Coming to a workplace near you, perhaps — masturbation breaks. The policy was first recommended by a psychologist at Nottingham Trent ‘University’ and has now been supported by Dr Cliff Arnall, who is a life coach. These brief moments of respite in the working day would, according to old Cliff, result in less aggression, higher productivity and more smiles. I’m sure he’s right. ‘I’ll read the lesson in a few minutes, Justin, I’m just off for a quick Sherman. Pass me that copy of the Tablet, will you?’ I do wonder if in some workplaces — the BBC commissioning centre, all advertising agencies, Channel 4 News, the Law Society — these breaks are already de rigueur and, further, are unceasing in their duration. Incidentally, do you have a life coach? You should get one, if not. Bloody marvellous things, I’m sure — emblems of modernity, like masturbation breaks.
But occasionally modernity gets a smack in the teeth. So, for example, the very liberal comedian Stephen Fry has been investigated by the rozzers — Irish rozzers — for blasphemy. Sadly no charges will be brought, so we will have to find another reason to burn him or stone him to death. But it is thrilling that the police took the complaint seriously, no? Here’s what Fry said, when asked what he would say when he arrived in heaven and, much to God’s excitement, met God.
‘I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil.
‘Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain? The god who created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish.’
This objection to God is the one you will hear from a reasonably inquisitive six-year-old child and it was answered in the New Testament, and more latterly by Thomas Aquinas, who was almost as clever as Stephen himself. The question must have been asked a billion times since by people who are not quite bright enough to understand the concept of free will. And now simply to ask it is to risk an investigation under blasphemy laws.
I assume Fry was reported to the police because Christians, rightly, feel persecuted and marginalised. When a Pentecostal preacher can be ‘disciplined’ for the crime of having read from the Bible in a church a passage slightly dissing of homosexuals, then you can begin to see why this anger mounts. As it does when Christians are banned from wearing crosses at work but no such injunction is taken out against Muslim women who wish to show their subjugation to men by wearing a Darth Vader outfit.
The Christians believe — again, rightly — that there is not a level playing field and so they take the view that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Instead of treating Mr Fry’s tirade as just another liberal luvvie who knows much less than he thinks he knows and is mouthing off in the manner of a transgressed teenager, they ring the coppers. And the police, here and in Ireland, are now so fine-tuned to complaints about potential hate crimes, of one sector of society showing disrespect to another, that they take it all terribly seriously, even though it is a patent absurdity. The correct response from the police would have been: ‘It’s just Stephen Fry, what did you expect? You’re offended? Fine, you have the right to be offended. Now leave us alone before we book you for wasting police time.’
Still more hate-crime fun. An even more liberal leftie comedian, Andy Hamilton, has got himself into trouble with … yes, the liberal lefties. Andy is famous primarily for having co-written the very funny north London sitcom Outnumbered. He’s easily the funniest midget working in TV right now. Or dwarf. I know one of those terms is offensive and the other markedly less so, but I can’t remember which is which. Just pick the one which is least acceptable, please.
Hamilton suggested our Prime Minister has dementia. He listened to her robotic iteration of how she is ‘very clear’ about every-thing and decided she must be demented. It was a fairly funny segment from Have I Got News For You, or at least I thought so. The point he made was salient. But oh the furore. Not because he’d been nasty about Theresa May — God, no, the more of that the better as far as the lefties are concerned — but because he’d made light of Alzheimer’s. ‘Not acceptable,’ he was told by the perpetually outraged monkeys on social media.
Almost nothing to these people is a suitable case for humour — not race, religion, stupidity, gender orientation, disability, illness, mental illness, women, men, children, sex … nothing should be the butt of a joke, because It’s Not Funny. It might offend someone. And so you are left with ‘When is a door not a door?’ Until someone decides that is doorist.
Another (also very funny) left-wing comedian, Steve Coogan, recently said, in apparent seriousness, that his comedy would never attack the ‘powerless’. But the mental breakdown suffered by his creation Alan Partridge is good for a laugh, and so is Alan’s deranged Eastern European girlfriend. Coogan’s a good writer and a fine comic actor, but he’s also a deluded, sanctimonious hypocrite.
Still, it was amusing to watch Hamilton’s usual audience turn on him, with their confected outrage and sententious absolutism. One day the liberal left will devour itself whole — in between statutory masturbation breaks, of course.