Stewart Lee responds to Jan Moir article

Worth a read:

Moir’s column about ‘foul-mouthed left-wing’ comics who hate Michael McIntyre is only to able to suggest two examples of this ‘cabal’, me and, bizarrely, Frankie Boyle, the paper’s default bête noir. Here we go, point by point, chop chop chop, Timber.

Firstly, I am not ‘foul mouthed’. I swear once in the 180 minutes of the first series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, not at all in the 105 minutes of my last live show If You Prefer A Milder Comedian…, and only once in the 90 minutes of the previous live show, 41 Best Stand-Up Ever, when I describe Moir’s fellow Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn as a ‘cunt’, for saying the East Anglian sex worker murders were of no consequence. Michael McIntyre actually swears more than me.

Apparently I represent ‘a slime pit of unpleasantness’ and once again, a Mail newspaper de-contextualises one line from my 45 minute 2009 routine about Richard Hammond to prove this. The same routine also references the anti-PC brigade’s attempts to ‘upset the grieving relatives of Stephen Gately’, an explicit nod towards Moir herself, who either chose to ignore this, didn’t understand it, or hasn’t watched the piece. (You decide).

Ironically, because people like Jan Moir mean it’s impossible now to employ any degree of comic ambiguity for fear of them choosing to misrepresent it, the DVD of the bit actually ends with the line, to camera, “I don’t really think Richard Hammond should die. What I was doing there, as everyone here in this room now understands, just in case there’s anyone from the Mail on Sunday watching this, is I was using an exaggerated form of the rhetoric and the implied values of Top Gear to satirise the rhetoric and the implied values of Top Gear. And it is a shame to have to break character and explain that. But hopefully it will save you a long, tedious exchange of emails.’

Again, Jan Moir either chooses to ignore what is, essentially, a direct address to her, or else she hasn’t watched the bit.

You can read the rest here.

Jan Moir, Not Nice, But Very Dim

I think it’s worth quoting Jan Moir’s piece on Tim Loughton today in full, because when you try to skewer somebody as being a bit dim you really should ensure that you’re not:

Tory MP Tim Loughton. Just look at him.

Tim Nice but Dim. Has a clever or coherent thought ever walked across that unlined, pampered brow? Doubtful.

And unluckily for Conservative prospects in the forthcoming election, the shadow children’s spokesman has turned his attention to teenage mothers.

‘It is against the law to get pregnant at 14. How many kids get prosecuted for having under-age sex? Virtually none,’ he thundered this week, raising the prospect of criminalising teenage mothers.

Oh yes, that will really help.

Everyone knows that there is a worrying rise in teenage pregnancies among very young girls.

But flinging them in jail is hardly a solution. Make that Tim Not So Nice but Still Dim.

Dear me. It makes one tremble at the thought of this Tory lot ever gaining power.

Obviously, if a device existed to measure irony it would be off the scale having Jan Moir call someone not very nice, and mind-numbingly thick. This is, after all, the writer of the most complained about article in UK history, an article which was utterly wrong.

But ignoring that, it still gets worse because Jan Moir really thinks that she’s a know-it-all – which is presumably why she berates parents all the time about why their children being murdered was really their own fault. Here, she tells Tim that ‘everyone knows that there is a worrying rise in teenage pregnancies among the very young girls’. Except of course, anyone who actually looked at the latest figures for teenage pregnancy that is; figures which showed that ‘The number of girls aged 13 to 15 getting pregnant fell by 6%’ and ‘Since 2002 the number of teenage girls falling pregnant in England and Wales has been steadily falling, despite a slight rise in 2007’.

So Jan Moir, please spare us both your unpleasantness and your sheer, face-palming stupidity.

The Daily Mail Naturally ignores Stephen Gately Inquiry Outcome

We all know about the huge response that Jan Moir generated with her article: ‘Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death’ (now retitled: ‘A strange, lonely and troubling death’). We also know about the total lack of coverage that followed in the Daily Mail and most other mainstream media outlets. The Daily Mail managed a brief statement from Moir about how it was all a ‘heavily orchestrated Internet campaign’ against her by the horrible people that use Twitter and that it was ‘mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones’.

Naturally, churnalism sprung into action and Moir’s statement was repeated and because nothing else was said on the matter by the Daily Mail (officially at least, several Mail columnists tore Moir’s article apart) or by Moir that was supposed to be an end to it.

The PCC, after recovering from a broken website due to the unprecedented number of complaints, decided that the complaints were partly the fault of Stephen Fry (ironically another gay man) and silly people on the Internet. The PCC made it clear that with only 14 members of staff it wasn’t really able to deal adequately with over 25,000 complaints, but luckily – as ‘none of the original 25,000 complaints were from Stephen Gately’s family or close friends’ – apart from acknowledging they’d had a busy day watching the complaints pour in, they didn’t actually have to do anything about them.

