Writing for a reaction can be insulting, Ms Jones

By | June 17, 2013

I have a mild love-hate relationship with Liz Jones. Strange because all I know of her is what she writes.

The (imaginary?) rock-star boyfriend, the name-dropping of various (very expensive) home furnishings and clothes that seem to make their way into her daily life, the fact that she loves her animals. It all makes for an entertaining read on a Sunday morning, not least for the readers comments.

She attended a Mumsnet conference last year – presumably getting a very nice fee – and, according to bloggers looked quite miserable throughout and resembled a rabbit caught in the headlights. It was obviously a two-way feeling because she produced quite a vicious article following that – link here – stating that blogging mothers were constricting themselves and mocking what they blogged about. That received some very justifiably annoyed comments, particularly amongst those she’d name-dropped in the article.

Part of me thinks “live and let live”, she’s entitled to her opinions and part of her job is to entice a response, to get the “traffic” to her article, to get the “how dare she?” comments, part of any writer yearns to be recognised and appreciated, after all.

But, earlier this year, I felt she went too far.

She wrote an article defending a politician’s use of a disabled parking space and, not only that, made some very sweepingly offensive comments about the disabled community as a whole, during a time when disability hate crime is on the increase and cuts are hitting hard.

I’m not going to reference the whole article, just highlight the bits that I felt strongly enough about to make a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission:

“I have a lot in common with George Osborne. Not the private education.
Not his views on what turns a man into a child killer. But the fact he parked his SUV in a disabled bay.
When I heard this news, in the week cuts to benefits started to bite, my only thought was: ‘He parked in a disabled bay to buy a burger?’
Because that was the crime.
Not parking in a bay expressly designed for people with no arms or legs or eyes (why are they driving?). Because I do it all the time. I make a point of doing it.

The second reason is that there are just far too many of these squares, a PC PR move by local authorities to prove they are nice people, when they’re not.
Have you ever seen seven paraplegics, all at once, at your local cinema? No.”

There is more, an attempt to firstly justify herself because she is “disabled”, she is deaf and then later on, she decides that she parks in those spaces because she’s a “non-conformist, a rebel.”

As the mum to two special needs children, both with an invisible disability, I felt that her words not only discriminated against those with mental but physical disabilities also.

Her words will only fuel people’s emotions against those who they feel are “getting an easy life” when the reality is anything but.

The disability living allowance (DLA) is not an automatic right, I know of people who have been refused three times because of the severe cuts and the forms are sent out for renewal every three years, it is certainly not an automatic benefit for life. Despite what certain media may have you believe.

Many councils and organisations additionally do not recognise a diagnosed disability until DLA has been awarded so that award letter for someone who has never met the individual is vital.

I wrote therefore to the Press Complaints Commission and my case for discrimination within the article was considered but rejected.

Here’s their reasoning below:

The Commission recognised that the complainants had found the column offensive, in particular, that the columnist had implied that disabled people should not be allowed to drive or live “normally” in mainstream society, and should seek recovery from their disabilities. The Commission made clear that the terms of the Code do not address issues of taste and offence. The Code is designed to address the potentially competing rights of freedom of expression and other rights of individuals, such as privacy. Newspapers and magazines have editorial freedom to publish what they consider to be appropriate provided that the rights of individuals – enshrined in the terms of the Code which specifically defines and protects these rights – are not compromised. The columnist had been entitled to express her personal views, so long as in doing so she did not breach any of the terms of the Code. The Commission could not, therefore, comment on this aspect of the complaint further.”

So, personal opinions seem to be okay – in their eyes – however offensive they may seem, after all, it’s all about traffic and responses in the end, isn’t it?

I’m glad that I – and several other people – contacted the PCC though.

I’m going to carry on attempting to raise awareness and acceptance for everyone within the disabled community, I owe it to my children .

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6 Comments

hutchagoodlife on 17th June 2013 at 12:30 pm.

I didn’t see that particular bit of venom but my family do not like Liz Jones at all. She is rude and goes out of her way to offend people. I don’t blame the boyfriend for leaving her. She doesn’t seem to know when to shut up or when things that happen in private should stay private.

There was one article (honestly can’t remember when it was) when she complained about children at the airport with their own little tug-along suitcases. She was travelling during peak summer holiday time and the children where just a little slower with these things. I cannot for the life of me understand why she had a problem with it! She didn’t miss her flight, she was booked in on time. And yet she spent a whole article insulting Mothers and Fathers at the airport and these children and their suitcases.

What is wrong with her?! She is not disabled in any way, but if she really was, the readers would never hear the last of it.

I am shocked the press complaints people did not take the complaint more seriously. What she said WAS offensive, WAS derogatory. Had she made a racist comment then they would hop all over it but people with disabilities still don’t get the respect they deserve as human beings.

Urgh, drives me nuts. Keep doing your great work! Your children must be very proud

~Amy

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ouremuk66 on 17th June 2013 at 9:23 pm.

Never read a word she’s written till the parking debacle, and I hate to lower the tone of your amazing blog but she really is a silly cow 🙁

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AutismMumma on 19th June 2013 at 10:20 am.

Thanks Amy, I will do.

I think she writes to provoke a reaction, not caring who she upsets. Which is the wrong reason for doing it x

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AutismMumma on 19th June 2013 at 10:22 am.

Couldn’t agree more!

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Mammasaurus on 7th July 2013 at 11:22 am.

Good on you for complaining. I had never read The Daily Mail until after the Mumsnet blogging conference when she write something racially offensive and since then I cannot help but loathe and pity the woman. Yes, saying horrid things for shock value does get a reaction and in turn traffic to their website (which I suspect is all they care about) . So sad that she feels the need to constantly be provocative and hide in the guise of a ‘writer’ when there are talented journalists with integrity that can’t get work. It’s negligent that a newspaper could publish such content, therefore promoting those views. Shocking x

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kriss macdonald on 28th August 2013 at 3:43 pm.

I often felt sorry for Liz Jones when I used to read her columns as she seemed such a messed up woman, but now I keep reading how she just seems determined at offending others to attract attention.

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