I predict a riot

News is filtering through from the Edinburgh Television Festival regarding the blasphemy v free speech debate which featured, among others, Stewart Lee, Rod Liddle, Jana Bennett, Claire Fox, and Stephen Green.

According to Broadcast, Stewart Lee kicked off proceedings by calling Green a “twat”; then Claire Fox from the Institute of Ideas, and presenter of R4’s The Moral Maze, branded him an “irrelevant runt”. Green, on the other hand, said he saw before him “a room full of sinners”, and admitted that the audience thought he was a “hick”.

Sounds like a hoot.

25 Responses to “I predict a riot”

  1. Andy L says:

    Man, I’d pay to own a DVD of that.

  2. Andrew Nixon says:

    I’d pay just to see a still of Green’s face when he was called an “irrelevant runt”. Although I’d have thought a word that rhymes with runt (and is an alternative word for Stewart Lee’s insult) would be more appropriate.

  3. Marc says:

    PLEASE tell me someone recorded that!! I have the money ready…

  4. Christopher Shell says:

    Experts in phonics & diction would have a field-day: there’s obviously something about one-syllable words jammed with consonants that is deeply jarring & insulting.

  5. Christopher Shell says:

    Strange tactic! They won’t get anybody to believe they are thinking people if they think abuse amounts to argument. Everyone is going to listen to the people who produce arguments and ignore the people who can do no better than produce abuse (and thereby show their own insecurity).

  6. Christopher Shell says:

    And – Andrew – your implication that genitalia are shameful and worthy to be a term of abuse is mystifying. They never have been, and never will be.

  7. Monitor says:

    Some people have demonstrated themselves to be impervious to rational argument. When faced with such people, verbal abuse is perfectly understandable and legitimate response. It is not particularly productive, in that it won’t change the mind of the abused (nothing will), but can afford a certain amount of satisfaction as well as amusement. It does not necessarily have anything to do with the insecurity of the abuser (something you could not possibly know anything about). Furthermore, there was no suggestion that the words “twat”, “irrelevant runt”, or for that matter “sinner” constituted the whole of the arguments put forward at the debate, so you are in no position to make such assumptions. For all you know, the epithets may have served as parenthetical asides or punctuation points for logically devastating arguments. You unconscionable cretin.

  8. Andrew Nixon says:

    Where did I imply that genetalia are somehow shameful?

    I implied the word cunt, and referred to the word twat. At no point did I refer to female genetalia as “cunt” or “twat”. I was referring to Stephen Green as a cunt and a twat.

    You are the one who obviously associates these terms with genetalia. I personally do not.

  9. jamal says:

    I’d have to agree that profanities are a poor way of responding, even to the irrational and verbally abusive. It may bring satisfaction in the short term, but any long term satistaction may suggest the author/speaker was a tad shallow!

    Btw… im not sure why you couldnt pot on my blog. the comments seem to be working fine now!


  10. Andrew Nixon says:

    I should add that I am aware that “cunt” and “twat” are used to refer to female genetalia, I simply don’t use them in this way.

  11. Marc says:

    Perhaps “ignorant bigot” would have been a better way to describe Green, but I have to say that ad hominem attacks like this really do have a way of cooling the blood.

    Andrew, much as I agree with your comments to the educated bigot, the slang terms cunt (from MEng. “cunte”) and twat (origin uncertain) are correctly associated with the female genitalia where cunt is general and twat alludes to the vulva or mount of venus. Nevertheless, cunt may be correctly applied to a woman or indeed anyone one finds disagreeable. Twat is also occasionally listed (in US English) as “a man who is a stupid or incompetent fool.”

    I guess, therefore, it rather depends on which definition you’re using and the context. (One has to be careful for example proclaiming “Bugger me!” in a gay club, for instance.)

  12. Monitor says:

    Jamal, I think your blog’s problem lies in the the img tag in your h1. It isn’t closed properly, rendering the closing anchor tag which follows ineffective. This has the effect of making your entire site a live link back to itself (in browsers less forgiving than IE, anyway). Close off that img in the h1, and all will be well.

  13. Andrew Nixon says:

    Marc, I am aware of the usage of those words to refer to female genetalia. As you may have guessed, I choose not to use these meanings.

    Context is a particularly important principle, and in my post, Christopher seemed to miss that I was using them solely in the context of insults.

