Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Owen Jones Storms Off Sky News Interview Over Orlando Shooting

Journalist Owen Jones stormed out of a live Sky News interview Sunday night after fellow panelists failed to acknowledge that homophobia was a factor in the Orlando Pulse shooting.

The openly gay journalists reaction came after having his point that the attack on the Pulse LGBT+ night club was an LGBT+ issue, as well as a terrorist issue, repeatedly shut down, instead being told that it was an attack against all 'human beings' and being shouted down when trying to explain his point.

Whilst his reaction to walk out may be seen as extreme, under the circumstances I found it admirable that Jones was able to maintain a level of calm in the face of blatant refusal to see this as a homophobic crime.

The presenter, Mark Longhurst, kept referring to the attack as being an attack on 'human beings' rather than a targeted attack on the LGBT+ community, saying that it was an attack on people 'trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality'.

This kind of 'straightsplaining' was backed up by fellow journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer, who suggested that the killer was not just motivated by homophobia and even suggested that the shooter would have been equally angered by her as 'a gobby woman'.

Jones tried to point out to the two of them that if it was another community targeted they would be labelling it as that kind of crime rather than just washing over it,  'I'm sorry, I just find this the most astonishing thing I've ever been involved in on television.  If he'd walked into a synagogue and massacred dozens of Jewish people, you wouldn't be saying what you're saying now.  You would have been talking about it as an anti-semitic attack.  This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people.'

Unable to stand the blatant denial that the Orlando shooting was connected to homophobia Jones removed his microphone and stormed out of the studio.

Following the interview many members of the LGBT+ community and their supporters and allies took to social media to condemn the behaviour of both Mr Longhurst and Ms Hartley-Brewer, including MP Dianne Abbott, who accused Ms Hartley-Brewer of not 'realising how in denial about the homophobic nature of the attack' she appeared to be during the interview.

Whilst Owen Jones has spoken out to try to encourage people not to strike out against Longhurst and Hartley-Barnes and has called for people to be respectful towards both of them, they have received a lot of angry and hurtful messages on social media.

In response to these outbursts Ms Hartley-Barnes has written a very long article that not only repeatedly refuses that she in any way denied that this incident was an attack on LGBT+ people, but also has an attack on Owen Jones for being upset about the issue, trying to make him out to be out of order and herself to be the victim.

Whilst it is disappointing that members of the press are acting this way it is of very little surprise that the LGBT+ community is still being the target of back handed attacks like Hartley-Brewer's article even in the face of such shocking events like the Orlando attack.


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