I was waiting at a bus stop in Manchester the other day when a gleaming new Range Rover worth more than my entire existence drove up and parked just in front of me. The driver was on the down-slope side of orcish; his bald head perched upon a tattooed neck the width of an elephant’s shin. As he pulled up, he shouted out the window to an old lady standing at the head of the queue. What followed was a steroid-pumping tirade that was remarkable for being racist, misogynistic, and homophobic all at the same time. He quickly made it clear that he was very unhappy with the woman’s son and he threatening a fair amount of GBH on the same the next time he saw him. Yet the woman didn’t seem fazed. She shrugged and agreed to pass on the message, leaving the driver to scream one last four letter obscenity before he sped back to whatever life it is that has made him one of the city’s success stories.

That such men exist is no surprise to anybody who struggles to live out here in real Britain. That such men thrive should also be no surprise. One such local man has recently become the unified world boxing champion. He believes that women sometimes deserve a slap and that they belong in the kitchen making him cups of tea. He also believes that gay rights and legalized abortions took us two steps closer to the Apocalypse, whilst only our prohibition against pedophilia is currently saving us from the End of Days. He also claims that Jesus Christ is his savior in the very same Youtube interview that he threatened sports journalist, Oliver Holt, through one of his bull-brained proxies:

See Big Shane there… Have a look at Big Shane. Six foot six and twenty five stone. He’s going to break his jaw completely with one straight right hand. I won’t do it because I’ll get in trouble but the big fella there, he’ll annihilate him. So, Oliver, take a good look at him. That’s the face you’ll see before you hit the deck. [Turns to another goon in his party] And that’s the face you’re going to see when he’s jumping on your head.

By late Sunday night, over 75,000 people had signed the petition demanding that the BBC remove Tyson Fury from the Sports Personality of the Year shortlist (for those of you not in the UK: our most prestigious end-of-year sporting accolade). It was the standard pattern of social media leading the way. People want to turn Fury into a pariah, as though the reality of Fury and men like him could be erased so long as we collectively cover our eyes and ears.

FuryDone

Yet, the uncomfortable truth is that men like Fury are commonplace and emerge from a culture of ignorance and worse. Fury’s father, John, recently left prison after serving five years of an eleven year sentence for gouging out another man’s eye. Consider, if you could, the psychology required to place your fingers deep into another person’s eye socket and to squeeze out the jelly. Do you think such a man might feel mildly concerned by a Twitter campaign, a stinging retort in a newspaper, or a taunting cartoon? Or do you think the only thing to upset him would be his omission from the next series of Britain’s Hardest Man?

It is laughable to see the reaction of people learning for the first time that our new World Heavyweight Champion is no modern, liberal, secular, or, indeed, entirely rational human being. Being a throwback to the Paleolithic period is legally permitted in this country and long may it continue to be so because silencing men like Tyson Fury is the last thing we should ever do.

One of the perennial problems of defending free speech is that it often puts us on the side of the debate where we feel least comfortable. Everything I know about Tyson Fury makes me wish I was seven foot tall with a head like a Glaswegian wrecking ball. I wish I could take Fury up on his open offer to debate with his detractors inside the ring. I wish I could beat some sense into that Cro-Magnon skull of his. Instead, I find myself writing a defense of his stupidity.

The same happened this week after Donald Trump suggested that Muslims should be banned from travelling to the United States. Some well-meaning individual started a petition to ban Trump from the UK and many others took up the cause by signing their name. At the time of my writing this, the petition has 102,949 signatures. Yet I put it to you that we’ve only really established is that at least 102,949 people fail to understand the concept of free speech. 102,949 people are casually trying to impose censorship for nothing more than a man expressing an opinion shared by a group of like-minded individuals. Almost incidentally, those 102,949 people have also demonstrated the frightening ease with which dictatorships can form.

I suppose these 102,949 would, in their defence, cite ‘decency’ and the ‘human rights’ of the people affected by Trump’s words. Yet that is usually how censorship of any kind is usually framed: it is done for our good or the good our community. In fact, in Saudi Arabia, that’s exactly how it is written into law:

Mass media and all other vehicles of expression shall employ civil and polite language, contribute towards the education of the nation and strengthen unity. It is prohibited to commit acts leading to disorder and division, affecting the security of the state and its public relations, or undermining human dignity and rights.

