The SLATUKIP team have quite a wide and, if we may say so ourselves, discerning taste in comedy. Blackadder, Brass Eye, The Big Lebowski, This Morning With Richard Not Judy and Bill Hicks pass the test. Michael McIntyre does not.
The point is that we have seen enough comedy to understand the concept of comedic license. A joke is a joke. But comedic license is generally dependent on two things:
i) The content of the joke.
ii) Context: the joke-teller and their surroundings. What is their profession? Is he/she a comedian – are they paid to be offensive, like say Jerry Sadowitz? If not, does the telling of the joke affect their day-to-day job?
[N.B: We are not discussing whether or not to ‘ban’ or ‘stifle’ the telling of a joke. People are free to tell any joke in pretty much any context. We are determining what the reaction to said joke should be, based on two general factors.]
Suzanne Evans is UKIP’s Deputy Chairman and will contest the Shrewsbury & Atcham constituency in next year’s general election. You may know her as the party member who caused a furore over comments made about the relative demographics of UKIP voters and people in London. Today she retweeted the following:
So how does this Tweet measure up to our two points of criteria?
i) The content of the joke
Our verdict on the Tweet: firstly, it is not very funny, thought our view may be skewed by years of gorging on sophisticated, avant-garde comedy. It is bland, laboured and kitschy; a mere regurgitation of material that anti-Islam commenters post on social media regularly. But since she is not a comedian, we’ll let that slide. Secondly, Evans clearly didn’t retweet it aimlessly; in fact she wrote her own disclaimer at the top of the meme which suggested some level of thought about how it’ll be received. The disclaimer is rather weak however and implies that the Tweet is merely using humour as a tool against extremism; yet most space on the meme is taken up by mockingly depicting the subjugation of women. This completely destroys any pretence of Suzanne Evans sympathising with women who have genuinely suffered at the hands of religious extremism.
Suzanne Evans retweeted the ‘joke’ from a Twitter user who calls himself ‘Whitey McPrivilege’ (above) and follows at least ten supporters of the ‘White Resistance’ hashtag. ‘White Resistance’ is, in essence, a Stormfront-type movement on social media.
All very shocking, especially the utterly vile specimen below. If ‘Whitey McPrivilege’ is someone who sees fit to follow profile named ‘InTheOvenJews’, then what on earth was Suzanne Evans thinking when she retweeted him?
Heinous, I’m sure you’ll agree. But back to Suzanne Evans. On the day prior to retweeting ‘Whitey McPrivilege’, Evans was on LBC radio’s The Parliament Hour show, hosted by Iain Dale. Fellow guests included the author and Guardian columnist Owen Jones. In response to a question about the danger of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, she went on an extraordinary tangent about Labour’s ‘policy of multiculturalism’ being responsible for the problems in the Middle East [listen to the podcast of the show here, between 17:26 and 19:07]. One can understand the blaming of Middle East problems on British foreign policy, but domestic policy?!
As previously asserted, Suzanne Evans is not a comedian, was not in a comedy club but is a senior member of UKIP who hopes to be elected by the public. What sort of role does she hope to fulfill in public office, if she is unable to grasp even the most basic dynamics of the world we live in, especially those of a region as pivotal as the Middle East?
So the Tweet was ill-advised on both counts: content and context. We will now pre-emptively answer the typical defences of this sort of comment.
It’s not anti-Muslim, it’s anti-Taliban.
Pay attention to the parts that allude to bestiality: “beasts of the field…women/camel/goat”. This is a regular theme among Islamophobia comments on social media sites. It is a dehumanising jibe that is used to imply that millions of people are backward savages simply because they belong to a certain faith; to put it bluntly, it smacks of imperialism (more on this later). Such a Tweet would not look out of place on an EDL or BNP Twitter profile. In any case, it’s extremely lowbrow, especially for a senior party member who should not be resorting to such crass generalisation.
You are stifling free speech.
Nonsense – see the N.B. above. Even an 8-year-old understands the difference between ‘should not’ and ‘should not be able to’.
All parties have idiots who make bigoted remarks.
Suzanne Evans is a senior member of UKIP. Put together with Janice Atkinson’s recent remark about Fa Munday, it does NOT reflect well on the party.
My final thought is that this is about more than a joke. This is about a senior member of a political party, who in the space of 24 hours has proven to be utterly unfit for office with two public, ill-advised comments. Together, the two comments display an inability to grasp human affairs outside UK borders. Furthermore, this SLATUKIP member thinks that, above all, it’s pretty rich that the same UKIP members and supporters who enjoy lording it over non-Western civilisation (albeit under the pretence of denouncing extremism) are always the first to complain about so-called ‘lefties’ – when socially liberal people were, more often than not, the ones who protested in the 60s to help bring about the changes that define Western culture today. The Civil Rights Movement. Anti-US imperialism. Various trade union and egalitarian movements. The Sexual Revolution. These are the movements that gave us many of the liberties we take for granted today. Yet instead of appreciating what we have, some use it as a tool of imperialistic mockery.
Back to Suzanne Evans. As I type, she has just replied to a Tweeter who took her to the task with the above Tweet . Her reply was nothing less than a brazen threat. (See below.) Readers might want to check out LiberalIsland’s latest blog entry, which provides one explanation for the frequency of these outbursts from UKIP members – perhaps the problem is that they do not understand what racism (or any sort of bigotry for that matter) actually is?