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The Power of The Internet (or 'People Are Angry at Jan Moir, On The Internet')

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  • The Power of The Internet (or 'People Are Angry at Jan Moir, On The Internet')

    First of all, I realise that this post might not be very accessible for non-Britons, so I have attempted to provide as much background information as possible, without flooding the post with links. Here is a fairly short article that gives good background information, but there will be other articles that I suggest you read as well.

    Stephen Gately, a member of Irish boy-band Boyzone, died in his apartment in Mallorca last week (October 10th). Jan Moir, writer for The Daily Mail (for non-UK readers, see this for just one reason why The Mail is not a well-respected British news source) wrote this article on Stephen Gately's death. Please take the time to read it, as you will need to understand why there is such outrage at the article.

    After the article was published in The Daily Mail and on their website (see above), there was a mass outcry on the internet, especially on Twitter and Facebook:
    Originally posted by Stephen Fry
    I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of any decency would be seen dead with has written something loathesome and inhumane.

    Charlie Brooker wrote an article for The Guardian on the controversial piece by Moir, which I strongly recommend you read.

    Jan Moir then responded (here) to the outcry on the internet, saying that she had not meant for people to see her as homophobic or bigoted, and said that it was "clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign" and that it was "mischeivous in the extreme" to accuse her of homophobia. (Seriously, read the original article. Darn those mischievous internet users, making ridiculous accusations like that.)

    Anyway, the point I am trying to make (and where the title comes from) is that someone said something quite unacceptable (as Brooker points out, it breaches points 1, 5 and 12 of the Press Complaints Commission's Code of Practice.), and the internet responded by spreading the news and informing people who would not usually have found this article (i.e. people who don't read The Daily Mail) that something was wrong and that they should protest.

    (This also nicely ties in with the recent Trafigura 'super-injunction' scandal, which can be read about here. Essentially, some lawyers (Carter-Ruck) didn't want an article about a client (Trafigura, whom The Guardian said were dumping toxic waste on the Ivory Coast) published in The Guardian, and obtained a 'super-injunction' from a judge, meaning that The Guardian could not publish the article, or even report that they were being censored in this way. This obviously annoyed some people (something about 'freedom of speech', or whatever), who then blogged, Twittered and generally spread the news, forcing the lawyers to back down and allow the article's publishing.)

    John Walker (who you probably/definitely haven't heard of) made some rather nice points about Jan Moir/Stephen Gately article, and briefly on the Trafigura scandal on his blog, which can be found here (they are also worth a read if you've got the time).

    Edit: I just found another piece which gives a good overview of the situation, and a blog post asking what The Mail will do in response to this, considering their rage about the Jonathon Ross/Russell Brand phonecall to Andrew Sachs ('SachsGate') last year.

    So, what are your opinions on this whole affair? Does this indicate anything about the role social networks and blogs have in the media today, or was the outrage ineffective? What do you think about what Jan Moir said in her article? What do you think about the response to Jan Moir's statements? Was such a vehement response entirely justified?

    (For more Twitter versus Daily Mail fun, see
    Last edited by westyfield; 10-17-2009, 01:55 PM.
    |TG-Irr| westyfield

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    Irregular since 2007.

  • #2
    Re: The Power of The Internet (or 'People Are Angry at Jan Moir, On The Internet')


    I don't see anything terrible about her original article and I haven't read anything else... Never heard of any of the people involved...

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    • #3
      Re: The Power of The Internet (or 'People Are Angry at Jan Moir, On The Internet')

      Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
      I don't see anything terrible about her original article and I haven't read anything else... Never heard of any of the people involved...
      My guess is this part is the biggest offense:
      ven before the post-mortem and toxicology reports were released by the Spanish authorities, the Gatelys' lawyer reiterated that they believed his sudden death was due to natural causes.

      But, hang on a minute. Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend, like a broken teacup in the rented cottage.

      Consider the way it has been largely reported, as if Gately had gently keeled over at the age of 90 in the grounds of the Bide-a-Wee rest home while hoeing the sweet pea patch.

      The sugar coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.

      Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this. All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered.

      And I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy.

      After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta with 25-year-old Georgi Dochev was not what was on the cards.

      Cowles and Dochev went to the bedroom together while Stephen remained alone in the living room.

      What happened before they parted is known only to the two men still alive. What happened afterwards is anyone's guess.

      A post-mortem revealed Stephen died from acute pulmonary oedema, a build-up of fluid on his lungs.


      Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.

      Of course, in many cases this may be true. 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.
      Clearly the author is denying the medical report and instead insisting that the person died because of their lifestyle and not due to the natural causes reported. The author is also trying to link his being gay with his death in a very insulting manner. Frankly, I'm offended that a news organization would publish something like that, but it looks like the company is a competitor to Fox News in the inflammatory rhetoric department.

      Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.




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