Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guest post: Jan Moir, The Daily Mail & Stephen Gately

There was, rightly, much indignation yesterday over columnist Jan Moir's piece in The Daily Mail, about the death from natural causes of the young pop singer, Stephen Gately of platinum selling Irish group Boyzone which, amongst other spurious statements, seemed to infer that that his being gay was a direct cause of his demise.

It wasn't just her controversial views that got my goat, it was her shoddy journalism & flawed reasoning too (B follows A, so therefore A caused B). A writer friend here in the US, Mr Avocado of The Avocado Papers made some excellent points, so I asked him to be my guest blogger today:

"Certainly Jan Moir has every right to say whatever stupid shit she wants. But her free speech rights don't extend to automatically having The Daily Mail as a platform for her free speech. That's a privilege, not a right, a privilege which just a handful of people have, and a privilege The Daily Mail has every right to revoke.

But it is one that I imagine The Daily Mail would revoke only if people stopped reading her, not just because she said something inflammatory. (She didn't make shit up, after all, like Jayson Blair; she just drew some extraordinary conclusions from a very small number of facts and revealed, at the very least, that she's a terrible journalist.)

As it is, I'm all for idiots like this woman having platforms from which to speak their ill-informed free speech. I think laws such as those in Germany that ban Holocaust-denial speech are appalling and dangerous. Let the yahoo-bigot-troglodytes espouse their hate-speech in the open so they can be publicly mocked and discredited."