CP comment piece on Isle of Wight Pride draws strong reaction

The response to Charlotte Hofton’s opinion piece about IW Pride has drawn a very strong critical reaction, both from the Island and further afield. The CP has responded like never before.

Angry birds hot air balloon

In last week’s County Press, the often provocative weekly columnist Charlotte Hofton, managed to spark both local and national outrage after the paper ran an article titled, ‘Pride parade – do a deal?’

Charlotte had picked up on the news that the first Pride event on the Isle of Wight was being planned for 2017. As reported by OnTheWight at the end of November, ideas and views on how the event might look were being canvassed through an online survey.

Negative stereotyping
However, the tone and content of Charlotte’s article have upset a great many people, both on and off the Isle of Wight.

Her column has been described as patronising, ill informed, homophobic, outdated, ignorant, divisive, bigoted, littered with sarcasm and passive aggressive tones, supporting negative stereotyping and making those in the LGBT+ community feel like they are ‘open game for attack’.

The paper’s editor, Alan Marriott, said when responding to one of the objectors,

“Charlotte was distraught to be thought of as a person of prejudice.”

Living in the digital age
Gone are the days of something being published in a local paper and it not spreading further than the print readership. In this digital age, news travels fast and the Internet provides a great many platforms for people to express their views on.

Reaction to the column started on Friday via Twitter and spread among the LGBT+ community pretty quickly.

Over 100 1* ratings
As well as comments on social media, the CP received over 100 ‘1 out of 5’ ratings on its Facebook page with people making their disgust and outrage about the column known.

The response of the editor to these bad reviews has caused problems of its own. After commentors noticed the same response appearing multiple times, some of those who received the copied and pasted reply reacted with further disappointment – adding fuel to the fire.

Huge number of complaints
CP Editor, Alan Marriott, confirmed to OnTheWight the paper had received “a huge number of complaints” about the column, mostly expressing disgust and suggesting Charlotte is anti-LBGTQ or lacking in understanding of the issues.

However, the article remains on the CP Website, unedited and without any reference to a response published by the editor on Monday morning ahead of a blog piece on the Huffington Post by Steve Taylor.

Some have pointed out that the CP article is not marked as an opinion piece, so many reading it could easily confuse it with news.

Hit the Huff Po
In Steve’s Huffington Post Blog (he’s the Co-Chair of UK Pride Organisers Network, Board member European Pride Organisers Association, Deputy Director Pride in London) he says that after tweeting the CP to say they “should be ashamed of publishing a column of such hatred”, one of their reporters replied saying Hofton ‘often divides opinion’.

He points that figures from the Office for National Statistics report that 49% of 18-24 year olds describe themselves as something other than ‘straight’, so coming across Charlotte’s column may leave them feeling they’re open game for attack.

A piece was also published by LGBT+ campaigner, Daniel Browne, in online magazine The Gay, who was equally condemning of the column.

Lambasted from all angles
The lambasting wasn’t just reserved for Ms Hofton for her column, the editor of CP was also criticised for allowing the article to appear in the paper and be posted online.

He defended his position,

“Many people would have disagreed with Charlotte’s views. However, I believe it is better to air views we disagree with, debate and challenge them rather than censor them.”

Adding,

“I am sorry if the County Press upset and offended the Island community. It was certainly not what we intended.”

Response from IW Pride
Organisers of Isle of Wight Pride told OnTheWight,

“As a group the organisers of Isle of Wight Pride have read and shared the many positive comments that resulted from the column written by County Press journalist, Charlotte Hofton.

“The strength of feeling felt not only by people within the LGBTQ+ community both on the Island and from further afield, but also from colleagues, family members and friends reflects the committed need to deliver a successful Pride event for local people.

“It also demonstrates the need to provide education and information to tackle ignorance and to support not just LGBTQ+ people, but also their friends and families.”

They finished by saying,

“The results of the recent questionnaire that will shape how Pride will look will be discussed by the group in January 2017.

“Pride will be above all things an inclusive event for Island people to come together to celebrate diversity and distinctiveness. The group looks forward to sharing this information in the New Year.”

Rainbow bagels
By way of showing Island-based support, this Saturday Bagel Wrap in Ryde are ten years old – to celebrate they’ve create Rainbow Bagels and will be donating £1 from each Rainbow Bagel to local charities.

