15 November – 13 December 2003
Scottish Media Monitor
A man/boy from Neverland: Michael Jackson. Our media has been focusing on a subject as culturally remote as gay ‘mine marriages’ amongst the Tsonga tribe. This was an American product. Jacko was easy to condemn. Over paid, over sexed and over there. He was different. He looked different. He behaved different. And he’s one of them darned perverts too, ain’t he? That seems to have been established even before the jury invitations had gone out. But eyeshadow and a high voice do not a paedo make. Does Michael Jackson yearn for the unconditional love of one special boy; a desire as hopeless as it is tragic? Not according to a security guard who worked for the star. He claimed Jacko has had over 100 kids, mostly boys, sleeping over. So is Jacko the lecherous boy-snatcher, helplessly plunging his hands into every pair of smelly Y-fronts coming his way? Surely, any man trying to get it on with boys in treble figures would not need the help of the international media or a few canny lads to get a reputation. After Martin Bashir’s film at Jackson’s ranch, showing him holding 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo’s hands, Arvizo was collected by his parents and whisked away to the same lawyer that represented Jordy Chandler, the boy who took the money and ran after similar allegations in 1993. The lawyer wasted no time contacting Tom ‘Mad Dog’ Sneddon Jr, the father-of-nine Santa Barbara District Attorney who investigated with some relish, the Chandler allegations. All that publicity didn’t stop parents queuing up to let their wee darlings stop over the night with Jacko who was always prudent enough to ensure they phoned home before they did. The Sunday Mail listened with open-mouthed credulity to everything 17-year-old Ahmed Elatab told Lorna Hughes about Jacko’s “secret bedroom”, or as The Sunday Mail painted it: “WACKO’S WEIRD LAIR”. They reported it “dimly-lit” with “extra couches and beds” and emphasised by the use of inverted commas that it was a place where Jacko took “special guests”. Hughes reported “dozens of unmarked video tapes and semi-naked pictures of young boys…” To prove a point, she added: “Footage of the room also shows an array of disturbing memorabilia. It includes a signed picture of Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin with the message, ‘Don’t leave me Home Alone in this house’.” How disturbing was that? Culkin was a friend of Jackson’s. Ahmed Elatab insisted that the stopovers were innocent, that there was no gay sex and that he didn’t believe Jacko was gay. I would imagine his nights spent with Michael Jackson were more ‘innocent’ than an afternoon with the probing Sunday Mail. Just as insanely curious was The Sun, hiring police forensic artist Stephen Mancusi to use computer technology on a teen pic of Jacko to give readers an idea of what Mancusi thought Jacko might look like at 45 “WITHOUT plastic surgery”. If police and reporters weren’t enough, ‘C’ list columnists lined up to prostitute their perverted opinions for hard cash in paper after Scottish paper. I thought a few nights shelf-stacking in an Isle of Lewis Asda would’ve been enough to make John ‘Moses’ McLeod repent after collecting his P45 from The Herald for suggesting Soham murder victims, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman would’ve been alive today if they’d observed the Sabbath. (The Herald displayed no such moral compunction when McLeod wrote that gays were “simply not equipped to live”. He was persuaded to put together what turned out to be a half-hearted apology for readers of ScotsGay magazine, and only then because he felt few people would read it). He also called the late Larry Grayson a “flounce”, comedian Julian Clary a “pansy”, playwright Noel Coward, “a barbed lounge-lizard” and the late artist Derek Jarman “a manifest lump of evil”. All this and the man’s as bent as a French Creme Fancy! Alas, he had just the sort of religionist/Conservative credentials to ‘save’ him and was soon whisked away to enjoy a fat cheque or two from the morally bankrupt Scottish Daily Mail. McLeod wrote about the “tragic farce” he called Michael Jackson, fanning the flames of what seemed like his own private hell, Satan charred the edges of his copy. Jacko’s lifestyle was described as “risible”, after being brought up, “from lisping infancy…” MacLeod observed, “in part it’s the effeminacy (something Mcleod hates) – all the worse when the culprit is so self-absorbed and humourless”. It was painful to read MacLeod’s piece as he salivated over Jacko’s misfortune: “Nothing suggests the depths of Jackson’s self-hatred – the sheer scale of the pop-idol’s repudiation of reality – as much as the tortured death’s head of his ageing face”. MacLeod concluded: “But the real tragedy is not the latest allegations, nor Wacko Jacko’s bizarre lifestyle choices, nor even the nastier manifestations of self-hatred. This is a man who does not, in any final truth, know who he is, a man whose sense of self never stood a chance…” Who are we talking about now, MacLeod? I’m completely lost!
