Tag Archives: homophobia

The Alan Moore on a Train Meme

I’ve been watching Jonathan Ross’ In Search of Steve Ditko this evening and as I do sometimes it got me thinking. If Alan Moore sat down on a train opposite me, what would I say? Simply not talking to him wouldn’t be an option – this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive wisdom directly from the Great Man after all. But by the same token, asking for his autograph or asking obvious, overtly fannish questions would be out of the question as well.

So my question to you dear reader, is what three questions would you ask Alan Moore if you met him on a train? My three would be:

1. What do you make of AARGH!? Was it a success? Do you think it helped challenge prejudice? For those who don’t know, AARGH! – or Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia – was a protest book edited by Moore in 1988 to protest against Section 28. While it contains some strong content, it also includes two pieces which have always bothered me. The piece by Frank Miller is a clear case of the hardnut of comics having his cake and eating it by getting to “protest” against homophobia by producing several pages of what appears to be blatantly homophobic itself. This remember is the man you regards Socrates-murdering Athenians to be gay while the Spartans are the height of hetero-manliness. The piece by Brian Bolland, while less obviously exploitative, is by a man clearly uncomfortable with homosexuality.

It’s fascinating because here are a bunch of broadly liberal artists struggling with a topic like homosexuality in a way that my generation really takes for granted. Given that, and the fact that AARGH! fairly obviously failed to get the law stopped, I’d be fascinated by Alan Moore’s take on it 20 years later.

2. How would your ideal system of intellectual property rights work? In particular, what do you think of ideas like Creative Commons. Alan Moore has always struggled with publishers over creators’ rights and much of his best work has been work-for-hire, something which clearly grates with him. But ideas like Creative Commons conflict to some extent with the creators’ rights movement that had such an influence on the comics industry in the early 90s.

3. Did you ever really intend to continue Halo Jones beyond book 3? Halo Jones Book 4 is often hailed as one of the greatest comic books never written. It is rumoured even that Alan Moore originally intended there to be nine Halo Jones books. Yet I’ve always had my doubts over this. I always assumed that the “history” sections in books two and three were merely meta-narrative which served to give the character a certain mystique which Moore never really intended to fully explore. Book three ends perfectly to me and I’m not convinced I’d want the story to continue afterwards. And finally, with the possible exception of Big Numbers, Alan Moore does not appear to have ever let a project of his dangle if he still had a story to tell. His fallings out with comic companies tend to happen after the work is complete, not during (unlike, for example, Rick Veitch’s falling out with DC over his Jesus / Swamp Thing storyline).

Those are my three questions; what would yours be? To kick this off, I tag Alex Wilcock, Millennium Elephant, Nick Barlow, Justin McKeating, Mat Bowles and Jennie Rigg. If you want to do this meme and I haven’t tagged you, feel free to do so any spread the word!

Bullying isn’t hate crime

I never got around to bemoaning the government’s plans to make homophobic attacks a new “hate crime”. Ever since the idea of religious hatred was outlawed I’ve become increasingly sceptical of this new type of legislation; in most cases it does little more than add a little more public “tut-tutting” to something that is already a crime. In some cases (though in practice not often) it can interfere with freedom of speech and the right to criticise. In many more cases it creates a culture whereby people self-censor rather than risk opprobrium and possible legal action. And even where homophobia is endemic – specifically schools and the problem of homophobic bullying – it is hard to see what such a law will do since it is an issue which affects heterosexual kids as much as young lesbians and gays. Do we lessen the sentence because the victim happens to not be gay? Is the clunking fist of the law the best way to solve what is at heart a problem of discipline in schools?

The bullying aspect raises its ugly head again in the announcement yesterday to legislate against inciting hatred against disabled people. The article refers to levels of bullying directed at disabled people appears to be on the rise, but quickly apportions the blame on “happy slapping culture”. It doesn’t seem to be a deep-seated hatred of disabled people, just a general human tendency to pick on anyone who is different. We simply can’t go down a list of differences and make incitement of hatred against them illegal. Where to red-haired people and extremely freckly people fit into all this for example? Anyone who has ever had a childhood can attest that these two overlapping groups are, one of the main, possibly the main, victims of bullying. Yet I can’t see any serious politician legislating against the incitement to ginger hatred.

Bullying isn’t about hatred; it’s about fear – of both parties – and control. I know from personal experience that the line between victim and bully is an extremely fine one: gain a couple of inches in height and you stop being the fat kid everyone picks on and transform into a walking brick shit house that no-one messes with. It’s a cycle of violence and one which I only just broke free of (I like to think). But all too often it is about lashing out at anyone rather than face up to your own feelings of inadequacy.

None of that can be dealt with by hate crime legislation and we would be foolish to attempt to do so. We would criminalise unsympathetic but nonetheless vulnerable people and lose all sense of proportion.

Synod Members Bash their Bishops!

Ahh, you’ve got to laugh:

Forty-two members of the General Synod of the Church of England have issued the challenge to their national leaders as the Government considers a fully elected second chamber, and whether the 26 bishops of the state church should keep their exclusive places on the coveted red benches.

In a letter signed by lay members of the Church’s ruling body, the bishops were told that the arguments for retaining the unique privileges enjoyed by the Church of England in the upper house would be severely negated unless the bishops, enblock, turned up to vote against the introduction of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) 2007 when debated by the Lords on Wednesday.

So, in short, if they don’t all vote to entrench homophobia (which, given their attendance records, is very unlikely), then there’s no point to them. Some of us might argue that if they do vote in such a way, the case for kicking the Bishops out of the Lords speaks for itself.