Backs To The Wall (Part 325): I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Mail!

July 30th, 2010 by Dan


This may be riddled with typos as I accidentally snoozed after the yummy sausagey dinner but it caught my (now pink after falling asleep on the sofa with lenses in) eye and I wanted to blog about it tonight…

I started following Clare Balding on Twitter today ( http://twitter.com/clarebalding1) after seeing the latest chapter in trashy ‘journalism’ taking a distinctly unpleasant tone and wanting to follow the story. Brief recap via that nice feminist blog  The F Word (no not that Klingon-foreheaded shouty cookery man):

Friend Of Jeremy and professional word shitter A A Gill said this in the Sunday Times:

Some time ago, I made a cheap and frankly unnecessary joke about Clare Balding looking like a big lesbian. And afterwards somebody tugged my sleeve to point out that she is a big lesbian, and I felt foolish and guilty. So I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise. Sorry. Now back to the dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation.


Clare Balding complained and the paper’s editor John Witherow replied to her with a classic example of making matters worse:

In my view some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society. Not having a privileged status means, of course, one must accept occasionally being the butt of jokes . A person’’s sexuality should not give them a protected status. Jeremy Clarkson, perhaps the epitome of the heterosexual male, is constantly jeered at for his dress sense (lack of), adolescent mind-set and hair style. He puts up with it as a presenter’’s lot and in this context I hardly think that AA Gill’’s remarks were particularly “cruel”, especially as he ended by so warmly endorsing you as a presenter.

Massive space between editor and point there. Cue Balding’s response:

When the day comes that people stop resigning from high office, being disowned by their families, getting beaten up and in some instances committing suicide because of their sexuality, you may have a point.This is not about me putting up with having the piss taken out of me, something I have been quite able to withstand, it is about you legitimising name calling. ‘Dyke’ is not shouted out in school playgrounds (or as I’ve had it at an airport) as a compliment, believe me.

It may be your job to defend your writer and your editorial team but if you really think that homophobia does not exist and was not demonstrated beyond being ‘the butt of a joke’ then we have a problem.

Balding 100 – Editor Zero.I bloody love her thoughtful grown-up response which certain ‘journalists’ could learn a lot from.

It continued with talk of a PCC complaint (and we all know how well that particular organisation  works, right?) and various opinions being shared on Twitter, ending with a Guardian article appearing online this evening. So according to its editor the tone and language was perfectly ok but if we used the obvious example of swapping the offensive gay word for a different kind of offensive word for minorities (say skin colour) would it be ok in their eyes? Gill has always been a Clarkson-esque ‘shocking blah blah’ prick so no change there. I hope Balding’s saga of not taking this shit continues to get atttention and ends up with the resolution it deserves.

Talking of minding your blahdy language:

The Sun is also a Murdoch paper and the headline above comes from a piece by the ironically named Gordon Smart. Tabloid Watch wrote a good blog about this sort of thing. Louie Spence’s job  is to basically be a massive whoopsie for the straight people who “wouldn’t let one look after me kids” but that doesn’t excuse such playground taunt language.

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