By Ben Pensant
Hot on the heels of my previous piece on Louis Smith’s Loose Women appearance I was saddened to learn this week that the Islamophobic Olympian has been banned for two months by British Gymnastics. Naturally this offended my liberal principles and as a liberal who values their principles I was left with one liberal, principled question on my liberal, principled lips: why the fuck wasn’t he banned for life?
Because it’s all good and well punishing the likes of Smith for offending 1.6 billion people by arsing about on a rug but until we get proper blasphemy laws we’re left with threats and intimidation because a piddling 8 week ban is about as fitting as sending Salman Rushdie to bed without a story. Though he’d probably thank you if it were one of his stories, because as well as being a blasphemous, neo-liberal bigot he also writes prose that could make an onion cry. Not that I’ve read any of his tomes but neither had the Ayatollah Khomeinei and you wouldn’t tell him mocking the prophet is ‘just a bit of fun’, would you?
Still, despite Smith’s woefully inadequate punishment – highlighting this country’s reluctance to help moderate Muslims by indulging religious fanatics – at least it sent a warning. Not quite ‘this is what happens when you mess with Muhammad’ but its a start. Because as delighted as I was with the supportive messages I received after my last piece it appears there are many out there who still don’t get it. See, for every Tweet applauding my choice to show solidarity with religious extremists there were half a dozen smearing me as someone who shows solidarity with religious extremists. And for every Corbynite who shared my desire for a satire ban there were a handful of Red Tories blasting it as an illiberal, authoritarian concept worthy of North Korea or Stalinist Russia.
My counter argument that curbs on freedom of speech in Western-allied Saudi Arabia are ten times worse than anything Jezza, Stalin or Kim Jong-In could dream up were met with the usual accusations of ‘whataboutery’, ‘moral relativism’ and ‘talking out of my dirt-box’. Yawn. They attempted to silence me by saying I had a nerve accusing others of being Saudi Arabia apologists when I’d written an article defending the very same ideology that compels Saudis to flog and behead people for blasphemy. Needless to say, I debated them with reason and intelligence beefore blocking every person who asked me a question I didn’t like. Job done.
But still, their bitter words left a mark. One repeated claim from was the ridiculous assertion that satire and mockery ‘didn’t hurt anyone’. Seriously. I’d like to see them tell that to Diane Abbott as she recovers from the trauma of sitting down to watch Peston On Sunday last month and being subjected to the spectacle of two well-off politicians and a privileged male giggling like toddlers as a racist comedian did an impression of Diane. Or as The Canary put it: ‘Middle-class white folks laugh it up as they mock Britain’s most prominent black MP on live TV’.
In which Kerry-Anne Mendoza laid into smug host Robert Peston, Blairite traitor Jess Philips and Tory twat Anna Soubry, the latter having completely exhausted the good will she received from leftists for saying that Leave voters were uneducated racists who’ve destroyed the country by forcing gap-year students to face the horror of applying for Visas before they spend 6 months finding themselves in Amsterdam. Their crime was to laugh along to a ‘routine’ from ‘comedian’ Jan Ravens which amounted to her doing a voice which sounded a bit like Diane and saying stuff which sounded a bit like stuff Diane might say. God knows who told her this weird pseudo-mimicry could pass for humour; there’s bugger-all chance it’ll catch on.
Ravens’ defenders claim this type of satirical performance art has been around for years. primarily done by white men calling themselves ‘impressionists’ but I don’t believe it for a second. And even if it were true, just like the claims that politicians of all genders and ethnicities have been on the receiving end of piss-taking since time began, any decent liberal knows if the subject of mockery is from an ethnic or religious minority all bets are off. Unless that ethnic minority is Indian, the religion is Hindu and your name is Priti Patel in which case you deserve every bit of abuse you get for being a Tory sell-out who bathes in the blood of post-Brexit hate crime victims.