Image: quintanomedia under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 14th December, 2016 8:42pm

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ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2ePC

Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Media, Online, Print, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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57 Comments on "CP comment piece on Isle of Wight Pride draws strong reaction"

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Jess

If people are offended by the article, or IWCPs response, and consider it a hate incident then it can be reported via http://report-it.org.uk which is run by Association of Chief Police Officers to tackle hate crime and hate incidents (which may not be criminal, but cause offence/fear).

Robert Jones
A) It did not display ‘hatred’: it didn’t display much judgement either, but ‘hatred’ is an almost grotesque exaggeration and complete nonsense. B) It’s absurd to argue that anyone could even conceivably have mistaken it for a news article, indeed that comment is virtually meaningless. It’s an opinion piece: not one on which the writer is going to be able to look back with any satisfaction, but… Read more »
ThomasC

But in these times of hatred and bile the general public’s default action against those whom the media turns them is to have a quick torchlight parade and burn the subject at the stake.

Why should Hofton not be subject to such treatment when she chooses to dabble in lampooning minorities?

Caconym

As someone who, a few year ago, had had a family member on the receiving end of the Hoften brand of snide vitriol, I have to admit a certain pleasure at her current situation.

Not nice when the boot is on the other foot, is it Charlotte?

Diogenese's Barrel

Pride and Prejudice

“Charlotte had picked up on the news that the first Pride event on the Isle of Wight was being planned for 2017”

“Charlotte was distraught to be thought of as a person of prejudice.”

You could write a book about it.

tiki
I can’t stand the woman but to be fair all her columns are suppose to be tongue in cheek. Over the years she has written some pretty nasty pieces about cllrs as well but no one ever complained about those. This time she’s probably sailed too close to the wind. The County Press has gone down hill over the years and their journalism (or rather lack of)… Read more »
steve stubbings

It would have been interesting if she had written a disparaging article about a gay councillor. Presumably it would have represented about 7 on the pH scale.

Colin

@ steve stubbins

Who did you have in mind? lol

Colin

@ steve

Not that I’m being picky but on the pH scale it would have to be less than 7, maybe a 3 or 4. Maybe on the richter scale it could be a 7…

Must go, I need to get out.

Caconym

She has written some nasty pieces about a lot of people, not just councillors.

The trouble is that they are just ordinary people she lampooned, with nobody to complain apart from their own close friends and family.

Drone

I seem to remember one councillor did complain about Charlotte Hofton’s column about him, Indie Ian Stephens (when he was leader), and the CP editor had to publish an apology.

Mark Francis

If this article is the worst gay people have to contend with, we have moved on a long way from my student days when we picketed WH Smiths for banning Gay News.

Colin

Sense of humour loss from many who are too easily offended. I’ve never liked political correctness and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Get over it.

Luisa Hillard

As someone who has been a target of Charlotte Hofton’s pen (although mildly) I think that her column is always sarcastic, biting and critical of social norms.

I have read the column several times and I didn’t interpret it as a hate piece. She even says she is in support of the LGBTQ community.

Island Monkey

That’s big of you. My guess is you’ll feature again soon Luisa, don’t be too supportive just yet.

Luisa Hillard

I suggest that you avoid making claims you can’t evidence. On any subject. I’m told that you may have already committed defamation against me on this site.

Another helpful hint for future reference: Don’t believe everything you once read on the side of the bus.

Zoe Thompson
On the 10th Decmeber…the day after the Hofton piece was released you shared a facebook post about Human Right Day Louisa… not sure if you understood exactly what that day is about. Here is a quote that you would have seen if you read up on it… ‘It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with… Read more »
Luisa Hillard
I just read the Hofton article again, just in case I missed something which seems to have caused huge offence to some. I picked it a part, line by line, to check for language that is discrinatory and/or promoted prejudice etc. What I read (my interpretation) was an acknowledgement of historic discrimination and how she’s pleased that society has moved on. The first few paragraphs are strongly… Read more »
Island Monkey

I think anyone thinking the article was okay, needs diversity awareness training, particularly those in positions of some authority.

As others have pointed out, the very idea that ‘they’ should keep quiet, not celebrate who they are in a public way is highly offensive. I will be attending the Pride event.

