Monday, 19 October 2009

Freedom to be Disagreeable

Jan Moir, a columnist in the Daily Mail wrote last week that Stephen Gately's death had been "anything but natural" and suggested that all may not have been as it seemed. She went so far as to suggest that Gately's lifestyle may have contributed to his death. She revealed herself as a not altogether fulsome supporter of civil partnerships. Agree with her or not (and it isn't a very agreeable column), she is entiteld to her opinion. Isn't she?

"A repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of any decency would be seen dead with has written something loathsome and inhumane". This was Stephen Fry's response to Ms Moir's article. This strikes me as pretty offensive (and certainly smugly condescending) not least to those two and a half million people who buy the Daily Mail. Given that one cannot switch on a TV, radio (or phone) or pick up a newspaper without coming upon the ubiquitous, omniscient Mr Fry making his views felt it seems a bit rich that he should be laying down the law on what others with less exposure may have to say. It now seems that spurred on by the bien-pensant elite Ms Moir has been reported to the Metropolitan Police on suspicion that she may have committed a "hate crime".

In another article on this subject Yasmin Alighia-Brown uses the word "toff" as a term of abuse to dismiss the views of Martin Amis (who, so far as I know, has said nothing about Stephen Gately's death, even assuming he knows who Stephen Gately is or was). Many years ago I interviewed Ken Livingstone, on the subject of lying in politics. I put to him an Orwell quotation - i think it was "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful" - and his first response was to dismiss anything written or said by an Old Etonian. So there we are then: Toffs' opinions count for nothing among ex Mayors and those with double-barreled surnames.

Just for the record: I don't listen to Boyzone and I don't read The Daily Mail, but I do think there should be a place for anti-establishment views.

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