And so to Church. The Herald’s report on the opportunity for gays to be treated equally in relationships by Deborah Summers and Catherine Lyst was filled with expressions of horror as unnecessary as they were irritating. Iain Torrance, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was described as “outspoken” and prompting “fresh controversy” by attacking critics of civil partnerships for displaying a “competitive, defensive, and jealous spirit”. He had “sparked controversy” by supporting the ordination of gays. The Moderator’s comments that “Christianity has a long tradition of defining itself by vilifying the other”, stirred nothing in the writer of this report.
Grace Mclean’s report in The Scottish Daily Mail added to the paper’s usual homophobic fare. “Gay couples travel free to same-sex ‘marriage’ talks”. We were “being invited to travel at the taxpayers’ expense” to talks that would “pave the way for same-sex marriage”. The word ‘marriage’ was no longer in inverted commas. The implication was clear. Gays were attacking their sacred institution of marriage. “The Scottish Executive is offering to pay gays, lesbians, transsexuals and transgenders 40p a mile or the cost of a second class rail ticket to travel from anywhere in the country to discuss civil partnership schemes”. But what was the big deal? Consultations were taking place more or less “all over the country” anyway, in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. A Scottish Daily Mail reporter, contacting the Executive “posing as a lesbian” was “shocked” to find that “cash payments”, advertised on “gay websites”, would “be paid in full even without proof of address”. The Mail got one of its homophobic reporters to call again, this time posing “as a heterosexual”. They were told: “It wouldn’t be appropriate for you to attend”. About as polite a ‘fuck off’ as they deserved. To underline the unfairness of excluding aggressive, homophobic heterosexuals set up by The Scottish Daily Mail, Mclean called on Dr Adrian Rogers “former director of the Conservative Family Institute”. She didn’t explain why this particular militant from Exeter in Devon was a “former” director. But allow me… The Conservative Party forced him to drop the word ‘Conservative’ because even they didn’t want to be associated with what he was doing! Standing as a Conservative MP on a ‘family values’ ticket, he lost the seat to a gay man: Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw! Rogers sneered: “If you pay a minority of people to attend these meetings then you are automatically making them far more important than the rest of the community… It distorts the truth”. The Mail liked that. They should do; they’ve been doing it for long enough! They liked it so much; they emboldened the “It distorts the truth” and dropped it in the copy. Rogers blasted: “People will feel this is a highly undesirable move and that parliament should be more actively encouraging the views of heterosexuals in conventional marriages who have children”. No mention of the heterosexuals who can’t bear the insufferable institution of marriage.
Repent ye your sins and you’ll get off lightly. That was the message The Daily Record gave out when “disgraced” Bronski Beat’s Kevin Glancy avoided a sentence for fraud after becoming a born-again Christian. “STAR FINDS GOD AND AVOIDS JAIL”. It is not the first time, of course. There have quite a large number of similar cases in Scotland where the proclamation of a faith – usually Christian – secures offenders more lenient sentences.
