Monday, May 21, 2007

The Right to Offend

Ofcom have apparently rapped Jeremy Clarkson over the knuckles for calling a Daihatsu car "a bit gay" and a bit "ginger beer" (rhymes with...). Hasn't Ofcom got something better to do? Neither of these remarks is remotely homophobic and they certainly weren't meant that way. I gather the ruling has led to some gay rights groups and Labour MPs calling for legislation to make such remarks illegal. What on earth is this country turning into? Free speech also means the right to offend.

If this were not the case theb HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU would have to be taken off the air. Last week Kirsty Young made a remark about the Queen receving the traditional 21 gun salute from a local high school. I'm sure the population of Dunblane found that highly offensive, but does that mean it should not have been broadcast? Of course not.

The tie I am wearing today could be described as "a bit gay". Oops, I have offended myself. Must go down to the town hall for some 'thought correction'.



UPDATE: Due to popular demand (well, from three people), here is the tie in question...


97 comments:

glass house said...

How is using the terms "gay" and "queer" to describe something you don't like not Homophobia?

Marquee Mark said...

It gets complicated when "gay" now also means "a bit crap, really" to The Yoof. Chris Moyles fell foul of this - or so he said. Although I would rather Chis Moyles fell foul of a medium-sized asteroid...

mark williams said...

Iain, Your ties have always been offensive, but we're not complaining.

Anonymous said...

I think we need a photo of the tie in question so that an independent assessment of its gayness can be made.

Ellee said...

My 16-year-old son and his class was been told by his teacher that they were not allowed to use the word "gay" for that reason either.

And Jeremy Clarkson also offended a red-headed girlfriend of mine after he said on the show that people with ginger hair smelt differently. She fired off a letter of complaint, but it wasn't taken seriously by the beeb, to my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Personally I find the term straight offensive. I don’t really want to be described as being conventional, traditional, or even a square. Can we ban the use of straight too?

Anonymous said...

Compared with the sniffy remarks that will be heading in Bullingdon Dave's direction at the next election this one doesn't even get on the chart.
That silver spoon really will be the death of him.

Anonymous said...

If we call Jeremy Clarkson a tosser - is that offensive to those people who toss?

geoffers said...

There are many homosexuals who are quite matter-of-fact about their sexuality and do not otherwise differ from their heterosexual peers. On the other hand, there are ultra-camp & overly effeminate chaps who wear their sexuality like a big sequinned glove.

In young people's circles on the interweb thingie, you may come across the word "ghey", which is a recent (& semantic) attempt to make the distinction between the two. Calling a frilly girly twit a frilly girly twit doesn't have to be homophobic. It could be, but it ain't necessarily so.

anon and on and on said...

Clarkson only ever says things deliberately. His mannered writing and ponderous broadcasting style are about as spontaneous as D-Day (and even less funny than that).

He uses the gay labels because he hasn't the balls to be racist on air, but feels the need to appear "edgy" to fellow menopausal petrolheads. Had Ofcom said nothing, he'd have been gutted.

I'm surprised you even bothered to give him the oxygen of publicity, Iain.

achilles said...

well said Iain! thank god there are people out there with common sense still. sometimes one does not begin to wonder.....

Anonymous said...

"Watlington" on Conshome has it right-thank god there is still someone located in the real world.
The grass roots are starting to ask what Dave is on-what ever it is it's warping the little judgement he appears to have.
And what is the point of being on one of his policy committee's?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry Iain,in the next few years we will be walking around with books ,the thoughts of chairman Gordon or the thinkings of chairman Dave, now your ties they are very colourful.

Anoneumouse said...

Noddy's bell will been ringing with indignation.

Sniper said...

Jezza was lucky it wasn't a police horse. He would've ended up before the beak, is beak offensive to judges? Or do beaked creatures feel offended by being linked with judges?

Oh no! Language is mutable - get me to a newspeak dictionary. We need everything fixed in aspic otherwise the lawyers may starve.

james higham said...

Don't see the problem, actually.

Letterman said...

Why shouldn't he be told off for using the word gay as an insult? Its childish and offensive. I don't think it should be illegal but its definitely a symptom of a residual homophobia that still exists in our society - where gay means bad. My dad was gay and the test I use is would he have been offended or annoyed by this and personally I think he would. If nothing else I really don't think you should be going out of your way to defend these kind of remarks.

Chris G said...

Does this mean we can start telling Madeleine McCann jokes now? Does anyone know any good ones?

Ben Sherreard said...

Completely agree Iain. Free speech means you occaisionally get offended. People need to grow up.

Anonymous said...

