Monday, 5 December 2011

Comedian Janey Godley gets tough with journalists

I am told Janey Godley is now accusing me in her blog, which I haven't read, of threatening her. So I reproduce here, verbatim and in full, the communications between us. There have been two emails from me to her and one from her to me. We have not spoken.

The story referred to in the first email is a first draft of the one that appears in the previous post. I emailed this draft - which can be read in the Addendum below - to Janey for comment.

The version on the blog has been edited slightly from that draft.

Monday, December 05, 2011 10:00 AM
Hi Janey,

Here's the story I have at the moment.

I'm not happy with the ending.

If you think ending and headline can be changed - to something like "Janey Godley steps in to save struggling children's charity" - please let me know.


Monday, December 05, 2011 10:43 AM
I don't want a children's charity to close down as a child who suffered abuse in the past its the last thing I want. I was unaware of any resignations and withdrawal of funding, it certainly wasn't at my request. I have spoken to the women today and am sympathetic to the whole outcome of this issue. I have never put myself up as a role model for children and as far as my comedy goes I can take a bad review as good as the next person, I just never expected one from a kids charity.

I am stunned that a family connection between three charities chose to single me out online and continued to question my feminism and commitment to children. I was even more shocked that people who represent abused and hurt children opted to use registered charity names on twitter to both insult and victimize me. I now accept that the three people were naive to social media, they have sent me a personal apology which I accept. I would do anything in my power not to have the kids lose their charity, I have never denied my strong opinions- When I was wrong online in the past I apologised immediately -I am outspoken and am a strong campaigner for children and will continue doing what I can raising money for them.

Thanks Janey Godley

Monday, December 05, 2011 1:47 PM
Hi Janey,

Thanks for the speedy response and apologies for not getting back sooner. I've been out on a job and am heading out on another one soon.

I note you don’t dispute the facts I report.

I note too your feelings about the ----- Project closing as a direct result of all this. I don’t doubt your sincerity.

As I say in the story, everyone involved is on the side of the underprivileged and disadvantaged - for social justice and against the tossers who got the country in the mess we're in. So it's unfortunate that they are all now tearing lumps out of each other. Personally I think you were pretty patient with the feminist at first and she should probably have taken the hint, before you told her to fuck off and leave you in peace.

I know all these people well. They’ve been friends for years and they're good guys. They are inexperienced with Twitter and they have been naive in using it. But they are smart, hard-working and well-intentioned.

As I said, I don’t like the ending of the story at the moment. But it's the only story I’ve got right now.

I was planning to go out to the ----- Project in the New Year and write it up. I would still like to do that, if it’s there. If Janey Godley has helped in the meantime to keep it afloat – rather than sinking it with all hands – it would make an even better story.


PS I gather you've been asking who I am. I'm a full-time freelance journalist, writing mainly about children and education these days. I have written for the Herald, Scotsman, Daily Record, Evening Times, Sunday Herald, Independent, Times and Guardian, as well as many magazines. I was shortlisted for features writer of the year at the annual publishers awards in Edinburgh last week.

Monday, December 05, 2011 5:35 PM
I have yet to receive a reply to this second email but I am told Janey has responded to it on her blog by accusing me of threatening her.

This seems as accurate and honest to me as her characterisation of the charity volunteer's comment - that Janey calling herself a comedian was an "insult to all things funny" - as "horrific personal abuse".

Original rough draft sent to Janey for comment

I’ve a sad story for you this morning. It involves a Scottish comedian called Janey Godley and two small children’s charities in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Janey describes herself as “a Scottish Stand up Comic, Actor, Journalist, Playwright and Blogger.” She takes pride in being controversial, referring to herself on Twitter as “The most outspoken female stand-up in Britain”.

Janey is very experienced online. At the time of writing she has no fewer than 43,765 tweets to her name. As you read this there will be many more. Janey tweets every few minutes.

Here are a few recent ones:

"I suggest we take all the guardian APP staff and execute them – that'll show the fuckers"

“A Union Jack in Glasgow means ‘I am mental, I own a dangerous dog and I batter fuck out of my common law wife if Rangers get beat.’”

“McMullan is now telling us anecdotes and 'funny things happened' as if we are his mates- i want the cunts face to fall off”

“So if hunt down Clarkson & shoot the cunt in the face i can say I was influenced by him and just claim insanity? am off (click loads up gun)”

The other protagonists in the story are people who have little online experience but who do good work, some of it paid, a lot of it unpaid, for a couple of charities that help disadvantaged children and their mums.

One of them, a feminist and Twitter follower of Janey, whose outspokenness on social issues appealed, was relaxing one evening when the language Janey was using caught her attention.

So she went on Twitter to ask if the frequency of the word “cunt” in Janey’s tweets – over a hundred times in a couple of days – was a feminist statement. “I said that I was interested, that I thought there might be some ideological reason that the word was being used.”

The two of them had a Twitter chat for an hour or so, before Janey ran out of patience and ended the conversation thus:

“i had boy soldiers in my family who fought for my freedom of speech how fucking dare u assume it needs explaining to u”

At this point, if the charities people had more online experience, they’d have walked away. Instead a colleague and friend of the feminist took umbrage at Janey’s last tweet and tweeted the following to her:

“Calling yourself a comedienne is an insult to all things funny. Call yourself a children's role model? Hope not.”

She made the mistake of tweeting this from the Twitter account of a small charity for single mums and children that she gives up much of her spare time to work for.

Janey’s response was instant and savage. Over the next day or so she tweeted the name of the charity no fewer than 65 times, drawing the attention of her almost 5000 followers - some of them very influential - to what she referred to as “horrific personal abuse”.

That abuse, remember, was to be called “an insult to all things funny”. It would be surprising if Janey hasn't had ten times worse abuse at an average Saturday night gig.

During the course of this Twitter-storm, another worker for a charity for disadvantaged children in the same town stepped in and tweeted as follows to Janey:

“You are a patron of our children's charity. Would you say these words to our young people?”

Again Janey took offence and tweeted this charity's name 15 times to her followers, drawing attention again to the “abuse” she was being subjected to. The second charity worker tweeted twice more as follows:

“We never questioned your motives Janey"

“Sorry you are offended Janey.”

The attempt to smooth ruffled feathers came too late. By this time some of Janey’s followers had taken up the story and were spreading her “horrific personal abuse” version.

Unaware of the full story and unwilling to trawl through the archives, two board members of the second charity, resigned at the weekend. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations withdrew its support. [THIS WAS AN ERROR ON MY PART. SCVO HAVE NOT BEEN INVOLVED.] Prospective funders have pulled out.

As I said, Janey has influence.

The upshot of all this is that a small charity for disadvantaged children in one of the most deprived areas of Scotland - which was being kept afloat by the dedication, long hours, hopes and prayers of the people who work there - will now be closing after Christmas.

It's a sad story. And one of the saddest aspects is that all the people involved are actually on the same side – the side of the disadvantaged. But instead of being out there attacking the selfish, uncaring and over-privileged, the corrupt politicians and rapacious bankers, they are sitting at home over red-hot computers tearing big lumps out of each other.

And it's the children the charities were helping who will suffer the most.


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