Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An Open Letter to Jan Moir

Dear Jan Moir,

We, the Elders of Sodom, are writing to you in the hope that you'll reconsider your response to the widespread criticism of your Daily Mail article, "Why There Was Nothing 'Natural' About Stephen Gately's Death" (subsequently retitled "A Strange, Lonely and Troubling Death".) We'd like to point out to you that when you say, "Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately," our own immediate response is, "No shit, Sherlock." When you say, "This was not my intention," our immediate response is, "Fair enough. This is where you say sorry, right?" When you say, "Stephen, as I pointed out in the article was a charming and sweet man who entertained millions," our immediate response is, "and... and... come on, you can say it... and was dearly loved by his family and friends to whom I apologise unreservedly for tarnishing his memory in their hour of grief by insinuating death-by-moral-turpitude."

We'd like to point out that this really isn't very hard to say. It's quite simple and straightforward, Jan. I. Ah. Pol. Oh. Gise. That's five syllables, Jan. I mean, I know you're a Daily Mail columnist and therefore find even two a stretch, but if you break it down into manageable chunks, concentrate very hard, and sound it in your head, I'm sure you can do it. And it really would be smart to do this before trying to justify yourself by explaining how your actual intention was to... well... to be honest, it seems your actual intention was indeed to insinuate death-by-moral-turpitude, so you might want to rethink those justifications too.

See, you start your defence by pretty much dismissing the criticism as the product of misreading or partial reading. When you say "the point of my column-which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read - was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions," you're trying to undermine the legitimacy of grievances by characterising them as at best missing the point and at worst (possibly, probably, maybe in many cases, you insinuate) no more than the mob mentality of morons jumping on a bandwagon, condemning you on the basis of secondhand accounts without actually reading your article.

We can assure you, Jan, that we've read the full article. We rather suspect that most of those complaining have too. Do a Google on your name and you'll find it rather high on the hits, which rather implies it's getting a whole lot of readers, dig? This is the 21st century, baby, and when you say something fucktarded -- particularly when you say something fucktarded in a prejudicial way, something gobsmackingly racist, homophobic, misogynist or whatever -- lots of people link to it, saying, "look at this fucktardery!" Then lots of other people click those links and read the fucktardery, and they create their own links, saying, "look at this fucktardery!" And that way you get a whole fuckload of readers mouthing off about your fucktardery, so many you might well be shocked. They can't all have read the article, can they? Trust us, Jan. If you're "wondering" how many of the people complaining have fully read the article, the answer is simple: most of them, dumbass; that's how the interwebs work.

But leaving aside that aspect of your asinine defence, Jan -- your attempt to dismiss the complaints as insincere, not even caused by your words but simply... dogs barking because other dogs are barking -- leaving that aside, when you imply that those complaining are missing the point, it really doesn't help that your explanation of your intention "to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions," is blithely oblivious of the fact that this is exactly what people are pissed off about.

You see, we got that, Jan. Gately's death raises "questions" for you. For you. For you it seems "unlikely... that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately's death - out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger - did not have a bearing on his death." For you it seems "unlikely" that a pulmonary oedema, a heart failure leading to build-up of fluid in the lungs, would not be causally related to "dark appetites" and "private vice" -- which is to say, going out clubbing, getting a bit high, and hooking up with someone you've just met. For you, it seems likely, I guess, that when friends, family and doctors say he wasn't some party-to-excess wild child, but rather just someone who had a bit of night out, smoked some grass, fell asleep on the couch while his partner was having a wee fling with someone they brought home, and had a seizure as a result of a previously undiagnosed medical condition, well, they must be lying about the extent of his debauchery.

