Thursday, April 2, 2009

Joke Police

Mark Styen had a great article about free speech in this week's Maclean's. It's about the shocking criminalization of certain jokes in the UK . Knock-knock. It's the gag police.

Robin Page, the chairman of Britain’s Countryside Restoration Trust and a columnist with the Daily Telegraph, spoke at a rally opposing the government’s anti-hunting laws at a Gloucestershire country fair in 2002. “If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver,” he began, “I want the same rights as you.” A jocular reference to various approved identity groups by a member of an unfashionable one (country folk). Mr. Page was subsequently arrested and, upon declining to answer questions without the presence of counsel, thrown in a cell. Don’t worry. He eventually cleared his name—after five years.

Her Majesty’s Constabulary: the joke police—in every sense.

That’s the problem. Even if you think it’s a good idea for the state to regulate speech, the only troops available to do it are blundering coppers and hack bureaucrats. Last year, as readers may recall, I had the curious experience of having the “tone” of my jokes examined in a Vancouver courthouse by the geniuses of the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal. Hitherto, such forensic dissection has been limited to the more obscure literary critics. But not anymore. Following their week-long deconstruction of Steyn’s “tone,” the BCHRT announced that for its next show trial it would be turning to the “tone” of Guy Earle, a stand-up comic whose late-night put-downs of some lesbian hecklers were allegedly homophobic.

I knew offensive jokes were taboo in society and frowned upon by certain politically correct people in society, but actual arrests? As Steyn points out Obama is lucky he didn't say his little Special Olympics quip in Britain.

I remember in university there was a war against jokes, which if I can recall went something like: racist and homophobic jokes are an assertion of the power of the white male patriarchal society toward the powerless and oppressed.

No doubt this sort of thinking boosts the rating of tv shows like the Sopranos. Tony makes racist and homophobic jokes and it's not anything we're used to seeing in real life. That makes it so much more powerful. Remember the episode where Meadow's boyfriend reported to the gang that he spotted Vito engaged in a homosexual act? It was absolutely hilarious how these tough guys reacted to the news.

1 comment:

  1. It seems all the recent material I have read in regards to Britain, is terrible. The police monitor everything, you need a license to watch TV,and now a joke police force. Their current lifestyle seems to be much worse then anything they would have suffered under the Nazi jackboot, or the KGB. How much more can these poor people take, before a revolt takes place? What has happen to a once great Empire? These English people are behaving like sheep.