Now that the ink is dry on Jan Moir’s article into Stephen Gately’s death, the real outrage should not be that it was written but that it was published. It is – regrettably – unsurprising that somebody might hold the views expressed in Moir’s article or that this person might have landed herself a regular column at The Daily Mail. Yet the article is so bad, so explicitly homophobic and so ridden with logical mistakes that it is astonishing that it was put in a national newspaper. Freedom of the press extends only so far. Publishing a load of incoherent garbage about a man’s death when his body is not even cold should not be allowed and The Daily Mail should be ashamed of itself.
“Are you thinking what she’s thinking? The answer for most people is no.”
Let’s start at the top. Jan Moir’s strapline is ‘Are you thinking what she’s thinking?’ The 1000 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission and the 17,000 members of the ‘The Daily Mail should retract Jan Moir’s hateful homophobic artitcle’ Facebook group (compare to the 11 members of the ‘Jan Moir support group’ on the same website) would suggest that the answer for most people is no.
Here is why: She starts with the claim that we did not anticipate Gately’s death in the same way we do (we do?), ‘Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney… But somehow we never expected it of him. Never him. Not Stephen.’ Presumably this was because – unlike the other celebrities who Moir is on first name terms with- Stephen Gately had been clean of drug addiction for the last five years and had spent the last three of these living with his civil partner in Highgate. Somehow somehow somehow… we just didn’t see it.
Nearly forgot! The one thing that was wrong with Stephen Gately was that he was homosexual. Having been ‘effectively smoked out of the closet’ when an ex member of Boyzone’s security staff tried to sell the story of his homosexuality to the tabloid press Jan explains that Gately had become a ‘champion of gay rights, albeit a reluctant one.’ Passing over the fact that she equates the way Gately revealed his sexuality with a common tactic used by the police to remove criminal suspects from locked rooms (there just is not time to criticise it all!), we move on to the crux of her argument.
The circumstances surrounding Gately’s death are ‘sleazy.’ Gately and husband Andrew Cowles met a 25-year-old Bulgarian man, Georgi Dochev, and took him back to their apartment where it is reported that Cowes and Dochev went into the bedroom together whi
le Gately remained outside. What happened next and how Gately died Moir admits to not knowing but does not seem to be convinced of the unexplained heart condition explanation (i.e. the coroner’s), the same one that Gately’s mother is ‘insisting’ on.
“McGee’s sole reason for being included in this article is that he is also homosexual and dead”
In any case, the ‘real sadness about Gately’s death’ – and let’s take a minute to guess: loss to the music world? To the gay community? To his friends? To his husband? – is ‘that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.’ Huh? According to Moir both Gately’s death and that of Matt Lucas’ former husband Kevin McGee apparently questions gay activists claims that not everyone ‘is like George Michael’and that civil partnerships are ‘just the same as heterosexual marriages.’
It is important to point out that Kevin McGee’s sole reason for being included in this article is that he is also homosexual and dead. Moir has taken two dead gay guys and cobbled together a point about the happy-ever after myth (who’s exactly?) of civil marriages. Yet, the argument does not follow. At all. It is like saying that Kurt Cobaine’s death questions the happy-ever after myth of marriage or that Diana’s death should make people think twice about divorcing. It is ludicrous.
Perhaps the most glaringly stupid thing about the presentation of the article (and I am just on presentation now) is that Moir’s section on the disturbing habits of gay married life was, when I read the article on the Mail Online website, next to a link to a story about Russell Brand – a heterosexual man known for an extravagant sex life- and now girlfriend Katy Perry. One wonders if the Moir theorem on the link between three-way sex and unidentifiable heart failure extends to Brand? I guess we will wait and see.
“Is Moir a homophobe? If she isn’t, why has she written a piece that makes her sound like one?”
If Moir wanted to write an article about the moral ambiguity of having sex with an unknown man during marriage while your partner is in the house then she should have done so and included a whole host of similar hetrosexual practices in it. If she wanted to write an article questioning the reporting of the death and raising her suspicions of it then she should have done that. What she has written conflates both these points. I do not know if Moir is a homophobe but if she is not then one has to ask why a person who has written for three large national newspapers has written a piece that makes her sound like one.
What Moir has called the ‘orchestrated campaign’ against her article, lead by twitters from Derren Brown and Stephen Fry, that caused the Press Complaints Commission website to crash and advertisers to remove their products from the Mail Online website should make us proud. Journalism must be about properly researched articles with sentences that follow one another and arguments that are not dripping with holes otherwise the profession means nothing and the industry will die. It genuinely is not okay to write this drivel, it is not okay to publish it and Jan Moir and The Daily Mail should be told as much.