Luisa Hillard

Charlotte’s article said she supports the Pride event (as do I, incidentally. I wanted it to be held in East Cowes).

Island Monkey

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say you’re okay with being LGBT, but then wish people who were would keep it to themselves.

Zoe Thompson
I will happily point out the reason why hundreds of people Uk (and further afield) were appalled that the article went to print. Surprised that after reading it over and over you fail to this Luisa (Bob this is for you too!!) I could of course start with the general patronising tone of the whole piece but as we all know, Hoftons writing is generally so bad… Read more »
electrickery
Unfortunately people read what they expect to see, without bothering to go through the actual words, still less to apply brainpower and work out what the writer means. The article was not “hateful”, and if Charlotte wrote from the hip, so much the better. Ms Hofton’s column is my first port of call every week in the CP, since one can expect something literate, gingery and relevant… Read more »
tyke
Well said Luisa – a very sensible contribution to an increasingly hysterical debate. This really is very simple. Are the organisers of this event entitled to celebrate their sexuality? Of course. Is Charlotte entitled to her view that sexual orientation should be a private matter? Of course. Is she allowed to air this view in her role as a newspaper columnist. Of course. The right to hold… Read more »
Luisa Hillard
Indeed. I don’t generally do hysteria or self-righteous indignation (I leave that to certain others ;) ). I also try to resist knee-jerk reactions, preferring to consider my responses. Sometimes I even change my view through reasoned debate, based on evidence presented. I certainly don’t condone witch hunts and mob mentality, which is quite frankly nasty. That’s not to say that I’m adverse to laying the smack… Read more »
tyke

I think you are a competent, decent and formidable woman, Luisa. But I better stop there before someone accuses me of flirting. I get accused of all sorts on here, you see ;-)

Luisa Hillard

I’m flattered :) It’s not often politicians get compliments, as I’m sure you understand!

tyke

It’s not often politicians (of any colour) deserve them, Luisa. But while I am in generous mood, I will add that your colleague Julia Baker-Smith seems to me to be doing some good stuff on housing too. As always with me, credit where it’s due…

Caconym

***”Those responding to this issue with personal attacks on Charlotte Hofton – and particularly those calling for her removal from the CP – would do well to remember that.”***

Considering that the cornerstone of Hofton’s column is making personal attacks against others, I rather see this a form of justice.

tyke

It doesn’t surprise me that someone calling themselves ‘Suruk the Slayer’ would approve of the Eye for an Eye School of Justice.

Caconym

An Eye for and Eye kind of suggests a proactive action on my part.

This is more me enjoying her getting her comeuppance at long last.

Charlie
I think that the things to remember before making a judgement on this article. These are that in many parts of the world, it is still a criminal offence to have a same sex relationship. Even more worrying is that in a few of these countries, it is still punishable by death. We even have an MP who still openly objects to the legitimacy of Gay Marriage.… Read more »
Caconym
***”trying to offend but then playing it off as, ‘witty’, ‘clever’ and merely ‘observational’. She believes that her articles tickle the highbrow and up market people who read her articles and make her a ‘local celebrity.”*** Quite! She always reminds me of a bully who torments their victim and then, when told off, says “I was only joking” Far from being “highbrow” or “upmarket”, she is merely… Read more »
Luisa Hillard
You are right of course that in many parts of the world being gay is criminalised. It wasn’t that long since the UK was the same. But life moves on and attitudes change. Slowly. But let’s not assume that Charlotte Hofton was suggesting or promoting such hatred, because she wasn’t. Don’t make her an example to punish those who really does hate those whom they perceive as… Read more »
Zoe Thompson
‘What is most worrying about our divided society is the hatred and the unwarranted aggression which almost routinely pervades what we do and how we think…There remain people who regard their fellow humans as inferior or degenerate solely because of their skin colour or sexuality. That is bad enough but now, instead of just grumbling in the pub, they use the cowardly, anonymous methods of trolling to… Read more »
Simon Crawley
I don’t think he was tying Charlotte Hofton to promoting hatred – I take from it that these things do go on and for stories like this to be printed doesn’t help to change or modernise the attitudes towards them. Only my perspective though. But it does seem that things like this do aide the thoughts of many of the Isle of Wight, such as electing an… Read more »
tyke

Can anyone point to a sentence in Charlotte’s article that inspires hate, is discriminatory or is homophobic? Until someone does, this whole thread will appear to me more about settling old scores with – and reinforcing opinions on – Charlotte Hofton than about dealing with the issues purportedly at stake.