Perhaps those 102,949 people would like to add their names to that kind of petition, so reasonable in its ambition to ‘strengthen unity’.

The unity of voice is perhaps one of the most worrying aspects of the current campaign to vilify Trump. We are in a very bad place when our understand is no more sophisticated than J.K. Rowling explaining Donald Trump in Hogwartian terms: ‘Voldemort was nowhere near as bad’. It is bad not just because it is wrong (Voldermort was a fictional sadistic mass murderer, whilst Trump is merely a right-wing demagogue) but because it quickly becomes ubiquitous and unchallenged.

Personally, I’d rather welcome Trump into the UK and perhaps set up a meeting with our boxing champ so the two can talk nonsense. It’s such freedom that defines the greatest of our disagreements with the thugs of Daesh. If what the two men say offends a great many people, then those many people have the right to counter with reason, insults, or ridicule. We have a rich heritage of satire to draw upon, political campaigners who use language to change hearts and minds. We have the right to peaceful protest and we can withdraw our patronage from their businesses. What we do not have is a tradition by which a small but vocal group have the right to censor another person’s right to talk or believe nonsense. Words, however offensive, must be protected because, otherwise, the limits of our freedom will be decided by governments. That is not to say it’s not without difficulties. We face challenges ensuring that hateful words don’t become hateful actions, which is where the defense of ‘free speech’ becomes a defense of an individual’s right not to feel threatened. Beyond that, however, we should be very mindful about censoring words and mindful too of pushing dissent into the fringes of our debates.

That is my greatest fear. The intentions of a mob motivated by moral goodness leads us to a type of censorship that is self-defeating. Whatever we ban today will emerge tomorrow in viler forms that are harder to constrain. The more we force people to limit what they say today, we also restrict our understanding of what they might think tomorrow. The fascist open about their fascism is far less dangerous than the fascist who keeps their prejudices a secret. Censorship aids tyrants. It rarely helps people to become more free.

That is the ultimate challenge. We might think that there’s no place for sexism, misogyny, or racism in our society but both Fury and Trump are healthy reminders that ignorance has already found its place and will always have a place in one form or another. Freedom of speech isn’t defined by what the majority say. It is defined by the babbling rubbish spewed by men like Fury and Trump and we should be thankful that they do because alongside the things we would shame ourselves for thinking or saying are the words, arguments, poetry, ideas and intellectual revolutions of the future.

Stupidity really is the last thing we should ever censor because it also happens to be the point at which better things begin to be said.

 

David Waywell writes and cartoons at The Spine.

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43 Comments on "Stupidity is the last thing we should ever censor"

  1. A good article David. I was aghast to see that Fury was being investigated by the police for a possible hate crime, next stop the Thought Crime Act 2016. If holding the view that homosexuality is wrong is a crime, where does that leave the many millions of people in Britain who grew up during a time when the British state considered it to be a criminal act, whose parents brought them up to believe it was wrong and who watched the national broadcaster mercilessly lampooning gay people on it’s programs. Now I personally believe that Fury’s views are wrong, but that is only my opinion, it is no more valid than his. What would make people like myself who hold it right?, the law?, the moral zeitgeist?, homosexuality is found acceptable today in the eyes of the law and probably in the minds of the majority of people in our country, 50 years ago it wasn’t, in another 50 years who knows, in many other places around the world it is frowned upon, why are those people wrong and us in the right?. Generation outrage seems to have no use for the saying ‘sticks and stones’ instead they turn the very hate they profess to be against upon anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with them.

    • Thanks Rob. To be honest, I was beginning to wonder if I’m in the wrong concerning these two issues. The hatred directed towards both Fury and Trump are without compare. Terrorists haven’t received as bad a press as these two chumps in the past week. Yet more worrying is how people seem to find it difficult to understand my point that you cannot pick and choose which free speech you’ll accept. People love freedom of speech as long as it’s something they agree with. Today I even received an email from somebody who took offence that they thought I was criticizing her right to criticize Trump.

      You’re right, of course, about the laws surrounding homosexuality but it only takes a brief course in British history to understand how our morality has changed, along with our taboos. Having taught literature to intelligent undergrads, I know how difficult even they find it when you ask them to stop imposing their modern values on, say, John Donne or Joseph Conrad. Even when you look back at a period as recent as the 1970s, the sexual politics were so different that it’s hard to discuss it now without imposing some higher moral standard.

