Friday 2 October 2009

Some of my best friends are gay ...

Columnist Peter McKay of the Daily Mail can't see anything wrong with the insinuations in his item about Iain Dale's sexuality yesterday, suggesting Dale should become "less sensitive" (though Dale had first reported an apology which turned out to be a spoof).

"Nor am I homophobic", McKay writes in his 'Ephraim Hardcastle' column today.

Out of common courtesy, one feels that we should take McKay at his word on that.

So I do hope he will now instigate an urgent inquiry and ask the Daily Mail's IT team to strain every sinew to identify the malcontent who has been persistently hacking into the column after it is filed, maliciously bringing one of our great national newspapers into disrepute by adding filing discreditable items like these:

Former Bond star Roger Moore is wealthy, happy in his personal life (so far as one can tell) and, at 75, has little left to prove to the world. So why did he agree to appear on a TV show run by mincing freak Graham Norton who - in relative terms to himself - is a bottom feeding nonentity?

Ephraim Hardcastle column, 19th November 2002

Gordon Brown has embarked on a six-day tour of Latin America. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson will join the Prime Minister for the Brazilian leg of the journey - briefed thoroughly on local customs, no doubt, by his sweetheart and Samba partner, husky Reinaldo da Silva, who hails from a middle-class Rio de Janeiro suburb. Crisis, what crisis?

Ephraim Hardcastle column, 24th March 2009

"Radio 4's elfin Today presenter Evan Davis interviewed Paul Staines, who writes the scandalous Guido Fawkes blog.
Beforehand, Davis checked to see what Fawkes had said about him and found references to a 'Prince Albert' piercing tethered to his manhood. Staines, who invited Davis to dismiss the rumour, says: 'He appeared not to hear - but he did smile.' Ding dong!

Ephraim Hardcastle column, 26th August 2009

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson’s self-absorbed ‘me, me me’ speech to the Labour conference was watched closely by his chums, the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston, and creepy PR man Roland Rudd, a Thunderbirds puppet villain come to life.
Some wonder if public employee Peston is too close to fingers-in-every-pie Rudd. Yesterday he was practically in his lap.
Ephraim Hardcastle column, 28th September 2009

If the culprit can be apprehended, there may well be dozens of similar examples to take into consideration.

PS: It has been reported that McKay has been in charge of the column since it was revived in 1996 (named as a tribute to Paul Dacre's father Peter, who wrote a column of that name in the Sunday Express). I do not claim he has written or edited each of these items: I simply don't know. These are just a very small sample, and people will have different views about individual items, but I would humbly suggest there is a discernible pattern.

If my 'IT sabotage theory' turns out to be false, then I fear there may be some small difference of views between McKay and his editors at the Mail and others as to where the boundaries lie between homophobia, needling innuendo and a harmless giggle over Middle England's cornflakes. Iain Dale seems to me to have very legitimately taken offence at what was one (perhaps relatively mild) example of what has become par for the course for the column over many years. Let us see if reaction to it does anything to persuade the Daily Mail that the views of its readership have moved on over the last couple of decades, though it would appear that McKay's own instincts have not.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I don't read the mail, so wasn't aware this was going on - obviously the Mail is some sort of weird counter-cultural outpost, or time-warp where you can relive 1955.

These items vary in offensiveness, but I think the Iain Dale item was especially nasty because of the implication there's a secret gay freemasonry working behind the scenes. There was also something about tone, wasn't there? "Charming"; "overtly", rather than openly, gay, linking the idea of being out with the idea of being theatrical about your sexuality.

The Graeme Norton thing takes the biscuit, though, doesn't it? To call someone a "mincing freak" and a "bottom feeding nonentity", a phrase loaded with innuendo, is just disgusting. It's difficult to believe anyone can be allowed to write that sort of thing for publication.

I hope Iain Dale gets a result from the PCC - but unfortunately I have little belief in that wet institution.