Sorry honeybuns

He is allowed to, of course, because of free speech: for in 2016, an absolutist interpretation of free speech has become popular among the chattering classes. If only the overwhelmingly white, middle-class, Oxbridge-educated, male-dominated commentariat would take “freedom from prejudice” as seriously as it takes “freedom of expression”.

Free speech really does mean just what it says on the tin. Free speech.

37 thoughts on “Sorry honeybuns”

  1. Since when has ‘free speech’ as a right not been moderated by the social duty of ‘basic politeness’? Anyone who goes around speaking their mind without care for the sensibilities of others rapidly becomes a pariah. If, on the other hand, after reasoned contemplation someone deliberately decides to make an exception to the rule of basic politeness, that’s a rather different matter.

  2. If the “others” are scum –then to hell with their sensibilities.

    Scum being defined as those whose cups run over with tyrannical –and esp socialistic–plans for the better ordering of other peoples lives.

  3. The thing that I love about that piece is that Paris Lees got s/his/her/whatever leg up funded by living with a banker.

    Does s/his/her/whatever stage sit ins in the kitchen to protest at the wealth of the 1%?

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “Since when has ‘free speech’ as a right not been moderated by the social duty of ‘basic politeness’?”

    Is this a troll? If so it is p!ss poor. The social duty is a duty. As such it has nothing to do with free speech as a right. I may have a social duty not to be an ar$e but I have an unlimited right to do so if I so wish.

  5. “s/his/her/whatever”

    In this glorious new world – for those that want to be gender neutral, is there anything wrong with using “its”?

  6. Does this person realise the world of difference between those to freedoms?

    One is something that can exist, clearly and observably, and which requires no enforcement, no legislation, and no encroachment upon the observable rights of others. It is a right which can be excerised.

    The other ‘right’ is a fantasy. It cannot be granted to anyone because it cannot exist. At best, once we have developed the means to detect and punish thought crime, we can punish those who’s mere sentience means that another is not free from prejudice.

  7. SMFS>

    I don’t know why you think it’s a trolling statement, given that you then go on to agree with what I said in it.

  8. @PF

    I couldn’t bother to wade through a maze of pronouns that early in the morning !

    Whatever I chose would be more accurate than the Guardian piece.

  9. I am fully behind SMFS and Ecks in their defence of their own free speech. If it applies to the arseholes it holds for us all.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Ironman – “I am fully behind SMFS and Ecks in their defence of their own free speech. If it applies to the arseholes it holds for us all.”

    Nice to see you have finally had your own little Road to Damascus experience. Well done.

  11. The Inimitable Steve

    Dear Guardian,

    Please stop making me feel a sense of brotherly solidarity with Stephen Bloody Fry. Thanks.

    To blithely assert that everyone enjoys the same right to free speech is like claiming that I have a right to buy a large house in north London because there is a “free market”. Theoretically it is possible, but life in our real world isn’t like that.

    Columnist writing in a national newspaper claims free speech doesn’t real, you guise.

    Alanis Morrissette was not available for comment.

    Utilising his right to free speech, Fry says it would be awful if people didn’t read Titus Andronicus. Sorry, Stephen: I haven’t. I went to a rundown comprehensive and read Romeo and Juliet for my GCSEs. I knew one person in my hometown who went to university. I’m from Nottingham, which as the BBC reported in 2013 is the poorest city in Britain, measured by disposable household income.

    “Are there no libraries?”

    “Plenty of libraries…”

    “And the internet.” demanded Scrooge. “Is it still in operation?”

    “Both very busy, sir…”

    “Those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

    I’m from Nottingham, which as the BBC reported in 2013 is the poorest city in Britain, measured by disposable household income. The Beeb sent a reporter to speak to some of its poor residents and met Michael, a man in his twenties who lives on nothing but beans on toast because, as he says “It’s not healthy but it’s cheap”. He spends most of his time hanging around an estate. I wonder how much his notional right to free speech is worth? Very little, I’m afraid, without an invite to Oxford Union.

    Course, nobody’s actually stopping Michael from writing a book, hosting his own Youtube channel, or even getting a job.

    But he sounds like a lazy bastard, so there’s that.

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “I don’t know why you think it’s a trolling statement, given that you then go on to agree with what I said in it.”