      I guess the only thing we can do it keep making these points until some of it sticks. I started the day at 6am with Stacey calling me a liberal and it’s now 4pm having alientated every liberal I know and feeling pretty jaded about liberals in general.

  2. If you are getting flack from both sides then you must be doing something right David.

    I think it was Mark Twain who said that “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect.”

    • So very true and (just between you and me) I quite like getting the flack from both sides.

      I’ve read quite a bit of Twain but I don’t remember that quote. I can see that I’ll have to go and find it.

      [Edit: Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).’ From his Notebooks which I’ll now have to see if I can find cheap somewhere!]

      • I can overdo the quotes at times I’m afraid David, problem is that often I have picked them up second hand so if I manage to overcome the first hurdle of remembering who to attribute them to, I then find they were paraphrased,like the Viscount Melbourne one I used the other day. Twain of course is fantastically quotable.

        • No need to apolgise. I’ve never had a mind that works that way so I admire people that can remember quotes. I think it’s probably a healthy way of structuring thoughts, like a commonplace book but entirely in the mind. Reminds me of Hannibal Lecter in one of the later novels who spent the entire novel walking around a memory palace containing all his knowledge. Always wished I could do that myself but I can’t even keep my office tidy…

  3. nehad ismail - United Kingdom | 9th December 2015 at 5:35 pm | Reply

    Thanks David for a hilarious piece that made me laugh. Witty stuff indeed.
    Free speech is a tricky area. Some years ago a tabloid described a Coronation Street actor as boring. It ended up paying him a large amount of money after he sued. Nobody protested in defence of the tabloid. Trump’s speech may be considered as incitement against a particular race or group of people. How many people ended up in court for saying the right thing but to the wrong audience or in the wrong place and time? To be honest the entire thing is a minefield.

    • Thanks, as always, Nehad. I’d completely forgot about Bill Roache, who I believe it was who sued The Sun. Not sure that he won because of the ‘boring’ bit as much as the larger defamation but I take your point.

      As to ‘incitement’, you’re right: a minefield. Yet I’m pretty certain Trump was well within the letter of the law. I suppose it goes back to the piece you wrote about Steve the other day. I imagine Trump’s idea would appeal to Steve. Perhaps you could ask him and report back with his answer.

  4. nehad ismail - United Kingdom | 9th December 2015 at 6:05 pm | Reply

    Thanks David. I am sure Steve can understand how Trump feels. It occurred to me that should Trump visit London, I would be happy to introduce him to Steve assuming Donald T would be happy to have a fish and chips lunch at a Pub.

  5. David, interesting to see the numbers adding up on that petition to ban Trump from the UK. As you rightly say, terrorists haven’t had such a bad press as Trump and that boxer. I wonder how many sigs we’d get for a .gov.uk petition to ban Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? Abu who?

    • To be honest, I find it pretty shocking that the British public are so quick and willing to impose bans and censorship. The woman who started the petition is being hailed as some kind of hero when I can’t help but think ‘thought police’. I also wonder why this particular fact has not been highlighted.

  6. Ah, the “I believe in free speech but…” brigade. In other words, the “but” indicates that they do NOT believe in free speech. The irony is totally missed on them that a lot of what they might have to say may upset other people, so those others might wish to silence them, too. This is most visible in Paris, where those AGW Believers wish to invade the meetings of sceptics to silence their heretical ideas; would it be that they wished to listen to the meetings, to hear the arguments so that they may formulate reasonable answers. It is a shame that that novel idea never seems to cross their mind. (Yes, the singular is deliberate – I will not concede that they have individual thoughts.)

    It is sad that for you to write such a common-sense article like this is for others to commend you for having a backbone (see what I did, there?). Personally, while I cannot be bothered voting, I would now like Fury to win the award, just to give the PC brigade a good poke in the eye.

    • Thank you, RR. I usually don’t like new words but I keep thinking of one I heard recently which is ‘sheeple’. It’s so apt for the current situation. As you say, Paris is the perfect example. People were so quick to claim ‘Je suis Charlie’ without understanding the meaning. Now here we are, a few months later, with many of those same people forgetting everything they then thought about Freedom of Speech. It’s been an utterly depressing day looking at Twitter and only the sanity of commentators here have kept my spirits up.

