The death of gay popstar Stephen Gately from pulmonary oedema this week was "unnatural", not by virtue of foul play but because of his sexuality, according to frothing baghack Jan Moir of the Daily Mail today:
" Gately's death...strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships. 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. "
In what may plausibly be the worst article ever written, Moir says that there was "nothing natural" about Gateley's tragic death in Majorca this week, because "the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy." Meaning that he was on holiday with his civil partner, another man, which of course is unnatural, do you see?
More unnatural than the death of 38-year old Siobhan Kearney, whose former husband this week lost his appeal to be acquitted of her murder. The judge confirmed that in 2006, Brian Kearney strangled Siobhan in her room then used a Dyson Vacuum cleaner flex as a ligature before trying to hoist her over the en-suite door in her bedroom in an attempt to make it look like a suicide. He then left the house, leaving their three-year-old son alone downstairs whilst his mother's body slowly cooled.
More unnatural than the death of Kate Ellerbeck, who rowed with her mutually unfaithful husband and asked for a divorce, attacking him in a rage when he refused. HSBC investment banker Neil Ellerbeck, who was this week convicted of manslaughter, told police that restrained his wife "forcefully", pinning her to the ground with his entire 15stone bulk until she stopped “wriggling and kicking”, and left her corpse in the hallway. He then texted his lover, bought a lottery ticket, and went to pick up the couple's ten-year-old daughter from school, telling her "Mummy's not here because she's gone shopping".
And definitely more unnatural than the death of Sally Sinclair, 40, a top business executive at Vodafone. A jury heard this week that when Sally confessed her affair to her husband Alaisdair Sinclair, he attacked her with a kitchen knife, stabbing her more than thirty times as she fell to the ground and sawing at her with a serrated breadknife as their children stood by, screaming. Alaisdair denies murder: the trial continues.
The Heil has not neglected to report all these stories, bundling them all up together in an article whose main thrust is how 'a worrying proportion of violence within relationships is perpetrated by women'. The article veers away from discussing the actual trials taking place this week (including one in which a woman is accused of murdering her husband, to which the bulk of the article is devoted) to remind us that some serial killers, such as Mary Cotton in the 1860s, have been female; that Vanessa George is a paedophile; and that up to 10% of violent crime is committed by women: "in contrast to the traditional gentle female image, the figures who lurk in these pages are savage matriarchs or brutal mothers, their menace all the more terrifying because of their gender." The fact that two women a week are murdered by their partners or former partners, the fact that three men were in front of judges this week in the UK alone for the savage slaughter of their wives, does not pass muster.
Should all this "strike another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of" heterosexual marriage? Oh no, no no. The history of heterosexual marriage, for a decent proportion of its male and female adherents, is a history of violence, of sexual, emotional and physical abuse, of enforced monogamy, shame, repression and desperate unhappiness - but it's "natural", you see, so that makes it all alright. Never mind that people have been living in homosexual partnerships for longer than heterosexual mariage has existed in its current format. Never mind truth, fairness or justice. The right-wing consensus backs "traditional families", and that's all that matters.
At the Labour Party Conference I watched Tim Montgomerie of Conservative home tell delegates that "studies show that there is something very, very special about marriage". Tell that to Sally Sinclair, Kate Ellerbeck and Siobhan Kearney. No wait, you can't! This "specialness" was given as justification for tax breaks for married couples after the encroaching Torygeddon and cementing of public prejudice against queer couples, unmarried partners and single parents.
I suggest that before we start signing up to the drooling Tory family fetish, we all have a good, hard think about what a 'traditional, stable' family really looks like - and interrogate just what we mean by "natural".
ETA: A deliciously complete deconstruction of Jan Moir is up now at Enemies of Reason.