The Daily Voice got a couple of stink emails this week after we published a story about a young gay man who was brutally assaulted, allegedly by two homophobic teenage boys.
They weren’t so many complaints about the story, as they were about the headline, “Maak die moffie vrek”. More particularly the word “moffie”.
These were the spine-chilling words Gino Jonkers of Crawford repeated to our reporter, which he had heard as he was being beaten and choked.
Some people in the LGBTQIA community took offence by it, as did staff at Vibe Radio SA, a Cape Flats-based internet radio station.
They sent in an email stating: “Not only do we feel that this headline fuels the fire regarding homophobia, but also that the Daily Voice is being irresponsible when deciding upon such headlines instead of highlighting the plight the gay community face daily.
“You have the platform to make a difference and educate, but your paper continuously seeks the humour in a community who lives in fear despite being protected by the constitution of this country.
“We especially find this distasteful after the recent mass shooting in a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”
Now, as we all know, the Daily Voice skriks vir niks, and we were quick to rek our bekke in response.
“The Daily Voice has built a reputation as a tabloid newspaper that reports on often shocking and hard-hitting news in our communities. We don’t mince our words with our headlines, which tell our stories in the language spoken by our communities.
“When Gino Jonkers approached the Daily Voice with his horrific story, he was well aware of the kind of treatment the Daily Voice would give the story. It is important to note that Gino was not unhappy with the way the story was presented, or the headline in question.
“In grim detail, he recounted the threat he received ‘maak die moffie vrek’ as he was being assaulted to within an inch of his life.
“As the editorial team, we decided that the quote was an accurate reflection of the brutal homophobic terror he was being confronted by in that very moment.
“Was the attack shocking and sickening? Was the headline shocking and sickening? Yes.
“In response to the claim that the headline fuels homophobia: judging by the public reaction in our newspaper, internet and social media platforms, that is far from being the case.
“For the record, the story has elicited unanimous and resounding condemnation of the actions of the thugs. This has been very encouraging.
“One could draw a parallel with the recent racism incidents that have made headlines in the mainstream media and so-called reputable newspapers, which have quoted the K-word and other vile racist slurs on their front pages.
“Do these headlines fuel racism? On the contrary, they have exposed racists and racist behaviour, and sent out the message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated by the media.
“In conclusion, we stand by our headline unapologetically, until such time that Gino Jonkers himself objects to it.”