Jameela Jamil

23rd March 2013

Publish and be Damned.

I’ve been especially ranty today, and if you have had no interest in the subject of my fury, then I can only apologise for the thirty odd tweets dedicated to the debate of Man Vs Press.

It all started as I learned of the tragic death of a teacher who’d made the, in my opinion, incredibly brave and admirable decision to change sex, in the name of their personal happiness. Parents, displeased with the school’s support of said teacher’s decision, decided to take it to the press, rather than handle it with any grace or discretion. Now, a journalist has a choice and a moral obligation that is required in order to justify the power of their well distributed written word. The Accrington post, and more criminally, Richard Littlejohn, of the Daily Mail, the second highest distributed newspaper in the Uk, did not abide by any such moral conduct. He saw a salacious angle and attacked it with bias and venom. 

I am aware The Daily Mail have inherited a certain reputation over the years, but having met many of their journalists, I can safely say they are far more decent and humane than they are painted out to be. However, there are always the cancers in any establishment, which can drag all of those with them to the ground, smearing them in shame that they did not earn themselves. I believe it is well known, that Littlejohn, is representative of said disease. A man who has carved a career out of harpooning people and instigating (perhaps unintentionally) hate campaigns against those without the platform to speak up for themselves. He takes it into little or no consideration the consequences of his actions, not factoring in, that behind the stories, are human beings, flesh and bone.

Within days of the article surfacing, this poor teacher was subjected to extreme harassment from the press. It became some sort of extravaganza. Ms.Meadows was forced to sneak in, out and around her house to avoid hungry journalists, clawing at her for a slice of her already slaughtered dignity, to spread across their pages as if it were a jam of some sort. 

Now I’ve had a taste of press harassment in the past. I’ve said careless, silly things that have been taken out of context and blown vastly out of proportion resulting in some sort of witch hunt. Sometimes even without provocation or cause my family have been approached and offered bribes for dirt on me. So I can tell you first hand, it’s incredibly unpleasant. It’s easy to shrug off and assume you just “wouldn’t care what people think.” But the impotency in the inability to stand up for yourself and tell your side of the story in full, is really hard to deal with. However, I’m in the public eye. I have a public job, that I wasn’t forced into, and that I benefit from highly. It doesn’t excuse all the intrusion, but it does somewhat justify it. A teacher in a primary school, who has made no special effort to live a life in the public eye, however, is NOT fair game. 

Once I uttered my first complaint within 140 characters this morning, the twitter debate ignited.

The majority were in agreement, with what, to be honest, is a no brainer demand, “Leave innocent people alone.”

However some astonishing points were raised that I’d like to address, should you wish to engage further.

1. “They’re just doing their job.”

What??? Fine, report a rape, or a murder, heinous biggotry or some awful criminal money laundering or trafficking. Fair enough. Expose those people. Not people who are making a life choice, that effectively, really hurts nobody. Our Big Brother culture can not extend to those who are simply getting on with their lives, in a civilised, legal fashion. 

2. “Those kids were too young to be exposed to transgender, they must keep their innocence.”

WHAT??? What is there to be “exposed” to about transgender? Somebody didn’t feel comfortable with something about themselves, so they made a big change to better their lives and be happier. It’s just a far more extreme version of a tit job or extreme weight loss. It hurts nobody. It’s not negative. There is no shame in the desire to change or “better” oneself. If anything, it’s easier to explain to children when they are younger as they are less rigid in their beliefs, and easier to mould. It’s no different to homosexuality, the earlier they see it and learn that it’s not bad or scary, the less they will surround their ideas of it with fear and shame. I for one think an operation of that magnitude is incredibly brave. It isn’t something we readily accept in society yet, and if you are willing to go against the grain and welcome judgement, in the name of your own inner peace, then more power to you. I can’t imagine the struggle that lead you that point. 

3. “She should have just moved schools.”

Are you fucking kidding me? Right, appease people, to make it easier on the ignorant. Had we taken THAT stance in life, there would be no homosexual or people from varied ethnicities in any respected trade. I believe they are somewhat still in the minority. Which is devastating in such a cosmopolitan age.

4 “If they were mentally unstable enough to kill themselves, they shouldn’t have been teaching,”

Being uncomfortable in the body you are born with is not a sign of mental instability. It does of course often come coupled with some unfortunate feelings of inadequacy, depression and lost identity. But in perhaps less drastic ways, I’m sure a lot of us can relate to feeling trapped in our lives and even who we are. Desperate for an escape and a complete fresh start as the person we hoped we would be before life got in the way. Then once you make the decision, you have to accept that it will be a big transition for your community and family even, that you will evoke some ignorant bigotry, and will have your own personal need for adjustment. It’s a bold move. But THEN to be publicly ridiculed and judged on a national scale by people who have never met you, when you’ve done nothing to provoke media attention, must be a straw capable of breaking a camel’s back. There is no warning, you have no publicist to protect you or guide you through. There is a hysteria and panic in the air. You feel as though you are living your life in a fishbowl filled with your own blood. It’s so overwhelming it can, at times feel like it will never end. Some of us, can’t cope. You can’t be certain, put in the same exact life and situation, you would not also crumble. 

My point is, we need to face up to the fact that we are way behind in the Tolerance game. It is an agonising amount of time people have waited to be allowed to express themselves freely within society without backlash. In the name of evolution I think we SHOULD teach children about homosexuality and transgender and expose them to every race and culture. This does not rob them of “innocence” as these things, are innocent. But it arms them with a lack of fear and ignorance. Two of the most crippling societal downfalls. If you are unhappy with who you are, you should bloody change it. Self love and acceptance is important, but sometimes self love can be expressed through the willing to change. Someday we may find out that loads of people wish they were a different gender. Who ever thought arse implants would be a thing? 

Kudos to the school that tried to stand by Ms. Meadows, shame on you to the parents who went to the press, shame on you to Littlejohn for turning someone’s emotional plight into a soap opera for his own professional gain, and shame on us all for allowing any of this to still be an issue in our world.