The ugly consequences of the right’s culture war

Congratulations to Aditya Chakrabortty for providing a judicious account of the ludicrous “portraitgate” scandal that so enraged the rightwing press last summer (Hate mail and death threats: how the right wrecked one man’s life for its culture war, 12 May). It’s easy to forget how deranged that period was. Having to negotiate an obstacle course of journalists on Magdalen Bridge, for example. They were courting students like me, presumably desperate for some nugget of juicy portrait-based gossip – I’ve heard that undergraduates were providing contradictory quotes to competing reporters as a two-fingered salute to the whole enterprise.

In any case, the press’s unforgivable treatment of the then Magdalen College MCR president, Matthew Katzman, deserves further scrutiny. A slightly more substantial figure than the article makes out (strategy board games and bins are just two of a wide variety of interests, I’m sure), his enforced exile is a loss to the college, and to Britain generally.
Dominic McGinley
Magdalen College, Oxford

An interesting article and so clearly indicative of our shattered and divisive society; divisions that are endlessly reinforced by our uncontrollable rightwing press. What a feeding frenzy they enjoyed. I despair at this ugly status quo, which invades our daily lives.

I am pro-monarchy but can find no possible offence to royalty or society in this young man’s actions – nothing that could explain the ensuing hysteria and the petty, vicious persecution he faced.

The journalists who are guilty of this cowardly misrepresentation of a perfectly trivial issue should be made to apologise to Matthew Katzman for having visited this nightmare on him.
Cynthia Dunn

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