Monday, 24 October 2011

Stuart Walker: A Few Thoughts On A Tragedy

At the time of writing we still do not know why Stuart Walker was killed.
Perhaps only the bastard/s that killed him know that now.
It may yet turn out that it was a homophobic crime - though the police say there is no reason to think that it was and are pursuing another "positive line of inquiry".
And of course having blind faith in anything and everything the police say would be as foolish as believing everything you read in a right-wing tabloid.
There's been an endless stream of Tweets - telegraphed by the unreliable gay hysteric, Patrick Strudwick - that began late last night saying some variation on "Gay man Stuart Walker tied to a lamppost and burned to death" (See #ripstuartwalker and #stuartwalker on Twitter).
We now know that's not what happened, yet still they come.
Many claimed he had been murdered in an anti-gay hate crime.
Though you can see why people might have jumped to this conclusion, that's all they were doing; jumping to a conclusion.
As I've written below here this "information" was taken from a story that appeared on the Daily Mail's website last night;
Savagely beaten, tied to a lamppost and burned alive: Horrific fate of hotel manager who was murdered 'for being gay'
Two of those statements have turned out to be lies.
But anyone should be able to see that the Mail claiming Stuart was murdered "for being gay" was entirely speculative.
One would hope that no rational person believes everything they read in The Daily Mail without questioning it.
Most of all gay men.
It fills me with despair that journalists on the gay media this morning began reprinting the Mail's speculation as fact.
Not only without questioning it but - on what is clearly a huge story for them whatever the motive turns out to be - without checking it (most have now updated/rewritten their stories).
In the age of the internet it takes minutes to perform a basic factcheck on a story.
How long does it take to take to make a phone call to Strathclyde Police?
To my knowledge - and to his credit - the only gay journalist who did this was Scott Roberts at GaydarRadio News.
This, one would have thought, is merely maintaining the most basic of journalistic standards.
Many of the Tweets I recieved about Stuart Walker came from gay journalists.
I can well understand why anyone would want to express their anger and sadness at this murder.
But some gay mens' behaviour on this has been embarrassing, and occasionally hysterical.
Particularly the intemperance shown to those who said we should keep an open mind on the motive.
Anyone for irony?
I say none of this out of a mistaken belief in my own perfection and conceit, like anyone I too make mistakes and get things wrong - endlessly.
I initially took it as a given that he was found tied to a lamppost - I couldn't see why would someone make that up.
But this episode seems symptomatic of the poor editorial standards in the gay media that I have been documenting on this blog for the last 18 months.
How can you write a news story about a gay man's murder and not talk to the police first?
I hope this reminds people that whenever they read anything in the newspapers the question they should ask themselves is "Is this true?"
And as much of the gay news media is now just lifting stories from the straight press without checking it, I hope people ask that about anything in the gay media too.
And I hope none of those self-same gay journalists will be shameless enough to write about this story in the future without admitting their role in disseminating misinformation about it.
Some hope.


  1. Good piece, mate! The gay media have as much need (nay, a duty!) to live in the real world as the mainstream media do, and in the age of the Internet there's really no excuse not to.

  2. When I first heard about it (Sunday AM, from a friend in Kenya) there was almost no reporting. By Monday morning only the Mail was mentioning he was gay. At that point - early Monday morning - I wondered if we'd have another Michale Causer, no national reporting at all.

    The police have not ruled out a homophobic motive (see the quote on the local newspaper website from the press conference), which is what the BBC has been saying on my radio all day. They have just said they have a lead, not that it disproves a homophobic motive.

    The tied to lamp post bit was only corrected by police this afternoon, it's a minor point anyway. The police say they don't know if he was alive when set alight.

    I do agree about jumping to conclusions - of course - but it's not hysterical to think that this level of violence could be a mark of a particularly nasty homophobic attack.

    And the media has a record of going in the opposite direction ...