The whole thing is now getting ever so slightly confused and confusing. Because already, no more than a couple of days after Lucy Meadows’ death was first reported nationwide, the field of battle – which is what this seems to ressemble more and more – is awash with the world and his wife, analysing, deducing, traducing.
The first mud was thrown by – who else! – the Daily Mail, with their idiot assertion that Lucy’s death was being used to further an orchestrated campaign and to pursue particular agendas. Yeah. Right. Like Dacre hasn’t already explained how the Mail has an agenda of its own, in front of Lord Leveson, no less.
But I forget: its OK for our great free press to have an agenda. Not OK for anyone else to have one.
Since then, I’ve seen various analyses questioning, variously, the role of the petition organisers, whether it is right to launch into this orgy of grief before we know precisely what did happen to Lucy , whether this or that special interest group or individual is not using her story to further some other agenda. No doubt we will see more of this kind of muddying of the water from the press and its hangers-on, all completely oblivious of the irony that those who profit most by sensationalising and blurring and appropriating real life stories should now be bitten by the same process.
So I’ll say three things.
The feelings are real
First. For most trans folk writing, campaigning, standing vigil now, it is what it is. It is grief and it is anger. I wrote before of how writing a story touches lives – and if a journalist is human, the process goes both ways.
I first wrote about Lucy back in January: took her to my heart then. When I learnt, last week, of her death, the shock was real. Physical. I cried.
Then I got angry. And if over the last couple of days, that anger has become more finely tuned, more artfully channelled, then, Mr media magnate: tough! My feelings are no less real. My desire for change in no way lessened.
And that goes for the rest of the community too.
Fine distinctions no longer matter
Second, this is no longer really about Lucy or Littlejohn or even the Mail. Each, in their way, have become symbols of a much greater truth: that the press has historically acted indecently, and particularly indecently towards minorities. Including the trans minority.
Whether “they killed Lucy”, or this is all some awful coincidence is neither here nor there. Their behaviour, in January and in the 24 hours when they related the news of her death to the nation was obscene. About as justified as turning up at the funeral of some fleet street hack’s child – and laughing in glee.
So Lucy’s story has become stand-in for every trans woman abused and put down by the press. And Littlejohn and the Mail are equally stand-in for every vile, thoughtless word written by uncaring journalists. Unfair, isn’t it?
But richly deserved.
And behind the scenes, the agendas grind. Politicians who felt last week’s Leveson stitch-up didn’t go far enough. The non-trans world, coasting, career-building on the back of our grief. It happens. It is happening. But again, that is the way things always were and always will be. No better, no worse than what the press do daily.
The press brought this on themselves
Which brings me back to the thought with which I began this piece. Surveying the Roman dead littering the battlefield at Munda , casualties of a civil war he always claimed he hadn’t wanted, Julius Caesar turned to friend and general Asinius Pollo and said, sadly: hoc voluerunt. “This was their choice”.
Or to put it another way. There is a storm heading in the direction of our national press. Another one.
One that could do far greater damage than all the storms they have weathered to date. And though they may twist and turn and spin and bleat, the truth is, no-one but they sought this confrontation.
And now they must pay the price.