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Saturday, September 01, 2012

When The Fascists Even Want To Censor Jesters

  Dellors writes on how Frankie Boyle is being made an unperson by Channel 4 "He is not under contract and there are no shows planned with him." following him tweeting some jokes about the paralymics.

   I commented:

As a gentleman of a certain age I saw this Monty Python sketch when it was first broadcast.
The 27th Sil­ly Olympiad, an event held tra­di­tion­al­ly ev­ery 3.7 years, which this year has brought to­geth­er com­peti­tors from over 4 mil­lion dif­fer­ent coun­tries:-​100 yards for peo­ple with no sense of di­rec­tion-​1500 me­ters for the deaf-​200 me­ters freestyle for non-​swim­mers-​Marathon for in­con­ti­nents

I think one can say with confidence that if they tried it now the Pythons would instantly become as much media unpersons as David Bellamy. I think one can also say that proves we are far less free than then.
I always remembered the reaction of the 1500m runners to the firing of the starting pistol.

Monty Python - Silly Olympics
     This stramash seems to be being pushed by Mencap who have specifically called for him to be censored from the airwaves - "It would be disappointing if these steps were undermined by providing a comedian who has repeatedly caused profound offence to disabled people opportunities to do so again."

      Mencap, of course, does not consist of disabled people and cannot honestly claim to speak for them. In fact it looks like there is only one group Mencap can speak for.

      Yes, while Mencap claims to be a charity it's own site says nothing about who pays them and does have a link through which you can donate it is clear that Mencap is yet another government funded sock puppet.

   The fact that their donations icon is less central than their "come and work for us and help build our bureaucratic empire" icon.  Bodies doing real charitable work with limited money don't have their priorities in that order.

   Bodies whose main activity seems to be running "campaigns" of "raising awareness" about how their bosses, the state civil service, should have ever more money do. Such sock puppets, particularly where the ever more totalitarian state also owns most of the media and will promote whatever they say, actually benefit from the publicity of saying, in a po-faced manner, how seriously they oppose free speech.

   The fight against free speech is not being run by people who have principled support of censorship but simply by those who find they fit more comfortably into the totalitarian state structure by adopting such fascism.

   I have emailed Mencap to see if they deny being government funded promoters of fascist censorship. We will see if they can.

UPDATE I got this response from Mencap to my admitedly intemperate email. It was considerably more  than previous experience has led me to expect:

in response to your email and your blog post:
Q: Are we "government funded promoters of fascist censorship"

A: No, our campaigns are not government funded. We receive funding from local authorities for the provision of care and support to individual people with a learning disability, and some grants for work we do in the community working with young people. Our campaigning work is entirely funded by donations from the public and other fundraised (non-government) income. If you look over our campaigns, such as 'Death by Indifference on ending avoidable deaths of people with a learning disability in the NHS, or our 'Stand by Me' campaign to end hate crimes against disabled people, you'll see we are an independent voice that challenges government and public services to meet the needs of people with a learning disability and tackle unlawful discrimination.
Q: Is Mencap calling for the "totalitarian fascist suppression of free speech"?

We have expressed our views, as we're entitled to do, about Frankie Boyle's comments, which is that they are offensive to many disabled people. You might want to note that we have not called for him to be sacked from Channel 4- it's their choice who they employ, but we've expressed our view that it would be pretty incoherent of them to host the paralympic coverage and then give a platform to someone who spends much of his time on and off stage denigrating disabled people.
Hope that answers your questions.

Dan Scorer

Senior Campaigns & Policy Manager

   I would have been more impressed by a full breakdown. ASH has also made the same claim that their campaigns are behind a Chinese wall separating them from the government funded charitable work they do - despite the fact that ASH is 98% government funded & does virtually no conventional charitable work. I have no doubt that ASH are being wholly dishonest in making this claim. Mencap are certainly better than the 98%+ sock puppet ASH are but how much better is still undetermined.

   On the second point readers may form their own opinions about whether saying it would be "disappointing if these steps were undermined by providing a comedian who has repeatedly caused profound offence to disabled people opportunities to do so again" is a call for him to be censored by C4 or if there is some other undetermined meaning in these words. I absolutely accept that if Mencap were an organisation wholly independent of government it would have as much right to call for censorship as anybody else. It is an entirely different matter for government funded bodies.