  7. As one of the 102,000 (and rapidly rising) mob, I find this article patronising. I’m sure many of my fellow ‘mob’ members are as equally committed to the principle of free speech as I am. In the case of Fury, the petition is not wanting to stop him speaking, but is simply trying to prevent any chance of him being given an accolade (for ‘Personality’, not just sporting prowess) that potentially makes him a role model. Stupidity breeds stupidity….. In the case of Trump, I have no doubt he will continue to speak his ugly mind, and be reported here accordingly. I just don’t see why he should be afforded the privilege of coming to the UK again whilst we refuse entry to many thousands of others whose values/religious beliefs far more closely align with what we consider to be ‘British’.

    • Thank you for your comment, Lyn. I’m sorry you find my article patronising or, perhaps, I’m delighted that you find it patronising. You see, I find the existence of this misguided petition to be an infringement upon my rights as British citizen to hear debate by a person who has done nothing other than express an opinion that some people find offensive. I am no fan of Trump, as I believe my cartoons and articles here will prove. I think America’s politics are far worse with him involved. However, excuse me for putting it so bluntly: what right do these people have in speaking for the rest of us regarding who we can or cannot invite into our country? Stopping Trump from entering the UK is but a short step away from banning others that a moralizing minority might wish to ban. Though I don’t care a damn about Trump, there are people about whom the petition writers could easily take offence and demand their exclusion. Robert Crumb, the greatest comic book illustrator of our day, draws things that most people would consider grossly obscene. Given the right conditions, a petition could easily be drawn up to ban him from entering Britain. The same is true of many writers, artists, musicians, and comedians whose work I admire.

      You are right to say ‘stupidity breed stupidity’ but that’s only true in a closed system. Forcing bigots underground perpetuates their hate. Exposing it to intelligent argument and debate will defeat it. The Chancellor, George Osborne, was absolutely right today when he said ‘The best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage in robust democratic debate and make it very clear that his views are not welcome.’ That is what we’ve always done and, by doing so, it sets us apart from the intellectual bigots of ISIS.

      I have no objection to the petition had it demanded that our parliament debate the issue. I do, however, strongly object to people launching into a project that erodes liberties that have been hard won. We suddenly seem so far away from the spirit of ‘Je suis Charlie’ that it is frightening.

      As to Fury, I will concede that there is a case for his not being given a platform but, again, since when did we make a law that our sports stars should be intellectual giants? Ali, considered the greatest boxer, famously gave an interview to Parkinson (around 1971, if my memory serves) in which he defended racial segregation. However, my argument isn’t really about the Sports Personality of the Year, which is a trivial issue, but the habit we have developed of pushing non-orthodox views into the margins of the national debate. You only defeat extremism of any kind by debating it and challenging it in an open forum. What the Twitter police constantly seek to do is close debate down. That is not healthy and will, in the long term, produce yet more intolerance.

  8. RR — I believe in free speech ‘but…’ We don’t have complete freedom to say what we like. I don’t think we’ve ever have had freedom to lie? The Jewish, Roman and Protestant laws have observed the 9th (or 8th) Commandment from KJV Exodus 20:16 “Thou shalt not bear false witness…”. The Koran has much the same in 2:42. When does an unjustified opinion become a ‘lie’?

    A line needs to be drawn but where, by whom and how should it be policed? Completely ‘free speech’ has not been tolerated at least from the beginning of historical times.

    English law has a position on this under the Inchoate Offences where the offence is to assist, encourage or anticipate a crime. Defamation is another case, but civil, not criminal.

    • Thanks, David. That’s a really good point which I should probably have addressed in my (already too long) piece, though I think it really only applies at the extremes where, despite people’s perceptions of his ‘crime’, Trump didn’t actually stray.

      I did a bit of reading up on free speech before writing this piece and noticed that American’s First Amendment has a few interesting exceptions, which I found quite reassuring in the sense that the grey area is already well policed, at least in the US.

      Do you know what the situation is in this country? I know we have the Racial and Religious Hatred Act but beyond that, I assume the limits are not too different to America. I know we have a rule about not causing a ‘breach of the peace’, which seems rather vague and open to misinterpretion.

