining of not having read the article. She’s probably right, I’ll give her that; on the other hand very early in the affair the name of the column was changed from “Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death” to “A strange, lonely and troubling death”, and who knows what other changes the article underwent before the current version of as late as 22 October?)
Trouble is, both side are in the wrong. The complainants because what they call for is in effect nothing else than an attack on the freedom of speech. Moir just expressed her opinions, and she had every right to do so, however retarted some people (including myself) may consider those opinions to be. Moir is in the wrong with her wild claims like “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” (I know from bitter experience they sometimes do, straight ones anyway) or “Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships” (whoever said anything about life being all beer and skittles when civil partnerships were legalised?)
On the other hand – have you noticed the rest of her page? You’d better, because only then you realise that you’re reading someone who might just as well, without having to change her style, be writing for the Sun. Such ado about that?
Finally Stonewall published an article by Adrian Tippetts, who at long last took a sensible, unyielding but unhysterical stance. Yet the number of people ready to gag others for a different opinion still leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Especially when it comes from us, who, with our experience with censorship, should know much better…
And it’s hardly any solace that the straights are just as bad, judging from the recent infamous Nick Griffin appearance on BBC’s flagship Question Time programme – no wonder there was such reaction from the public, when… but I’ve come, quite incidentally, across a blog whose author’s already written almost exactly what I would, so here you are: Another day, another opinion…