Room With A Restricted Worldview
People have different standards for what’s morally acceptable. I get that. And many people find it difficult to accept that the moral standards and societal norms they grew up with have changed. I get that too. That’s why I sympathise somewhat with Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Cornwall B&B owners who this week were forced to pay compensation to a gay couple whose holidays they ruined by discriminating against them and refusing to honour their reservation.
The Bulls are no doubt sincere in their beliefs as they were willing to risk legal sanction rather than violate them. But while they’re entitled to their private views, a judge has quite sensibly ruled that they’re not entitled to run a business that interferes with the rights of others to be treated equally. The Bulls will now be free to decide whether they wish to run a business from their home or to refuse to allow gay couples to stay there. They are free to do either but not both.
I accept that there are different views on the subject, and I could even be persuaded by arguments that bigots should be allowed to run their businesses according to their bigotry. However, there’s bigotry and then there’s hatemongering, and nobody mongers hate better or more cynically than the Daily Mail. Have a look at this cartoon that appeared in Wednesday’s edition:
Firstly and most importantly, it’s not funny. The humour is evidently meant to come from the supposed incongruity of the situation. Two men want a room in our hotel. And they want to share a bed. With each other. But they’re both men. I accept that I’m not the target audience but is this funny even to a fundamentalist?
What’s most interesting about this otherwise banal piece of humourless tat is the depiction of the gay men. This gives us a real insight into the hates and fears of Daily Mail readers, and how they are stirred and fomented by Daily Mail writers.
A gay stereotype I could accept. Single-panel cartoons have to deal in easily identifiable types, after all. Flouncing Liberaces or mustachioed men in BDSM gear would be tired, lazy and unfunny but at least recognisably gay. What we get instead are two musclebound, tattooed skinheads. Dressed identically in black vests, tight jeans and “bovver boots” they are perfect cartoon hooligans, neo-Nazis even, as the one on the left has a swastika on his arm and an angry grimace on his unshaven face. The one on the right is perhaps less likely to be a neo-Nazi being rather darker-skinned. Perhaps he’s an immigrant!
These aren’t just two gay men hoping to spend a weekend away. They are a distillation of every nightmare of the Daily Mail demographic. They’re gay, they’re Nazis, they’re foreign and they’re in your face, aggressively threatening your traditional British Christian values.
The Bulls and people like them are just old-fashioned, but the Daily Mail is downright hateful. What a horrible way to sell advertising space: by making old people afraid of the world around them.
- Judge rules against Christian fundie B&B owners who turned away a gay couple (freethinker.co.uk)
- Daily Mail cartoon equates gay couples with Nazis (liberalconspiracy.org)