    • DW: okay, we do not have the “freedom” to lie… but has that stopped people lying? Ask yourself that question – and give yourself an honest reply. Even I, who likes to think holds the truth dear, am prone to lying by concealment, or even minor fibbing: “How do you like my hair?” “Oh, a lovely change!” (aack!)

      You seem to be of the opinion that expressing an opinion, if it is not based on fact, is a “crime”, and should be banned. That would make a lot of political debate quite interesting (or not).

      As to “freedom to defame”, well, another wrong that has repercussions under Law; you really do have every right to utter the most derogatory remarks about anyone, and they have every right to take you to court for it. There, the truth will out (hopefully – though I have personally found that it is not necessarily a guarantee).

  9. David, There’s a similar Wiki piece for the UK at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_the_United_Kingdom Since 1998 the UK has been under EU umbrella legislation that looks similar to the US legislation. I think the boxer and Trump fall foul of EU legislation.

    However, I suspect that taking action against well-publicised cases probably does more harm than good; you can’t ‘un-say’ these things. Trump is Trump. He’s a special case because of his notoriety and status as candidate in the US Primaries. The boxer is merely a nasty piece of flotsam. Does anyone care one way or another what he thinks? He can crawl back under the slab from which he came, the sooner the better.

    Public outrage is the oxygen of hate. It’s better to starve it than feed it.

    • Many thanks, David. I’d seen the Wiki thing but your analysis is really far more helpful. In fact, if I find time today, I might try to write a postscript to my piece to take in these points. Absolutely agree with you about the oxygen of hate. It’s almost laughable how easily Trump is managing to control the debate by deliberately provoking his opponents. The more liberals hate him, the more solid he is with the Republican base.

      All that said, I’m going to have to think about your view that Fury and Trump do fall foul of our laws. I don’t think they should but, if they do, then perhaps I should adjust my position.

  10. There was a time when the intolerant fled the intolerance of their intolerance by getting on a ship to America, where can they go now?, presumably they will be the founders of a new colony in outer space?
    If Fury and Trump fall foul of the law then surely so does every idiot who shouts Oi fatty/baldy/ginger etc out of a van window. Honestly this all makes me feel like someone has spiked my drink with some kind of psychedelic reality altering drug

    • Well, I’ve just finished writing a postscript to this piece which I hope Tim will allow me to publish later today. I’m still pretty sure of what I wrote but having now gathered together the relevant articles, I’ve started to suspect that our freedom of speech is founded upon some pretty contradictory laws and that idiots that do should ‘Oi fatty/baldy/ginger’ could actually be done under current legislation.

  11. David, from that UK Wiki link there is this: “However, there is a broad sweep of exceptions including threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour intending or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress or cause a breach of the peace (which has been used to prohibit racist speech targeted at individuals),[2][3][4] ” Ref [5] in the same article is from the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/nov/12/kent-man-arrested-burning-poppy This article is very informative and gives further avenues for research. In particular it’s worth looking at https://www.indexoncensorship.org/ which has a considerable amount of material. Perhaps it would be worth pointing Mr Padraig Reidy to this discussion so he can share his views?

    For myself, I would add that every right carries a responsibility. In the case of free speech, our right to it ought to be balanced by our responsibility to be truthful, accurate, and not be the cause of gratuitous harm, upset, or distress. Any person who demands ‘free speech’ should be required to account for what he says.

    • Thanks for the link, David. I’ll go and look now. As I mentioned to Rob, I’ve just finished writing a postscript where I address your point from last night that Fury and Trump might actually run foul of EU laws. Obviously, I’m no lawyer and don’t have expertise in the law. However, doing the best I can having read the relevant articles, I’m still unconvinced. The law is subtle, nuanced, and/or a mess, depending on how you view it. You cannot look to provoke hatred but have a right to say things that might cause offence. Such a fine balance but I think both are in the clear, though somebody should be looking into Fury’s comments about Oliver Holt.

    • “…every right carries a responsibility.”

      A very good comment, and one that should be spread further. Generally, all we tend to hear is people demanding their rights, and utterly ignoring that they do have responsibilities.

