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13 June 2016

Watch: Owen Jones walks off Sky News debate on whether Orlando was a homophobic attack

“I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television.”

By Media Mole

The left wing commentator and journalist Owen Jones walked out of a live paper review on Sky News, following a heated discussion of the Orlando club shooting.

Jones called the debate – with presenter Mark Longhurst and fellow guest Julia Hartley-Brewer – “bizarre” and “the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television”.

Longhurst and Hartley-Brewer were arguing that the attack on a gay night club did not constitute a specifically homophobic terrorist attack. Bizarre, indeed.

Jones, who is gay, became so frustrated with what he called their attempts to “deflect” from the LGBT angle of the crime that he pulled his mic off and walked out.

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Owen Jones: “At the end of the day, this was a homophobic hate crime as well as terrorism, and it has to be called out… It is one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the western world for generations, and it has to be called out.”

Presenter: “Well, it’s something that’s carried out against human beings, isn’t it, no matter what their…”

Owen Jones: “No! No… This has to be called out for what it is; this was an intentional attack on LGBT people.”

Presenter: “On the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves as Bataclan was.”

Owen Jones: “Excuse me! Can we just explain? You don’t understand this because you’re not gay, ok? So just listen…”

Presenter: “Whether I’m gay or not has no reflection on the fact this person killed…”

Julia Hartley-Brewer: “No, I don’t think that you have ownership of horror of this crime because you’re gay.”

Owen Jones: “Can I just say that I find this astonishing?”

Julia Hartley-Brewer: “I’m not Jewish, and I’m not gay, and I’m not French, but I’m still equally horrified by these crimes.”

Pointing at headline on the Telegraph (“Isil wages war on gays in West”)

Presenter: “Now, you share that view that this was deliberately targeted on one part of the community rather than the freedom to enjoy yourself, no matter what your sexual orientation is.”

Owen Jones: “What are you talking about? This is…I’m trying to understand the point you’re making. This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people in an LGBT venue. It was a homophobic terrorist attack. Do you not understand that? It’s not some abstract kind of, he picked a club out of nowhere – he picked a club because it was full of people he regarded as deviants. That’s why he attacked the club.”

Julia Hartley-Brewer: “I think part of the issue is, ok, this is a hate crime, this is an act of terrorism, all accepted, it was an attack on gay people, absolutely, it was horrific, however my guess is this man will probably be as horrified by me as a gobby woman as he would… genuinely, genuinely, this is the thing, we don’t know right now. We can speculate, but we don’t know how much of this is motivated by just his homophobia, whether that in any way is related to his religion…

Owen Jones: “We heard from his own father about his revulsion. Why are we trying to deflect?”

Presenter: “…I’m now going to quote from the Telegraph is saying: ‘Mateen’s father said his son, a US citizen of Afghan descent, may have targeted the gay community…’”

Owen Jones: “May have? He did! Why are you saying this?”

Julia Hartley-Brewer: “‘After seeing two men kissing in Miami some months ago. He may have been angered by many other things since then.”

Owen Jones: “I’m sorry, I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television. If he’d walked into a synagogue and massacred dozens of Jewish people, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying now. You would be talking about it as an antisemitic attack. This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people, this was a deliberate attack on the LGBT community, this bizarre attempt to deflect…”

Presenter: “It’s not bizarre. We are trying to draw parallels in terrorist attacks on people who are being attacked whether they are enjoying rock music in Paris, whether they are gay people in Florida enjoying a night out.”

Owen Jones: “This was an attack on LGBT people. This was a homophobic attack.”

Owen Jones: “I’ve had enough of this, I’m not having it.” [Walks out].