I think what is sad here is that people are taking anything Clarkson says that seriously. It is all tongue in cheek stuff. Meanwhile the real baddies and nasties [like the BNP] get away with murder, because the police can't be arsed to do the hard work to deal with them. So once again they are back to chasing law-abiding citizens with massive fines for trivial offences. Of course, an exception needs to be made for people dropping litter [even fag ends or quavers] - they ought to be shot by Robocops - that'll learn 'em..

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't cross the room to support Clarkson BUT a few years ago I wrote something in a union paper attacking two creeps as brown-nosers and got into a lot of trouble for being homophobic (one was a gay man and the other a lesbian) for the use of the expression. It was a new one on me.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear ! I hope this isn't an early warning that more of your cheap shots at the expense of the Welsh are on their way...

Or that it is to flag up the start of your campaign to 'Free Patrick Mercer'..

Anonymous said...

chris g - on the basis that I have yet to hear any 'jokes' about the Virginia Tech situation, I think it may be a little early for that...

But judging by the other remarks on this thread, woe betide anyone try to refer to the Cutty Sark as a 'Teak Lipper'...

Ed said...

"gay" and "queer" are only derogatory if you believe that homosexuals are inferior.

Dr John Crippen said...

Iain, thank goodness for some common sense there. And also reality. The English language is so wonderful because it changes and adapts. I have four teenagers, and their neologisms, or new meanings for old, are endlessly fascinating; and you cannot legislate for or against the changing meaning of words. If you could, "gay" would still mean cheerful.

For them they use "gay" to describe something they don't like and what ever you or I think about that won't change anything.

They use the word "random" incorrectly.

I think the thing they do that bugs me most is going up at the end of a sentence as though it was a question, even though it isn't.

What is that about?


John

Daily Referendum said...

"gay rights groups" Hold on a minute, isn't it homophobic to call these rights groups gay? Maybe these groups should have themselves made illegal. The people who have complained about Clarkson have done so, not because they are gay, they have complained because they are humourless arseholes.

If Clarkson used language that heterosexual viewers would consider offensive to gay viewers, the show would soon lose its massive following. I'm sure, considering the circles Clarkson mixes in, that he has many gay friends, and that he has no intension of offending them.

Anonymous said...

sorry, didn't you ban people from using the name 'Iain Dale's Dildo' in comments?? I didn't do this myself- nor am I saying it is tasteful or acceptable... but by the standards you are suggesting OFCOM be judged you would yourself be condemned.

mitch said...

under chairperson brown the "british" language will be reduced to a maximum of 100 words these will all be approved and risk assessed.fixed penaltys will be issued by inspectors
and nobody will ever be offended again.(state schools still have some work to get pupils up to 100 words).

Anonymous said...

Actually the tiny Daihatsu Copen "sports car" with its buzzing little toy engine is one of the queerest cars on the road. No self-respecting gay, or straight for that matter, would be seen dead in one.

gay queer poof said...

Oi!

Leave us homo's alone!

BJ said...

Everyone who's criticised Iain for any kind of censorship he's imposed on here -- you're all fools.

This isn't a public forum for discussion. It's a private one. Owned by Iain. If he doesn't like what people say, he can do what he likes.

Its equivalent is the people who try to smoke in my house. I don't like it, so I ask them not to do it. And because it's my house, I can.

Anonymous said...

BJ- Think you have replied without trying to fully understand the point being made. I'm not saying that Iain shouldn't be able to decide what is posted in replies to his own blog- like you say it is his private blog.

What I am saying is that if you make these decisions where they concern yourself, then it is a little rich to criticise other groups or organisations from making the same decisions with regards to the programmes or content they oversee.

BJ said...

Yep -- except Iain was criticising the use of public money (Ofcom, local councils etc) to enforce this kind of nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Then I suppose I half agree! I think Iain is right with his post.... just also think he is not really in a superb position to make it. That was my only (very minor) point.

I do think OFCOM wade in with this PC stuff far too easily, and like Iain alludes to- it is verging on thought-control... yet I also didn't see anything massively offensive about crude usernames being used on replies to posts- even though they were pretty juvenile.

Slim Jim said...

Yet again another example of PC paranoia. More officials getting their knickers in a knot about FA. I have to agree, Iain, freedom of speech means exactly that. Over the past 10 years, we have been witnessing a gradual codifying of our behaviour. It's the slippery slope towards totalitarianism...

Anonymous said...

Isn't the word "gay" a bit old fashioned now as a description of homosexuals? I thought their own preferred term is now "queer". Maybe Iain could advise on these niceties of etymology.

canvas said...

jeremy Clarkson's jeans are offensive.

sniper said...

Good use of Tie. Well done Iain.

