Right-whingers cry censorship over Moir


10:51 am - October 19th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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The outrage over Jan Moir’s article in the Daily Mail has also brought predictable responses from right-wingers: indifference or sneering at lefties.

Presumably annoyed that angry lefties had scored a significant hit against homophobia in the always hated Daily Mail, the response was entirely to be expected.

Tim Worstall wrote: Stephen Gately and Jan Moir: apparently I’m supposed to be outraged, and got subsequently shredded in his own comments.

At Mr Eugenides the commenters took the outrage as: ZOMG ebil lefties want censorship! See, I told you they wanted to live under Stalin!

The Telegraph’s Damian Thompson, while accepting Jan Moir had written a “truly poisonous article”, could not resist a dig at the left in a similar vein:

Socially liberal new media reckon they have humiliated a bigoted, spiteful dinosaur (and embarrassed the Daily Mail, as well).

I spoke just now to a well-respected gay journalist whose own anti-Moir tweets have been RT’d all over the place. He did make one interesting point: “You wonder whether the question of free speech has crossed these people’s minds. Is this really a matter for the Press Complaints Commission?”

But, my God, the social media world harbours some pretty smug and self-righteous individuals. The words “I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed to say that!” are never far from their lips – or, to put it another way, only liberals are allowed to be offensive.

Damn those nasty lefties and their censoring ways!

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


“and got subsequently shredded in his own comments.”

I did? Gosh.

I can see an awful lot of assertion in there but not much shredding of my position. I can indeed imagine Jan Moir writing something very similar about an open heterosexual relationship. Which is why I’m not sure that the charge of homophobia quite sticks.

But hey, it’s only my opinion, not some ex cathedra pronouncement.

You can “imagine Jan Moir writing something very similar about an open heterosexual relationship”. But she didn’t. She had a crystal clear dig at homosexual people, civil partnerships and their “lifestyle” on the warped basis of no.2 celebrities passing away (which is statistically wrong, cruel, insensitive, untimely, prejudiced, and bottom line, pure bollocks).

Like you can also “imagine” that the Taliban could also similarly endorse Western democracy, which is why you’re “not sure” the charge of tyrannical “doesn’t quite stick”, right?

Are you aware of how nonsensical what you wrote is?

I did? Gosh.

Yes, you did. Gosh.

You don’t mention all the right wing blogs – go look – who have called Jan Moir a bigoted witch.

In Sunny World all right-wingers are homophobes right?

The PCC is a voluntary body with no legal or statutory powers. The advertisers who were pressured into withdrawing their ads from the Daily Mail did so of their own volition and without legal threats. It would only be censorship if the law were being used to prevent the story being run, otherwise it’s just the private choices of consenting individuals, a concept Jan Moir seems to have some problems with.

I don’t have much time for either side’s moral views here; Jan Moir is entitled to her opinion and Stephen Gately was entitled to the lifestyle of his choice and what either of them (or their friends/supporters) thought of each other is a matter for them. The Mail can publish what it wants and all that has happened here is that a bunch of people have loudly objected to the content of what was published. Nobody* is objecting to the Mail’s right to publish it, and that’s why it’s not censorship.

* Nobody whose opinion I have read. I’m sure that it would be possible to find some people that wanted Moir’s article censored by force of law, but I assume they’re the small minority of nutters you get in any campaign or protest.

6. Constantly Furious

annoyed that angry lefties had scored a significant hit against homophobia in the always hated Daily Mail..“.

Scored a significant hit? Did they? Did they really?

The piece stayed up and was probably read by ten times the normal number of readers. No apology was issued by Moir or the Daily Mail. Several professional gays got a lot of publicity for their opinions.The ‘hated’ Mail probaby sold a few more copies. The world continued to turn. Zero homophobes changed their twisted minds.

Significant? Nah…

Look Tim – being ‘unnatural’ is the oldest insult in the gaybashing manual, so from the title alone, Moir’s article was off to a very dodgy start indeed.

Jackart – fair play.

I am now wondering what certificates are required to be a “professional gay”, and what the exams are like.