Never mind what the coroner says. Never mind what the medical expert says. Never mind what friends and family say about his lifestyle or about relatives suffering the same condition. Never mind that any purported marathon drinking session is, by all accounts, no more than unsubstantiated rumour, entirely out of character. Never mind that his drug-taking that night extended, as far as we know, to getting a bit stoned. Never mind that not having met the mother, grandmother and maiden aunts of someone you bring home for a one night stand or a threesome does not actually exacerbate the risk of heart failure. No. You know better, don't you, Jan? He was dancing, drinking, toking, might even have kissed some guy he didn't know very well, might even have kissed him somewhere other than the mouth. And all of this... "At the very least, it could have exacerbated an underlying medical condition."

Wow, yeah, Jan, that raises serious "questions."

If, that is, the simple notion of a gay couple inviting some cute guy back to theirs for a bit of fun automatically, for you, pegs them as wildly debauched libertines for whom a night out... well, that must mean getting shit-faced on scores of long vodkas, double-dunking ecstasy plls, snorting bottle after bottle of poppers, hoovering up lines of coke as long as your arm, of course, then sordidly latching onto the nearest sleaze-monkey and dragging them home so you can bring out the gimp mask and harness and have yourself the most depraved spit-roast ever. Cause that's what those gays do, right, Jan?

You see, Jan, it's precisely the fact that you read Gately's death in terms of "dark appetites" and "private vice" that led to the uproar against your article. What people object to is the fact that you jump to conclusions about his "damaging habits," lumping him in with your Heat magazine hit-list, your celebrity Dead Pool of "Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney," projecting rampant decadence, and all on the basis of "circumstances" you find "more than a little sleazy." Because obviously if him and his partner were "sleazy" enough to bring another guy home with them that night one can only assume a life of absolute abandon. Cause having an open relationship, yeah, that's basically the same as having an addiction to drink, coke, smack, prescription medication or all of the above.

What caused the backlash is exactly what you identify as the point of your article, Jan. It's the fact that no matter what anyone says, you remain suspicious, cast aspersions. The fact that his family knew him well enough to say his death had to be natural even before the toxicology reports were in -- to you this is them "perhaps understandably" seeking to maintain a public image which you assume is false. The fact that the coroner's verdict was pretty cut and dry and came in pretty fast (which is hardly surprising if pulmonary oedema runs in his family and Gately's sudden death was, in fact, just as simple as that) -- to you this means it's all been "handled with undue haste," which frankly sounds like you're impeaching the coroner's integrity, insinuating that they've too-quickly written off the causal factor of... um... wayward living in a death you insist is not natural. What pisses people the fuck off is you opening your fat mouth to say the whole story has been "shaped and spun"; you characterising the bereaved as at best manipulators of the truth, at worst outright liars, "sugar coating" the "bitter truth"; you making this all about the "ooze" of a "dangerous lifestyle" that has "seeped out for all to see," when in fact it's only a certain type of person -- people like you -- that project that "ooze" into this sadly sudden death.

Let's get this straight, Jan. It's you who's putting a spin on this story, shaping it into your own sick little fantasy of death-by-moral-turpitude, twisting it into an example of the terrible fate that goes with a "dangerous lifestyle." To you this is an event from which "lessons could have been learned," and the key lesson seems to be one of how those gays just put the lie to the "happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships" with all their partying and their causal sex. You can wave your hands about it as you do in your response, claim that you're only saying those civil partnerships "have proved just to be as problematic as marriages," but that's not the focus of your article. See, here's where you really put your big foot in your big mouth:

"Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships," you say, cause, yes, us faggots are always, endlessly, interminably being so uppity as to demand an ounce of fucking respect; so we're always saying our relationships should be afforded equal status, "arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages." That's the story shaped and spun by those gays, right? As you put it: "Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael." Not that you'd be so homophobic as to deny this outright. "Of course," you say, "in many cases this may be true."

May be true. (Or may not?) In many cases. (But not all, not most?)

Anyway, that's the case made by those gays, but unless the following sentence is a complete non sequitur, the lesson you want us to learn from Gately's death seems to be that this just ain't the way it is. "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."

