Saturday, 22 January 2011

Easy on the Mud

The easiest thing in the world to do is to throw out allegations, to make sweeping assumptions, to throw mud. The publication by the Daily Mail of a cartoon this week by their cartoonist in residence, Mac, plays into a narrative of the Daily Mail as a hateful newspaper. Certainly, the Daily Mail has a history of publishing articles that many - including myself - have viewed as homophobic. It's tone is one of bewilderment at the modern society the paper finds itself read within but it would be wrong to assume that every cartoon, that every article, every journalist at the Mail is somehow homophobic and a spreader of a hate. Easy, certainly, but wrong.

Following the B&B legal case this week, the Daily Mail satirised the incident in the cartoon pictured above. The caption beneath reads: “Isn’t that romantic, George, dear? Mr and Mr Smith would like the bridal suite.”

The Mac cartoon that has got the cyberworld talking, and led to this comment piece on Pink News, that suggests the hoteliers are respectable and civilised, and having to 'take in' burly gay men with Nazi tattoos. It is not an assertion that all gay men are burly skin-head Fascists. It does suggest two worlds colliding, which they did in the B&B case. It's also worthwhile checking out this piece from the Guardian which further explores the role of religion.

This is a couple - middle aged, conservative in appearance, running a clearly labelled 'Christian Hotel' and calmly dealing with a gay couple that are clearly anathema to them. Crucially, they are accepting the couple.

For me, the Nazi tattoo is significant, but not denoting gay Nazis - but rather to denote the 'Fascism' of law; the intolerance of law, and the assertion of monolithic truth and state power over the individual.

The logical conclusion of this argument is to advocate the freedom to hate and that's the problem with this position. What of those whoa re racist? Ageist? Where ought the line to be drawn and at what point should the law be an intervening force?

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