You do not have the right to not be offended

Well, courtesy of Harry’s Place the mystery behind the closure of the excellent Shot By Both Sides has been solved.

What appears to have happened is John posted this comment:

Send the Board [of Deputies] to the gas chambers, that’s what I say (no, not for their ethnicity; for their fatuous whining. And obviously, the people who complain about Bob Geldof saying ‘fuck’ on the telly should be ahead of them in the queue….)

In relation to the wholly manufactured furore over Ken Livingstone’s ‘Concentration Camp Guard’ jibe, which has been referred to the Standards Board by the Jewish Board of Deputies; a comment which, if you visited SBBS with any frequency, you’d know this to be little more than John’s usual brand of humourous polemicism.

Only this time around some anonymous – of course – piece of shit took it on themselves to threaten his livelihood by complaining to his employer as well a threatening to make complaints to the firm’s clients and to the national press.

Aside from provoking widespread anger amongst many bloggers, this whole episode and some of the comments its provoked raises a number of interesting questions.

One has to wonder, in the first place, whether its the mere fact of jokingly calling for execution of the Jewish Board of Deputies which caused so much apparent offence or whether, as seems more likely from comments on other blogs, it was his specific reference to sending them to the ‘gas chamber’ and the presumed symbolism of this reference. On heavily suspects the latter and that none of this would have occured has he referred, instead to, say, having them put against the wall and shot.

The fact is, as his reference to people who whine about Saint Bob saying ‘fuck’ on TV shows, part of John’s humourous style was to call for the assassination of people who pissed him off with their own particular brand of banal absurdity.

In other words, it’s a joke in very much the same way that the story that Hitler’s last words to his mistress Eva Braun were ‘Fuck me! Have you seen the size of that last gas bill?’ is a joke – you might think it a bit sick and rather cruel but – guess what? – a lot of the best humour is frequently a bit sick and very often extremely cruel.

It’s no coincidence, for example, that very best British TV sit-coms, think Fawlty Towers, Steptoe & Son, The Office, Rising Damp and others are all predicated on the key premise that the central character is a complete and utter fucking loser, a social misfit/halfwit. Fact – we laugh at other people’s misfortunes, especially when they’re self-inflicted. Fact – we find humour in even the wosrt and most horrific of situations, it’s what psychologists refer as a ‘coping strategy’, a means of letting off steam and releasing a bit of psychological pressure – often we laugh because if we didn’t we’d cry instead.

As I’ve said, there have been a few comments to the effect that John was ‘out of order’ with that particular comment. Well if you read this and feel that way then let me ask you this question:

If comments like that are so offensive and you believe the holocaust so terrible it should be off-limits when it comes to humour then tell me – are you going to writing a letter of complaint to the BBC next time they show Mel Brooks’ classic comedy ‘The Producers’ – or does ‘Springtime for Hitler’ not count as offensive because Mel Brooks is Jewish?

Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with cracking gags about the holocaust if youre Jewish, is there? You wouldn’t complain about ‘The Producers’ anymore than you’d no more call for Chris Rock to drop his achingly funny ‘Niggaz vs Black People’ routine or lay into Richard Prior for observing how dumb it was of black rioters in LA to trash their own neighbourhood in the aftermath of the Rodney King case rather than head on over to Beverley Hills and trash the homes of the rich and shameless.

Which makes you a fucking hypocrite, doesn’t it.

Just the kind of hand-wringing, middle-class, liberal twat who used to lecture people about the supposed ‘fact’ that non-whites couldn’t be racist, only prejudiced – if you’ve never come across that particular gem, btw, yes it is true that that kind of bullshit was pretty much common currency in liberal anti-racist circles during the 1980’s and certainly a fair way into the 1990’s. Of course, the kind of people who used to spout that kind of bollocks were also the kind of people who’d never sat on the top deck of bus going through an inner city area and listened to group of black youths banging on about how much they hated ‘the pakis’.

No community is entirely free of racism and if you haven’t worked that out by now then, hey, take a seat, wipe the bullshit out of your eyes and welcome to the real fucking world.

Let me tell you something important here, something really important.

There is only one division in society which really matters and that’s the division between the powerful and the powerless – that’s it, that’s the only division that really matters, everything else is a distraction.

Sexism, racism, homophobia, prejudice, bigotry – you know what? In the grand scheme of things they’re all illusions, artifical constructs which serve a single purpose – divide and rule. That’s how the limited number of people in this world who exercise real power hang on to it, by keeping everyone else focussed on fighting amongst themselves – that way no one every really get round to figuring out exactly who it is whose really shitting on them from a great height because if they did…

… well you figure out for yourself just how many people exercise any real power in this world compared to the billions who don’t and then work out just exactly ehat would happen if all us powerless folks suddenly wised up at the same time and decided to go after the bastards with real power. Exactly.

That’s the saddest, dumbest part of this whole episode. Whoever it was who took umbrage at John’s comments and started kicking out complaints is probably sitting there congratulating themselves on a ‘job well done’, on striking a blow against the ‘oppressor’ without ever giving a second thought to the fact that, in reality, they’ve achieved precisely nothing. Nada. Fuck all. Jack Shit.

All they’ve done is pushed a guy who at least had the balls to speak his mind with a bit of humour and who understood that its often necessary to take things to the edge, to set out to deliberately provoke a reaction just to get a debate going at all, to shut down a weblog. Big fucking deal, hope you’re proud of yourself for proving that you’re just as dumb as pretty much everyone else on this fucking planet.

Or, as John Cooper-Clarke might say:

“People don’t have a good word for you, but I do.


3 thoughts on “You do not have the right to not be offended

  1. As both you and I know, these homourless and unimaginative fuckwits of whatever fundamentalist political or religous persuasion are amongst the most dangerous people on the planet. The piece of crap that has closed this site down is beyond contempt… if there is any such ridiculous place as hell they will stew in their own bile.

  2. Easier said than done I know, but shouldn’t the guy at SBBS, rode it out and called the anonymous guys bluff. Would his employers really sack him for his comments? And if they would, couldn’t of explanation or at worse apology, mollified them.

    This is why I admire Ken Livingstone, (not that his comments were distasteful like SBBS’s were) but he stood up to his accusers slurs.

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