Mikey Massive is a columnist for the black community newspaper, New Nation. New Nation is, for those who haven’t seen it, the black-focussed equivalent of The News of The World, though it pretends to be something more. And like the NotW, it features columnists like Mr Massive, who are as stupid and bigoted as the other typical red-top hacks.
In the December 8 issue of New Nation, Mikey Massive writes a column which is half ignorant rant and half poisonous lies. He slaps down his malformed thoughts with the finesse of a thug wielding a lead pipe as he lurches ahead with his verbal battery of Peter Tatchell.
I’ll jump right in by exposing the series of lies and libels contained in his article, and then take a close look at the bizarre world according to Mikey Massive. This world fits right in with the apparent mission of New Nation, to set black against white, gay against straight, and so encourage a victim/siege mentality among the black community which can be exploited by the professional race-baiters and carpetbaggers that rely on this social divide.
Mikey Massive claims to be a “correspondent and cultural analyst with over 20 years experience” and has written for mainstream publications like New Statesman and worked for the BBC and Channel4. This is why it is so difficult to believe that this litany of factual errors is not deliberate. Could such an experienced journalist and “cultural analyst” actually be this sloppy?
Mikey claims that Tatchell’s “career outpourings appears to consist solely of his critique of Jamaican youth culture”. Solely? This is of course so silly it’s hardly worth refuting. Tatchell has never actually had anything to say at all about Jamaican youth culture. Be that as it may, if this were the only lie, it could be written off as rhetorical exaggeration. But the lies keep coming fast and thick. What the author is doing is dishonestly employing “Jamaican youth culture” as a euphemism for the handful of Dancehall artists who spew murderous incitements to kill gay people.
In fact, let’s deal with these more routine lies first before getting to the substantial ones. Honestly, there are so many that it’s easier to break them into categories.
He claims that the Stop Murder Music (SMM) campaign is Tatchell’s “self-aggrandising publicity campaign” ignoring the fact that it was initiated by – and runs all over the world as a coalition of dozens of organisations in consultation with – J-Flag, the Jamaican gay rights group. In the UK, it is a coordinated project by three groups: The Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group, Black Gays & Lesbians Against Media Homophobia and OutRage!. It is supported by many more. Why doesn’t Mikey Massive attack these black groups? Obvious, I think. Because Tatchell is white and it doesn’t fit the narrative agenda he’s following. The sinister motive for spreading these lies, of course, must surely be to break down solidarity work between black and white activists and to make the wider black community feel it is under attack from “white” organisations?
He claims that Tatchell “seems unconcerned by the misogyny and vitriol which litters the catalogue of his dancehall nemeses, unless their lyrical bile mentions homosexuals.” Quite apart from this being untrue, why is it sinister that a gay rights activist is concerned primarily with, um, gay rights? Stop Murder Music campaigners, including Tatchell, have been very keen to point out that the same homophobia that drives Dancehall also glorifies gun violence and misogyny. The crucial difference, however, is that Dancehall artists don’t call for the extermination of women. They do call for the extermination of gays. Despite this, Tatchell and other campaigners have deplored the misogyny expressed by some Dancehall artists.
He accuses Tatchell of “repeatedly confus[ing] the issue by lumping the separate genres into an homogenous mass”. Another blatant lie. Tatchell has always been very clear – as has the entire Stop Murder Music (SMM) campaign – that this is about Dancehall music, and more than that, about eight specific and named artists – not even all Dancehall. There has never, ever, been any attempt to tar other Jamaican musicians or other genres with the same brush. Why would there be? In fact, the campaign has often pointed out that it is sad that the “one love” message of peace and social justice found in traditional reggae music hasn’t carried across into this subset of Dancehall artists. Never has a Jamaican reggae musician, jazz musician, folk musician, or even a Dancehall musician who doesn’t sing about killing queers, been confronted by the SMM campaign.
Moreover, Tatchell has actually gone out of the way to praise the inspiring black liberation message of reggae pioneers, like Burning Spear, Delroy Washington and, of course, Bob Marley.
