Stephen Fry on SJWs

I only watched about 15 minutes of the BAFTAs (honestly) but that did include the moment a woman in a t-shirt, leather jacket and scarf came up to collect an award and host Stephen Fry described her as “dressed as a bag lady”. I laughed, as did the audience. It seemed to be a rare moment of spontaneous humour within the choreographed autocue-reading.

But his comments provoked “outrage” on twitter followed by a blunt response from Fry. He then left twitter – something that he’s done before – and wrote a few remarks on his blog, Too many people have peed in the pool.

After a section illustrating his usual lavatorial humour, he continues to describe twitter, and in particular its offence-seeking social justice warriors (SJWs)  as follows:

To leave that metaphor, let us grieve at what twitter has become. A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know. It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same. It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian.

I recall hearing this idea before – “It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view”.  Stephen Fry must have picked it up after reading Ian Woolley’s blog post on polarisation.  Ian wrote

With social justice- and eco-warriors becoming ridiculous, the vanilla figures who oppose them are elevated beyond their worth. So, every time you see Leonardo DiCaprio preaching for people to live more ecologically responsible lives from the deck of his $200m, 2000 diesel-litre per day rented super-yacht, or you see a story like the recent one in Massachusetts where a woman who decided to identify as a man was kept out of running to become class diversity officer because she/he was now a patriarchal white male (is everything alright? No, it’s just, you seemed to be choking on something) it inflates the notion of Katie Hopkins in the UK or Ann Coulter in America as bold and interesting iconoclasts just for pointing out the obvious madness and hypocrisy.

The link to climate scepticism should be clear, but I’ll spell it out. What effect does the relentless alarmist shrieking of climate scientists, climate sociologists, climate activists and climate correspondents have? “It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view”.

 

 

31 thoughts on “Stephen Fry on SJWs

  1. I agree, if Fry can’t crack a little joke without getting attacked for it, the world is a poorer place. Similarly, Oreskes should be able to make a little joke without being attacked for insensitivity, yet on these pages we see her condemned. I imagine you don’t see the irony in your change of heart.

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  2. Both Paul and Raff are right. Paul is right to point out that criticising Oreskes is not a call to stop her tweeting unpleasantly. Raff is right to say a joke is a joke.

    But when, for example, Billy Connolly got into trouble for airing the thought ‘get on with it’ not long before the murder of Ken Bigley, there was a point to it, shocking as it was. It was a comment on the too easy way we consume news media – even tragedy now is disposable. So it wasn’t *just* unpleasant. There are good jokes and bad jokes. Oreskes’s joke was just not very good.

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  3. Raff quotes Fry here, and Graham Chapman back on the Oreskes thread, as examples of black humour we’re not offended by, which therefore demonstrates our hypocrisy, or something.

    They’re comedians, and they weren’t making jokes about people they hated. If I was a university professor I wouldn’t make unpleasant remarks about people I spent my time campaigning against. For a start it would only draw attention to my campaigning, and make people wonder if that’s what professors should be doing, which is very much Paul’s point.

    Oreskes is quite famous for here campaigning. Aaron McCright is less well known. He’s a member of the “old white men” school of sociological theory, being a middle aged white man himself. We can all be excused for being unwilling to face the idea of our own mortality. McCright has to face in addition the idea that before he pops it he’ll be an old white man himself. What a fate.

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  4. Not censoring, eh? I’ll bear that in mind next time someone dies and be sure to get a rib tickler into your pages.

    But really I don’t in principle see a difference between a joke about clothing and a joke about dying. It is all part of free speech, some of which one likes, some not. I’ll believe you really see a difference rather than just feigning outrage if you tell me that you were (or would have been if you heard it) equally outraged when Michael Palin said of the death of Graham Chapman shortly before some event that it was one of the worst examples of party pooping he had seen in years. I asked this of Geoff on his Oreskes thread but he hasn’t answered.

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  5. Geoff, yes – exactly. (Hang on, I can’t agree with everybody can I?) Making nasty public remarks about the death of people you campaigned against is a vile thing to do. And it invites judgement, being public. Also, McCright’s remarks weren’t even attempts at jokes. Just ugly comments.

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  6. Geoff, I didn’t see your reply before posting.

    They’re comedians, and they weren’t making jokes about people they hated.

    So they are, but the families of the targets of their humour are not. So where does the outrage lie – in the supposed hurt to the deceased or to their families? If you or any “sceptic” has concern for the families then do you think the family is more or less likely to hear about the supposed insult if you make a big deal about a “tweet” from someone the family almost certainly don’t follow and may never have heard of?

