"In my view some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society.
"Not having a privileged status means, of course, one must accept occasionally being the butt of jokes. A person's sexuality should not give them a protected status.”
This is how the editor of The Sunday Times, John Witherow, responded to BBC presenter Clare Balding’s complaint about an article written by AA Gill. Gill, reviewing Balding’s new TV series about cycling around Britain, described her as:
“The dyke on a bike puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation."
As you will agree an absolutely HILARIOUS way to start a piece of writing! BECAUSE BALDING IS A LESBIAN! “CRANNIES!” Makes you think of vaginas! And who likes vaginas? LESBIANS! Oh Gill, you absolute hoot. One can only imagine this is what went through his mind when he wrote this piece [of turd]. He certainly wasn’t thinking about the possibility of offending anyone.
I find it utterly shameful that a newspaper, a highly regarded one at that, thinks it’s permissible and a “joke” to describe someone in such a derogatory fashion. When I read it for the first time, my jaw on the table, I couldn’t stop imagining Witherow as some fat, sweaty, cigar smoking arse guffawing all the way through Balding’s complaint. But that’s my own personal prejudice right there; I’m sure not all fat, sweaty arses are smokers.
As Balding herself has said “no-one would dream of introducing Stephen Fry as “The faggot from QI”, yet the introduction: “the dyke on a bike” can be written, edited, printed and dismissed as a “joke” when it’s offensive nature is eventually pointed out. According to The Sunday Times anyone who is offended is simply owning up to not having a sense of humour. A ridiculous statement as anyone who has watched Balding on Have I Got News for You will know, she can knock about with the best of them.
But not being able to take a joke seems to be the get-out clause of all ignorant comedians on stage and in the pub. You need look no further than the hideous creature that is Frankie Boyle. A man it seems who is hell bent on morphing, unapologetically, into this generations Bernard Manning. His humour is neither clever, nor witty but is just the drivellings of someone desperate for attention. Boyle will say anything he thinks will be shocking enough to make a name for him. And unfortunately it has worked.
Comedians like Boyle are making it “ok” for everyone else to act like rot. I have lost count of the times that people have made racist, homophobic jokes around me, or quipped about people with disabilities. People who don’t know me, who couldn’t possibly know if they are offending me or the people I love. They either truly don’t care or don’t believe that people who are gay, disabled or black actually exist. I had the misfortune of sitting not too far away from a work colleague for longer than was sanitary, who spent most of his day belittling any form of human that was not white, male and good at football. It wasn’t so much what he was saying, he lacked the imagination to come up with any jokes I hadn’t already had the misfortune of hearing, it was just his sheer and utter lack of shame when saying them. He saw nothing wrong with what was spewing out of his mouth, and like Witherow scoffed at and dismissed anyone who pulled him up.
I felt for anyone who had the bad luck to over hear this wretch, anyone who may have been more personally affected than I was. It upsets me still to think of the people I know and have known who have felt it necessary to hide who they are. I know someone isn’t DEFINED by their sexuality and some may feel, quite rightly, that perhaps this world doesn’t deserve to know all about them. But I am lucky that I can go to work and talk about my other half. I have never had to refer to a date as “them” and “they”, careful not to let slip a “she” or “her”. But I know people who have had to do this, people who have been the most intelligent, the wittiest and the sharpest person in a room, yet have felt it necessary to hide what they love for fear they will be deserted.
These people aren’t asking for a “protected status” as Witherow would claim, all they want I’m sure is to live in a society where they have the basic human status offered to everyone else - that of being allowed to be who they are. When we have that society, and I hope it comes soon, THEN I will be laughing.