Friday, 16 October 2009

Daily Mail says Stephen Gateley's lifestyle was "unnatural".

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?

Unnatural. Right.

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.

26 comments:

  1. Fantastic post! I hope Moir can feel her ears burning from all the internet hate.

    I may have to memorise the bit about the history of heterosexual marriage so that I can quote you next time someone asks me why I don't 'believe' in marriage.

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  2. Oh well put!! I know all of the horrible figures about partner/ex-partner violence toward & murder of women as i am a survivor myself and get the figures via The Freedom Programme, which i have had to do twice just to get my head round what i went through. this propaganda the tabloids and politicians peddle about 'normal' marriage/family stuff is not all as pretty as they would have us believe. Its the person that counts, not the gender, orientation, or marital status.

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  3. thanks for the add and for posting my comment. i'll own up to it since im not ashamed of being a survivor. cheers.

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  4. What the heck is Ms. Moir trying to imply in her article? That Gately's death was causally linked to his open homosexuality and that if he hadn't been gay he would probably have lived to a ripe old age? And what were these supposed seedy going ons that Moir hints probably preceded Gatley's death? The old hag hints at knowledge of dark secrets which in point of fact, if they existed at all, she couldn't possibly have been privy to in reality.

    Even for the Daily Mail this kind of gutter journalism is beneath contempt. Steven Gatley was not the "Posh Spice" of Boyzone but was actually, probably, the best singer in that group and certainly not included in their line up based simply because of his undoubted popularity, to make up the numbers and to be ornamental.

    This mud slinging is simply too much even for Britain's most right-wing and distorted tabloid.

    Awful.

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  5. Yes. Except I don't think she actually did say that his lifestyle was unnatural, just his death.

    I do think that if you're going to claim any sort of moral highground or integrity in the journalism stakes, you really musnt't stoop to putting words in people's mouths, however unpleasant their actual words were.

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  6. To be fair, there are a far greater number of people in heterosexual relationships than there are in homosexual ones.

    To decide which form of relationship was more 'dangerous' someone would have to do the figures on murder-by-partner, suicide and other 'unnatural' death as a proportion of the total number of relationships. One might have to correct for age and sex of perpetrator as well, given that males are more violent than females and the young more violent than the old.

    Without that, all we have is prejudice and anecdote, be it the Daily Mail's or yours.

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  7. As far as we can see, though, Ms Moir doesn't offer an argument - even a prejudiced or anecdotal one - as to why gay relationship's are dangerous beyond 'two famous people in their 30s who were or had previously been in civil partnerships have just died'.

    You don't need domestic violence as a counter argument to that. A counter argument would be 'some heterosexual married or previously married people in their 30s have also died recently'. I imagine quite a few have.

    "Gately's death..." doesn't strike "another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships" any more than it strikes another blow to the equally non-existent happy-ever-after myths of 'being born', 'leaving home', 'taking a holiday' or 'going out for the evening'.

    It's deeply tasteless to be drawing any aspersions at all about Stephen Gately at this point but, in a general sense, I don't think one of the key arguments in favour of civil partnerships was that they'd somehow play a role in reducing death by misadventure.

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  8. While Ms Moir's words are reprehensible, I agree with Dandelion: there is no need to imply she said things she didn't actually state. Her words are enough to condemn her. (You leave out so much, you are open to the charges of omission!)

    Dandelion, please don't faint. :-)

    By the way, I do think the institution of marriage is special. As someone who'd been married for nigh on 20 years, there is little about the institution I can fault. I wish it upon no one, but wish those who want to could partake of the joys, and problems, marriage brings. And if it's not for "you", so what? What am I? Your keeper? (I sincerely hope not.)

    Carolyn Ann

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  9. I agree with Dandelion - there's nothing in Moir's article that says Gateley's being gay or i a civil partnership was unnatural - just that his "hedonistic" lifestyle was.

    She does seem to make an unnecessary connection between that lifestyle and his sexuality - but the article would've made a better point had she blamed the "celebrity" lifestyle -whether hetero or homosexual - for the tragedy. But as Moir says, we don't know all the facts yet; so why did she write an article about it?

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  10. what an excellent article, and so to the point, i think its great that someone still has the balls to say what they think, penny red,Jan Peter BALKENENDE take a bow

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  11. It is true that Moir is saying that Gately's hedonistic lifestyle was a factor in his death.
    But there's at least two problems with that.

    The slightly smaller one is implication that the right too or arguments for civil partnerships have some connection to whether or not the people involved have a hedonistic lifestyle.

