First watch this piece of regional news reporting from the BBC – it’s only just over a minute long. It’s a terrible case. A former winner of the title Mr Gay UK is accused of murdering an acquaintance, then attempting to cook and eat part of his flesh.
I don’t have a particular problem with the fact the story makes explicit reference to homosexuality being a feature of the case, although I do wonder, if it had involved a man and a woman, whether the reporter would have chosen to emphasise heterosexuality in quite the same way. I don’t mind all that much that the report, and the accompanying text story, state so prominently that the alleged murderer had won a gay beauty competition 15 years ago. Again, it doesn’t seem as though it’s especially relevant, but it is the kind of salacious detail I would expect the mainstream media to pick up on – I can’t imagine the reporting would have been any different if the defendant in the case had won any other kind of male beauty competition.
What I do object to is the passing comment, made by the reporter at around 24 seconds, that the victim was a ‘promiscuous homosexual’. What, precisely, is the relevance of the sexual habits of the victim? Is the reporter alleging that, because he was willing to go home with a casual acquaintance for sex, that it was in some way the victim’s own fault that he was murdered? If so, this sounds a lot like the argument that women who are raped after willingly going home with their rapists are responsible for what happens to them because they were “obviously up for it”.
Isn’t it enough that the friends and relatives of the victim have to cope with the fact that he was murdered, without having to face the fact that irrelevant details about his private life prior to the attack are being reported? I’d expect this kind of muck-raking from a lot of media outlets, but not from the BBC. It’s disgraceful.
While we’re on the subject of people who should know better, it’s quite something to manage to be so virulently anti-gay that even the church of England objects to your prejudice, but the “reverend” Peter Mullen has managed it.