Monday, August 13, 2012

boycott the bigot

Last weekend was Pride across the UK. Despite the best efforts of the Mayor of London, hundreds of thousands of people paraded in towns and cities across the country.

Here in Leeds the celebrations were tempered somewhat by a Twitter storm emanating from a homophobic outburst by the proprietor of several city centre venues. Lewis Cuddy is co-owner of two pubs, The Wrens and the Central, as well as late-night bar Milo's.

So once again it's time for lots of people to celebrate the fact that they are all socially unable to be normal.Well done. When is Leeds first peado pride event? Or is it just the same thing. Bonkers.

Instantly confronted and insulted, he made no retraction. With his privacy settings turned right up, he thought his comments wouldn't be seen by the wider public and his customers. He seems unaware of the ability to tweet a screengrab.

As his comments circulated one or two of his friends defended him saying he had apologised, yet couldn't provide a link or quote to prove it. Challenged on Facebook about it he did not apologise in any way.

It's my bad for writing what I did but it was a status that was meant for my close friends. I assumed all my friends would take it in the same humour as all my other posts. I write constantly on my facebook wall with stupid comments and sometime close to the bone comments (as todays post) which sometimes get a reaction. No harm meant but I can see why a few people have taken it personal. I feel saddened if this cas caused any genuine hurt to anyone.

As Tom Flay points out, 'close to the bone' implies that there is truth in saying all LGBT people are unable to be normal and may well be paedophiles. He does not retract his sentiment at all, nor explain why he feels that way. He merely regrets that is has been made public, as tags on being saddened if - if! - it has been hurtful to anyone.

Like a man deciding to redouble his digging rate to get out of a hole, several days later Cuddy posted on Leeds Music Forum.

Good morning. My name is Lewis Cuddy and I am responsible for writing the said comment on my private Facebook wall.

I have tried my best to keep out of this whole saga but as someone who posts on here I think it is only fair to explain my actions.

Any of my close friends know that I have a massive problem with gay pride, not because of gay people but the attitude of the council to street parties. I asked the council last year after the leeds pride even on how I would go about closing the street outside milo for a massive band day. I was told in no uncertain way than unless it was for a minority event would this be allowed.

This is what angers me, why should a minority have different rights to the majority. Maybe saying that paedophiles should get their own minority event was a bit strong but clearly the people who my comments were aimed at would understand.

Grabbing a screen shot of something I wrote and taking it out of context is not only rude but a betrayal of friendship. Safe to say this person has been removed from my Facebook friends.

So quite simply that is it. Nothing more I can say.

Ps. To anyone who thinks I ruined the wrens, sorry. Without my investment and hard work the wrens would have been stripped out and closed down over a year ago. Probably just a rotting mess right now.

If we are to believe this reasoning - unmentioned for days in the aftermath of the initial tweet - then it shows an extraordinary ability to do logic gymnastics.

If his issue really is that Pride gets road closures of the kind he would like to have, surely his ire should be directed at the council who decide on these things, rather than one of the beneficiaries.

More to the point, why does he single out only one beneficiary? Many events get road closures in Leeds. There are far more LGBT people than amateur long distance runners, yet Leeds Half Marathon or the 10k Race For Life gets much greater road space. Where is Cuddy's bigoted rant about runners?
He says that maybe - maybe! - saying a paedophile event is equivalent to Pride is 'a bit strong'. He didn't only say that, though. He suggested they could already be one and the same thing. This is not just a homophobic attack but one that uses the darkest, most malevolent stereotypes. He maximises his contribution to the cancer of homophobia that ruins and even claims lives.

Later this month streets in Chapeltown will be full of the carnival. Will Cuddy be tweeting 'send the raping thieving n*****s back'?

As it stands, it seems his apoplexy at events in the city centre unorganised by is confined to Pride, and Pride alone. There is a well-known piece of pop psychology that says we know what virulent homophobia really says about a man's inner life.

But irrespective of who he is when he turns out the light, on the outside Lewis Cuddy is an unabashed homophobic bigot. As a publican he has a privileged position serving the community. It is incumbent on such people to serve everybody well. If you want to run a B and B but are a homophobe, tough. By the same token, public facilities such as pubs have no place in the hands of people who direct hate speech at a serious proportion of their clientele.

Beyond that, it's not about the LGBT people who walk through the doors at the Wrens or Milo's. It is, contrary to what Cuddy says, not something to 'take personal'. This isn't about individuals, this is about equality and freedom from fear and repression. An attack on the rights of anyone for their colour, sexuality, gender or any other aspect is an attack on equality itself.

That Cuddy seems too dimwitted to grasp that concept is disappointing. That he is not only prepared to add weight to bigotry but defend it is unforgivable. Whether he is an ideological bigot or just an overconfident, loudmouthed, hard-of-thinking bigot is irrelevant.

By his steadfast refusal to apologise, let alone examine his discriminatory position, he proves himself unworthy to hold a place in a community that wants to have tolerance and equality. Anyone who shares those values should not be giving him their money. It's time to boycott his pubs and get anyone who isn't a homophobic bigot to to the same.


Nick said...

I found a link to this after seeing the related youtube video.