‘The bullying and haranguing of female MPs is wrong according to Labour MP Jess Philips. Unless of course the Labour MP is black, backs Jeremy Corbyn or both’ began the article, brilliantly trivialising the actual abuse many female MPs have been subjected to by conflating it with a comedian putting on an MP’s voice for a laugh. Of course, Kerry-Anne – Canary founder and editor-in-chief – knows all about the disenfranchised thanks to her years spent at the coal face as a banker, management consultant and 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
In no mood to excuse the prejudice of the four cowards, she tore into them for failing to acknowledge ‘the ethnic and sexual subtext of the impression’, in particular the way Ravens ‘played into well worn racist tropes about the scary, angry black woman’. Despite the fact her impression was done in a soft, non-scary voice about as angry as Jeremy Corbyn when a hospital is bombed in Aleppo.
Indeed, while these tropes were invisible to most dumb proles whooping it up as the funny white lady mocked the defenceless black woman they were clear as day to those sophisticated enough to pick up on the sinister meaning, such as Gender Studies graduates or Match Of the Day presenters. ‘At one point Peston literally asked Jess “Are you feeling scared over there?”. Because, you know: scary, angry black lady alert’ bemoaned Kerry-Anne, brilliantly deploying the regressive left trick of projecting her own pre-conceived ideas onto others to massage her virtue. Despite Peston’s question clearly referring to the well-documented animosity between Philips and Diane and Kerry-Anne being the only one propagating the stereotype that black women are scary.
She then dealt the hammer blow by conflating Ravens impression with genuinely racist Tweets. Because the two are obviously the same, as anyone who remembers Spitting Image’s shocking depiction of Frank Bruno will recall – a shameful latex monstrosity which was the main factor in Frank’s transformation from sporting hero into a man who spends his afternoons in Asda carpark wearing one shoe and shouting at trollies.
But it’s not just third-rate comics who are in on the act. Even supposedly respectable TV journalist Michael Crick took to Twitter to quote a knuckle-headed taxi driver who said he wouldn’t vote for Corbyn as he’s ‘messed around with that Diane Abbott’. Because even pointing out Corbyn and Diane bumped uglies in the ’70s – as well as being such a bigot he doesn’t find an overweight 63 year old woman attractive – is a grossly offensive act so grossly offensive it’s been given its own name. As Guardian journalist Abi Wilkinson stated in her stinging rebuke to Crick: ‘Someone should tell him that misogynoir is still misogynoir even if you put it in quote marks’. Other examples of ‘misogynoir’ are hard to find, though I’m delighted the left have invented yet another term for shutting down debate very bit as illogical and meaningless as ‘Islamophobia’. Explanations as to what it entails are thin on the ground, though according to Kerry-Anne ‘this overlapping of racism and misogyny is known as misogynoir’, which makes it sound like an actual phenomenon and not just an empty word invented to discredit opponents by accusing them of bigotry. It appears to cover criticism of anyone who happens to be black and female, unless of course they happen to be black, female and a Tory like Helen Grant, in which case all criticism is perfectly valid and any abuse her own fault for being an Auntie Tom.
(Wether or not Kerry-Anne’s criticism of the white, male Preston makes her guilty of ‘misandriblanc’ is understandably not discussed)
Luckily Abi – like fellow middle-class Corbyn cheerleader Owen Jones – is fond of accusing people of ‘complicity’ and her hectoring tone to twice-her-age, forgotten-more-than-she’ll-ever-learn Crick was no exception, subtley lumping him in with the misogynoirs: those rainmac-clad sexist racists lurking in damp alleyways smoking french cigarettes and making jokes about St Jezza getting finger-blasted by the Shadow Home Secretary. I look forward to Abi and Owen applying this logic to themselves and owning up to their complicity in helping elect a Labour leader with more chance of winning The X-Factor than a general election.
But back to Kerry-Anne who signed off with a dig at Dan Hodges for describing a Corbynite as a ‘useful Jewish idiot’, somewhat ironic given The Canary’s refusal to believe Labour has an anti-Semitism problem but more than happy to accept that three people laughing at an impression of a politician is proof of racism and ‘misogynoir’. Because the last thing the modern left are here to do is treat black women as autonomous adults capable of handling some light piss-takery. Just like we can’t expect Muslims to be sensible individuals un-ruffled by the sight of a young man arsing about on a rug, so we have to assume black people are pathetic vulnerable children in need of special treatment and the protection of educated liberals.
Because we’ve seen what happens when you let minorities think for themselves: you get people like Priti Patel and Helen Grant believing they have the right to join the Tories. Or self-hating ‘Muslims’ like Maajid Nawaz and Harus Rafiq setting up anti-extremist think tanks with offensive ideas about curbing Islamism. All of whom think nothing of taking the victimhood we selflessly bestowed upon them and throwing it back in our faces.
