Thursday, December 29, 2011
The Nauseating Moral Cowardice of the Liberal-Left Trenderati
Did you hear the song Aussie comic Tim Minchin wrote savagely satirising Islam for Channel 4's Eid special? No, I didn't either. It didn't happen and it never would happen: first because no broadcast station in its right mind would ever allow it; second because I don't believe that Minchin would be stupid enough to write it.
And I'm not calling Minchin out for physical cowardice on this issue. From the Danish cartoons to the Paris bombing, we've seen far too many cases of artists testing the right to free speech – only to find that where certain religions are concerned, such matters are strictly verboten. But what I am definitely accusing him of is hypocrisy and moral cowardice, as regards the banned song he wrote for a Jonathan Ross Christmas special likening Jesus to a blood-drinking zombie. Personally, I'm sorry we didn't get to hear the song. As one of those typical, laissez-faire, occasional churchgoing C of E types, I have no problem with having my religion being satirised. Also, the points he apparently made in it sound not just funny but also quite astute: yes, there definitely is something very weird about the New Testament story.
In the performance Minchin likened the resurrection of Jesus to the 1978 horror film 'Dawn of the Dead', singing: "Try that these days you'd be in trouble, geeks would try to smack you with a shovel."
"Jesus lives forever, which is pretty odd, but not as odd as his fetish for drinking blood," he sang while playing the piano before a studio audience and fellow guests including Tom Cruise and the cast of Downton Abbey.
In a reference to the Christian doctrine of the virgin birth, Minchin sang: "Jesus' mother gave birth to him without having sex with a dude, no she would never be that rude, never even been nude with a dude."
When I Tweeted this morning in response to this "Really looking forward to hearing Tim Minchin's fearless comedy song about Mohammed", some members of his fan club – including the ephebically pouty-smile-tastic Prof Brian Cox, no less – Tweeted back that he had written a funny song sending up Islam called "Ten Foot C*** And A Few Hundred Virgins."
Actually, though, when you examine the lyrics, you realise that the title is about as daring as it gets. Nor is it directed specifically at Islam. It's an equal-opportunities offence number, which also has a dig at Christianity, rapture-based cults and religion generally. Sure, it's brave even to broach Islam at all. But no way does it criticise Mohammed – or indeed, even mention him – with the same unbridled satirical glee Minchin deploys on Jesus (above) and has done in the past on the Pope. Had he done so, he'd be needing a bodyguard this Christmas.
Again, let me stress, this isn't a plea to Minchin to acquire set of cojones and commit suicide through the medium of satire. I wouldn't write a rude song about Islam if you paid me a million quid. Or even ten million. But what I equally wouldn't do is compromise my integrity by laying heavily into one soft-target religion while treating a rival one, far more ripe for satire, with kid gloves. To do so would, I think, make me look a hypocrite and a fraud.
But hey, why single out Minchin? The problem I describe is absolutely endemic among the liberal left trenderati. You find it with the 'comics' on Radio 4's beyond-dismal The Now Show; with the team that fronts the even-more-beyond-dismal-if-that's-possible-but-yes-it-is-it-really-is 10 O'Clock Live; with the creators of the daringly satirical Jerry Springer: the Opera; with that rag-bag of Paul-Nurse-worshipping, Establishment lickspittles who call themselves "Skeptics" – the Ben Goldacres; the Simon Singhs; the Brian Coxes; the that-comic-who-does-those-science-shows-saying-how-true-man-made-global-warming-is-whose-name-I-keep-forgetting; and the rest…
Sorry. I know it's the season of goodwill to all men and stuff, but really: have these faux-edgy lightweights ever actually stood up for any cause in their lives which requires an ounce of moral and intellectual courage or originality of insight? I don't mean showing solidarity with Palestine or boldly declaring how fraudulent they find homeopathy or saying how ridiculous they find Christianity or being rude about Tories or supporting student protests or any of that predictable, career-safe, spray-on-credibility tedium. I mean actually, for once in their lives doing something that puts them out on a limb, that doesn't tick all the usual green-left-liberal trendy boxes,that runs the risk of them never getting invited back as one of the resident lefty chortlemeisters on Radio 4's News Quiz? Course not. For all their pretence at out-there dangerousness, these guys are as safe and cosy and establishment as you could get. Truly, they are the veritable IKEA, the World Of Leather, the Mister Byrite of popular culture. I'm sure it pays the rent – but at what cost to their shrivelled souls?
James Delingpole is a British writer, journalist and broadcaster who is (he says) right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books including Welcome to Obamaland: I've Seen Your Future and it Doesn't Work. His website is http://www.jamesdelingpole.com/ and he also has a blog at the Daily Telegraph.