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, you blade !

I have often thought that such remarks offend NOT the actual target, but merely those who appoint themselves as their mouthpieces.

I think the mouthpieces' actions are far more offensive, superior and patronising. Now I've offended MYself - I am a father.

Somehow I think you Iain can take care of yourself.

Alan

Anonymous said...

That tie is shockingly vulgar - more vulgar than a vulcan volcanologist's vagina in fact. There is a bar in Texas where if you go in wearing a tie, they cut it off and nail to the rafters, as you are in 'cowboy country'. I wish I knew where it was so you could pay a visit...

Athos said...

annonymous 7:09pm,

There is a slight difference in those situations. Taking "Iain Dale's Dildo" as a nickname was a deliberate ad hominen attack on Iain via his sexuality. It was banned for being both crude and a direct attack on Iain, not because "it could be offensive to homosexuals".

In fact, your example demonstraits the difference between a directed homophobic attack (that is, as intended, offensive to its target) and an off-the-cuff (as much as you believe Jeremy is) comment using the word gay in a commonly understood meaning.
Well done.

For myself, I would say that the word gay is undergoing a schism: gay (and "ghey") being used without retaining the association between the two meanings.
Acknowledging that these meanings are seperate might be a more productive approach than trying to suppress the unfavourable one.

authorised government tie inspector said...

I must advise you that this disgusting example contravenes all known Government Guidelines. Countless minority groups may have been offended by this flagrant tie flaunting. I have today contacted Ofcom whom I am assured share my horror and disgust. Appropriate legislation will surely follow.

Anonymous said...

Athos, I'll try to read your reply as sounding unintentionally patronising rather than being intended as such but I suspect it is far from accidental... I will reply in an equally respectful manner and state that I am glad I 'demonstrait' the distinction so effectively.

For what it's worth I think the tie in question is actually alright!

W G Gruff said...

dr john crippen: Has it occurred to you that your poor grammar (and neologisms) may be as irritating as the neologisms of your four teenagers?

As an aside: Logic dictates that since at the beginning of a sentence one is said to 'go down', one must necessarily go up at the end.

Daily Referendum said...

Sorry Iain, but it looks like someone has been sick on a tablecloth.

Anonymous said...

Did you dribble gravy down it, or did it look like that in the shop?

Anonymous said...

Even someone who is gay cannot deny the ultimate beauty of Kirsty Young.

She might find a few 'tart' words to say about that tie, mind!

Anonymous said...

"jeremy Clarkson's jeans are offensive."

only because jeremy Clarkson is inside them.

this bloated balding saddo of an overgrown child can amuse from time to time and has become a bit of a 'lad' icon which means people bend over backwards (oooh mother!) to appease him when he is obviously sneeringly racist and sexist and homophobic in that overgrown-little-boy-lost 'aren't I a clever-dick' manner of his.

And of course he is the 'acceptable' face of the genuine old-guard Thatcherite ultra-libertarian tory position of 'my car right or qwrong and sod youyr global warming' school of 'thought' (I define that last word pretty liberally).

YHN said...

LoL. Is this the same Iain Dale who jumped at the chance to accuse me of being homophobic (I'm not) for political reasons?

Anonymous said...

This blog is so Jewish.

Iain Dale said...

YHN, explain...

canvas said...

Anon says:

"jeremy Clarkson's jeans are offensive."

"only because jeremy Clarkson is inside them."

NO,NO, NO - his jeans are 100% offensive - and it wouldn't matter if Brad Pitt was wearing them - the jeans would still be the height of naffness. :) LoL

Little Black Sambo said...

"And of course he is the 'acceptable' face of the genuine old-guard Thatcherite ultra-libertarian tory position of 'my car right or qwrong and sod youyr global warming' school of 'thought'"

Welcome back, Mike.

canvas said...

Iain - there's no way you got that tie at Gray Palmer! LoL

Mike H said...

Is that 'highlighter pink' on the tie? Looks like it from the memo on your desk. Very tasteful. Maybe you could apply a bit of balance to the overall effect with a touch of yellow?

The laughing Spaniel said...

Iain could you please remove the word 'bit' from your comment about your tie

Iain Dale said...

I did buy it there actually. A bargain at £45!

The Remittance Man said...

Let's be honest here: all this "righteous indignation" pumped out by these XXX rights groups and ZZZ activists is just marketing.

They need the publicity so they can squeal and whine and get another go at suckling from the public tit. The last thing they want is for the likes of Clarkson to actually belt up; how could they justify their existence if he did?

But I do think it's about time that ordinary people (of all persuasions) finally stood up and told these con-artists we are fed up with their mau-mauing.