I'd start with saying I notice you have comment moderation on, but hopefully you will allow this to give a balanced view.

I do not know Lewis Cuddy. I do not live in Leeds. I am neither homosexual nor homophobic, but I would say that on both sides this falling out appears to have been badly scripted.

Firstly, what Mr Cuddy said is bad. There is no excusing that. However I think in the ensuing mellee what you have witnessed is someone who isn't the greatest of wordsmiths trying to excuse actions without actually apologising profusely. Sadly, in an age where comics do cut close to the bone on issues some people have a tendency to take their own attempts at humour too far.

However, from the language used by Mr Cuddy, I do not really feel you can, with any certainty, label him a homophobic biggot. A misguided idiot, sure, but short of any further evidence I think the phrase used it just too far. It's quite easy to sit and pick apart the words someone has used when they are not well versed in media. In fact your own rambles lack any real flow or definition, but that is besides the point. He obviously doesn't have a PR person and tried to deflect abuse as much as he could. But again you are perfectly right, a straight apology was required.

There are ways of dealing with people and their opinions, and you have jumped straight to the witch hunt - which is what it is as you have seen something you didn't like and taken it to it's most extreme possible cause - where you could have tried to engage Mr Cuddy instead of cornering him which could only ever lead to him curling up in a ball or ferosciously attacking (and thank goodness he didn't have the idiocy to do the latter).

Just have a think sometimes. There are ways to change peoples minds and opinions. Confrontation is rarely one of them. Otherwise what would be the point of events like gay pride in the first place?

merrick said...

Hi Nick,

I have comment moderation so that the site doesn't get spam or stuff that's just insults. Stuff in a reasoned tone (or that's insulting but funny) will always get published no matter what the opinion. There's stuff from white supremacists on here and everything.

I agree that Cuddy is not an ideological homophobe in the sense of a fascist campaigner. However he is clearly a homophobe. His comments are unambiguously so and, despite having plenty of time and being aware of the response, has not retracted the sentiment in any way.

Furthermore his excuse that it's to do with jealousy over getting street closure for events doesn't stand up - he makes no similar comments about other events but singles out Pride. This is not 'picking apart' his words - it is taking the only interpretation possible, and clearly the one he intended.

I have not 'jumped straight to the witch hunt'. I am aware that all of us say stupid, unguarded or misinterpreted things at times. And there are other responses apart from 'curling up in a ball or ferosciously attacking' - there is the thoughtful explanation of your reasoning, or the apologetic retraction. I waited for a week before writing this post. Cuddy offered neither response but instead actively defended himself. As such, it is fair to take his various writings over time as being his considered position.

Given what that position is, he does not deserve my money nor that of anyone who believes in equality.

If it were the same thing but racism instead of homophobia I don't thing we'd be having this discussion.

Anonymous said...

I've performed at Milo a few times over the past few years, unfortunately, due to Lewis's comments, I shall not be doing so again.

Everyone on this planet, whether aware of it or not, has many friends and acquaintances who are homosexual/bisexual, hate speech like this has no place.

I have no wish to contribute towards Mr Cuddy's bank account.

For the record, I am a heterosexual man.

Circuit Ben said...

I worked in Abbey Lodge Studios, which Lew owned at the time. A year later, when he saw me selling vacuum cleaners in Costco, he made limp-wrist gestures towards me, in order to show off in front of his mates. (For "mates", read employees, who are duty-bound to laugh at his crap jokes).

I've performed at Milo too, I won't be making that mistake again.

Oh, and his breath stinks.

Anonymous said...

I posted the original screen grab. I'd worked for the guy for a year but left on good terms so it wasnt a revenge attack. Throughout that year I'd had to bite my tongue on numerous occaisions when he made a homophobic/racist/misogynist remark. I found out after all of this blew over that he'd been caught out on Leeds music forum for spouting similar rubbish a few years prior to this so it's not as if he hadn't been warned.

I had no idea it would go as far as it did, in my eyes I was standing up for my beliefs. Although I'm straight myself, I am very involved with the gay community and Lewis was fully aware of this. I called him out myself but the comment wouldn't fit on the screen grab. He was mocking and rude in response just like he was with Jimmy in the comment that you can see on the pic. I even gave him time to get in touch personally and warned him that 'what goes around comes around'. I fully agree with Nick in that I honestly don't think Lewis has the brain power to be a full on fascist but he does have right wing views and needs to learn that it's not appropriate to express these on public forums. When he posted the initial status, he actually had NO privacy settings on his account.

If anything, it has been very interesting to find out how many other people have had negative experiences with Mr Cuddy. So many people have got in touch both privately or through forums. It's almost been worth the hassle from his friends and the police!

Anonymous said...

I used to work at one of Lewis Cuddys pubs "the central on wellington street" he had a massive problem with one of his female staff when he discovered she was gay and had her supervisor sack her for some really pathetic reason, he is a homophobe and very ignorant narrow minded little man.

Anonymous said...

found this after hearing Lewis has taken over The Owl Inn, Rodley earlier this month.

That's another pub off the list.

Great write up btw. I believe it is up to decent members of our community (like you!) to seed out people like Lewis and expose them for the hate inducing, small minding fools they are