Okay, so all this is the rough-and-tumble of elements within the black press defending homophobia, usually because they have some financial interest in bringing over one or more of the eight singers opposed by the campaign, or they’re in hock to someone who does. These lies and distortions are par for the course. But then Massive takes aim at Tatchell and, as things get more personal, the lies get bigger.
He says: “There is, for instance, no record of him ever attempting to form alliances with Australia’s disenfranchised indigenous community.” Was it not Tatchell who recently campaigned to have Australian cities renamed with their original Aboriginal place names? It is well known that as a school boy, Tatchell cut his first activist teeth campaigning for Aboriginal land rights and educational scholarships for poor Aboriginal children. As an aside, it should be noted that Australia’s indigenous community are not “disenfranchised”. They have the vote. Indeed they have full citizenship in common with every other Australian. Naturally, in common with minorities the world over, there are issues of social marginalisation, but quite why Massive thinks a person who left Australia as a teenager and has lived in the UK for nearly 40 years should now be involved in Australian domestic politics is a mystery.
In common with other tabloid hacks, Massive seems obsessed with the fact that Tatchell is a foreigner, repeatedly pointing it out.
Indeed he is. Tatchell left Australia in 1971, aged just 19, to avoid the military draft because Australia was fighting in Vietnam and he had a conscientious objection to that war. The fact that Peter Tatchell left Australia in his late teens makes the next bizarre claim by Mr Massive even more odd:
He claims “the sole evidence of his so-called activism prior to re-location in Britain appears to consist of his contribution to the production of gay porn videos and explicit writings of dubious literary merit.”
So now the teenage Tatchell was a producer of pornography videos and the author of erotic fiction? Wow, that’s quite an accomplishment for someone fresh out of high school – if it were true! Of course it isn’t. It’s another shameless fiction. Laughably anachronistic, since in late 1960s, there was no such thing as”videos”.
The next weave in Mr Massive’s fabric of falsehood states: “On reaching England, he entered the public domain by seeking political office in an ineptly run 1983 Bermondsey by-election campaign, which he claimed was undermined by alleged homophobia, despite the fact he was actually bested by a gay candidate.”
Really? Massive’s insinuation that Tatchell just got off the boat and sought political office is more nonsense. By the time of the Bermondsey by-election, Peter Tatchell had already lived in the UK for more than a decade. The campaign against Tatchell is actually acknowledged by political commentators far more qualified than Mr Massive as being one of the most homophobic and racist elections in the history of British politics. For example, Tatchell was assailed by the National Front as “a nigger-lover” as well as a “queer” in 3-foot high graffiti around the constituency. I’d like to think that Massive to too stupid to know that Simon Hughes only came ‘out’ as gay more than 20 years after the election. But, in the context of all the other lies, it seems that he is just a lying liar telling more lies.
He then claims Tatchell was behind a “mean spirited initiative to ‘out’ prominent gay
men who preferred to keep their sexual predilections private”. Now, note the insulting phrase “sexual predilections”, the stock phrase of dyed-in-the-wool homophobes. The accusation of course is false. Neither Tatchell nor OutRage! ‘outed’ any “prominent gay men” for being gay. A handful of hypocritical homophobic politicians and churchmen who publically supported antigay legislation while secretly having gay affairs were encouraged to ‘Tell The Truth’ but that’s as far as it went. In any event, here the issue was hypocrisy, not sexuality. The tabloid press were far more active in outing people, and in their case, purely for salacious, bigoted reasons. Who can forget the treatment of black gay footballer Justin Fashanu, the homophobic hounding of whom the black press gleefully colluded with?
Massive then claims that Tatchell “returned to the public spotlight on the wings of old-fashioned bigotry, throwing his hat into the ring by castigating Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (solely for pronouncements against gays and almost totally ignoring other alleged human rights abuses)”. So why does Mikey Massive print untruths about something so thoroughly reported that anyone with Google would already know the facts?
