A week after writing a column which led to a record number of complaints to the PCC and moved me to the keyboard, Jan Moir has today attempted to clarify her position. She's succeeded but not how she would hope. For the second week running she is a trending topic on Twitter. Some feat. Here we go again:
Last week, I wrote in this column about the death of Boyzone star Stephen Gately.
To my horror, it has been widely condemned as 'homophobic' and 'hateful'. Obviously, a great deal of offence has been taken and I regret any affront caused. This was never my intention.
To be the focus of such depth of feeling has been an interesting experience, but I do not complain. After all, I am not - unlike those close to Stephen Gately - mourning for the loss of a much-loved partner, son, family member and close friend.
To them, I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.
Regret and an apology to Gately's family, but only for the insensitive timing. Not for what she said!
The point of my article was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, Stephen Gately's death raised many unanswered questions.
Questions which she felt fit to answer.
What had really gone on?
After all, Stephen was a role model for the young and if drugs were somehow involved in his death, as news reports suggested, should that not be a matter of public interest?
We were told that Stephen died of 'natural causes' even before toxicology results had been released. This struck me as bizarre, given the circumstances.
Which qualified Moir to speculate further.
Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality. If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article.
I see so Moir would have felt the death was an opportunity to make irrelevant comments on heterosexual marriage. Of course.
Yet despite this, many have interpreted my words as a 'bigoted rant' and suggested that my motive was to insinuate that Stephen died 'because he was gay'..…..….
Anyone who knows me will vouch that I have never held such poisonous views.
I have never thought, or suggested, that what happened that night represented a so-called gay lifestyle; this is not how most gay people live.
Perhaps she should read her original article again because last week she wasn't so sure:
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.
I'll come back to this but for now just ponder what she meant by "in many cases".
What I meant by 'nothing natural' was that the natural duration of his life had been tragically shortened in a way that was shocking and out of the ordinary. Certainly, his death was unusual enough for a coroner to become involved.
If a 33 year old dies is it unusual now for a coroner to become involved?
As for Stephen's civil partnership, I am on the record as supporting same-sex marriages.
The point of my observation that there was a 'happy ever after myth' surrounding such unions was that they can be just as problematic as heterosexual marriages.
Where did this 'myth' come from? Who has claimed that all civil partnerships are fairytale everlasting romances? The voices in her head perhaps? Why was this even an issue for Moir to raise if her point was about Gately's lifestyle, not his sexuality?
Indeed, I would stress that there was nothing in my article that could not be applied to a heterosexual couple as well as to a homosexual one.
Ok let's try it with the fictional death of a heterosexual singer - let's call him John Moire who had a sudden death:
Heterosexual activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about opposite sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as homosexual civil partnerships. Not everyone, they say, is like Michael Hutchence. Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the death of Kurt Cobain, the husband of fellow musician Courtney Love, and now the dubious events of Moire's last night raise troubling questions about what happened.
Hutchence had a very different lifestyle to my fictional Moire, and Kurt Cobain died from suicide. Therefore complete nonsense, with the only link between those named being their sexuality. Just like the original. Are you getting this yet Jan? Doesn't look like it:
This brings me back to the bile, the fury, the inflammatory hate mail and the repeated posting of my home address on the internet.
To say it was a hysterical overreaction would be putting it mildly, though clearly much of it was an orchestrated campaign by pressure groups and those with agendas of their own.
Yes, some people went too far and behaved in ways as unpalatable as Moir's article. They were wrong.
But who was behind the "orchestrated campaign"? Who are the pressure groups? Moir doesn't say. It wouldn't be those pesky gay activists would it?
As I said in my last post she doesn't understand how the internet works let alone Twitter.
I don't have an agenda, nor am I part of a pressure group. I'm not gay, let alone a 'gay activist', whatever that is.
However, I accept that many people - on Twitter and elsewhere - were merely expressing their own personal and heartfelt opinions or grievances.
This said, I can't help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged?
Jan Moir is employed by the Daily Mail. Orchestrated campaigns and outrage are part of the paper's DNA. Pot, kettle, black.
Or was it a failure of communication on my part?
I think Moir managed to get her views across really well. All too well.
Certainly, something terrible went wrong as my column ricocheted through cyberspace, unread by many who complained, yet somehow generally and gleefully accepted into folklore as a homophobic rant.
This is spectacular! What evidence does she present to support this claim? Every comment I saw was clearly written in response to having read the article.
It lit a spark, then a flame and turned into a roaring ball of hate fire, blazing unchecked and unmediated across the internet.
A roaring ball of hate fire containing expressions of personal and heartfelt grievances?
Yet as the torrent of abuse continued, most of it anonymous, I also had thousands of supportive emails from readers and well-wishers, many of whom described themselves as 'the silent majority'. The outcry was not as one-sided as many imagine.
The "silent majority". Always an argument winner.
Their view, and mine, was that it was perfectly reasonable of me to comment upon the manner of Stephen Gately's death, even if there are those who think that his celebrity and sexuality make him untouchable.
It was precisely because she attributed his death to his celebrity and sexuality, while doubting the family's statement on the eve of a funeral, offering her own medical analysis based on speculation but no evidence that brought this about.
Can it really be that we are becoming a society where no one can dare to question the circumstances or behaviour of a person who happens to be gay without being labelled a homophobe? If so, that is deeply troubling.
So, she's not sorry at all and doesn't understand what all the fuss is about, or is pretending not to.
Finally, I would just like to say that whatever did or did not happen in Majorca, a talented young man died before his time. This, of course, is a matter of regret and sadness for us all.
Last week Moir described Gately last week as "someone who could barely carry a tune in a Louis Vuitton trunk. He was the Posh Spice of Boyzone, a popular but largely decorous addition" Now he was a "talented young man."
This is not about free speech. After all, much of the "hysterical reaction" has its origin in the more liberal minded Twitterati. She is entitled to her views, however odious I and others may find them. I'm not a PC saint either and use language for light hearted abuse based on sexuality from time to time, which I accept may be offensive to some, including headlines on blog posts.
The difference is that if I'm called out on it and I can see that I've caused offence I will apologise, and question my own behaviour.
Moir has been called out on this. The linking of Gately to McGee, the mention of George Michael, the extrapolation to civil partnerships, and the reference to "gay activists" is at the heart of the furore. If, as Moir insists, her comments were about hedonistic lifestyles (not that this had anything to do with Gately's death) none of these comments would have been there. Today's article only reinforces this.