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”.