It is the Damian Thompson piece that, to my mind, is the weirdest. The ‘well-respected gay journalist’ he cites seems to think that the very existence of the PCC is an affront to freedom of speech. Either Moir broke the Code or she didn’t. Either way, how do the complaints undermine freedom of speech?

10. Alisdair Cameron

Whoa. Free speech is good. Okay, it allows Moir to write poisonous tripe, but also for everyone and their aunt to tell her just where to get off, why she is so wrong. In that respect, the whole brouhaha has been good, as decent opinion has prevailed over bad, enlightenment over ignorance (very J.S.Mill). Sunlight is the best disinfectant and all of that. Let her speak, and let her get shredded.

I feel another EPIC DALE coming on…

Sunny – “shredded”? Um. Nooo. That just makes you look cross that not everyone agrees with Stephen Fry’s Morality Code. Everyone is to run everything by Stephen Fry just to make sure it’s okay first in future. Apparently it’s satisfactorily liberal to have someone reported for a hate crime provided that the original whinge scored sufficiently high on the Lefty whingeometer. Is that what constitutes free speech in your world Sunny, a gossip columnist reported and being investigated for a hate crime as the Met have subsequently confirmed? In going along with that what exactly is liberal about your blog? No doubt the charges will be dismissed at which point will the accusations of homophobia become unfounded? Or is it satisfactorily “free” enough a country when we are happy to see opinion checked at all points in the future with just the hint of a possible hate charge. Way to go Sunny!

13. Luis Enrique

Tim,

I think what happened is that you let your strong preference for “if the lefties are getting in a flap about it, I want to deflate it” contrarianism, make you look for a reading of that article that you could find innocuous, leading you to ignore all the plain-as-day respects in which it was a loathsome slice of bigoted tripe pie.

I think that’s a good call by Spain’s worst left-back but one of its best utility players.

Tim is probably right in the narrow sense that, devoid of any cultural context, Jan Moir’s article is not a slur on homosexuals. Since cultural contexts are not universal, Tim is technically right in saying that her article is open to interpretation and not all interpretations of it are objectionable.

The problem is that Moir’s article seems, to me, to be all about the subtext. Like Tim, I try to judge things as objectively as possible and I can certainly concede that Moir’s writings could be interpreted differently. But I find it very hard to believe that she did not, on some level, intentionally imply that a homosexual lifestyle was, in some sense, implicated in his death. Even with plenty of caveats, that conclusion still carries weight. She knew how people would read what she said.

What’s more, this kind of article is not unusual. The premature death of a celebrity is often accompanied by speculation about whether or not their lifestyle contributed to their death (Jimi Hendrix might be an obvious example, but there are plenty more; tales of celebrity excess are good tabloid fodder). On that basis, there’s nothing especially wrong with the principle of writing an article about the circumstances of his death. Would he have died if, instead of having sex in another room, his partner had paid more attention to him? Maybe, I’ve no idea. If Gately had been heterosexual and the same circumstances had applied, would Moir still call it an ‘unnatural’ death? I’m not sure. Perhaps she would – a social conservative wouldn’t have approved much of those circumstances either. But the phrasing used suggests that Moir does think that there’s something specific about homosexuality at play here. Perhaps she thinks that homosexual relationships are likely to be more promiscuous, less caring, more hedonistic or some other stereotype, and that these factors contributed to Gately’s death. The problem is that she doesn’t actually come out and say these things, she just implies them.

I can imagine that it would be possible to write an article about Stephen Gately’s death that examines specifically and honestly the circumstances in which he died that concludes that those circumstances played a part in his death, without at all being homophobic. That’s not what Jan Moir did, and she knew perfectly well how her words would appear. In my view, that’s what’s wrong.

Seems to me that there’s a big chunk of the right-o-sphere who’s thinking has become so contorted by their hatred of ‘the left’ that they can no longer tell the difference between what’s wrong and what’s right.

Naming no names, obviously.

“I think that’s a good call by Spain’s worst left-back but one of its best utility players.”

It probably is actually.

Re the Stephen Fry thing, weirdly (I don’t know whether in error or even if it was in fact SF) his comment on my blog seems to be attacking someone attacking me.

