Been getting great feedback on my rebuttal to the Sunday Independent’s recent homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and whatever-bigotry-you’re-having-yourself-phobic article.
Considering the sheer number of comments on the article and the fact that I (and I’m sure many other people) have written letters to the newspaper detailing just why the article has crossed an ethical line into printing lies about a minority, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any response from the paper.
The next logical step (and necessary step anyway) is to contact the Press Council. It needs to be made clear that this type of journalism is unacceptable. And I wish to reiterate that I am not objecting to a personal opinion being printed in a newspaper – instead I am offended by the existence of a minority being called into question without any attempts at fact-checking by the paper involved. I also believe that this article will be an inciting factor in the continued bullying and abuse of the LGBT community, and feeds into bigoted opinions that continue to hold sway in Ireland.
My communication to the Press Council (some of which is gleaned from a great comment on the Indo site) is below. If you feel the same, you can visit their website to file an online complaint or just email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject: Complaint on “Loud and proud gays…” article in Sunday Independent 30/10/11
I wish to lodge a complaint about the recent Sunday Independent article “Loud and proud gays want to take over rest of society” (http://www.independent.ie/opinion/ analysis/loud-and-proud-gays-want-to-take-over-rest-of-society-2920975.html) in the Sunday Independent on 30th October 2011. The article was framed as an opinion piece, but instead presented bigoted inaccuracies about a minority group without any attempt by the newspaper in question to counter these lies. As such, it did not adhere to the Press Council’s Code Of Practice:
In relation to Principle 1 – Truth and Accuracy – the article falsely claims that there is no such thing as bisexuality. The established scientific consensus is that bisexuality exists, the modern source for such a view is the Kinsey scale but there have been numerous studies since confirming this hypothesis.
Principle 4 – Respect for Rights – while it is perfectly acceptable for a newspaper to print an argument against same-sex marriage or parenting the article in question consisted of a series of derogatory and ill-informed stereotypes about lesbian and gay people. It is highly unlikely that such a prejudice ridden rant would be published about any other minority in a broadsheet newspaper. The article holds a minority up to ridicule. Gays are described as sleazy, bisexuals don’t exist and transgender people are so unmentionable that they even tarnish the former. No attempt is made to address contrary arguments, the writer appears uninterested in engaging in anything other than a diatribe against an unpopular and still legally unequal minority.
Principle 8 – Prejudice – the article is the clearest example of prejudice likely to stir up hatred against a minority that I can recall reading in recent times. I am particularly concerned that lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender teenagers and young adults are vulnerable to the type of bigotry espoused. The issue of suicide amongst young LGBT is of great concern. These deaths are the byproduct of a variety of factors from bullying, peer rejection, family rejection, minority stress and internalized homophobia (a young person may have been raised to believe that there is something wrong with being gay). The article is a poorly written ad hominem against a minority, the very fact that it is printed (and thereby endorsed) by a leading newspaper will cause distress and alarm to these and other vulnerable members of the gay community whose primary source of distress is the stigma that surrounds their sexuality. This stigma leaves a trail of broken lives, suicides and despair and has blighted the lives of many who struggle to come to terms with their identity and struggle further to discuss their lives, thoughts and feelings even with those closest to them. The piece is inappropriate in tone, consisting as it does of highly personalized attack and fails to engage with the issues by addressing contrary facts and arguments.
I would implore you to look into this matter immediately. As I have said, this was not an opinion piece, as one cannot have an “opinion” on hard facts such as the existence of a minority – this was a national publication printing lies about a minority, without any attempt to balance these views. It is an unfounded and deliberately offensive piece that has caused damage to a minority group (a minority group of which I am part), and I believe that the Sunday Independent has therefore breached the Press Council of Ireland’s Code Of Practice.
Feel free to steal this phrasing if you agree. Power to the copy-pasting people!