Despise Alan Jones for his vile comments, not for having sex with men

In case you missed it (and if you’re not in Australia, you probably did), right-wing radio personality Alan Jones gave a speech to the Sydney University Liberal (i.e. conservative — yeah, I know) Club in which he said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father, who recently passed away, had “died of shame” because of his daughter. This is part of a string of really nasty, misogynistic slurs against the PM, from Jones and other right-leaning journalists, commentators, and even MPs.

Anyway, there are a number of petitions going around in protest of this. One petition I found today (ironically, via a gay friend who tweeted in support of it) contains the following text:

Sign to remove the order of Australia from Alan Jones of 2GB radio . Alan Jones was arrested in 1988 in London on two accounts for indecent acts in a public toilet . Later he was directly involved in the Cronulla riots calling bikies to be involved . Now Alan Jones on air called for our prime minister to be drowned at sea in a chaff bag and that her father died due to her actions . Sign this and share this petition to stop this injustice .

(emphasis mine)

Now don’t get me wrong. Alan Jones is a vile worm of a man, and his comments against Ms. Gillard (and on a range of other topics) are completely unsupportable. I would love to see him stripped of his OA, and for all his radio station’s sponsors to pull their support. But let’s not make this about who he has sex with. As Sarah (@Stokely) says, it’s homophobic and irrelevant.

Before anyone says it’s about breaking the law, not about homosexuality: note that he was cleared of all charges (see citations in this Wikipedia article). And if you’re so concerned about the law, why not mention the other things he’s been accused of, and in many cases been found guilty and fined by the courts: plagiarism, defamation (many times), corruption, contempt of court (multiple times, including for broadcasting the name of a juvenile involved in court proceedings), racial vilification (many times), multiple breaches of the commercial radio code of conduct, and of course involvement in the cash for comment affair.

Someone on Twitter mentioned that the problem was the “indecency”, nothing to do with the gender of the people involved. You should be aware that the charge in question would have been made under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, which predates the 1967 legalisation of homosexuality in the UK. The act says:

Indecency between men. It is an offence for a man to commit an act of gross indecency with another man, whether in public or private, or to be a party to the commission by a man of an act of gross indecency with another man, or to procure the commission by a man of an act of gross indecency with another man.

The term “indecency”, in British law in 1988, only referred to male/male activity. The law against “indecency” was repealed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and replaced with Sexual activity in a public lavatory, which applies to all genders equally.

6 thoughts on “Despise Alan Jones for his vile comments, not for having sex with men

  • crystalsinger

    Well said, couldn’t agree more. Fighting despicable behaviour with homophobia is just… bizarre.

  • Paige

    When I read comments about public indecency it was a long time before I even knew that “indecency” referred to homosexual activity alone- I wonder how many other people felt this way?

    I feel strongly that the point was to paint his character as someone who has had a great number of run-ins with the law on various issues- not to highlight him as homosexual, who should be hated for that.

    I think it’s too easy to blame the dislike on homophobia- I’ve literally never heard anyone discuss his sexuality and feel as a hetrosexual woman with no gripes against any nationality, sexuality, religious persuasion, etc I do no like to feel that I am suspected of being homophobic if I don’t like someone who happens to be homosexual.

    To me, everyone deserves to be measured on their character. On this level, Alan Jones falls painfully short.

  • Skud Post author

    @Paige: just because you haven’t heard of people discuss his sexuality doesn’t mean they don’t. In fact it’s pretty widely discussed:

    (Just to pick a few off the front page of google results.)

    Lots of white people don’t notice racism, either, because it doesn’t happen to them very much, and they can go through life without having it constantly in their faces. As a self-identified straight person, perhaps you should listen to people who have more experience with homophobia than you do.

    Apart from that, “run-ins with the law”, when the law is homophobic, is hardly something you can put forward to demonstrate lack of homophobia.

  • Jacinta splinter

    Good article,agreed; never knew he was loitering in toilets and couldn’t give a frankfurt to be honest. Take the politics, media out of it for one second, the point that has been widely missed. who sits around trying to think up sledges against someones dead parent? If it happened in real world time he would have been knocked out post haste by any fair minded person.The youth of today cop a razzing by people of JOnes vintage constantly…Manners courtesy and respect are not some bastion of a long ago time we should be lectured about constantly by outraged BOOmers. flip-side, this is fresh modern society sayin” NOT LIKELY” codger pull your head in!

  • John Schubert

    True, about a white guy not having racism in their faces all the time. When I lived in the Mid-West, I saw it occasionally enough to be conscious of it. Then I moved back to Southern California, where I’m the minority (white male, non-Hispanic). I even naively thought we were making progress until a co-worker of mine, who is a black male, told me about his driving trip from California to Florida. He had a few choice encounters at gas stations that you’d swear would be equally relevent to race relations 60 years ago. “We’re out of gas.” “What? You just sold $20 on the pump next to me.” “I said, we’re out of gas.” Gun is placed on counter (by gas station employee), conversation is over.

    I made the same trip, but I expected stares/odd-treatment when jumping out of a mini-van (rental for the trip) with California plates and two 95-lb Rottweilers.

    Just a side comment but, what is commonly referred to as homophobia isn’t. Phobia means to fear something. People can disagree without being fearful.

  • Skud Post author

    Yeah, and television is wrong because it’s a mix of Greek and Latin roots. We use the words available to us. Language prescriptivism won’t get you far round here.

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