    The bigger one (and something I misunderstood myself through reading Moir's article and not reading information from more reputable sources) is that the actual professional medical people who've examined Gately's body say that he died of a medical condition - not a drug overdose or any other hedonistic activity.

    There obviously is stuff we don't know about what happened but it seems a bit bizarre to ignore the verdict of medical professionals on the scene in favour of the insinuations of a journalist sitting in an office thousands of miles away.

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  12. I don't know how many of you saw Jan Moir's recent Daily Mail article about the death of Stephen Gately; whilst homophobic in the extreme, it was not uniquely hateful. This week, the Ugandan MP David Bahati recently launched an Anti-Homosexuality Bill - yes, it's actually called that - even though homosexuality is already illegal in the state. The bill:

    1. Mandates the death penalty for HIV-positive people who engage in sex with people of the same gender;
    2. Calls for Uganda to withdraw from all international treaties and conventions which support the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals;
    3. Introduces extradition arrangements for Ugandan citizens who perform 'homosexual acts' abroad
    4. Includes legal penalties for people who fail to report alleged homosexual acts or individuals and institutions that promote homosexuality or same-sex marriage to the authorities.

    The tabling of the bill has been accompanied by threats against any Ugandan media organisation that allows LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Ugandans to air their views or publish press statements.

    Full details can be seen here: http://bit.ly/9FFF4. The article also speculates about the motives for the bill, and is an excellent read. Please do have a look, when you have a moment.

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  13. The Male have done a similar 'headline fail' today also, despite their eventual climbdown with the original Gately one:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1221080/Woman-dead-burned-flat-sex-worker.html

    Whilst the page is titled "Woman found dead in a burned-out flat was a sex worker" (and we all know the Male's past attitude to 'sex workers'), the actual headline is:

    "Sex-change graduate working as a prostitute strangled before killer set fire to flat."

    Ugh!

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  14. I was never a big fan of Boyzone, although the part of their song "No Matter What" with the lyric "I can't be what I'm not" is echoing through my mind. However, it is very sad that someone should die so young, especially someone who seems to have been extremely well-liked.

    I am heartened by what appears to have been a massive shift in the attitude to homosexuality in Ireland. I can't remember when they actually decided that homosexuality would no longer be illegal in Ireland, but I think it was 20 years ago or less. To go from that a couple of decades ago to Ronan Keating referring to Stephen being a "husband" in a Catholic ceremony in a Catholic church, and nobody there taking issue with it, it's good.

    He didn't have to be what he was not.

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  15. 1993. Homosexual acts were illegal in the Republic of Ireland unti 1993. I heart wikipedia.

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  16. Also, the song "Flying Without Wings" is in my head, but it turns out that was Westlife.

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  17. Moir wrote, "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."

    For the record, one of my step-relatives, a young woman in her late 20s or early 30s, woke up one day to find her partner dead beside her. And the council wanted to evict her, as the lease was in his name.

    I am ashamed of not having contacted her at the time.

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  18. Angry post! I like it.

    Lastly, I hate to say this, but I found Melanie Phillips talking a little sense in yesterday's issue of the paper, with regard to how people are going the wrong way about tackling the BNP, and its relative success.

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  19. I've picked my toes in Poughkeepsie20 October 2009 at 14:28

    @ Pineapple

    Everything that Melanie Philips says, writes or communicates to others by means of symbols, gestures or other means is complete and utter SHIT! Even when negatively expressed towards the BNP, who are massively too left-wing to please the reactionary old sow in reality.

    *bow*

    I than' you!

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  20. Who does she think she is God or anyone else who think thats being GAY is a reason that some one is unatural. I think she is a descrace and needs a reality check and as a writer in a well known paper she should named and shamed and a story on her should be publish on how she shouldnt be able to write anymore storys as she is sexies so god knows wot else she is. Shame on her

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  21. "@ Pineapple ..."

    Well, that is what I feel about some among the so-called "left" end of the liberal spectrum, and their unquestioned prejudices with regard to the working class.

    Anyway Penny, Weren't you swapping your blog over to Wordpress?

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  22. @I've picked my toes in Poughkeepsie said...

    You know what they say, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day". I read that in the context of an article saying Enoch Powell was indeed a racist, but that he did believe in trying to shut down the large mental institutions where people were often incarcerated for no logical reason. I haven't looked into this, so it may not be accurate.

    But I stand by the saying about the broken clock.

    You can't base your views on doing precisely the opposite of someone else.

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