Owen Jones talks about why he walked off the Sky News set last night
The events that occurred in Orlando yesterday have had a massive impact on the world but specifically on the LGBT community.
As tensions run high, LGBT commentator and journalist Owen Jones appeared on Sky News last night to preview the newspaper front pages. During the discussion, presenters Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer regarded the attack as an act of violence carried out against “human beings” who were “trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality.”
Jones became so annoyed by the line of discussion that he eventually walked off set saying he had had enough.
Now in his opinion column for The Guardian, Jones explains his reasoning for walking off and why attributing the attack as anything other than a homophobic one is detrimental.
“It is possible for an atrocity to be more than one thing at the same time. You are not compelled to select one option or the other. Life – with both its horrors and its joys – is incredibly complicated, and we have a rich language able to capture its complexities.”
Jones continues to liken the event to an anti-semitic attack.
“If a terrorist with a track record of expressing hatred of and disgust at Jewish people had walked into a synagogue and murdered 50 Jewish people, we would rightly describe it as both terrorism and an antisemitic attack. If a Jewish guest on television had tried to describe it as such, it would be disgraceful if they were not only contradicted, but shouted down as they did so. But this is what happened on Sky News with a gay man talking about the mass murder of LGBT people.”
“This isn’t about LGBT people taking ownership of the pain and anguish. People of all sexual orientations have wept over this massacre, and all communities should unite in grief.”
Jones continues to make the point that we need to accept the realities of the situation in order to understand why it occurred.
“But this was a deliberate attack on a LGBT venue and LGBT people. According to Omar Mateen’s father, the reportedly Islamic State-supporting terrorist had expressed revulsion at the sight of two men kissing. His co-workers have described his anti-gay comments. Omar Mateen could have chosen many clubs, full of people laughing and living, but he chose a LGBT venue. This was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened,” writes Jones.
Jones concludes by reminding readers that homophobia is alive and something we cannot ignore.
“But we all grow up in a society that still treats us as if we are inferior: we have all repeatedly encountered homophobic abuse, the stress of coming out repeatedly, or the fear of holding hands with a partner in public. To imagine LGBT people who may have endured distress and internalised prejudice – just because of who they are – spending their last moments in terror as a homophobic terrorist hunted them down is just unbearable,” he concludes.
A rainbow silent vigil is taking place tonight at 6.45pm in Barnardos Square, Dame St Dublin.