By the time the âbreaking newsâ announcements had given way to long deferential reportage over the course of the evening, I had gathered that he was some sort of Pop Star. Hardly of the same standing as Michael Jackson, but his death apparently receiving the same coverage. I idly speculated that his coffin would be laid out for the adoring crowds on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square. You could sense the mounting hysteria.
I had, of course, missed the vital ingredient of this story. Stephen was Gay. A Pink Princess. That changes everything.
Heterosexual Princessâ can die in Parisian underpasses and the world may speculate as to the cause of their death, the nature of their sexual relationships, their last menstrual cycle; no need to cloak any claim in innuendo, the raucous cry of âfree speechâ precedes every last intimate detail as it is chewed over by the rabid blogs of war.
A Pink Princess returns from a nighclub with her husband at 4.30am, accompanied by a third party, she so drunk that apparently the only solution is to climb into her pyjamas (that drunk, huh?) and sleep alone on the sofa whilst husband and third party take to the marital bed. She is then discovered 9 hours later squatting in a âpraying positionâ with her lungs full of fluid. This is a ânatural deathâ and any further speculation is greeted with hysterical outrage.
Jan Moir of the Daily Mail, not someone I habitually read, was brave enough to face down the pink posse and point out that had this been a heterosexual couple, none of this would have been described as normal. She is paying a high price for her temerity this morning. Marks & Spencers, mindful of the pink pound, has demanded that their advertisements be removed from the page on which her article sits bravely defending her right to free speech. They are not alone.
Free speech has its limits, and mightily politically correct limits they are too.
I well remember a crowded London dinner party some years ago at which at least half the couples present were openly gay. The exquisitely masculine half of one such couple began, uninvited, to discuss the recent claims from California that homosexuality was âgeneticâ.
Prawn cocktails lay half eaten as we listened in polite homage to free speech, to a monologue on how âeven aged 7â² he had known that that the âtaste and smellâ of a womanâs vagina would be âdisgustingâ, and he could never countenance entrusting his precious penis to such an orrifice. At 7? No one argued. No one queried the âtaste and smellâ of the orrifice he did entrust his precious penis to, nor attempt to stop him or his fellow âbelieversâ as they gleefully extolled the delights of their chosen lifestyle, which memorably included insight into the world of voyerism otherwise known as âthe window on the worldâ carefully chiselled into the wall of our local public toilet, or cottage, as we were now educated. We all knew we would be dennounced as âhomophobicâ if we dared to even change the subject, much less term it âgynophobicâ. Iâve never been really keen on prawn cocktail since.
Jan Moirâs free speech has apparently attracted ârecord complaintsâ, after an extraordianry internet campaign, led by Stephen Fry and Derren Brown who have a million plus following on âTwitterâ. Over 1000 of their devoted followers have complained to the PCC regarding alleged homophobia. The details of advertisers on her page were posted on a Facebook group called âThe Daily Mail should retract Jan Moirâs hateful, homophobic articleâ. Jan Moirâs home address was posted, in a disturbing act of cyber-bullying.
Today, Jan has been forced to issue a âclarificationâ of her words.
âWhen I wrote that âhe would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine,â I was referring to the drugs and the casual invitation extended to a stranger,â she said. âNot to the fact of his homosexuality. In writing that âit strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnershipsâ I was suggesting that civil partnerships â the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting â have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.â
It would seem that âthe internetâ only wishes to support âfree speechâ for certain views.
It is quite willing to suggest that censorship should be supported, nay encouraged, for views which may well represent the majority of citizens, but do not accord with the world view that the shrillest voices wish us to hold.
Unlikely though it is, were I ever to return from a Majorca nightclub at 4.30am, sober enough to put my feet into the right legs of my pyjama bottoms, but drunk enough to countenance my husband taking a perfect stranger to our marital bed, leaving me to unsuccessfully fend for myself on the sofa, I trust Jan Moir will still be brave enough to point out that regardless of the coronerâs decision, that there is something âabnormalâ about this definition of ânormalâ marriage.