  12. Where would we be without stupidity? Just when you think you have seen and heard it all, people come along to prove you wrong! Life is a journey, you might even say an assault course. Some people are better than others at getting to the finishing line in one piece.
    What is wonderful and amazing is the facility we have to still be hopeful of a better tomorrow! Happy Christmas (not holiday that is what we call a vacation) to one and all!

  13. Fascinating article David. I was watching Question time last night and the final question asked was whether Tyson Fury should be banned from Sports Personality of the year in which he has been nominated. The views were split. But I would agree to let people like him and Trump voice their opinions so others can shoot them down and expose how ridiculous they are. Would you agree that if someone say a hate Preacher breaks the law i.e. through incitement to violence the full weight of the law should be invoked? Thanks for such a thought provoking article.

    • Thanks Paul. So glad you raised the question about hate preachers. I probably have an odd, unpopular, and dare I say naive opinion. I wouldn’t ban them. That argument has never sat right with me. I would actually ban very little except on grounds of obscenity and incitement to commit a crime. I know the hatemongers do edge towards the latter and that’s where we could ‘have’ them, so to speak. But I really do think that it’s better to have this rubbish out in the open where it can be destroyed through reason. Certainly, it worries me that ‘words’ are banned. Banning a word doesn’t change the idea behind it. Isn’t that how totalitarian regimes work? Incidentally, does anybody really believe that banning hate preachers stops them preaching? Or does it just make them preach elsewhere where we can’t track them?

      I don’t know if you saw the clip of Borat on Jimmy Kimmel last night. That, to me, was the very reason why you don’t ban Trump. Sacha Baron Cohen just demolished him and his arguments. It’s why satire is so vital to our freedom. Banning opinions is merely our admitting that we haven’t the intellectual strength to defeat them. It’s lazy and self-defeating.

  14. I missed that clip of Borat but will search for it and thanks for letting me know David. Yes I take your point on Hate Preachers . My worry would be they can through words influence others who may be a bit unstable to carry out extremist acts.There have been reports of this happening with those exposed to some of their “Teachings” becoming radicalised and attempting to carry out acts of Terror. Do we let someone into the country who is as they say “not conducive to the public good” ? I agree we need to challenge them but is there a danger a few will act on their words? We may destroy their words through reason but maybe some have no reason? But there again even if we banned them they would still get their message out so not clear to me how it is best tackled. I see pit falls either way.

    • I take your point and concede that ‘hate preaching’ usually does cross that line into actively promoting crime. It’s why I said that (and obscenity) are the points where the line must be drawn. Perhaps that’s already where the line is drawn and that we are simplifying as soon as we say ‘hate preachers’. Obviously, ‘hate preachers’ must be stopped. Merely banning extremism of any kind brings dangers. Prohibitions too broadly defined can then be used against us to limit freedoms. As I said in my reply to Lyn, who thought I was patronising, banning Trump would aid the moral mob in banning people who I do want visiting this country.

      The second point I concede (and, to be blunt, perhaps I hadn’t considered fully enough) is that there might be no ‘reason’ that can defeat unreason. This probably moves into the arguments I made piece about Paris, religion and atheism but our struggle isn’t against Islam but against superstition and ignorance. I put my faith in education but that will be a long process, possibly of a century or more. It might even be linked to environmental issues, as reliance on Middle East oil dwindles, perhaps we can be less willing to support brutal states, whilst those states will have to face the real choice of moving into a modern world or staying rooted in medieval ideas of intolerance and state control.

      What matters is that we don’t allow our liberal values corrupt our liberal values. We should be very wary of becoming a censorious as the people who wish to censor us.

  15. Thanks David . I only came across this site today as I recently started following Tim Marshall whose writings I enjoy . Thanks for all your comments.I will keep following this page as it has some excellent material and thought provoking ideas. I hope you do not mind but I am now stalking, sorry following you on Twitter too. Best Wishes and keep up the good work .

  16. Paul (Corrick), you say: “Question Time…final question asked was whether Tyson Fury should be banned from Sports Personality of the year in which he has been nominated. The views were split.” I presume they were talking about the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award? The winner is chosen after a public vote from a pre-determines shortlist. So the question should be a) Would you add TF to the shortlist? b) If TF is on the shortlist, would you select him?

    I don’t see where ‘banning’ comes into it. A case of “Ask a silly question?”