Norman Normal
The outrage of many in this piece is symptomatic of the central theme of Charlotte’s piece. There are a great many of us who care not a jot what consenting adults do in private, but we find it incredibly boring to hear the public outcry. I’m also getting a tad miffed to see that the word ‘Pride’ now also appears to have been hijacked, going the same… Read more »
Caconym

Perhaps you need to learn the difference between “sexual” and “sexuality”

vecten

All this fuss over a lettuce, bacon and tomato sandwich !!

Bob Seely
Thank you those posting, it is clearly a heated debate but an interesting one. I agree with Cllr Louisa Hilliard, who on this makes a very sensible observation. I think the point being made by Charlotte H. was an issue of privacy. I think she was saying that where and when there is genuine equality, Gay Pride events will become less relevant in a positive way, because… Read more »
Luisa Hillard

Once I got over the shock of Bob and I finding common ground within a debate about sexuality I remembered that one of the times Charlotte Hofton wrote about me was to liken Bob Seely as the Mr Darcy to my Elizabeth Bennet. LOL.

Island Monkey

Just be cautious if he ever offers you a lift home.

Islandclosetcase
Bob – your own comment – “Gay Pride events will become less relevant in a positive way, because they are not needed in order to make a statement about the sexual choices that adults make” Just goes to show your misunderstanding of sexuality. Sexuality is in NO WAY a choice. Try telling that to those people who struggle with sexuality, who end up suicidal due to struggling… Read more »
Bob Seely

Yes, I remember that and have never really recovered from it.

Luisa Hillard

I would have likened you to Mr Bingham.

steve stubbings

Oh, stop it! You’re scaring the horses.

… and do you mean Bingley?

Island Monkey

Indeed she did. Unlucky in love?

Luisa Hillard

Ah yes, indeed, Mr Stubbings! I most certainly intended to say ‘Mr Bingley’! I must confess it has been quite some time since I happened to read that particular novel, dear chap, and I fear the name quite escaped me!

Island Monkey

Totally agree Bob, but, we in Britain should lead the world on this – and while we have journalists urging people to keep quiet about their sexual orientation, there is still work to be done.

Charlotte’s article was badly thought-out.

meh
Its not about urging people to keep quiet. Sexual orientation is a personal thing. There is no need to shout it from the rooftops. I couldnt care less whether anyone is gay, straight or anything else unless I’m in a relationship with them. Its none of my business otherwise, and I’m really not interested. I think perhaps this is what Hofton was trying to say – but… Read more »
DaveIOW

“I couldn’t care less whether anyone is gay, straight or anything else unless I’m in a relationship with them.”

And how would you know their sexuality before embarking upon than relationship unless they were free to express their sexuality without fear?

meh
seriously? the same way any person knows someones sexuality. if you are attracted to someone, you talk to them and get to know them. They are either interested or not interested. If they are interested, their sexuality will be fairly obvious. Anyone is free to be any sexuality without any fear whatsoever. I would rather people express themselves than express their sexuality. I want to know the… Read more »
Caconym

The problem is that the reaction of a lot of straight people when they are “hit on” by someone of the same sex is to turn abusive or violent.

So, yeah,

What DaveIOW said.

Seriously.

meh
then those straight people who do turn violent need to be dealt with by the police. there are also gay people who will not take no for an answer and will not accept that others are straight. what needs to be accepted by many is that people can be nasty regardless of their sexuality. People can also be incredibly nice, again regardless of sexuality. It is not… Read more »
Caconym

***”It is not sexuality that defines a person – and some people on here clearly need reminding of that.”***

And some people need to do some basic research before making idiot statements like that.

DaveIOW
I’m heterosexual, British, male, white, humanist (deliberately lower case “h”), left wing, overweight, bearded, ale drinking (never lager), public sector working, formerly homeless and prone to approach life with rather more levity than is absolutely necessary. All of these things and many more besides inform my personality. Any attempt to suggest that they don’t is misguided in the extreme. I’ll be joining in with the Pride event… Read more »