Anonymous said...

oh Iain,

did you really pay £45 for that? Oh dear

The Remittance Man said...

ps The majority opinion in kwa-Remittance is that the tie is very gay.

Nurse says it is almost exactly like her "artistic" Uncle William's favourite. And Mzi muttered something about "baas-missis".

Personally I think it's no worse than the MCC tie, but should I be booking my household in for re-education and diversity training?

The Remittance Man said...

Oh and Ma Remittance says it is very bright and cheerful. Which I do beleive is the original meaning of the word "gay"

Steve Albury said...

Iain,

I think you need to go on the programme 'a queer eye for the straight guy' - obviously the programme title would need some adjustment but some new York Gay fashion advice might really help

Also, having bought the Mika album on your sole reccommendation I can report your taste in all things is not suspect, just ties.

queer as a portsmouth duck said...

I apologise to queers, Portsmouth and ducks.

Anonymous said...

"A bargain at £45! "

parroting the proprietor?

TONY said...

Clarkson has defended his use of the term 'gay' in the past by saying he uses it to mean 'lame'. Does that make Blair a gay duck Prime Minister?

forthurst said...

The solution is to abolish all so-called 'Hate' laws. Like public ownership, they dont work in practice. They inhibit free speech, divert the attention of the authorities who find it very hard to distinguish between fair use of "Oldspeak" and criminal failure to use "Newspeak".
Lets get back to English common law: whats good enough for the English is good enough for everybody else, and if they dont like it there is a very simple solution for them: clear out.
Why is a 'gay' car so much more offensive than the persistent use of foul language or the insulting of members of the royal family or anybody else by the the BBC?

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I feel the comment Clarkson made was offensive. But it's in his nature and I think it should have just been brushed aside. To go to the lengths of getting Ofcom to give him a black mark is pretty pittiful. But I do like it when loud mouths such as Jeremy Clarkson do get shot down.

homophobia,schmomophobia said...

I am sure Freud would have had something interesting to say about that photo.

Dr John Crippen said...

W G Gruff said...

dr john crippen: Has it occurred to you that your poor grammar (and neologisms) may be as irritating as the neologisms of your four teenagers?

As an aside: Logic dictates that since at the beginning of a sentence one is said to 'go down', one must necessarily go up at the end.

May 21, 2007 8:15 PM

+++++

I am well rebuked!

Crappy grammar indeed.

But the point was good


J

patronising **** said...

If anybody has been affected by the contents of this blog, counselling can be obtained at......

Anonymous said...

Iain - YHN is Chad. He trolls around ConHome despite being banned, getting a new ISP every few days so he can continue to disrupt (using the c word, getting deleted). No netiquette, no class. He also has the most idiotic website on the internet, even worse than ukiphome. My two year old has better manners. Try to ignore him.

javelin said...

Depends if you take offence or give offence.

Supposing I called a person gay, even you. Am I giving offence? If you were offended would you be taking offence?

If I screamed at somebody "You're a f*ck*ing f*gg*t" I would be giving offence.

Chris Whiteside said...

Some people make a career out of taking offence.

There is still too much genuine prejudice against ethnic minorities, gays, and people of differing religious groups, but it is actively counterproductive when the self-appointed thought police jump all over trivial offences - or cases where people are merely expressing a different but legitimate viewpoint. It trivialises the real problem.

Iain, refresh my memory, didn't one of the leading lights of Gaysoc at the University of East Anglia once try to "no-platform" you for supposedly being anti-gay?

It would have been early Summer 1985, and if my memory serves the poor chap couldn't grasp the distinction between making a few mild criticisms of the way gay-rights campaigners had put their case, and being anti-gay yourself.

He didn't get anywhere because, as you pointed out, you'd just finished speaking anyway.

Newmania said...

The use of the word " gay" is part of the normalisation of homophobic abuse and its fair enough for Iain to dislike it . On the other hand thats a long way from having a law against it which is what the Socilaist would immmediately advocate.
It isn`t far fetched either Coucils all over the country have enacted similiar banns and I have compiled list of the funniest. Use of the phrase Poltically Incorrect was banned somewhere.

( One woman had to move her pocelain pigs in case they offended Muslims)

Paleo said...

Every single child in this 'ere bog standard comp uses "Gay" to mean something c**p, even the gay kids...

Chuck Unsworth said...

Are you sure about that tie Iain?

Looks like a 'breakfast' tie to me. Still, you seem to be happy enough with it slung around your neck.

Personally I'd have worn the Marigolds whilst tying the Double-Windsor.

Anonymous said...