Still, due to the vast amount of complaints an investigation was launched (no details provided in the Press Release) about the ‘general accuracy’ of the article, but before this was completed Andrew Cowles – Gately’s partner – had lodged a complaint which is now being dealt with.

However, the PCC have yet to make any announcements as to whether they believed the article was accurate – to settle the third-party complaints they don’t have to deal with. Neither have they made any announcements on the progress of Cowles complaints. The PCC are not exactly quick, but then what do you expect from an organisation that has 13 editors on its code committee (chaired by Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre) to oversea the ideals the press aims for, but only employs 14 staff to vaguely monitor whether the code is being upheld by editors.

Tabloid Watch pointed out recently that the Daily Mail is still leading the way with the largest amount of ‘resolved’ complaints of any newspaper, and Paul Dacre chairs the committee that deals with the editor’s code of conduct.

There has been one outcome since Moir wrote her article – questioning the details of what really happened that night – and it is the inquiry into Gately’s death. The inquiry concludes:

Although he had drunk heavily and smoked cannabis it was ruled that these were not factors in his death.

outcomeNaturally Jan Moir didn’t mention this in her column today (she was finding time to judge a mother – a favourite past time of hers). The Daily Mail did report it, however, they decided to bury it on page 36 in the hope that nobody would spot it and realise what a gutless shit rag it is. Paul Dacre had the opportunity to practice what he preaches and make an example of Moir for publishing utter rubbish about a dead person – not just rubbish, but bigoted and ignorant rubbish – by reporting on the outcome and explaining that somehow the press had learnt an important lesson from all this.

But he didn’t. He just pretended it hadn’t happened by relegating it to a tiny space between some advertising (ironic given that advertisers pulled the plug on the original article online). Likewise, as predicted yesterday the Daily Mail did not report the latest crime figures at all in the print edition, not one paragraph.

When it comes to the Daily Mail, clearly good news or news not suiting their agenda is no news.

Boycott the advertisers, Destroy the Tabloid Press

I’m sure everyone is now fully aware of Jan Moir’s hateful, ignorant and homophobic article about Stephen Gately. It was covered on this site and just about every other blogger I know so I will not go over old ground by repeating things that have been covered elsewhere. Instead I want to focus on what should happen next, in general, with the tabloid media. There are now many blogs that exist to point out the hatred, racism, homophobia, misogyny, made-up science and general ignorant fear-mongering that makes up most of the content of tabloid newspapers but Friday was a rare event in that such bloggers rode a wave of anger over one particular article and a tabloid newspaper was forced to respond.

What surprises me isn’t that such a vast number of people took a few minutes out of their day to register their disgust at Jan Moir, it’s that such people don’t do it more often.

Why was there not a similar uproar for example over the Daily Express headline this week that stated that all Muslims were calling for complete Sharia Law in the UK, when it is patently clear that it is only one small faction – statistically insignificant within the Muslim population. A number of blogs covered Amanda Platell’s racism and ignorance a while back when she bemoaned in an article about population rise that:

Sadly, though, it is not the indigenous middle-class, hard-working, tax-paying population that’s exploding.

According to statistics, our latest baby boom is partly down to high birth rates among immigrants, and partly due to rising numbers of younger mothers.

The Explosion that Amanda was referring to was the rise in migrant mothers from 23.2% in 2007 to 24.1% in 2008, so the ‘boom’ is actually an increase of 0.9%. Yes it appears lies, racism and general bigotry only starts to rile the population if it is aimed at a popular figure. In my opinion everyone should take time out to counter any instance of a tabloid newspaper behaving in such a way – although that is a big ask considering just how frequently tabloid newspapers behave in this way. However, if we don’t apply consistent pressure to the tabloid press then they’ll simply be able to brush aside the Jan Moir reaction and carry on just as they did before. This year Richard Littlejohn has been named Poison Pen: Polemicist of the Year by the Comment Awards run by Editorial Intelligence which gives out a clear signal that homophobic, racist writers who constantly skewer reality and fact to suit their own hate-filled agenda are to be rewarded rather than chastised.

Remember, Richard Littlejohn is the writer who said of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda: “Does anyone really give a monkey’s about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them.” And wrote the following about the murder of 5 Ipswich women in 2006:

…in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss.

They weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur. The only kind of missionary position they undertook was in the back seat of a car…

Frankly, I’m tired of the lame excuses about how they all fell victim to ruthless pimps who plied them with drugs. These women were on the streets because they wanted to be.