    I do find it interesting that Christopher seems to associate these words instantly with female genetalia, which I think may say more about him than anything else.

    If I used cunt or twat to refer to female genetalia, my girlfriend would probably hit me anyway!

  14. jamal says:

    Thanks. you was right, the image was open. I can’t test it so let me know if its ok please.

  15. marc says:

    Yip. Right with you there Andrew. I can never understand why some women want men to “talk dirty” to them… I just can’t bring myself to refer to the wife’s foo-foo as her cunt…. I value my nuts too much! 😉

  16. Christopher Shell says:

    Well – look in the dictionary. Someone decided that words with these meanings were suitable as terms of abuse. Rather than stand against this devaluing trend, you are (for some reason: probably convention or thoughtlessness) affirming it.

    Marc – anyone who employs the term ‘bigot’ is also putting themselves in the abuse-before-you-argue camp. Often I think that it should be one of the rules of debate that argument automatically trumps name-calling.

  17. Christopher Shell says:

    For background on the recent trend to confuse stereotyping and name-calling with argument, see CS Lewis’s humorous essay ‘Bulverism’ in his compilation ‘First and Second Things’.

    At age 5 Ezekiel Bulver heard his mother say to his father (who had been maintaining that 2 sides of a triangle were together greater than the third) ‘oh, you say that because you are a man.’.
    At that point, says Ezekiel – clearly a very precocious 5-year-old, ‘there flashed across my mind that refutation is no necessary part of an argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain [or label] the error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that s/he is wrong, or (worse still) to find out whether s/he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism [dynamic? Zeitgeist?] of our age will thrust you to the wall.’
    Methinks Bulver’s spiritual progeny are alive and well.

  18. Andy L says:

    Yes Christopher. But, given Stephen Green has put forward no argument whatsoever, and his rantings are completely discredited, we’ve already won and can call him what we like.

  19. marc says:

    Bigot is not a term of abuse: look in a dictionary. Much of what you write, Christopher puts you plainly into that category in my book and I suspect in the minds of many of the folk here. Most of us here don’t defer to the bearded sky fairy for our opinions, for example, we are wise and brave enough to form our own. Green is a classic example.

  20. tom p says:

    I’ve got to disagree with you there Marc, bigot clearly is a term of abuse, however in the case of Stephen Green it is accurately used. Just because something’s abusive doesn’t mean it’s wrong, and just because something’s right doesn’t mean it isn’t abusive.

  21. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Marc-
    Dont you think some of us are wise and brave enough to hazard that there may be others in the universe who know more about these things than we do? In that light, privileging our own opinion could sometimes be unwarranted.

    Tom is right: abusiveness and accuracy are 2 separate questions. I find in practice that ‘bigot’ (and ‘fundamentalist’) belong to a limited pool of stock adjectives which are rather unthinkingly plastered on a wide variety of people.

  22. Shaun Hollingworth says:

    According to the dictionaries I consulted “Bigot” isn’t a term of abuse.

    A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

    It is a correct description of Mr. Green, and some others (including posters on here) who seek to persuade the authorities to further rob free people of their right to freedom of expression. They can say whatever they want. I cannot argue otherwise, else I would be a hypocrite. But if they do say it, then I should also be free to call them bigots for saying it.

  23. Shaun Hollingworth says:

    “Someone decided that words with these meanings were suitable as terms of abuse. ”

    Not someone. The general population at large decided this.

    The meaning of words change all the time. New meanings come in, old ones fall into disuse. This isn’t just valid, it is absolutely necessary for the development of language, (any spoken language) and humanity. If this didn’t happen then language simpy couldn’t evolve, and it needs to do so. We’d be extremely hampered if the only words we were allowed to use were 400 years old or more!

    Compare the language of Shakespeare’s time, manifest in his plays, with that of our own time.

  24. Christopher Shell says:

    ‘Bigot’ is a term of abuse in 2 contexts:
    (a) if it is used as a cheap shot without first providing justification;
    (b) if it is intended abusively.

  25. Dan says:

    Having read all of that, I believe that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ definition for such words.
    The words we use are ambiguous. When we use the words, we cannot determine what other peoples
    reactions and understandings will be, we only know what we think it will mean.

    For example, when i hear the word ‘Bigot’, I don’t see this as abusive, rather more amusing, however
    there are people out there who would think differently.