“I don’t know […] if it was in fact SF”

You don’t say.

Subtly done, Sunny, but you chose to move quickly past the fact that I took the same tack as you – i.e. to sneer at the Mail’s explicit homophobia.

Instead you subtly elide from Tim’s post to my commenters, giving the impression that right-wing opinion was somehow in favour of Moir. Some people did think it was a storm in a teacup: but lots of people on the right were outraged at her piece, and a quick trawl of the conservative blogs would confirm that for anyone bored enough to check.

20. Alex Higgins

@James

1) Moir disputed entirely baselessly, the finding of Stephen Gately’s coroner that he had died from natural causes
2) She disputed his greiving mother’s statement which was in agreement with the coroner, based on nothing more than her own prejudice
3) She argued that civil partnerships for gay people were shown to be dangerous on the basis of Gately’s natural death. Try to imagine a statement like that with ‘gay’ taken out and replaced with ‘Jew’ or another ethnic group of your choice and see how it reads.

Yeah, that does offend the Stephen Fry moral code. In fact, it really should offend yours if you took a moment to consider right and wrong.

What you call Lefty outrage is just a healthy reaction by a human being who feels standard, non-sociopathic emotions. I note that you don’t defend any of the original article, because you can’t.

21. Alex Higgins

“You don’t mention all the right wing blogs – go look – who have called Jan Moir a bigoted witch. In Sunny World all right-wingers are homophobes right?”

I think it can be fairly said, Jackart, without being overly partisan, that the Right has more of an issue here than the Left.

But by all means, congratulations to those parts of the Right who have caught up on this a mere few decades after the Left did and after years of electorally profitable gay-baiting of its opponents. It’s not like Michael Foot wrote Section 28 is it?

This is why Brownshirts hate political correctness.

Because nothing must interfere with their right to be a gay bashing, racist scum bag.

She disputed, she argued, she opined. But it just wouldn’t be Britain to dispute, argue and opine back and leave it at that would it? Like so many people left right and centre actually have. No. These days you have to call the police when your feelings are hurt or a gossip piece appears you disagree with. And on an apparently liberal blog choose to gloss over that and go for the predictable brownshirt racist scum slur. Elsewhere that marshalling policy has really paid off eh? Thanks to such utter rightspeak stupidity the BNP is the principal beneficiary of your chattering-class furore. Bravo idiots!

Oh, sorry James, have your *feelings* been hurt? Well boo-hoo.

Don’t publish anything that offends me, or I’ll hurt you.

The death of the free press as we (used to) know it?

I think the problem here, Sunny, is that you are wilfully conflating “right-wing” with “libertarian” – and not for the first time. Yes, of course, there’s a big overlap, but they are not the same, and just because you don’t like any of us, that’s no reason not to understand the distinction.

Flying Rodent was guilty of this the other day when describing Reaganism as libertarian in the comments under another LC post. From an economic point of view, perhaps; from a social point of view, absolutely not. Thatcherism, to some extent, can be characterised the same way.

If you need any proof, exhibit A is, er, the Daily Mail – it’s right-wing, yes, but certainly not libertarian. The sort of social conservatism that the Mail espouses – which sometimes veers off into outright bigotry – is, or should be, anathema to anyone who calls themselves libertarian.

It’s not impossible for people with libertarian views to also have prejudices, of course, but we do not want to impose them on other people, which is why much of the Mail’s output – ban this sick filth now, paedo scum threatening our kids, lesbian shame of respected headmistress etc. – is as loathsome to us as it is to you.

I will agree with you to this extent, Sunny; while I don’t claim to be a “pure” libertarian – I want to cut back the state, not abolish it – I think that episodes like the Jan Moir article serve as an interesting litmus test for people who claim to hold libertarian views. If you are sick of the government telling you what to drink or eat, for example, you should also be sick of the Daily Mail telling you that some peoples’ lifestyles are somehow immoral or wrong. The libertarian position on Stephen Gately – if there were such a thing – would be something like, It’s none of my fucking business how he lived, and it’s none of my fucking business how he died. End of.