In 1995 Littlejohn made an hilarious comment on South Yorkshire Police Force’s attempts to become more aware of the concerns of the gay community where he claimed to have contacted a “tyke friend of mine” who “reliably informed me there are no homosexuals in South Yorkshire. [The friend said,] ‘Not live ones, anyway. We send them all down to London.’” Week after week Littlejohn repeats lies about ethnic minorities and makes hilarious snide digs about homosexuals, his lies are picked up every week by bloggers who point out that Littlejohn never conducts any research – even when a simple Google search would have told him his ‘story’ was utter rubbish. He merely regurgitates the already badly skewered news agenda of the Daily Mail and adds a further of layer of lies and hatred to obscure any passing resemblance that the story might have to reality.

Yet his reward is not to be mocked by his peers, but rewarded with a salary that is reported to be over £800,000 a year and awards from organisations that you’d hope would recognise what a sad joke of a writer he actually is. The tabloid media wallows in the reward of hateful, ignorant and base writers – as Tabloid Watch points out, just this week The News of the World has appointed Victoria Newton as its Deputy Editor; Editor Colin Myler commented:

‘I am delighted to welcome Victoria to the News of the World. She is one of the brightest journalists of her generation’.

Hmm. Really? Perhaps he should take a look at the wonderful Vickywatch blog, which proves what a hopeless, lazy and dishonest plagiarist she actually is.

Sadly, all too often tabloid writers get away with poisening the world with their ill-informed rants with only a ripple of discontent on blogs like this one. What Friday demonstrated is that with a bit more support change can happen, tabloid newspapers can be targeted because companies do not want their brand associated with any form of bigotry. Perhaps if certain brands advertising on the Daily Mail website were more consistantly reminded that the Daily Mail brand stands for racism, homophobia, dishonesty and functions as a detached mouthpiece for the BNP and other fascist organisations then they might look at removing their advertising revenue more permanently.

The tabloid media attempts to make everyone scared, hateful, paranoid and tries to always wedge lies and fear between communities. It feeds off of ignorance, paranoia and people who want someone to blame for whatever it is that gives them displeasure in life. The only way to defeat it is to make people like Jan Moir realise that the vast majority of people do not think or feel the way that she does, the Daily Mail and its readership need to realise that they are a minority, that their hate-filled vision of the world is not the norm. Advertisers need to realise that the vast majority of the UK marketplace abhors the values of the tabloid press; if people really want to stand up and destroy it then all we have to do is boycott any company that advertises through the tabloid media.

If we do not, Friday would have been for nothing.

Jan Moir in the Daily Mail: Sickening Homophobia

Hagley Road to Ladywood announced it last week: anti-gay propaganda is back at the top of the Mail agenda.

Since Stephen Gately’s death last week, the Daily Mail has been desperately trying to dig up some dirt.

In spite of official confirmations that the Boyzone star died of natural causes, the Mail has decided that the unfortunate death of an innocent 33-year-old man is fair game (see, for instance, Paul Scott’s unashamed hatchet job the day after Gately’s death).

The lowest point was hit today by Jan Moir with her article “Why there was nothing natural about Stephen Gately’s death”, where this overpaid munter spurts industrial amounts of venom and homophobia. Look at this bit here (our emphasis):

“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. It is important that the truth comes out about the exact circumstances of his strange and lonely death.

As a gay rights champion, I am sure he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine. For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see”.

How do you call that? This appalling vulture takes two tragic cases: a young man who died in his sleep and another who hanged himself, to give off the most homophobic shit ever written in about a decade. What the hell has their sexuality got to do with their “hedonistic lifestyle”, let alone their death?

How obnoxious would it be if, the day after Jan Moir finally pops her clogs, opinion columnists start pontificating about “the dangerous lifestyle” of eating too much and earning too much money for writing shit articles in tabloids?

Is Jan Moir really that thick not to register that scores of heterosexual celebrities engage in the same “hedonistic lifestyle” she stupidly assumes Stephen Gately and Kevin McGee were leading?

And yet she should know better. Half of what her newspaper is about is that sort of sordid stuff. The Kerry Katonas and the Jordans, the Amy Winehouses and the Russell Brands, the Ashley Coles and the Steve Joneses…Or how about the list of heterosexual celebs who killed themselves? What stuff are you on, Jan Moir, to be capable of writing such a low, vile, judgemental little story in the wake of a personal tragedy?

How can such levels of intolerance be printed on one of Britain’s most popular brands of arse paper a mere two days after the news of yet another homophobic murder in London?

Is there a limit to the shameful, distasteful, hate-soaked drivel the Daily Mail can put into print?

This post originally appeared here on Hagley Road to Ladywood.