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- A selection of the Frankie Boyle tweets in question are reproduced below:

"Apparently the Saudi Arabian Paralympic team is mainly thieves."

"Sadly our Paralympian in the high jump isn’t expected to match his personal best. But I hear it doesn’t count as it was ‘Taliban assisted’."

- The blog author has compared the above to Monty Python, implicitly asserting that nothing has changed in the levels of social acceptability since the 1970's. What the author feels about other styles of entertainment that have also similarly fallen out of favour since then, such as blackface, minstrel shows and bear-baiting has not been explicitly mentioned, but could probably be inferred.

- Mencap's annual report can be found here: - this contains a full breakdown of all funding, expenditures and activities the charity has pursued in the last fiscal year. It is hoped that the author will at least take the time to read through this, and then audit the charity himself if need be to justify his claims of government censorship.

- It should be noted that this is one of only a handful of occasions that the blog author has mentioned the disabled, (at least, as far as a casual Google search of this blog can reveal) which may seem bizarre for a politician trying to represent his constituency, given that around 20% of people in Glasgow alone suffer from some form of disability. This is perhaps understandable, considering Pournelle hasn't written at length on what role the disabled would fulfill on the lunar colonies of tomorrow (rest assured, Mr Craig, for the realm of sci-fi appears to be full of meaningful characters that can help educate you on this matter - have you read "Flowers for Algernon"? It is thought that this would be especially pertinent to you, given your previous thoughts on Mencap).

- It should also be noted that the Paralympics are in part sponsored by ATOS, a multinational company (read: private sector) who are currently responsible for the the coalition's Work Capability Assessment program in a bid to finally get those workshy parasites off the government teat forever under the loving guidance of the free market. Channel 4's own investigation into ATOS concludes that this process is going swimmingly, insofar as emptying the register is concerned ( Pay no attention to the agony and suicides this may or may not have contributed to- they should have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and went Galt like the rest of us producers.

- The author sees absolutely no discrepancy with the above documentary, Channel 4's editorial policy and Frankie Boyle's opinions.

- Similarly, the author of this article has previously endorsed a number of American senators vying for the US Presidency who have made their intentions for the disabled (especially those with the audacity to earn below the poverty line) quite clear. For instance, the budget proposal announced by Paul Ryan (whom the author has previously described as, "so squeaky clean it hurts") earlier this year would effectively end Medicare and Social Security for many Americans, amongst whom the disabled are poised to suffer the most ( given their already diminished employment chances.

- It should be noted that terms like "statists", "parasites" and "facism" in the contexts covered by this blog were popularised by the writings of Ayn Rand, whose work on Objectivism and the free market is often held as an example (especially amongst prominent libertarians such as Ryan et al) as a template for a just world. Ironically, by Rand's own definition of success, the author - having never created nor contributed anything significant in his life - would equally be labelled as a mooching parasite with absolutely no right to the happiness and wealth rightfully claimed by the upper echelons of society.


"The blog author has compared the above to Monty Python, implicitly asserting that nothing has changed in the levels of social acceptability since the 1970's."

No - I was explicitly saying that much has changed and we have less free speech now.

"around 20% of people in Glasgow alone suffer from some form of disability." is one of these spurious statistics which says nothing about the supposed subject but sounds scary. Personally I have partially disabled sinuses.

Flowers for Algernon is indeed a great story about a mentally disabled man except that it isn't about the disability but about, temporarily, overcoming it.

I suggest you read Waldo by Heinlein which is about physical disability & living in space (even mental disability since the character would now be classified as having Asbergers at least). As the fact that the word Waldo has entered the language because of that book shows, science fiction writers have contributed to progress in countering disability as in so many other fields.

I do indeed agree that when we have a spacegoing society several things now classified as disability will be actually beneficial in a zero-G environemnt. If only Luddite governments were not stifling the development of such a society.

I also suspect that autism, while a terminal disability in prehistoric and historic societies, may be remarkably important now and in the future in a society where thinking is more important than day to day chores.
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