Tuesday, 29 January 2013

It's Time To Stamp Out Hate Crime

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the hideous Julie Burchill article. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, it's found its way back online thanks to the Telegraph. You can read it here *** Possible Trigger Warning***.

Now, I'm not one to let things go easily. And I don't like it when people like Burchill go waltzing around, mocking others, and enjoying the attention. So I've written a long winded complaint to the editor. And I'll keep harassing him until I get a straight answer other than "sorry". If you want to get involved, feel free! The more the merrier! I'm going to publish the editor's name but, before anyone kicks me for that one, it's in the public domain.

Observer Newspaper Address:

John Mulholland,
The Observer, 
Kings Place, 90 York Way
London N1 9GU

Phone number: 020 3353 2000

And here's my complaint. Trust me, I'm really not going to let it lie. I don't care who you are. I don't care if you're someone on the street, a journalist, a musician, or an MP. If you say something like this, especially in public, then you should be subjected to the full extent of the law.

28th January 2013

Dear Sir,

It has been two weeks since Julie Burchill's hate speech masquerading as journalism appeared in your newspaper. No doubt you're still reading through the digital mountain of complaints which has been sent your way.

I'm writing to ask what you're doing about Burchill. In case you've forgotten what all the fuss is about I'm including a copy of the article.

Like every large company out there, I'm assuming you have a policy relating to people, their sexuality/gender/colour/religion etc and how they have a right to be treated as an equal and allowed to go about their job, and life, in peace and without the fear of harassment, discrimination, or reprisal. Anyone known to break this policy is subjected to suspension and/or termination. Has this policy been enacted against Burchill? If not, why not? Your average person on the street wouldn't get away with a fraction of what she said without reprisal. Why should she just because she's a “journalist”, “columnist”, or whatever you choose to call her?

Secondly, what she wrote is hate speech, discrimination, and a call to violence, all of which are crimes under British law. Has she been questioned by the police? Again, if not, why not?

Finally, what is your justification for allowing her to remain with your newspaper? After that little tirade she can hardly be good for your image? Or do we need to assume that her viewpoint is held by the majority of your staff?

While this country prides itself on freedom of speech, we also have morals and ethics which need to be upheld and honoured. Morals and ethics which are written in to the Editor's Code of Practice. I appreciate that Burchill's brand of writing is possibly what draws in your readers, but where do you draw the line? Will you let her publish something along the same lines about Muslims? Or people with disabilities? Or Asians? Where's your line in the sand? Take the article and replace it with any of the three examples I've given you and then ask yourself if you'd publish it.

Can you imagine if yourself, or one of your family, were one of the people lambasted in Burchill's article? Perhaps you are, I don't know. Perhaps you thought it would be good for “a laugh”. I realise that you pulled the piece and left a response along the lines of “The piece was an attempt to explore contentious issues”. However, your response could not be further from the truth, and I believe you know this. How would you feel if someone called you derogatory names and basically called for you to be injured and killed? You've probably had the statistics for the murder, assault and suicide rates among transgender people thrown at you a million times in the past two weeks so I won't repeat them. But, if you've read them, I'm sure you can see just how dangerous Burchill's article is. And just because Burchill is a “journalist” or “columnist” does not mean that she is above the morals, standards, and laws of this country. In fact, as a possible role model for others, she should be held even more accountable. How would you feel if a transgender person was murdered and the accused cited Burchill's article, the one you chose to publish, as a reason for why they committed the murder? It's a hypothetical scenario but has happened, where the accused has cited music, books, or films as the reason for why they committed their crime.

This is not about one particular group becoming more offended than another. This is about protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We no longer live in the Dark Ages. We live in a time where everyone, no matter what their creed, gender or sexuality is can live in peace and without fear. You have an opportunity here to prove that you will not be among those who allow such speech to pollute our society.


Rae Gee

I'm laying down a challenge to the Observer. It'll be going with this letter. 

"By now you've probably noticed that your withdrawal of the offending article, and your subsequent apology, have not been accepted by the vast majority. You've also probably gathered that people don't want to read misinformed, unresearched and factless pieces. As a media outlet, you are responsible on what you put out there. You now have the chance to show the world that you actually mean what you said in your apology. Which is why I'm laying down a challenge for you and your newspaper. Find a positive story, one of hope, love, and dignity, and report on it. Don't put a negative spin on it. Don't be derogatory. Don't put down the person, or persons, the story is about. And heaven's above, don't give the piece to someone like Burchill. In fact, go through the list of people who no doubt write to you every week looking for work experience and give one of them a shot. Write a nice, positive piece, one which will make people happy to read your paper and run it as the front page story. Don't think about the circulation or the money. Don't think of anything like that because you're the editor and, as you've proved, can do whatever you want. So do this and start making a positive change in the world."

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