If only we could rely on journalists to defend freedom of speech.
I have just read your Telegraph blog post about Tim Minchin.
First of all, please accept my apologies. I know you wrote this a while ago but I have had an usually large amount of (other) rubbish to wade through recently.
It’s all the fault of the Left, isn’t it?
I personally couldn’t give a flying turd where Mr. Minchin, or anyone else, sits on the political spectrum. What I care about is our freedoms, especially freedom of speech.
I find it depressing that, as a journalist, you choose to focus your attention on Minchin’s ‘hypocrisy and moral cowardice’ for not writing a song about Mohammed, rather than maybe turning your anger on the men of violence who might do him harm or threaten to if he did. Isn’t that the more important point?
And I find it equally depressing that our so-called leaders manage to swerve the bullets of bullshit in your article.
If only our political class – and let me emphasise that I mean the left and the right – had the moral courage to defend freedom of speech, like the ex-Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, did during the Jyllands-Posten controversy, then maybe we wouldn’t need to rely on musical comedians/comedic musicians (or journalists) to do so. They could just exercise the freedom.
You ask at the beginning of your post,
“Did you hear the song Aussie comic Tim Minchin wrote savagely satirising Islam for Channel 4’s Eid special? No, I didn’t either.”
This is what Anders Fogh Rasmussen said during the cartoon incident when he was under pressure to meet ambassadors from Islamic countries who wanted him to censor the press:
“The principles upon which Danish democracy is built are so self-evident, there can be no basis for convening a meeting to discuss them.”
Did you hear any of our politicians saying something as powerful as this? No, I didn’t either.
You state very matter-of-factly that you:
“wouldn’t write a rude song about Islam if you paid me a million quid. Or even ten million.”
That’s honest of you, James, I’ll give you that. Again, though, does it not bother you, as a journalist, that a vast and crucial topic such as Islam – which I say will probably be the defining topic of this century that you and I will die in – cannot be held fully to account by your vocal chords or your laptop? If it can’t be held fully to account, it can’t be held to account.
You choose to exercise your precious freedom of speech to attack Minchin and others rather than those who are taking that freedom from you. Sorry, that was sloppy of me so let me correct myself: those who have already taken that freedom from you.
I do not think Christianity is a ‘soft-target’, as you say; far from it. I am sure Minchin – who plays shows in the U.S. – might concur with me.
And how nice of you to mention Simon Singh, too. How did you describe him? An ‘Establishment lickspittle’. And then you ask whether,
“these faux-edgy lightweights [including Singh] ever actually stood up for any cause in their lives which requires an ounce of moral and intellectual courage.”
Err, in Singh’s case, I think taking a strong stand for freedom of speech (unlike other journalists; cough, cough) could fairly be described as ‘moral and intellectual courage’. It’s ironic that you, with your views on global warming, are probably a beneficiary of Singh’s principled stand in the context of rigorous scientific discussion.
By your own admission you were disappointed not to get into the Bullingdon Club during the time you were studying at Oxford with our current Prime Minister. What does it say about you that even an organisation that is virtually constitutionally dedicated to wankerdom refused to have you?
But then, I suppose that was also the fault of the ‘liberal-left trenderati’, too.
P.S. I’m also emailing you this via your website.