So, is it the contention of New Nation newspaper and its columnist that criticism of Robert Mugabe is “old fashioned bigotry” rather than genuine concern for human rights. In fact, Massive’s thinking is so muddled that he accuses Tatchell of ignoring the other allegations of human rights abuses, but at the same time claiming that opposition to Mugabe is “bigotry”. This is what is called over-egging. As it happens, the legal documents drawn up in support of Tatchell’s two attempted citizens arrest of Robert Mugabe related almost entirely to his “other” human rights abuses. The legal case was based, not on his homophobic pronouncements at all, but on his complicity in the torture of black Zimbabwean journalists – again something easily revealed by a Google search.
I’ve personally witnessed the affection with which Peter is received by black Zimbabwean exiles in the UK. He is one of the very few British activists who supports them.
Massive then asks why Tatchell doesn’t criticise Guns N Roses over the hit ‘One in a Million’? But he did. The song was condemned and campaigned against for its racist and homophobic insinuations. But unlike the “murder music” singers, Guns N Roses didn’t produce a whole catalogue of homophobic lyrics. They produced one song which was primarily AIDSphobic. It was bigoted and ignorant and OutRage! criticised it at the time. It was not, however, an incitement to violence. Just nasty. The band has been dormant for more than ten years and the personnel have ‘grown up’. Slash, the lead guitarist, recently appeared in a video in support of gay marriage. So what mileage would there be in criticising a former band for a one-off song they didn’t perform (in fact the band refused to perform it and Axl Rose the lyricist later apologised) and whose attitudes have shifted significantly. In contrast, Bounty Killer still delivers violent rants about gays, urging his fans to attack them.
Mikey Massive is a very confused chap. Coherent thought is clearly not his strong point, so one wonders if nepotism was responsible for getting him a gig at New Nation. The gist of his article seems to be there is no significant homophobia in Jamaica. Indeed he claims that Boy George and George Michael take vacations there. I don’t know if this is true, but even if it were, they’d be insulated by wealth and celebrity in exclusive resorts, and not be at risk of a gay-bashing like Jamaica’s gay rural and ghetto dwellers are. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have catalogued the serious violent abuses against LGBT people in Jamaica. This is beyond contention.
But even as he claims there is no homophobia, he makes excuses for it. He claims this is a colonial legacy. The antigay laws were introduced by the British, he says, and sodomy was used to control slaves. Homosexuality was unknown in Africa, so raping male slaves was an especially confusing and humiliating thing. Where to start?
Firstly, do black Jamaicans not have self-determination? If they have a law on the statute books from 200 years ago, surely they have the power to remove it if they so wished? Blaming 19th Century British lawmakers is pathetic. And so is blaming the legacy of slavery. Current-day Jamaicans aren’t slaves. Slavery ended in Jamaica in 1839. To claim that modern Jamaicans – who are not even the great-grandchildren of slaves – have to be homophobic because of some strange collective memory of anal rape from almost two centuries ago is also pathetic. It’s also something that a racist might argue. A racist might also like Massive’s next contention – that homosexuality was unknown in Africa and that it is entirely a European phenomenon. Indeed, racists have for a long time argued that Africans are a different species, with different qualities (like intelligence, or propensity for violence) to Europeans. Homosexuality is universal. It is recorded throughout history and across cultures. The contention that Africans did not share this universal quality would delight the likes of Professor James Watson.
It’s hard to tell what Mikey Massive’s motive is in all this. I think it is just naked homophobia and that Tatchell is a convenient target, particularly because he’s campaigned energetically on behalf of black gay and lesbian Jamaicans. A black homophobe who thinks homosexuality is an unAfrican “predilection” must feel very threatened by a campaigner who, through his solidarity work, reminds the public that black gays and lesbians exist.
Mikey Massive is an ignorant bigot, a liar and a disgrace to journalism, and it is just as shameful that an editor and a publisher has given him a page in the press to fill with his bile and his lies. His dishonest rant exposes much of what is frequently wrong with New Nation: it’s sensationalist, divisive and hate-mongering. It behaves, not like a community organ, but like… a Tabloid.