No, this autonomy and ‘treating people like adults’ business must be stopped. In a perfect world Nawaz and Rafiq would be allies of Corbyn and The Canary, as modern Labour and Islam have similar views about depictions of the prophet; swap cartoons of Mohammud for an offensive ‘impression’ of Diane Abbott and it’s not hard to see why so many on the left are drawn to such an authoritarian religion. But no, these clownish ‘reformers’ prefer to sell out their faith by working with the very governments who’ve bombed their homelands to smithereens, abandoning the core tenets of their faith in favour of neo-liberal values such as the freedom to say, think and believe whatever you want. A more shameful pair of bigots you’d be hard pushed to find at a Klan rally and their actions won’t be forgotten. Trust me.
But the abuse Diane received is what we’ve grown to expect from the anti-Corbyn media. Indeed, the attacks on Diane are part of a disturbing trend to criticise female politicians because they’re women and nothing whatsoever to do with the fact they’re raving hypocrites who are useless at their jobs. Because as we know, an oppressed minority- in this case a minority that makes up 50% of the population – can NEVER be held to the same standard as everyone else.
So the smears Shami Chakrabarti and Emily ‘Lady Nugee’ Thornberry have recently endured for sending their kids to private schools despite telling other people they shouldn’t are just another example of the misogynist press playing the (wo)man and not the (net)ball. The fact that they both bravely spoke out against Grammar schools (ditto Abbott, who also sent her son to private school despite telling other people they shouldn’t) not only compounded the rampant media sexism but happily also how right these principled women are. Because in Corbyn’s Britain the last thing we’ll need is educated working-class folk. Why not go the whole hog and start encouraging the dumb proles to buy cars and own their own homes? I bet the Tories would love that.
As any idiot knows, for Labour to function we need a steady stream of Oxbridge-educated workshy Marxists to correspond with the steady stream of knuckle-dragging oppressed morons to do the heavy lifting and be patronised at every turn. It’s not rocket science. Yet the haters deliberately ignore common sense and slam Abbot, Shami and Lady as hypocrites simply because they passionately believe in the modern Labour Party’s stance on education. Which is – it’s perfectly okay to send thick rich kids to selective schools but not poor bright ones.
Of course, they don’t repeat that out loud – that would be silly and might upset the Leave-voting plebs who need to be kept on side despite the fact we hate them. No, far better to reminisce about the unfairness of the 11-plus and repeat the shocking figure that only 1300 children from poor families are currently in Grammar schools. While ignoring the fact that if Corbyn’s Labour had their way the number would be zero.
And should anyone point out that the 1300 figure only accounts for kids from low income families and doesn’t include children of working-class parents with good jobs, simply look at them like they’re speaking a foreign language. Which won’t be hard as most modern leftists are completely dumbfounded when they find out not all working-class people are destitute, penniless wretches scavenging in bins and fighting over half-eaten tennis balls. The fact that many little folk work hard and live comfortable lives is a huge indictment of the Blair and Cameron eras and one that Corbyn will be quick to reverse as soon as he sweeps into Number Ten.
Because there’s nothing that derails the left-wing narrative more than ‘Essex Man’ doing well for himself, which is why so many of us are completely unaware that the phenomenon exists. The idea of skilled provincial oiks earning good money in industries which boost the economy and give pride to communities is anathema to the modern left and must be dismissed at all costs. We may stick up for the working man best but it’s far more fulfilling sticking up for him when he doesn’t have a job. Indeed, the esteem in which Corbyn and McDonnell hold time-served men and women working in vital industries was apparrent in their miserable reaction to the news that Nissan would stay open thus safeguarding over 30,000 jobs. You’d think someone had just told them Fidel Castro was a Zionist and sprayed warm piss all over their duffle coats.
But we all know the REAL reason the ladies of Labour are relentlessly mocked and it’s got everything to do with what isn’t between their legs. Thankfully when it comes to pointed political humour the best voices are firmly on the right side, illustrated last month when edgy intellectual Stewart Lee was booked to play an unpaid show at the Stop The War Coalition fundraiser in London. Although Lee eventually dropped out of the unpaid gig (along with former sidekick, edgy intellectual Richard Herring) it speaks volumes about his intellectual edginess that he was happy to give an unpaid peformance for an organisation so dedicated to democracy and socialism it once openly supported a terrorist group who bombed polling stations and murdered trade unionists.