I’ve no problem with so-called ‘gay’ schools that have been established in parts of the US, but I have to say I draw the line at Scotland’s eagerness to embrace ‘faith’ schools. (“Muslims target schools for takeover” – Scotland on Sunday). There is a clear difference. One is the insidious promotion of an ideology at the expense of some children’s basic human rights – which is why Muslim girls usually prefer State schools - and the other promotes the message that it is OK to be who you are. Gay schools offer a perfect environment for physically ‘delicate’, sensitive, artistic or talented kids. We have four Scottish Primary schools in Glasgow, one of them a Catholic school, being targeted for conversion by Islamic campaigners. Organising the campaign, Osama Said, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain gave the perfect reason we shouldn’t be creating more divisions in Scotland on Sunday: “As parents, we are becoming increasingly worried about the influence of secular schooling on our children. We are worried the boys may be buying into the gang culture, and feel cut off from their heritage. If other faiths have the right to separate schools funded by the state, then it should not be denied to us”. He also has a point. We should remove the special status of Catholic schools in Scotland and the Jewish primary supported by East Renfrewshire council forthwith. For Tory educational spokesman, James Douglas-Hamilton, it was a matter of: All diversities are equal, but some are more equal than others. He told Scotland on Sunday: “We must encourage more choice and diversity in a system which currently has very little. If there is demand for Muslim schooling we should support it”. I wonder what the Tories think about ‘gay’ schools? (Like I need to ask)! Iqra Academy, Scotland’s first private Muslim school run by the local Imam along hard-line religious principals in Glasgow had to close following an inspector’s report filled with allegations of bullying, lack of staff training and the use of corporal punishment. Never again!
There is no limit to the damn cheek of religionists! The Sunday Herald reported: “Newly-appointed Cardinal Keith O’Brien has called for St Andrew’s Day to become a national holiday in a sternly worded sermon directed at one member of the congregation in particular – Jack McConnell”. (The First Minister had only recently come back from a trip with O’Brien to meet the ‘Pope’, a gay human rights abuser, based in Rome). First mooted by Cardinal Winning, O’Brien wants 30 November to be declared a public holiday. Well he can stick his idea where the sun doesn’t shine! We are already forced to take holidays during the coldest, darkest time of year, thanks to religionists. I want my holidays when the sun does shine! St Andrew will just have to move! But it didn’t stop there. According to The Sunday Herald, O’Brien has “warned the Executive that he would be pressing for the recognition of marriage as the basis of stable family life, and said he would be seeking support for the ‘re-Christianising of Scotland”. He also had a dig at the Scottish parliament for issuing a Christmas card with ‘Season’s Greetings’ in English and Gaelic on the front, calling it “an attack on our basic moral teaching”. The Scottish Sun plastered: “PARLY BANS CHRISTMAS. MSPs can’t mention it in cards” over the front page and Catholic columnist, Mrs Katie Grant sighed in The Scotsman: “It’s enough to make you weep”. Under the heading: “Like it or not, this country is a Christian one,” she begged: “But where is the proof that people feel ‘excluded’ by the use of Christian terminology in Britain”? Er… Hello? Ever since so-called Christians hijacked their religion to promote political one-upmanship, I want to puke every time I see a reference to so-called ‘Christian’ values.
‘Hello, Children… Everywhere!’ It’s Old Mother (Joan) Burnie calling! The Daily Record’s ageing agony aunt was sceptical of the announcement that Scotland would be getting a ‘Sex Czar’. “He or she will be appointed to stop the kids from doing it. Or if they insist, on making sure they are all tied into their condoms and force fed the pill first”. The media label young people, “kids” at their convenience, especially when it allows them to condense straightforward moral virtues into a couple of headlines. Their message underlines an element of helplessness and lack of responsibility in children, reinforcing the media’s role as moral guardian and voice of authority for their readers who are not children, but parents. Indeed, for many years, their columnist, Tom Browne’s narrow, homophobic, crabbit opinion always followed the header: “Voice of Authority”. But Old Mother Burnie still hangs on in their with a message on sex and sexuality as relevant today as Sparky’s Magic Piano. She added: “Sure, the schools can give them the nuts and bolts of contraception, but it is up to parents to stick on the emotional and yes, the morality bit. Like, ‘Don’t!’” If she ever bothered to consult any of the gals who attended her convent in those black-and-white days of liquorice boot-laces and coitus interruptus, she’d realise that ‘don’t’ was as useless as a squirt of Colgate’s ‘ring of confidence’ up the fanny!
