GAY TIMES, December 1987

A poll in COMMUNITY CARE magazine revealed that only 3 per cent of the population considered clergymen to be “important members of the community.” It would seem, therefore, that the hoo-ha over gay vicars in the press was somewhat overdone. What might have started as a desire by C of E fundamentalists to “clean up the Church” was quickly taken over by the tabloids as another opportunity to bash the gay community in general.

THE SUN continued its revolting persecution of gay clergymen (“Pulpit poofs can stay,” — 12 Nov) and even conducted one of its interminable telephone polls on the subject (28 Oct) the result of which was utterly predictable. In case you’re interested the result was 7,078 in favour of ‘booting out’ the gay clergy and 1,586 against. The relatively small number of people ringing in to this poll (over 35,000 calls were generated by a question about capital punishment the following week) seems to indicate that people didn’t consider the debate very important. The polls, by the way, are conducted on 0898 telephone numbers, which cost callers 38p a minute. I don’t suppose that has anything to do with Mr Murdoch’s fondness for getting his ever-gullible readers to ring in, has it?

Then we come to THE PEOPLE (8 Nov), which stated in an editorial: “This newspaper does not want to incite a witch hunt of homosexuals…” In the same issue there were three full pages of exposes, naming many gay clergymen (together with their photographs) who had been tricked into indiscreet utterances by reporters posing as fellow gays. A more disgusting and cruel stunt would be difficult to imagine, and even the proposer of the motion, Mr Higton himself, condemned the methods used by The People. “It was a witch hunt,” he said in THE INDEPENDENT (10 Nov), “and I don’t approve of it.”

Of course, what Mr Higton seems incapable of accepting is that it was his motion that gave the press their mandate for persecution. He might not approve, but it is entirely his fault it happened. THE GUARDIAN (12 Nov) even speculated that Mr Higton might have a future as an editor of a popular newspaper after his “tabloid style of delivery” in the Synod debate: “Mr Higton gave us all these (lurid revelations), and more. Newsdesks from Holborn Circus to Wapping could be heard salivating at the riches pouring from the Rector’s lips,” wrote Alan Rusbridger.

The People lectured the Synod: “If the Church is to be the moral guardian of our society, then the men of God must cast out the devil within.” But many members of the Synod made it quite clear that they felt that there was an even more frightening devil possessing the country’s press corps. Perhaps it’s time for someone to put forward a motion to the Synod asking them to declare gutter journalism a sin?

However, probably the most relevant remark during the whole sorry business was made by Bernard Levin in THE TIMES (12 Nov): “It is the obvious truth that in the country as a whole, homosexual, heterosexual, total abstainers alike, not excluding the Church, will take no notice at all of anything the Synod says or thinks or is. Most of the population leads an entirely secular life; most of the Church has an entirely secular attitude to such matters as sexual morals; the result was that the debate was taking place in a balloon, floating free.”

“Press freedom” was once a noble ideal worth fighting for. Now it has become a front for a rampaging monster that is snipping away at the very fabric of our society. Tabloid newspapers have turned the idea of a free press on its head; they have taken freedom and made it into a licence to lie, distort and persecute. They have turned the major issues of the day into trivia and presented nonsense as front-page news.

But at least a small challenge has been issued to their excesses. A judge has ruled that the press does not have an automatic right to reveal the names of doctors who have Aids. The judgement was given against NEWS OF THE WORLD, which had obtained the names of the doctors by bribing workers in a health authority. Quite rightly this was seen as a breach of the PWA’s right to confidentiality. Despite repeated assurances from Dr Donald Acheson, the Government’s chief medical officer that there was ‘little more than negligible’ risk to patients, Murdoch’s newspapers still insist that the names of these doctors should be revealed. Indeed, all four of them are agitating like crazy against the judgement. They have recruited the usual braying mob of Tory backbenchers and panic-mongering “experts” like Dr John Seale to support their unjustifiable desire to pillory these doctors. Even another Sun telephone poll could only muster a tiny majority in favour of the campaign — readers obviously didn’t wholeheartedly support the proposed persecution.

But Mr Murdoch likes to think that his judgement should outweigh that of the courts of law. His efforts to get the judgement overturned have cost him over £100,000 and he is not a good loser. He will try to get his way by fair means or foul, using the massive power of his papers to achieve his ends.

Hopefully the law will stand its ground and let Murdoch know that his filthy philosophy does not hold sway in this country.

Of all the hateful and rotten things that have been written about gay people in the British press in the days running up to General Synod debate, perhaps the most difficult to forgive was an article in THE TIMES (9 Nov) by the Chief Rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits. The Rabbi described the lives of gay people with words that no man who espouses ‘morality’ has any right to use.

“Evil”, “objectionable”, “perverse”, “debased” were some of the terms applied. And yet if, throughout the article, you had changed the word ‘homosexual’ to ‘Jew’, it could have passed as an anti-Semitic diatribe from some ancient Nazi propaganda sheet.

All the dogmatic rationalisation in the world cannot excuse the Rabbi for doing to gays what he rightly condemns others for doing to his own people. The persecution of minorities is a horrible thing, and so I would have thought that Jews above all would have understood how the persecutors rationalise their actions.

