Saturday, 28 December 2013

A double threat to humour and satire

A couple of stories in today's issue of The Times (Dec 28th) caught my attention. David Blunkett isn't happy with TV satire and has suggested:

..that comedy shows such as Mock The Week and Have I Got News for You should be reclassified as current affairs programmes to face tougher scrutiny from libel lawyers.

The former Labour Home Secretary said the line between what is considered comedy and "targeted" abuse towards politicians was blurred and may now require tougher regulation.

Mr Blunkett said "The protection that broadcasters in particular have is "Well everybody knows this is comedy don't they?".... I think we need to watch that.

Given the low esteem the public already hold politicians in such remarks aren't going to win him (or any other politician) any sympathy. What ordinary people say about politicians in the privacy of their own homes would probably even make the likes of Frankie Boyle blush, well maybe not him, but you know what I mean!

The Independent looked at a survey looking at peoples attitudes to politicians just a couple of days back in which they report:

Nearly three-quarters of the British public are either “angry” or “bored” with politicians or politics in general, according to a new survey.

Only 16 per cent said they were “respectful” of politicians, who managed to make just 2 per cent feel “inspired”.

A third of potential voters said they were discouraged by career politicians who “don’t say what they believe”, about 26 per cent said they viewed the main political parties as “so similar that [voting] makes little difference”, and 25 per cent said they felt the parties did not “represent my mix of views.”

The poll asked people to choose the single word that best described “how or what you instinctively feel” about politics and politicians. Some 47 per cent chose “angry” while 25 per cent said “bored”.

At the same time Michael Palin mused in the same issue of The Times that Monty Python would not be able to make Life of Brian in the current climate. He mused that:

Religion is more difficult to talk about (now) - I don't think we could do Life of Brian any more.

Palin then continues on the subject of Islam:

We all saw what happened to Salman Rushdie and none of us want to get into that. It's a pity but that's the way it is. There are people out there without a sense of humour and they are heavily armed.

Whilst politicians might not go around shooting satirists (in this country at least), there are plenty of cowardly Islamist nutters out there who preach so much bile and hate they become parodies of themselves.


Now is the time to stand up for the right to laugh it would seem.

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