It wasn’t a particularly funny joke. Stuart Campbell suggested Tory MSP Oliver Mundell’s speech was so dreary that some listeners may have wished that the son of the Secretary of State for Scotland had never been born.
“Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.”
The joke was offensive. The joke was satirical. Satire often offends.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were all tweeting the supportive hashtag #JeSuisCharlie in response to the attacks on the satirical, and often offensive, French magazine Charlie Ebdo.
But was the Mundell joke homophobic as is being claimed by the Mundells and some of their media supporters? No, of course it wasn’t.
The joke makes no judgement on homosexuality. David Mundell’s homosexuality is used as a metaphor. The phrase “embraced his homosexuality sooner” is used as a substitute for saying it might have been better had he not had sex with Oliver’s mother at the time of his son’s conception.
This kind of offensive satirical joke is pretty common. It was used when Boris Jonhson announced he had pulled out of the contest to replace David Cameron.
Was the joke taking a swipe at Boris Johnson’s father’s heterosexuality? Was it a suggestion that Boris’ father was unable to exercise control?
Of course it wasn’t. Johnson, as far as I can tell, didn’t issue any statement condemning the joke.
When controversial columnist Katie Hopkins tweeted a picture of herself standing beside her father asking what an appropriate present would be for his 70th birthday, one response went viral with over 50,000 retweets and 90,000 likes.
Hopkins father is a Catholic. Condoms were forbidden by the Catholic Church at the time of her conception. Was the tweet, with its reference to a condom, anti-Catholic? Was the tweet a suggestion that Hopkins is despised by her father to the extent that given the opportunity again he would rather she had not been born?
Of course it wasn’t. It was a joke whose target is one of the UK’s most offensive columnists. Hopkins’ obnoxious character is the joke in the same way as Oliver Mundell’s dreary speech is the joke.
Stuart Campbell’s joke has been manna from heaven for what passes for a political media in Scotland. I won’t list the number of outlets that have headlined David Mundell’s claim that the joke is homophobic. There are just too many.
The story is similar to the now forgotten ‘Dykey D’ episode which followed a similar joke of a satirical nature and a subsequent tweet from a female SNP MP. Joanna Cherry is herself gay, but it didn’t stop headlines claiming she was defending homophobic abuse.
That story made headlines on BBC Scotland and was featured by Kaye Adams on her phone-in show.
Like the ‘Dikey-D’ coverage, the headlines following Stuart Campbell’s tweet have nothing to do with exposing homophobia and promoting tolerance. They are motivated by a desire to kick the shins of an individual who highlights all too often the corruption that lies at the heart of Scotland’s pro-Union media. It’s also being used as an opportunity for this same pro-Union media to attack on the SNP.
Attack the SNP
Stuart Campbell has no connection to the SNP. As far as I know he never has. Yet journalists have peppered the party for comments about the joke. The party has responded by supplying a statement that is generic and make no reference to either Campbell or his website.
Why do this? Because if the SNP ignores the request to supply a condemnatory statement then the corrupt media we have will twist the story into an outright attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s party. The story becomes one of SNP refusing to condemn ‘homophobia’. That’s how this kind of corrupt journalism works.
But one journalist has gone further. Not content with the media attempts to link the SNP to claims of homophobia, an Express journalist has actually accused the SNP of knowingly tolerating party supporters who are bigots.
David Maddox went further by implying the SNP was actually standing bigots as candidates in the forthcoming local elections.
But let’s return to Stuart Campbell’s tweet and the claim it is homophobic. Here, again, is the phrase in question “embraced his homosexuality sooner“. In order to see offence in this phrase one would have to see the sentiment itself as offensive. But is it offensive to urge people to embrace their homosexuality sooner, even in the context of a satirical joke? I’d have thought it more offensive to suggest someone should in fact delay embracing their homosexuality.
As I’ve said. This episode has nothing to do with tolerance and/or exposing homophobia and more to do with smearing an individual loathed by elements of the corporate political media. It’s also an opportunity to link false claims of homophobia to a party with no known links to the individual.
Indeed if Maddox and his ilk had any genuine concerns about the plight of homosexuals then they’d be pursuing Mundell to explain why Gay Afghans are being deported back to their country by the Tory Government and told to pretend to be straight if they want to survive.
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