It starts with articles like the one written by Rabbi Jakobovits and it ends in a place like Auschwitz.

Gratuitous Insults Department: “It is very serious that anyone in the Church of England should advocate the blessing of unions between homosexuals…it will kill the Church of England if it is passed.” – Harry Greenway, MP (PEOPLE 1 Nov).

“I can anticipate some of the arguments against the motion. First, that homosexuals are nice people — elderly canons and ‘nice couples’. But since when was being nicely perverted better than simply being perverted?” – Rev Tony Higton (INDEPENDENT 11 Nov)

Deserved Insults Department: “What’s the difference between The Sun and The Beano? Answer: Four Pence” – Graffiti reported in the LONDON STANDARD.

Even as they failed to locate the Loch Ness monster, an even greater rarity has been spotted in Scotland: a sane Tory! There can be no doubt about his authenticity, because he writes a column for THE GLASGOW HERALD and is the leader of the Tory group on Lothian Regional Council.

Brian Meek was commenting on the dangers of his own party’s demented demagogues, whom he calls the ‘rabid right’. His thoughts had been prompted by the rantings of Paul Johnson in THE DAILY MAIL (19 Oct & 11 Nov). Johnson, in his usual evil fashion, had been predicting “a hardening of attitudes to abortion, capital punishment, the rights of the homosexual to be treated in a liberal fashion and the suppression of violence on television.”

Brian Meek concludes in his column that the almost Hitleresque Paul Johnson won’t be happy until: “you would be forced to have a baby, but hang it if it were gay.”

After demolishing Johnson’s facile arguments about abortion and capital punishment Mr Meek says: “Then there are the homosexuals, the supposed destroyers of all that is decent in our society. By allowing them, in the privacy of their own homes, to conduct their sleazy affairs we are corrupting, the nation. How? I know homosexuals. I suspect you do too. They have never posed any threat to me or any of my heterosexual friend. Many are talented, gifted me who have made great contributions to music, to theatre, to the very culture of which we are supposed to be proud. Yes, there are dirty old men who prey on young boys and they should be locked up. There are thousands more who prey on young girls.”

At last, a Conservative who is prepared to speak out for compassionate values. Isn’t it time for other decent Tories to challenge the excesses of the extremists in their own party? Attacking the ‘loony left’ might be great fun, but they have madmen of their own who are far more dangerous.

If it is true that rent-boys are now having problems making a living because of Aids, they needn’t fear; the British press will keep them going. It seems the tabloids are so desperate to destroy gay celebrities that they are prepared to pay quite large amounts of money to any young man who cares to ring up and claim that he has had sex with someone in the public eye.

THE DAILY MIRROR (Nov 6) was telling how the rent boy in the Sun’s Elton John expose of last February had admitted to them that he had invented the whole thing. The Mirror revealed: “Steven Hardy, who told The Sun sensational tales of sex and drugs involving the rock superstar said: ‘I made it all up. I only did it for the money and The Sun was easy to con. . . I contacted The Sun on the spur of the moment thinking I’d make a bit of money. They were all for it and I was all for it as it was a quick way of making two grand.’”

The Daily Mirror made it clear that it had not paid Hardy anything for his retraction. Which doesn’t make it true, of course — and there are other motives for the lying little toad to try and go back on what he said. “Apart from practically losing my family — my parents won’t speak to me — I’ve lost all my friends. I want to get on with my life and make sure my son doesn’t get harassed.” We can only hope that this time he’s telling the truth and that Elton makes The Sun pay a heavy penalty.

But before Mr Maxwell pats himself on the back for exposing The Sun’s anxiety to hand out money to any old bod who comes up with a juicy tale, we have to look at his own paper’s record. THE SUNDAY MIRROR was at it on 25th October, when its front-page lead was “Shame of MP’s nights in gay bar”. It was based on the confessions of a supposed “rent boy” who claimed he’d provided “sex services for £30” to the “bachelor MP”. Full credence was given to the rent boy’s story, while Mr Cummings denials were presented with cynical contempt.

The following day THE GUARDIAN provided some of the information left out by The Sunday Mirror so that its story would stand up. What the Mirror hadn’t told us was that the “rent boy” in question was a heroin addict and had made a statement to the Press Association “that the words implicating Mr Cummings had been put into his mouth by a journalist when they met in the Golden Lion pub in Soho. ‘I’m a junkie and I needed some stuff, so I took his money,’ he said. Of Mr Cummings, Mr McCallion (the rent boy) said: ‘I’ve never even talked to him.’”

If that isn’t grounds for sacking the editor of The Sunday Mirror, I don’t know what is. The paper didn’t even apologise to Mr Cummings, and lives to lie another day.

THE STAR has been taken out of the hands of the pornographers and no longer swishes about at the bottom of the sewer. It is now back floating on top with all the other smelly crap.

Ray Mills, The Star’s bigot-in-chief, told us proudly that he has been expelled from the National Union of Journalists after complaints about his unending racist and homophobic remarks. That has not stopped his tirades, of course. He is still going on about what he calls “the poofter persuasion” and describing gay employees of Camden Council as “bent”.

The Star responsible and respectable again? Not while that man soils its pages.

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