Daily Mail has no apology over Richard Littlejohn
The Daily Mail have blamed a ‘witch hunt’ against the paper for backlash over the death of Lucy Meadows following an attack piece by their opinion columnist Richard Littlejohn. As I reported on Sunday the paper has been criticised for its numerous hate articles. They however don’t seem to like it when they’re at the receiving end of the kind of abuse that has become a fixture of their pages.
The Daily Mail’s statement in response to the outcry generated by the tragic death of Lucy Meadows has no apology, no acceptance of the Littlejohn item being beyond freedom of speech; more an attempt to provide a controversial banding of insults which the paper has become infamous for in recent years.
Instead the publication has decided that in fact Lucy’s tragic demise is just an excuse, an excuse to kick this family friendly, moral paper. That’s the high moral paper which as The New Stateman pointed out ‘campaigns against the sexualisation of children. Meanwhile, its website runs pictures of 14-year-old Kylie Jenner in a “tiny wetsuit” and “skimpy bikinis”.’
The Daily Mail has decided that the 200,000 people who signed the petition to give Richard Littlejohn a taste of his own medicine are just out to hound the paper, ironic considering that’s exactly what Littlejohn’s article was practically doing to Meadows.
“It is regrettable that this tragic death should now be the subject of an orchestrated [attack on us], fanned by individuals… with agendas to pursue.” – Daily Mail
The people behind the petition have today released a statement which reads,
“Damn right, the 200,000 of us have an agenda. Our agenda is this: An accountable, responsible, and civil media industry in the UK that respects people’s privacy.
“The Daily Mail’s Editor Paul Dacre and its management think that this is just a short-term controversy. That it’ll blow over in a few days. They don’t get it. Their hateful sensationalism is destroying people’s lives. It’s long past time that Richard Littlejohn was sacked for writing such an offensive piece, and the Daily Mail must also apologise for letting it go to print. But this kind of thing will happen again and again unless a real editorial review process is put in place to keep discrimination and hate out of its paper for good.”
The campaigners now plan to stage protests outside the Daily Mail’s offices, and are attempting a fundraising drive to create banners and posters to enhance the campaign.
A comment on New Statesman sums up the view of many, “As an outspoken advocate of free speech… [the Littlejohn article] was not free speech, however. Free speech would have been an article without mentioning names or places questioning whether it is appropriate (in general) for a teacher previously known to pupils as male, to continue working in the same school as a female. This is a fair argument, albeit not one that I agree with and I would not have objected to it although I might have written to argue. However, what Littlejohn and other members of the press wrote was an individual attack on a named individual, sometimes going out of their way to exclude positive remarks. This was at the very least harassment and possibly incitement to hatred. There is a line. They crossed it.”
The story was broken in a regional newspaper first, with an equally as tasteless piece by Stuart Pike, who has escaped the wrath of the national campaign so far. However he has been criticised by readers of the paper.
“I have friends in common with Stuart Pike and have defriended a few more. What an awful thing to have written, what an awful ‘story’ to have broken. I can’t imagine a more morally decrepit thing.” said one.
“She was not breaking any law… She had been diagnosed with what is unambiguously stated as a medical condition… Can this newspaper, any newspaper or Mr Cowie tell anyone how the villification, humiliation and hounding of this woman served the public interest?” added another.
Lucy Meadows was a school teacher who had formerly taught as a male teacher. One parent at the school, Wayne Cowie, took the gender change story to the press. Lucy we know isn’t the first in the teaching profession to make the change from male to female, however she is the first to be publicly humiliated by the press for doings so. We know of one, who changed several years ago, and suffered no issue or concern from parents or students at the college concerned.
“I guess many of us believe we know who the real monsters of this story of Lucy, her transition, and her untimely death are now. To me, two of these appear to Wayne Cowie for callously taking what should have been a non-story about Lucy to the press, and the Accrilington Observer’s reporter and editorial staff for “breaking” what should have been seen as a non-story.
“I hope these people are racked with guilt and ashamed over what they put forward to the public with this non-stroy, but my guess is that they aren’t.” – a reader posted on the local papers site.
[Reported by Vivian Summers]