Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle gives his take on attitudes towards free speech and offence
I WAS asked to speak on a panel about offence and free speech post Charlie Hebdo. I always quite like the idea of speaking at some serious discussion, but in practice I just make everybody uncomfortable and they all smile at me uneasily in the way a posh cafe owner does when builders come in to buy rolls.
And yet current attitudes in Britain to offence and free speech certainly mean that I’ve got a lot of fucking time on my hands, so I thought I’d take a break from building matchstick cathedrals and learning the harpsichord to share my thoughts.
I find it incredibly worrying that we no longer need to hear the actual content of the thing we’re told to be offended by. We hear of people being arrested for tweets without the tweet being reported; comics are blasted for routines that aren’t printed; newspapers hire lip-readers to find something to get offended by at the tennis and then print the resulting fuckfest as asterisks.
And who decides whether we should be outraged at something we haven’t seen or heard? The press. Our seething collective id. None of us would trust a journalist to hold our pint while we went to the bathroom, yet we allow them to be ethical arbiters for the entire culture.