    I’d conclude that you don’t care a jot about the family, or you would have kept quiet. Your interest is only in embarrassing Oreskes and preventing such an “outrage” from happening again – censoring such free speech in other words.

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  7. Raff – ‘once you start censoring humour’ – passing judgement is not a call for censorship. Or would you rather Geoff or anyone else didn’t judge? If so, who’s censoring then?

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  8. Raff,

    Paul, I have an opinion that you dislike, but how is that “lying”?

    You clearly haven’t encountered Paul before (or maybe you have, but you’re being ironic). From what I’ve seen anything that someone says that he disagrees with is a lie, or an illustration of them being dishonest. I may be exaggerating slightly, but not by much.

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  9. ATTP – do you have any examples that you can quote? From what I recall, PM said that certain statements you made were inaccurate, to which you responded by saying that he had either misunderstood or misquoted you, to which PM retorted by saying you were lying. Is that your recollection?

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  10. “It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view”.

    Perhaps so. And yet as rational people we still have an obligation to separate out questions such as “what immature reaction am I having to this person” vs. “what is objective reality and a rational course forward”, and perhaps that is as good a framing as any for the conflict that brings us here together in a comment forum such as this. 🙂

    On Paul – not by much.

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  11. Oh, just saw that ever sociable Paul is deleting all my comments, apparently a closed community here. I’m sure I’ll survive staying clear, cheers.

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  12. Geoff,
    When comments are deleted here, or on other blogs that presents views with which they agree, it’s – of course – for a good reason. When it happens on blogs that present views with which they disagree it’s – of course – censorship.

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  13. Of course. Just wielding mod powers against ‘enemies’. Not uncommon in the climate debate, easy to get banned just for citing evidence that contradicts ‘grand narratives’. (Paul is invoking ‘off topic’, but naturally in a one-sided way and without any pretense of warning/courtesy, as I was responding to specific comments directed at me. Which, in contrast, were *virtuously* off-topic…)

    Do you happen to know of any anti-AGW-oriented forums that have a better level of discussion? Tall order perhaps, but I genuinely enjoy exchanges/challenges, new info etc.

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  14. Do you happen to know of any anti-AGW-oriented forums that have a better level of discussion? Tall order perhaps, but I genuinely enjoy exchanges/challenges, new info etc.

    Not off the top of my head. This blog doesn’t seem all that bad to me, but that’s possibly because I really don’t expect much these days, and the alternatives are typically so dire, that it’s not hard to be better.

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  15. I’m having difficulty parsing that. Are you saying better informed/articulate anti-AGW folks can be found in the comment forum on ATTP’s site, or are you making a sarcastic comment that I can’t follow, or something else?

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  16. I can see Stephen’s point, and also admit there is occasionally a bit of pleasure to be had by barking back at an angry dog which is already barking furiously at innocent passers-by from inside a locked car.

    Quite a few global-warmers fit into that analogy.

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  17. [The link to climate scepticism should be clear, but I’ll spell it out. What effect does the relentless alarmist shrieking of climate scientists, climate sociologists, climate activists and climate correspondents have? “It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view”.]

    There is a reason for this. As children, a majority of us were read the nursery tale about Chicken Little or Henny Penny and ‘The Sky is Falling’ scenario on multiple occasions. We were conditioned as infants to recognize the effects a falling acorn can have on the skull of an egg-laying fowl.

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  18. I must say that Paul’s reaction to Raff seems justified by Raff’s lack of seriously. ATTP of course has attacked Matthews personally with a blog post and it is unjustified I think. Ken Rice is not really able to comment on the matter with credibility in my book. The thing about this blog is that generally meaningful disagreeing comments are not deleted, unlike on your blog Ken.

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  19. Geoff,

    Are you saying better informed/articulate anti-AGW folks can be found in the comment forum on ATTP’s site, or are you making a sarcastic comment that I can’t follow, or something else?

    I was kind of being serious. I haven’t found an anti-AGW/”skeptic” site where the discussion doesn’t typically degenerate into some kind of name calling or where the posts aren’t just digs at warmists/alarmists. So, it was partly a serious response and partly being a bit sarcastic. This site is not as appalling as others, but that doesn’t say much.

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  20. Just for the record and to show Ken Rice even when trying to be serious can be wrong, one needs to mention Climate Audit. A new series of posts constitute new statistical methodology for paleoclimate using random effects. The quality of the science there is pretty high despite the inconvenience of the result that the Mideval Warm Period was pretty warm.

    Ken if you want serious content do visit and try your new civil personna.

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