    • Though isn’t ‘ban’ is a broad enough term to cover what people are demanding? Some people want him removed from the shortlist whilst others argue that his opinions have nothing to do with his sporting achievement. In fact, if we couldn’t call it a ‘ban’, I’m not sure what we could call it. A disqualification? A forfeit? Expulsion from the competition?

  17. David, what are the ‘antis’ against? If they don’t want him to win the award then no doubt the pre-selection committee will consider that viewpoint and if he still goes on the list, the public will have an opportunity to decide through the ballot box. I suspect that TF just ‘not winning’ the award is not going to satisfy some. Never does.

    When the public finds a cause and folk start to foam at the mouth the media whip it up into a the massive issue that it isn’t. Still, it’s good for the media, good for politicians who would like to deflect from more serious issues and fun for those members of the public who enjoy that sort of thing. The boxer sounds like a total arsehole so his feelings are probably not worth losing sleep over but sometimes ordinary folk get this sort of treatment and can’t cope with it so I don’t condone it.

    • Good question. I think what they’re after is affirmation that they are ‘good people’. Censorious types, I think, have that in them. It’s more about their sense of self-worth than the person that’s done the offending. I tend to share Rob’s view, as he stated earlier, that no matter how many people vote for this kind of thing, there’s always around 63.5 million who didn’t. It shows how it’s pretty meaningless but sells newspapers. I agree with you. Stick him in the shortlist and see what the public decide. As far as I’m concerned, if LFC aren’t in the running for an award, I won’t be watching anyway. 😉

  18. Hi David . yes in relation to the Question time story I was referring to the BBC Sports Personality of the year award. I agree a silly question and as someone has said people can vote with their feet. Five live had a debate about he is fit to be a role model ? Not sure why we should view every sportsman as a role model anyway.Should they not have to earn that sort of status? Are sports people role models just because they are in the public eye? I think those who want him “banned” or “disqualified” Caroline Flint the Labour MP was one on the panel who did want him banned . I have just gone to BBC I player to view again . The question was “should Tyson Fury compete in BBC Sports Personality of the year” Vince cable said he would not have him on as he has failed the test of being a personality. The link is here to the podcast and the question is a quick final one after 55 minutes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06s5rww/question-time-10122015

    • The odd point here is where I disagree with Vince Cable. Fury is a personality. He’s just not a personality that many people like. He talks about it in one of the interviews he’s done on Youtube, disparaging the other nominees for their lack of personality. He is, of course, right. Which is why the award is so badly named. For best sporting achievement of the year he has a questionable claim. Beating an sub-prime Klitschko in a points decision does not match anything that Andy Murray has achieved, nor Chris Froome, nor (to a lesser extent due to the involvement of technology) Lewis Hamilton. Yet as the most chatty sportsman with bonkers opinions, he most certainly should win. As a ‘personality’, he’s hard to ignore.

  19. Yes I am not a boxing fan but I heard he had the belt removed after two weeks because he refused to fight Klitschko again which broke an agreement. For many years I think a lot of people have said the award should be renamed from Sports Personality to something that shows its more about the achievement itself rather than the person. Maybe there should be an award for most outrageous sports personality of the year .I agree people like Andy Murray, Hamilton are much more worthy winners and would expect Murray to win it again after Britain winning the Davis cup fopr the first time since 1936

    • It was the other way around. The belt was removed because he *had* agreed to fight Klitschko. As part of his contract was a mandatory rematch if Klitschko wanted it. He does and therefore Fury is committed to that being his next fight. The IBF (I think) wanted Fury to fight their next challenger. To be honest, it’s all crazy. Never really into the sport but I used to love the mythology of boxing. One of my favourite writers was/is Norman Mailer and reading his journalism around Ali means that I always have a partiality to the sport and its journalism. However, since the Don King era, I’ve lost all interest. It’s about the money, the TV contracts, and so much more than has nothing to do with the sport as it was in its heyday. In a way, I’d prefer it is Klitschko won it back. Much more interesting figure given his role in the politics of the Ukraine.

  20. Ah ok thanks for clearing that up David!!! Yes all very odd. I feel much the same as you about my favourite sport Football. Dominated too much by Money, TV, Contracts, agents.I guess it’s the way most sports have gone and there is no turning back.

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