Shoring up this Victorian, religious-inspired invention that children are somehow born innocent, blinds us the realities of their lives. The Sunday Mail reported: “CHILDREN UPSET BY NUDE DENTIST”. Scotland lives in fear of nudity. The so called “naked rambler”, Steve Gough, attempting to challenge this pathological fear has been arrested more than a dozen times on his way to John o’ Groats in the buff. The inference in The Sunday Mail’s story by Billy Paterson, was not that the children might need help, (“one 10-year-old girl was distressed and crying”), but the man who had been seen by six “shocked girls” walking naked around his flat! Were the kids curious by what they saw? “All six said they saw his private parts”. Another girl hung around long enough to admit: “Stewart walked back and forward several times, always returning to the window”. The Sheriff cleared Fraser Stewart from Muirend, Glasgow, but Margaret McCullum, prosecuting, suggested that the Crown would consider an appeal. I wonder what good this will do young people, instilling in them a sense of fear and trepidation over nudity; empowering them to conspire and target transgressors; opening the door to vigilantism, suspicion and invention. “One child told Paisley Sheriff Court that another girl saw Stewart naked at a nearby first-floor window”.
CUT IT OUT…
Patrick Harvie MSP in The Sunday Herald: “…The attempt of some religious figures (not all of them Catholic) to subvert the science behind the wider issues of sexual health is more manipulative. If they wish to make a moral case for the banning of condoms, of sex education and of clinical services, they should make that case. They don’t. Instead we hear attempt after attempt to claim that education creates promiscuity, that clinical services increase infection rates, and even that condoms have holes which remove any protection against STIs. This kind of myth is peddled not only in developing countries with poor educational provision – it happens here in Scotland as well”.
Yes, in Scotland on Sunday! By morally conservative, religionist columnist Gerald Warner who warned on 4 June 2000 that the protection offered by condoms: “…Is like driving a golf-ball into a football net. You will not find homosexual activists advertising this fact to confused youngsters: ‘Come on in, the water’s lovely!’ is the message”.
So, to another Patrick Harvie gem in The Scotsman, challenging the Scottish Executive’s efforts to marginalize lesbians and gays in Scotland: “The UK government has committed itself to legislating on civil partnerships for same-sex couples. Although this is less than we wanted, it is a huge step forward. The Scottish Parliament should have been able to debate this itself, however, passing legislation here in Scotland, and ensuring full scrutiny of the legislation. This is Parliament’s role. That is what devolution was for”. Never mind writing the odd letter to the press. With a glut of morally conservative/religionist columnists churning out their pap in the papers to add to the shite we already get from England, how about they trash one and make some space for you, pal?
Dani Garavelli’s solution in Scotland on Sunday to Scotland’s appalling level of STIs and teenage pregnancies: “The answer is more education, but not about sex. Indeed, the insistence on placing reproductive issues at the heart of the curriculum may actually be fuelling the perception amongst teenagers that sex should be at the centre of their lives”. Bring back the birds and the bees. And where’s that stork?
Another morally conservative, religionist, columnist Mrs Katie Grant facing up to the consequences of one of her former student’s actions in The Scotsman: “Is religious belief really just a formalised kind of mental disorder? This is the interesting, not to say alarming, subject of a potential PhD on which a former access course student of mine, Patricia McQueen, is beginning to embark. She is prepared for her answers to shock. But there may be practical consequences. For example, if neurologists can prove that everybody who goes to church, synagogue, mosque or temple is, in fact, nuts, where will they house us all?” Answers on a postcard, please.