Archive for Stephen Gately

The Mailstorm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 17, 2009 by telescoper

Yesterday The Daily Mail – loathsome ragbag of hate-mongering lies masquerading as a newspaper – ran a piece by columnist Jan Moir on their website that sank below the level of the gutter and into the deepest depths of sheer evil.

The piece was about Stephen Gately, a singer and former member of the group Boyzone, who died suddenly over a week ago at the age of 33. Although the coroner declared his death to be of natural causes, the circumstances surrounding his death do remain a little unclear. However, anyone with any degree of sensitivity would have treated the matter as a private one and refrained from intruding in order allow his friends, family, and, especially, his partner to come to terms with what had happened. Anyone with any degree of sensitivity, that is. Not Jan Moir.

You see, Stephen Gately was gay. That’s no big deal for many people these days, but for the Daily Mail it made him a target for a post-mortem hatchet job. No need to worry about the laws of defamation as you can’t libel the dead. No need to check the facts, just sit down and let the vitriol pour out. Right up Jan Moir’s street.

This poisonous excuse for a human being composed a piece with the title. Why there was nothing `natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death. This wasn’t journalism of course. Jan Moir hadn’t uncovered any new facts about the case. Nothing she wrote was backed up by any evidence. It was simply an exercise of blind bigotry, achieved through insinuation and deliberately designed  to pander to the prejudices of the Daily Mail’s readership.

For example

… fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again

Well I’m sorry, Jan, but they do. Fit young people  drop dead while walking along the street too. A number of medical conditions can lead sudden unexpected death in apparently healthy people.

 Here’s another example, in which the monstrous Moir expands the horizons of her rant to encompass racism

After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment.

Bulgarian? Must be dodgy. Must have been a kinky threesome. Shows that the civil partnership of Gately and his partner Andrew Cowles was meaningless. All gay men are at it like rabbits all the time. They’re all irretrievably sleazy. We all know that. We read about it in the Daily Mail.

As a matter of fact, the third man was  Georgi Dochev (yes, Bulgarians have names too) , an old friend of the couple. It seems quite a reasonable alternative hypothesis that the three of them came home after a night out and simply crashed out wherever they could. I don’t know whether that was the case or not. Neither does Jan Moir, but she obviously didn’t want the absence of relevant facts to get in the way of a story.

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.

 Sheesh. I won’t go on unpicking this odious item otherwise I’ll get angry again. I hope I’ve made the point. In any case Charlie Brooker in the Guardian has already done a much better job than I could.

Anyway, as soon as I found out about this piece (via Facebook) I fired off a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission as it was clearly in violation of Sections 1, 5 and 12 of their Code of Practice. Meanwhile a storm brewed up on Twitter (of which I am not a member) and so many people filed complaints to the PCC that their website crashed.  The Daily Mail’s own readership – not known for their liberal attitudes – roundly condemned the piece through the comments facility. Finally, and perhaps most importantly from the point of view of having an impact on the Mail itself, several advertisers (including Marks & Spencer and Nestlé) pulled their adverts off the website because they wanted to disassociate themselves from the opinions expressed there. The loss of advertising revenue probably means a lot more to bosses at the Daily Mail than any appeal to decency or respect.

The piece is still there, but has been heavily edited and has a new title. It’s still offensive, though. I’ll be following subsequent events with interest and have already made plans to burn Jan Moir in effigy at the forthcoming bonfire night celebrations on November 5th. I hope the Daily Mail shows her the door too.

Looking back on this affair a day later, I have to say that in a way I’m actually glad Jan Moir wrote the piece. Thoroughly disgusted as I am by what she wrote I feel bound to defend her right to say what she thinks. Gagging such people is not the answer. That piece tells us exactly the kind of creature she is. She can’t squirm out of this by offering a half-baked apology and saying it was just a joke. The Daily Mail published, and Jan Moir is damned. May she rot in hell.

Another thing this episode demonstrates the immense power of Twitter to do real good. I had previously thought of it as a trivial bit of net gimmickry. Now I’m seriously thinking of joining Twitter in the hope of adding one more voice to the campaign to save pure science from the oblivion it seems to be headed for.

The problem is that Twitter works through messages limited to 140 characters in length. Since I can’t seem to write a blog post in less than a thousand words I don’t think my tweets will be very effective..