The Home Office are proposing a snoopers charter, under which public sector staff would be compelled by law to snoop on us and tip off police about anyone they believe COULD commit a violent crime.

Prime indicators of potential violent criminals will be coming from disfunctional families with alcoholism, violence or mental health issues.

BBC Have Your Say topic today:

Are you a public sector worker? Would you be happy to ‘snoop’ on potentially violent individuals? Could such a move reduce crime or will it undermine trust in public organisations? Are we moving ever closer to a surveillance society?

Why isn't David Cameron doing the job he's paid to do and opposing these obnoxious, Stasi style, thought police proposals from Blair-Broon as opposed to attacking Conservative bloggers and his own party?

He's behaving like the police, choosing easy targets and ignoring the real issues.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

The Home Office are proposing a snoopers charter, under which public sector staff would be compelled by law to snoop on us and tip off police about anyone they believe COULD commit a violent crime.

Prime indicators of potential violent criminals will be coming from disfunctional families with alcoholism, violence or mental health issues.

BBC Have Your Say topic today:

Are you a public sector worker? Would you be happy to ‘snoop’ on potentially violent individuals? Could such a move reduce crime or will it undermine trust in public organisations? Are we moving ever closer to a surveillance society?

Why isn't David Cameron doing the job he's paid to do and opposing these obnoxious, Stasi style, thought police proposals from Blair-Broon as opposed to attacking Conservative bloggers and his own party?

He's behaving like the police, choosing easy targets and ignoring the real issues.

Auntie Flo'

machiavelli said...

Is it, erm, made of cheap wrapping paper...? The kind supermarkets sell?

mutleythedog said...

..and you use a pink highlighter which is a bit gay as well..

Kris said...

you know what- I honestly could care less.

But imagine the outrage if part of "street" language was to say, "oh, that's a bit islamic" or "you're black" in a disparaging way.

Anonymous said...

In his leadership election speech, Cameron said the Conservatives welcome debate. Yet he now appears to want to stifle debate on the blogs. Does he not realise how betrayed and angry that makes many of his party - including those like me, who are not Tory or old guard, and who were among his most enthusiastic supporters - feel?

Auntie Flo'

simon said...

Now if people called me a Liberal Democrat- i really would be offended! Clarkson may be an ugly git- but he's fab! says what he thinks- no bullshit!

Newmania said...

Clarkoson is actually a LIberal and only adopts superficially un PC attitudes. he is an Esther Rantzen not a PJ O Rourke

Brituncula said...

One of my local councilors got "done" for expressing the view that there was a need for more affordable housing suitable for families with small children. This was considered heterosexist and he actually lost his seat on the planning committee as a result.

Anonymous said...

Time for Gays to grow up and shut up, instead of drawing attention to themselves at the drop of a hat.

Kris said...

Gays to grow up?

Pardon, Mr Anon?

Has anyone noticed that homophobia and homophobic attacks are the last acceptable prejudice?

Roger Thornhill said...

Gay, maybe. Retina-busting, certainly.

canvas said...

Auntie Flo says: " Does he not realise how betrayed and angry that makes many of his party - including those like me, who are not Tory or old guard, and who were among his most enthusiastic supporters - feel? Auntie Flo' "

I thought you weren't a Tory??

Strange...

Blog4Justice said...

Strewth, Iain. You paid £45 for that tie? More money than sense.

For a few bucks more, you could have had a Georgina von Etzdorf. Heck, even Gordon Brown wears them (although I suspect Sarah's influence here, as they err far more towards 'gay' than 'prudent').

I have a couple myself, and they are gorgeous. Well, why not? Women have shoes...

Blog4Justice said...

"homophobia and homophobic attacks are the last acceptable prejudice?"

Erm, not quite.

JessTheDog said...

That tie is so gay it is nearly straight!

This issue reminds me of something I glanced over in the papers recently.

Apparently the UK Tourist Bourd (or whatever it is called) produced a tourist pamphlet (not a pink pomphlet as in the League of Gentlemen!) aimed at the overseas gay market. It was full of camp innuendo and lavatory humour. It bombed. That sort of humour isn't gay, it is British and not understood abroad.

Madasafish said...

OFCOM should stick to what it is apid to do.

If it starts trying to censor free speech taht offends people, it will hav eto expand and hire more staff.

(oops, that's the secret out:-)

Kris said...

yeah, boo hoo

poor angry white men. What a burden they have!

lubeck massive said...

Kris.9.26.
Shoudn't you be in bed this time of night?

Anonymous said...

£45 for one tie? Not a shirt thrown in as well? It's very nice, but the photos looks like you have spilt or slopped something on it.

Anonymous said...

Man ! This thread is gay . . .