And why exactly is Gately's death even comparable to McGee's suicide? How exactly do the accounts of McGee's self-destructive coke addiction relate to the picture we have of Gately? Unless, of course, you take this one little "sleazy" detail of Gately and his partner bringing someone home from a nightclub as validation of the entire fucking stereotype of gays as being lecherous drug-fiends with no control over any of their "dark appetites" at all?

And that, Jan, is what you're doing. That, Jan, is why people are complaining loudly about your fucktarded article. Because your prurient, prudish projections of "private vice," of that "very different and dangerous lifestyle," are all too clearly born of a preconception -- a prejudice -- you yourself apparently don't even recognise. Gately was gay. He had sex with guys. Might even have had an understanding with his long-term partner that allowed for a bit of playing outside the relationship. And for you that invalidates any assertions that he wasn't a party animal, renders suspicious all the testimony of friends, family, even an official coroner's verdict.

Let me put this bluntly, Jan. You don't know shit. You don't know shit about Gately's lifestyle other than a few dodgy rumours and an overwhelming mass of sincerely shocked statements from those who knew him that he wasn't at all comparable to Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger or any of those other celebrity self-destructors you lump him in with. You don't know shit about what he and his partner might or might not have actually got up to with that guy. You don't know shit about whether this was a regular thing or a one-off experiment. You don't know shit about whether he had a bucketload of long vodkas and ten bongs of squishy black or a few glasses of red wine and a couple of tokes on a joint. You don't know shit.

So shut the fuck up, bitch. Cause frankly, your response simply compounds the offense in the utter absence of an apology and in the utter obliviousness of what exactly it is people are complaining about. Worst of all, though, is your closing line. Yes, that final sentence where you have the temerity to claim vicitm status for yourself, to characterise the outrage as "clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign." Cause that backlash couldn't actually be spontaneous and sincere, right? When people read your fucktardery and call it fucktarded, it couldn't be because hey think it is fucktarded, right? No, it has to be a bandwagon of fools who haven't actually read the whole article, fools who haven't understood the article properly, and -- Jesus Fucking Dolce and Gabana! -- an actual malign conspiracy of Evil Forces deliberately pulling their strings, pushing their buttons, orchestrating the outrage. Yes, Jan, the Elders of Sodom strike again!

How many times do we have to tell you people, Jan? How do we get it through your thick skulls so you can actually retain it in that little pinheaded pointy bit? We do not lurk in the shadows waiting for some fucktard to accidentally say something that we can twist into a slur on all faggotry. We do not latch onto every unintentional hint of a slight, just for the pleasure of tarring and feathering some poor innocent soul who didn't actually even say the wrong thing anwyays if you only read it properly. We do not orchestrate internet campaigns to ritually humiliate journalists just cause they write for a rag like the Daily Mail. We are not fucking puppet masters, we Elders of Sodom, setting hordes of unthinking peasants upon you for no reason other than malice, and when you play the victim card by casting the outcry raised by your article in those terms, as an "orchestrated... campaign," this is just evidence of how deep your fucktardery is writ into your being.

Wake up and smell the 21st century, Jan. It's called Twitter. There's no orchestation here, no organisation, no conspiracy. We, the Elders of Sodom, don't need to manipulate people into a mob, baying its empty outrage. You just open your big fat mouth, put your big fat foot in it, and the more fucktarded the things you say, the more people notice them. You're just going to have to deal with that, and the best way of dealing with it, in the first instance, is not with ill-considered self-justifications that make no apology, dismiss the validity of criticism, repeat the offence, and compound it by casting yourself as the victim of an organised attack. The best way of dealing with it, in the first instance, is by shutting the fuck up.