Because this is a man of principle who as well as regularly playing unpaid gigs also has a hard rule never to do corporate shows. Partly because he never gets offered any but mainly because the idea of playing to a bunch of normal people who neither ‘get’ his sardonic humour nor read his out-there Observer column is like cryptonite to Stew. Fortunately he’s willing to forgo such moral objections when it comes to charity work which is why he’s happy to perform unpaid for an organisation that has repeatedly shown solidarity with dictators and religious extremists.
But despite his no-show it’s a huge statement for a comic to endorse a movement just as happy blaming the Paris massacre on Western intervention as it is waving banners that say ‘We Are All Hezbollah Now!’. And even in this hateful climate there are encouraging signs that when it comes to satire the regressive left may just have the upper hand over racist buffoons such as Louis Smith or glorified parakeets like Jan Ravens.
One only has to look at the brave comedians who two years ago shat all over the principles of freedom of speech by signing a petition to ban a TV show they didn’t like. Because if it wasn’t for the likes of Rhys Thomas and Jenny Éclair we may have been subjected to a SECOND series of On The Pull With Dapper Laughs, further traumatising those already triggered by Dapper once saying the word ‘rape’ on stage. Indeed, sources brave enough to have actually watched the show report that Mr Laughs even sneaked that vile word into the show, albeit in a crude, jumbled up manner so it sounded like he said ‘pear’. So we can thank him that millions of defenceless women are now so disturbed by those four letters that even mentioning the harmless green fruit in their presence is akin to biting their tits. Thank god it was nipped in the bud sharpish and these brave comics stopped everyone else watching a show they didn’t like instead of just changing the channel like most unhinking morons would.
In a similar vein, edgy political comedian Sara Pasco last year wrote a passionate piece in The Guardian defending the petition to boycott Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2 for committing the offensive crime of featuring a transgender character – ‘All’ – played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Sara cleverly avoided triggering readers with graphic details of the offensive content found in the film, a trick pulled off with ease as she hadn’t actually seen it. But that didn’t stop her telling people they should boycott it based on a five-second trailer appearance by Sherlock Holmes with shaved eyebrows.
These examples offer hope to all right-minded liberals that perhaps the tide is turning – maybe there is a bright Corbyn-shaped future where not only will we no longer have to watch offensive characters such as All and Dapper Laughs but no-one else will be allowed to either. Indeed, it’s intriguing to note that had these men, women, xen and xomen been around 30-40 years ago they would probably have stood shoulder to shoulder with Mary Whitehouse.
(Apart from Stewart Lee, obviously. Based on his support for STW the National Viewers & Listeners Association would have been far too mainstream. He’d have more likely got his protest kicks doing benefit shows for Bobby Sands, Gerry Healy and Black September)
But today’s comedy establishment would have no doubt applauded Whitehouse as she tried to ban everything from ‘Til Death Us Do Part and Chuck Berry’s My Ding-A-Ling to Doctor Who and School’s Out by Alice Cooper. She was also famously fond of Jimmy Savile, the NVLA awarding him in 1977 for his ‘wholesome family entertainment’, which in retrospect is a bit like presenting a trophy to the Iranian theocracy for their commitment to gay rights.
Though many on today’s creative left would doubtless have applauded that too, in particular Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Scorsese, Tilda Swinton, Wes Anderson, David Lynch and everyone else who signed the petition in 2009 demanding the ‘immediate release’ of Roman Polanski, the director who admitted drugging and raping a 13 year old girl. As Goldberg said at the time, it wasn’t rape rape. Correct, Whoopi – it was anal child rape.
But seven years on it’s good to know the Guardians of decency in the UK entertainment establishment are every bit as ideologically warped as their film industry brethren. And I like to think they would have been liberal enough to give Savile the benefit of the doubt too. I guess his family should be grateful he never filmed himself arsing about on a rug or did an impression of a black female politician.
Because as Louis Smith and Jan Ravens know, if he had his name would be mud by now.