    No I didn’t. Free speech is an unlimited right. It is not moderated by anything. We should be polite but we do not have a legal obligation to do so.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Utilising his right to free speech, Fry says it would be awful if people didn’t read Titus Andronicus. Sorry, Stephen: I haven’t. I went to a rundown comprehensive and read Romeo and Juliet for my GCSEs. I knew one person in my hometown who went to university. I’m from Nottingham, which as the BBC reported in 2013 is the poorest city in Britain, measured by disposable household income.

    Nottingham has two universities. Well one and a half. Some of the locals must go.

    But if you don’t want to read it, you can watch it. One of the oddities of modern films is that if someone makes one film, everyone else makes one just like it. In this case:

    A 1997 straight-to-video adaptation, which cuts back on the violence, titled Titus Andronicus: The Movie, was directed by Lorn Richey and starred Ross Dippel as Titus, Aldrich Allen as Aaron) and Maureen Moran as Lavinia.[181] Another straight-to-video- adaptation was made in 1998, directed by Christopher Dunne …. In 1999, Julie Taymor directed an adaptation entitled Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins as Titus, Jessica Lange as Tamora, Harry Lennix as Aaron (reprising his role from Taymor’s 1994 theatrical production) and Laura Fraser as Lavinia. …. William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, directed by Richard Griffin and starring Nigel Gore as Titus, Zoya Pierson as Tamora, Kevin Butler as Aaron and Molly Lloyd as Lavinia, was released direct to video in 2000.

    So you wait 500 years for a movie adaptation and along come five more or less at once.

    Also many of them rely heavily on the blood, gore and horror of the play. More so than perhaps Shakespeare intended. It has torture, murder, incest, mutilations, dismemberment and so on. It is the Freddy Kruger of Shakespearean plays.

    So frankly I would have expected all of Nottingham to have seen it.

  14. Dave: “Since when has ‘free speech’ as a right not been moderated by the social duty of ‘basic politeness’?”

    You mean the same sort of ‘basic politeness’ that would see these screeching harridans and cretins keeping quiet on their little hobbyhorses in the first place?

  15. we take notice of Stephen Fry, because he’s intelligent. He’s rich, because he’s intelligent.

    And you know what, he’s dead fucking right here.

    I’ve suffered from mental illness, and wallowing in self pity does you no good at all. Letting people be victims isn’t helping them. The people who gave me a helpful push are people I’m eternally grateful to. People who got me on medication, got me therapy.

    It’s why I hate AA. Their whole mantra is that you’re a weak victim. They never get to the heart of why someone is an alcoholic. You turn up, share, cry and fuck off again. And it doesn’t work.

  16. SMFS>

    That’s the second time you’ve repeated what I said in slightly different words. I still don’t know why you think you’re disagreeing with my post, given that I said free speech is a right, and that our duty to be reasonably polite does not over-ride that.

  17. The Inimitable Steve

    Anon – I, also, am unconvinced it’s a good idea for recovering alcoholics to spend a lot of time with other alcoholics, talking about alcohol.

  18. Philip Scott Thomas

    Compare and contrast.

    From the linked article:

    Free speech means something only if you have a platform with which to use it. These free speech fetishists don’t seem to realise that “free speech” is a privilege usually afforded only to people like themselves. To blithely assert that everyone enjoys the same right to free speech is like claiming that I have a right to buy a large house in north London because there is a “free market”. Theoretically it is possible, but life in our real world isn’t like that.

    From Ayn Rand:

    It is forgotten that the right of free speech means the freedom to advocate one’s views and to bear the possible consequences, including disagreement with others, opposition, unpopularity and lack of support. The political function of “the right of free speech” is to protect dissenters and unpopular minorities from forcible suppression— not to guarantee them the support, advantages and rewards of a popularity they have not gained.

    The Bill of Rights reads: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . .” It does not demand that private citizens provide a microphone for the man who advocates their destruction, or a passkey for the burglar who seeks to rob them, or a knife for the murderer who wants to cut their throats.

  19. Bloke no Longer in Austria and no verb in name

    To blithely assert….

    Free Speech does not extend to splitting infinitives.
    It’s in the US Constitution. If it isn’t it bloody well should be.

  20. No, girl, you don’t need a house in North London to go on a demo.

    Starting a blog is cheap, even someone in Nottingham could afford it.