Stop. Think about what you said. If you should happen across this letter, think about how we're telling you -- sincerely, honestly -- your article and response read to us. We've done our best to outline why and how people are seeing it as homophobic. Don't just jump to the "I'm not homophobic" defense because you think homophobia means a Westboro Baptist level of hatred. What we find repugnant in your article is not some "burn all faggots" rhetoric of revulsion; it's this ugly little preconception of a prejudice, this blunderingly tasteless and tactless presumption of "sleaze," these suspicions and insinuations that seem sourced in little more than your inability to imagine that a gay couple bringing a stranger home from a nightclub doesn't automatically equate to drug-fuelled orgies to put Caligula to shame. It's the fact that by voicing those suspicions you were, to all intents and purposes, calling the bereaved liars before Gately's body was even in the ground.

Do you get it now, Jan? Can you face up to the idea that the outrage was not just spontaneous and sincere but entirely founded in what you actually said, in the very point you think everybody must be misreading? Cause if so, well, you can always have another shot at that response. And if not... just shut the fuck up, Jan. Just shut the fuck up.

Love and kisses,

The Elders of Sodom


Blogger Colin Meier said...

Man, Hal, I've been checking here all day (I knew you'd have something eloquent to say) and finally here it is! Made my day. Thanks!

8:33 pm  
Blogger Colin Meier said...

Typo alert - line 2 : "Dail Mail"...

8:42 pm  
Blogger Colin Meier said...

Sorry, Hal, three comments in a row, ...just finished reading it. Wow. That's the angriest I've seen (read) you - for just cause. It's very effective, particularly the analysis of her non-apology, wherein she compounded the original offence.

8:54 pm  
Blogger Markhaa said...

I can't wait until the Daily Mail goes bankrupt along with the other gutter-mind outlets. Perhaps then they'll start getting the message why people don't want to pay to read their shite.

11:28 pm  
Blogger fatboyfat said...

(stands to attention, applauds)

Bloody excellent. Thank you.

12:40 am  
Blogger Marjorie said...

Well said!

12:54 pm  
Blogger Bravenewmalden said...

That's some letter. Hate to see the size of your books!

5:47 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

kevin: Heh, we do all sizes here at the Geek Show, from 400,000 word two-volume cubist fantasy (Vellum & Ink) to 40,000 word John Carpenter homages (Escape from Hell!). My short letter to Jan Moir would have been plain and simple:

Shut the fuck up, bitch.

7:33 pm  
Blogger Bravenewmalden said...

Come, come. Civility costs nothing. 'Shut the fuck up, bitch, *please*'.

7:36 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Heh, indeed. :D

7:39 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Oh, well said, that man!!

7:56 pm  
Blogger Ethan leSabre said...

This is amazing! I love it, welcome to my Google Reader List oh Elders of Sodom!

Ethan :-)

9:47 pm  
Anonymous Chris said...

You said everything that needed to be said, and then some more that never crossed my mind but wow... Perfect!!!!
I laughed so much at what u said.
Well done. Have a well deserved round of applause.
Chris xxx

10:32 pm  
Blogger Jenna McWilliams said...

I especially appreciate that this piece uses versions of the term "fucktard" no less than 13 times.

I can't remember the last time I felt so much bile toward a writer who posts material for public consumption--generally, I stand down and smooth my hackles because we live in a time of immediacy and I know what it's like to get caught saying something that you didn't really mean and wouldn't have dared to utter in the light of day.

But Moir is a bigot, pure and simple, and her vile, hateful, and--by the way--abysmally crafted column deserves as much vitriol as we can gather up. I've posted twice about this on my own blog, and am glad to see such a thoughtful anti-fucktardery argument here.

3:12 am  
Blogger Aishwarya said...

Well said.

5:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloody brilliant. If only the Daily Mail would publish this letter, not that I'd buy such cheap toilet paper.


6:19 pm  
Blogger Colin Meier said...

Hal, I'm sure you've seen this, but in case you haven't, Jan Moir "apologised" for her article.

You might notice it's exactly the same sort of non-apology offered by the notorious Wright...

I think if her article was misinterpreted (and I don't think that) then she's simply failed in her job as a writer and should give it up, don't you think?

8:15 pm  

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