There are a lot of people out there, both in the blogosphere and in politics more generally, who bandy about the label “libertarian” when it suits them but turn out to be conservative when the final reckoning comes in. That’s their choice, but please make the distinction.

“If you are sick of the government telling you what to drink or eat, for example, you should also be sick of the Daily Mail telling you that some peoples’ lifestyles are somehow immoral or wrong.”

As a quick glance at your own comments section would show you, the problem appears to be that *being sick* of the Mail’s hectoring, to the extent of actually bothering to complain, instantly turns the complainer into a of free-speech-hating stalinist.

What this means in practical terms is that your ‘libertarian position’ ain’t worth toffee. You’re the conservative movement’s useful idiots, no more and no less.

Flying Rodent was guilty of this the other day when describing Reaganism as libertarian in the comments under another LC post.

In fairness, I meant that Reagan had rocked to power on a vast tidal wave of empty-headed libertarian bullshit about smaller gubmint, rather than that he was himself the type of immaculate, pure-bred libtertarian exemplar that populates such threads. That was as part of an attempt to look at how libertarian ideas actually work in the real world, rather than in badly-written science fiction books.

Long story short – if libertarianism is the answer, you’d expect a little bit of libertarianism to make things a little bit better. The American experience suggests that in practice – i.e. as their ideas affect the real world – libertarians are the ideological infantry for the Republican Party and what you get is a) social wingnuttery, b) economic royalism and c) record deficits. Places like Saipan or post-Soviet Russia do nothing to boost confidence.

Point being, libertarians may not care what teh gay get up to in their private lives, but their hideous personality flaws are so brutally obvious that they’d probably come second in an election to a Granny Murderer Party led by the deceased Harold Shipman. The only electable politicians who are willing to adopt libertarian economic arguments certainly do care what teh gay get up to, and are prepared to legislate against them.

Useful idiots, as Neil says.

Credit to Eugenides who does actually take time out to stick the boot into the Jan Moirs and Richard Littlejohns of the world. All the same, his is a niche position. While I accept its internal logic, it doesn’t actually seem to reflect the rest of the blogospere as it actually exists.

Put it this way, libertarian bloggers spend their whole time raging against The Left; conservative bloggers spend their whole time raging against The Left; a good chunk of conservative bloggers call themselves “libertarian” anyway. I don’t really see it as my problem to sort that mess out.

Sunny’s post rather illustrates this point – taking on board Mr E’s complaint – it’s still true that the discussion in his comments was more on the theme of non-existent left-wing censorship, rather than the right-wing bigotry in their faces (and in the case of Julia M, illustrating the point by linking to a site whose take on the saga is that “uphill gardening cock-jockeys” should “Fuck off back to Faggotoria”). I presume that’s because the market for enthusiastic social libertarianism barely exists.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens come a Tory government – presumably it’ll involve a certain amount of swearing.

“The only electable politicians who are willing to adopt libertarian economic arguments certainly do care what teh gay get up to, and are prepared to legislate against them.”

I can see examples of what you’re talking about, certainly. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson over in the US don’t exactly fill me with joy.

But to claim that all of the right is like this simply isn’t true. I think you’d agree that UKIP is “of the right” and we certainly go around shouting fairly libertarian style things. We also in a party primary put a lesbian at number two on the MEP’s list and then worked hard to get her elected to Brussels. Successfully, too.

UKIP don’t exactly have an unblemished record on homophobia do they Tim? I recall that your former candidate for London Mayor,Frank Maloney, advocated the banning of gay pride and stated that he would not be campaigning in Camden because there were “too many gays” there.

Of course these comments can be added to a very long list to stupid bigoted outbursts made by UKIP members* so I wouldn’t treat them as a paragon of libertarian tolerance.

“I think the only statement by David Cameron I’ve ever wholeheartedly agreed with was when he described UKIP as “a bunch of fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists”

“UKIP don’t exactly have an unblemished record on homophobia do they Tim?”

Sure. Don’t think any party does to be honest.

Long story short – if libertarianism is the answer, you’d expect a little bit of libertarianism to make things a little bit better. The American experience suggests that in practice – i.e. as their ideas affect the real world – libertarians are the ideological infantry for the Republican Party and what you get is a) social wingnuttery, b) economic royalism and c) record deficits. Places like Saipan or post-Soviet Russia do nothing to boost confidence.

Dunno about libertarianism, except that it sounds a bit barmy, but is that true of all politicial theories? I’d say a little bit of socialism, in the form of welfare state set ups, has made things a whole lot better, whereas the full blown form as experienced in Eastern Europe, made things a whole lot worse.

Is that true of all politicial theories?

Well, it’s pretty much the only way of putting a political theory to the test, isn’t it? Although I don’t think that it necessarily follows that a little bit of something good automatically means that lots and lots of it must be even better.

Is Brendan O’Neill one of these Right-whingers?
http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/jan_moir_moral_outrage_in_140_characters_or_less/

Who’s he talking about when he says this?

”To the categories of ‘Daily Mail readers’ and ‘non Daily Mail readers’ we must now add a third and speedily growing group of people: ‘Daily Mail readers who only read the Daily Mail in order to be scandalised by it and to give their inner liberal righteousness a shot of much-needed adrenalin’. It’s a mouthful, I know, but it’s really the only way to describe these people”.

Whatever you think of the article, forth is an openly partisan left-wing magazine.

Jason Walsh,
editor, forth.

“Is Brendan O’Neill one of these Right-whingers?”

No, Brendan O’Neill is a(nother) Professional Contrarian.

Well I thought the article was funny.
I hadn’t heard of ‘forth’ magazine before, but have now put it on my ‘favorites bar’ as it looks very interesting.

I’ve never really understood the meaning of contrarian, as who decides what is the legitimate view to be taken on anything?
It means going against the prevailing tide of opinion doesn’t it?

If you go against the prevailing tide of liberal opinion, does that make you a contrarian?

If forth is openly partisan left-wing, then why in god’s name are you publishing people like Brendan O’Neill – which spend half their time criticising the left?

Mr E – well you have a problem don’t you – because loads of right-wingers comment on and align themselves with libertarians (and I’ve not stated anything wrong above – it clearly states commenters had a problem with your view) – and you have orgs like UKIP and the Tories trying to pretend they have libertarian leanings.

If I was you, I’d spend a bit more time differentiating myself from them… and people like Tim Worstall

Sunny H.,

Because he’s interesting. Besides, there’s more to the left than liberalism – anyway, it’s an Irish site and liberals here are right-wingers. I’ll refrain from commenting on British politics.

If you want to respond to O’Neill, or anything else, LMK.

42. The Grim Reaper

Sunny said: “If forth is openly partisan left-wing, then why in god’s name are you publishing people like Brendan O’Neill – which spend half their time criticising the left?”

And this is coming from the man who once asked whether Iain Dale knows anything about blogging. Aargh, the irony, it burns!

KBPlayer @33:

Dunno about libertarianism, except that it sounds a bit barmy, but is that true of all politicial theories? I’d say a little bit of socialism, in the form of welfare state set ups, has made things a whole lot better, whereas the full blown form as experienced in Eastern Europe, made things a whole lot worse.

Um. Eastern Europe, and indeed the entire world, has never seen “full blown” socialism. What they have seen was a totalitarian empire which came to power on the back of a failed Bolshevik revolution.

There has never been a Communist state that Marx would recognise and probably never will be, due to Marx having been, quite simply, wrong about several things. Starting from the idea that industrial nations can metastasize into Communist nations. Every time there’s been an actual, internal, “Communist” revolution it’s been in an agrarian economy.

The closest thing to “full-blown” Socialism I know of is the grass-roots collectivist economies of the Basque region.

WRT the original theory, yes, if it’s a good idea usually doing a bit of it will help the people you do it for. E.g. from British history; one can argue that education up to degree level is a good idea. A little bit of education (i.e. the 5% of people who got one prior to the 60s) was very good for the few who got it. A lot of education (we’ve done much better, notwithstanding the systemic flaws, since then) has been very good for the country. Unfortunately, as someone recently said on another thread, the decision was made in the 80s to try and persuade those who’d got a leg up to pull the ladder up behind them.


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