    Commenting in the Guardian is free. Providing you can get past their censors, of course.

    Or you can (like me) come over to Tim’s gaff and spout any bloody nonsense you like.

  21. The Inimitable Steve

    I don’t think it’s a problem. These are alcoholics, not heavy social drinkers (and heavy social drinkers probably aren’t doing their liver much good, but there’s a difference).

    That said, group therapy often doesn’t work. There’s this idea about having lots of support from people like you, but dealing with addiction is a lot about people’s personal feelings, shame etc. It’s very private and people find it hard even talking to one person.

    It’s also based on abstinence, which hugely misunderstands what addiction is about. it assumes that the thing is the problem. And it’s not. The thing is a crutch. People who are addicts use drugs, booze, gambling or sex as a form of medication. Fighting the desire for those things, counting days since you did something is not a solution. Sorting out the desire for them is.

    And I’m not talking about normal levels of desire, including things like going on a bender because you got made redundant or your wife left you. When I sorted out my gambling problem, I didn’t stop gambling. I still go to the races a couple of times a year with mates and lose less than £20. I have fun doing it like most other people. but I’m not longing to make the next bet. I don’t have to give my wife my wallet so I don’t go into an arcade. If I’m in a pub today, I’m not even interested in the fruit machine.

  22. ” If only the overwhelmingly white, middle-class, Oxbridge-educated, male-dominated commentariat would take “freedom from prejudice” as seriously as it takes “freedom of expression”.

    Er, freedom of expression IS freedom from prejudice.
    How is wanting to prevent people from expressing certain views not prejudiced?

  23. @Anon: I have a friend who was having serious alcohol problems, and AA was very helpful in the beginning to give her a structure to her life to enable her to get out of the hole she had dug for herself, but over time she came to the same conclusion you did – there was nothing else beyond that to try and help a person get to the root of their drinking and deal with that problem. It was purely a band aid solution that had to be replaced daily, weekly, monthly, ad infinitum. As you say, addiction is often the way a person tries to escape a completely different issue – if you don’t address the underlying problem the addictive desire will never go away.

  24. People who are addicts use drugs, booze, gambling or sex as a form of medication.’

    Where do I sign up?

  25. I’ve never understood alcoholics, and I’ve known a few. I feel sorry for the poor barstidges. In my former profession those boys drink like billyo. I love a drink. I love a dozen drinks. But the next day I’ll only have six, or one, or none and no dramas will be experienced, and no fucks given. Why can’t they just not have a drink?

  26. Anon>

    I’d say self-medication isn’t addiction, or at least not in any sense where that tag is useful – since the concept of self-medication rather implies that the ‘addiction’ is making things better rather than worse. To my mind addiction is more like a way people self-harm than self-medicate.

    Of course there’s physical dependency and so-on, and that can come with any long-term habit whether it’s heroin or caffeine, but there’s plenty of evidence to support the idea that kicking a physical dependency is easy when people genuinely want to.

  27. For some reason I cannot work out, being from Nottingham prevents you from reading Shakespeare after the age of 16. Can’t work that out.

    It is ironic that an article attacking Fry for attacking self-pity is itself one long whine of self-pity about coming from Nottingham.

  28. Dave,

    Self-medication perhaps isn’t the right term. But it is about people doing a thing to feel better.

  29. Anon>

    People doing something that makes them better wouldn’t appear to have a problem – or at least not one that legalisation of their drug of choice wouldn’t solve.

  30. “Free speech is an unlimited right” – if you mean legal right you are incorrect in terms of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland… any European jurisidiction IIRC.

  31. @ SMFS
    When I was young free speech had unlimited rights – including the right to be told “step outside and say that” (something that I never actually said – the ability to say it was enough).

  32. Philip Scott Thomas

    UKLiberty

    “Free speech is an unlimited right” – if you mean legal right you are incorrect in terms of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland… any European jurisidiction IIRC.

    Quite so. The problem isn’t with SMFS’s statement, however. God help me for actually agreeing with him, but he is right on this point. The problem is with British law, in that doesn’t recognise free speech to its fullest extent.

    But then the British government has never, ever really understood the concept of liberty.

  33. @ ukliberty
    When I was young, one could be prosecuted for blasphemy but I never met anyone who was so freedom of speech was – in reality if not in law – unlimited. The consequences, however …

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