I'm torn over the Ricky Gervais story. On the one hand, I'm delighted he's getting it in the neck. He's a conceited, vainglorious, self-aggrandising little tick whose carapace of ego is so thick it could take a direct hit from an Exocet missile and still remain intact. Yet, at the same time, I cannot join the hordes of hand-wringers who are tut-tutting over his use of the word "mong" on Twitter. Yes, it's offensive and, no, I don't buy for a minute his excuse that he was just using it as a synonym for "dopey" or "stupid" and had absolutely no idea it was short for mongoloid.I couldn't put it better.
But as a libertarian Tory I don't think any group should be out of bounds when it comes to making jokes, however innocent or vulnerable. If we ring-fence people with Downs as a protected species on the ground that they've done nothing to deserve their disadvantages shouldn't we also ring-fence the stupid and the ignorant and the Welsh? (Okay, I added that last category to be provocative, but you get the idea.) If we confined those we made jokes about to just those who deserved to be the object of ridicule, life would be pretty dull. The best jokes are unfair, cruel, offensive … you name it. That's what makes them funny.
So carry on Ricky. You're an odious little man, but you're entitled to make jokes about whomever you like.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Toby Young on Ricky Gervais
Toby Young's latest blog post is worth quoting in full: