Poles, Politeness and Politics in the age of Twitter

I sometimes think that when I die there should be two graves dug: the first would be the usual kind of size, say 2 feet by 7, but the other would be much, much larger. The gravestone should read: ME AND MY BIG MOUTH.

I suspect most of you will have heard of the shitstorm that howled about the head of Jan Moir, a journalist who wrote a beastly article in the Daily Mail about the death of Stephen Gately the day before his funeral. I don’t propose to stop and pick over the carcass of that epically ill-judged piece of gutter journalism. Its malice, stupidity, incoherent illogicality and crass insensitivity have been superbly anatomised by many others and besides, too much time has passed, a whole 24 hours at the time of writing and for the online world, which is still a child, a year is a decade and a day a whole month.

If I were to express sympathy for Jan Moir here some of you might think I had gone soft in the head. And yet I do feel sorry for her. There are those, there will always be those, who believe that she knew exactly what she was doing and that she is relishing her notoriety, that the sight of her name topping the Twitter trend lists will give her nothing but frissons of pleasure. I do not believe this. Yes, I expect that she will, in time, revisit her disaster. I dare say she will write the inevitable Vulnerable Frightened Piece in which she tells the world just how tyrannised, terrorised and victimised she felt; piling on the image of the concerned mum (if she is one) who was just trying to ask questions; the honest (and perhaps naive, yes, she’ll admit to that) journalist who sowed a doubt and reaped a whirlwind. Such articles always end with Serious Questions, in this case concerning the Future of Democracy Itself if it is to be left in the hands of the firebrands, hysterics and (Dark Hints) possibly sinister forces that patrol and control the internet. It will all be silly, distressing, disingenuous and ignorant, but then she is a tabloid columnist and that is her job. The reason I feel sorry for her is not that she is a journalist, or that she writes for the Daily Mail, I am quite sure she can do without my pompous, patronising sympathy. I feel sorry for her because I know just what it is like to make a monumental ass of oneself and how hard it is to find the road back. I know all too well what it is like to be inebriated, as Disraeli put it, by the exuberance of my own verbosity.

Poland

Only a week and a half ago I was asked to appear on Channel 4 news to comment on the Conservative Party and their decision to ally themselves in the European Parliament with the Polish Law and Justice Party, a nationalist grouping whose members have made statements of the most unpleasantly homophobic and antisemitic nature. I usually decline such invitations, and how I wish I had done so on this occasion. I think I accepted for the achingly dumb reason that I happened to be in the Holborn area all that day and the ITN news studios were just round the corner, so it seemed like an easy gig. The more probable explanation is that, as my father and squadrons of school teachers correctly reminded me throughout my childhood and youth, “Stephen just doesn’t think.” Anyway. Words tumbled from my lips during that interview that were as idiotic, ignorant and offensive as you could imagine. It had all been proceeding along perfectly acceptable lines until I said something like “let’s not forget which side of the border Auschwitz was on.”

I mean, what was I thinking? Well, as I say, I wasn’t. The words just formed themselves in a line in my head, as words will, and marched out of the mouth. I offer no excuse. I seemed to imply that the Polish people had been responsible for the most infamous of all the death factories of the Third Reich. I didn’t even really at the time notice the import of what I had said, so gave myself no opportunity instantly to retract the statement. It was a rubbishy, cheap and offensive remark that I have been regretting ever since.

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235 comments on “Poles, Politeness and Politics in the age of Twitter”

  1. katyek says:

    aloha stephen,
    this was the best way i could find to contact you….my name is katye and i’m a board member for Defend Oahu Coalition in Hawaii…we were inundated with orders from the UK for our Keep the Country COUNTRY t-shirts over the last couple of weeks so i asked the last fellow who ordered if we had been in the press or something?….he wrote back telling us about your show and a link to a video of “last chance to see” where you were wearing the shirt!
    We want to thank you so very much for bringing notice to our cause and to ask you where you got the shirt?
    i can be reached through ktccgear@mac.com and would love to hear from you!
    with warm aloha,
    katye

  2. tobyguyatt says:

    Stephen your reaction at the time was understandable as it was for the moment, and likewise Mrs Moir’s pieces should not have been printed, so it is not just her failing but the editors and your opinions and reactions jut mirrored ours.your explantation surmises it perfectly. do not put yourself down, be proud in the fact that you have the medium to voice the thoughts we all share.

  3. barker says:

    I have to side with the Daily Mail author, who seems to be guilty of nothing more than unbridled opportunism. The Internet data on Mr. Gately suggests that sex was at a large part of his cache, which makes him fair game legal prey for the tabs.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with using one’s sexually to attract an audience. But having placed such a thing in the public domain, it’s hardly surprising that others will try to capitalize on it.

    You just can’t have it both ways…

  4. LeoB says:

    Excellent blog. Fortunately, most people consider the character of the person who has made the faux pas and treat it as just that.
    As one who has spent many many hours regretting idiotic things I have said without thinking, I can assure you that these things are always counterbalanced by decent future behaviour.
    Tinkerty Tonk.
    LB

  5. quantumofire says:

    Dear, dear Mr Fry.

    Thank you for your comments regarding the Poles. The whole matter on homophobia seems very timely as I had just finished listening to the excellent In Our Time with the lovely Melvyn Bragg about the Dreyfus Affair in France and how it exposed anti-Semitism in France and it’s impact on anti-Semitism during WW2.

    My I dare to suggest the connection with homophobia today and anti-Semitism of the past lies somewhere with the influence of the catholic church?

  6. galadrial says:

    I don’t envy being in your position, where anything you say in public has the potential to become a headline. It would certainly give me pause for thought before expressing an opinion. That your views are sought and noted is a byproduct of having developed a reputation for being intelligent, well-informed, articulate, caring and being willing to take a stand against injustice. I think it is people like that whose views should be heard. It is entirely out of your hands as to what people do with them, but I like to think, as you say, that most people do make up their own minds about issues rather than being passively led by the nose because someone famous has asked them to do something. While it is prudent to consider the potential ripple effect of expressed opinions, I would hate to think that you would shut up about anything that means something to you. As a person who has long been very guarded about what I say and do in fear of provoking a negative reaction in others, I admire your courage to speak out.

  7. marzgirl says:

    I watched your interview via the twitter link. You have always conveyed equality and just being plain decent and courteous to one another regardless of differences. Immediatly I knew your passion for the issues at hand carried you away. It happens to us all. We get going, emotions run high and our words come before we think. I just never thought for a second your comments had malicious intent. I also understand what a hurtfull subject the Holocaust is. The things people are capable of doing to other people…I don’t have words. Apologies are hard. It would be so much easier to hide away and hope everyone forgets after a while. The right thing is usually the hardest.
    I appreciate you!!! XXX
    Marz

  8. janecollie says:

    Sheesh! I was reading your Wikipedia entry where you were described as a “national treasure” and a
    “living icon”. And now, apparently, a national embarrassment, at least for a little while. Well, here is one American lapsed Catholic of Polish ancestry who believes that you have a good heart and who wishes you
    a speedy recovery from your bout with foot-in-mouth disease.

  9. clive.s says:

    Well, blow me down and call me Marjorie Hot-To-Trot if I don’t sense fluid ounce of “why do I bother”. I certainly hope that is not the case Mr Fry! Goodness, for a moment I almost thought I was reading Fry’s Eulogy of his Twitter.

    Crisis avoided.

    Please stick around.

  10. Mark Rich says:

    Hard to keep ones head when the subject is emotional. Twitter allows our emotions to rule our fingertips. Still as a wise man once said the Mail is a terrible thing to do to a tree. Is Twitter a terrible thing to do to the web? Perhaps? Only time will tell how it evolves. Right now it’s archaic nature is what makes it frightening to the establishment. Iran, Moir, Guardian injunctions, we have yet to see the future but the present is interesting.

  11. tomka says:

    Yehh…
    01.09.1939 Poland attacked Germany and after a few days – 17.09.1939 – attacked Soviet Union just for the balance of power – that is real history…

  12. asmieja says:

    Thank you for your apologies Mr. Fry. They mean a lot for many in Poland. On the other hand maybe Poland should apologise for sending to Brussels all those @#$%^& members of Law and Justice Party. I am ashamed of these people who in fact represent me and my country.

    Keep doing good work Mr Fry. Big hug to you!!!

    Aga

  13. SmilingPamela says:

    I have every sympathy with the ‘large mouth’ syndrome which afflicts some of us at certain points in life. I am so often ‘guilty’as charged only last night at a sophisicated dinner party, invited as I was as the doctors wife I found myself loudly recounting the embarrasing story of a consultant. Before I could stop myself I heard the words ‘minced dick’fall from my open mouth and an uncomfortable hushed silence fell upon the room.
    Ah yet another place I won’t be invited back to!

  14. m0nk666 says:

    Nicely put. You must however remember that whilst you never asked for the responsibility of being a “Twitter God” you have nonetheless been given that status. Like it or not, you are at the fore of the twitter community and whilst you may want to merrily go about your day tweeting on this n that, you have a certain responsibility to think before you tweet. Thats the difference between you and us “sheep” . The spotlight of the media is on YOU not us. Your comments DO have an impact and WILL generate waves. Remember “With great power comes great responsibility.. ” :)

  15. Pawel says:

    I’m 30yo Polish and I’d like to say a few words about Your appologise.

    Appreciate. Thank You.
    Polish Law&Justice party is not my favourite and our twin brothers are bringing big shame on us – Polish people. Their behaviour on the european politic stage leaves a lot to wish. Their stupid war with polish Prime Minister and his party is getting boring already and makes me tired – I can’t watch TV evening news, I wanna avoid stressing myself watching and listening bullshits and new “smart” law&justice ideas.
    But! However, You are not the first one who is comparing Poland to 3rd Reich and makes us responsible for Auschwitz. in 30’s and 40’s Aschwitz was on German territory, they were owning half of todays polish territories. Polish even didn’t know there is something like Auschwitz until its been discover. Jews, Gipsies And Poles captured by Germans even didnt know where they are bringing them.
    Comparing us to Murderers from Auchwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek… is just annoying. If someone wants to discover Polish evil nature should talk about “Jedwabne”… something very bad happened there.

    We are not the Chosen Nation and Saints. We have our own sins from the past, this same as England, and every other country.
    Tell me please, what is the problem to find out a little bit about polish history and politic, especcialy when someone wants to talk about it in public. I remember first Americans accused us for Auschwitz, afterwards some journalist from France, and even Germans…redicoulus.
    I really respect You for Your intelligence Stephen, so please, if You have opportunity, in TV or Radio just tell them to GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND LEARN SOME HISTORY, MAPS ETC.BEFORE THEY GET THEIR JOBS IN PUBLIC MEDIA, IF POLISH CAN LEARN IT IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS ALREADY-ANYONE CAN DO IT. Someone wants to accuse Poles for something? – Should read some books before, and I guearantee You, he will find some interesting facts, but not annoying bullshits.

    Stephen thank you once again for Your appologise, its proof You are not one of those dumb, plastic celebrities which can’t point their own Country on the World Map and mention name of Prime Minister who was affraid to declare war on Germans.

    All the Best Stephen
    Pawel
    ps: soory for my not flient english, but I had to learn – I wasn’t born with this.

  16. PL1979 says:

    We really appreciate that. Many Western Europeans are confused by the fact that Auschwitz is located in Poland and blame the Holocaust on the Poles, but few have the guts to say sorry.
    Incidentally, if you still worry about the nationalism in Poland, don’t. Law and Justice lost power a couple of years ago and its radical coalition partners have been voted out completely and today play no role in Polish politics whatsoever. If you’ve got anything to fear, it’s not the Polish right-wingers, it’s the British BNP.

  17. dang3r_man says:

    Stephen, no need for you to dwell in apologetic mode, methinks. Writers like you and Charlie Brooker are humane, self-aware and responsible commentators, and it’s easy forgive you when you sometimes rock the boat so much you ship rather more water than you’d bargained for.

    Writing or giving opinion is high-risk journalism, and no matter how carefully you tippy-toe the tightrope of devil’s advocacy, a demon will pop-up occasionally and thrust a whacking great toasting fork in your backside.

    Editors are there to try and stop this from happening, or least catch the writer when he tumbles. And that’s what troubles me about this whole sorry affair, because however well-intentioned and relevant Jan Moir thought she was being, her spiteful article was illogical and ill-informed; and any responsible editor should have refused to publish it.

    Yes, we should sympathize with Jan Moir: the Twitterverse has hung, drawn and quartered her at the speed of light, and we should all now find some forgiveness and move on. As you say, with the internet still in its infancy this already feels much older than yesterday’s news.

    But what of those 21,000 (and counting) perfectly legitimate complaints
    to the Press Complaints Commission? They won’t just disappear, and nor should they. My own feeling is that the PCC must resist making Jan Moir a scapegoat and turn its attention, instead, to the real culprit here: a complete failure of editorial responsibility at the Daily Mail.

    The Mail, it seems to me, is a paper that is desperately overdue for modernization from root to tip (and I’m not just talking about makeover with faddish fonts) It’s a publication lost in a past of hot-metal typefaces, the Falklands War and the miners’ strikes. Let the PCC show its teeth for once and bite Associated Newspapers hard enough to jolt the paper back into the Noughties.

    Moirgate, it seems to me, reveals rather less about the prejudices and fallibilities of an individual columnist, and rather more about the long-term illness of a major newspaper in severe editorial breakdown.

  18. fannymitchell says:

    The medias twisted perception that 868,201 followers on twitter are 100% blindly supportive of everything you opine is insulting. I certainly enjoy your tweets and the fact that you occasionally bring matters of personal interest to our collective attention. However, I don’t accept for a minute that I am part of Mr Fry’s personal army. Please resist the temptation to “shut the fuck up” or to moderate your tweets as this would serve to perpetuate this fallacy.

  19. matamata says:

    Hello,

    I’m writing from Poland, moreover – from Oswiecim, where the KL Auschwitz was located. Thank you very much for your apologies.
    I think, we in Poland are very sensitized to every remark about Poles being in any way responsible for the Holocaust, and I’m afraid, these remarks appear quite often these days and are so unfair. They are very dangerous also, as they are seeping into the people’s brains lies about the history, very recent history. There are people among us, who still remember the time of war, who survived Auschwitz, and it is also very offensive for them to listen to such things. To consider a matter on its merits – as Pawel before me has already written – during the second world war Oswiecim (renamed by Germans into Auschwitz) was incorporated to the Third Reich, so that’s which side of border Auschwitz was on. And this particular concentration camp was not established for extermination of the Jews in the first place – that was from 1942 that it became a central place of extermination of the Jewish nation – it was established for Polish prisoners.
    I really appreciate that you could recognize your mistake and say it aloud. I’m still great admirer of your acting, writing, your wit and everything :-D.

  20. kecik says:

    Dear Mr Fry…

    First of all: BIG MOUTH could be even necessary for comedian, I suppose. On the other hand: when comedian, esp. great comedian (who IMHO you are) takes serious statements, easily ends to be funny…

    It’s worth to know that all this accusations about Polish homophobia or antisemitism are part of politics’ war in the country… Even in PiS (Law&Justice) party there are Jews, it’s publicly known and noone makes problem of it… Probably there are homosexuals also, however they keep sexual matters private as it’s social conservative party which negate LGBT promotional policy.

    BTW. During the WWII Nazi Germans strictly punished by death Poles caught on rescuing Jews… Not like in the Netherlands or France… Although, Poles are the greatest group in the Yad Vashem’s Righteous among the Nations.

    Polish Home Army informed UK and American Govt. about Holocaust, but they not react at all… Like this British major who felt in love with Nazi officer – remember this old skit? But I think, in the case of Holocaust it’s not so funny.

    But I’m not writing these facts for you, but mostly for your Readers. As a comedy author you don’t have to be correct, you have more rights. As politician or public person you should to control each word, to lie even. So please keep joking, play, laugh idiocy off, but do not become serious

    Your Polish fan
    kecik

  21. kecik says:

    @quantumofire

    Yeah, especially Iranian and Arabic antisemitism has catolic origins…

  22. Dan.F says:

    Even if you had said that all black people are stupid, or that all women should never leave the kitchen, unless you incite violence you haven’t done anything wrong.

    It is my personal belief that if people want the freedom of speech, they should have to put up with it.

    Regardless of whether you meant what you said, if you hadn’t said such things, someone else would have, whether they meant or not.
    You can’t shield people from having bad things said about them.

    Of course, you probably shouldn’t have said what you said, however I don’t believe anyone has the right to ask you, or demand that you apologise. You should just be left to do that on your own if you want to.

    I’m awfully bored of everyone telling everyone else what to do. People need to be worrying about their own stupid selves.

  23. Elifant71 says:

    I have had an evening of silent pondering since reading your latest diatribe. I have mulled it over, and find that I am more upset with you than I originally thought. I am NOT siding with your detractors, nor agreeing with them, just disagreeing with you. I understand the whole the pressure of a collective of people, ideas, or what have you, may be exerting against you and seemingly requiring your outburst of yesterday. One of the reasons that I have followed both your career and twitterings is because you are YOU. You are someone that I would list on my 10 people to meet before I die, my bucket list of people to meet so to speak. Morbidity aside. The facts are, you are a celebrity, you are someone that other look to not necessarily to provide answers but guide in the direction of their own opinions based on sound arguments.

    Now not to be misunderstood, I think that there are sheep out there that latch on to what they find familiar and comfortable, not validating themselves or their own beliefs. What I am saying is this- Do not apologize for the sake of apology. Your commentary is something that I look forward to, and really the reason why I follow you on twitter. I know 140 characters is not a lot, but the right words can mean just as much as 140 words.

    Please do not screen or second guess your responses because I fear the wit with which you sling some of your commentary would be lost. And the unconscious push that you give a great deal of us would evaporate. I need that push, I am a full-time student and I work full-time, and find myself buried in work 18 hours a day, and you are the one extravagence I allow myself. Keep tweeting, blogging, writing, acting, and just keep being yourself even if you do still land on your arse with a foot in your mouth! Cheers!

  24. insane-mike says:

    Thank god it’s not just me that opens his mouth and puts his foot in it. Over the years I have become very accomplished at apologising for my poorly thought out communications, my knee-jerk reactions and my hopeless articulation. This is partly due to a very average education and partly due to my hot-headed father and HIS frequent absurd outbursts. We should, I think, be allowed to make an arse of ourselves and others should be allowed to tell us how much of one we have made of ourselves. Ridicule is a tool that society should use with the likes of Jan Moir and she should have the good grace to accept her mistakes. But it’s her opinion and she should be allowed one, even if she is in a position where she can inflict it on the masses. Mind you, it was the Daily Mail and it only what we have come to expect from the ‘The world is doomed’ gang.

  25. 6000 says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it, Stephen.

    You support free speech on the one hand (Trafigura), you help deny it on the other (Moir). And your suggestion that “the overwhelming majority” of your followers think for themselves is either naive or disingenuous.

    My take on this: http://retwt.me/1axXB

  26. insane-mike says:

    One more thing. Is it me or are the Polish people really nice? Just read all the posts above and they are welcome back to mine for tea and cake anytime… :-)

  27. Kathy3 says:

    For all those people who think the Sun shines out of your proverbial, I can assure you there are an equal number who think the opposite. So, as I am now one of the latter, on behalf of those who think this, but can’t be bothered to waste energy writing it, let me just say; What an odious man you are. Pompous and smug just don’t begin to cover it. Why 6 pages of multi-syllabic claptrap and bucketloads of justifications and ‘poor misunderstood me’ lines? Why not just, I’m sorry? I actually liked you before you began Tweeting and believing in your own hype. No one’s all bad, or all good but sycophancy peverts one’s ability to find equilibrium.

  28. scarimor says:

    As I said in my first (rare) twitter – “Twitter is… tourettes for everyone”.

    One of many differences between you and Jan Moir is that had you written your Poland crack in an article, rather than have it escape on live TV, you would have hit backspace-delete nanoseconds later (I like to think so). Moir had plenty of time to think about excercising her right to make herself look foolish. Twitter is somewhere between the two – and as such powerful scary and cool.

  29. SimonGill says:

    Like 21,000 (or is it 22,000?) people i submitted my complaint to the PCC, yes what Jan Moir wrote in her article is disgraceful, but I think it is not really surprising since it is the Daily Mail we are talking about. The problem though raises the issue of the effectiveness of the PCC, sure we can make our views known and send a complaint, but is the PCC fit for purpose? Should the newspapers be subjected to the same regulations that Radio and TV have to follow?

  30. EllieK says:

    Oh Stephen, how well I know that feeling of crushing guilt and regret at something I have done…especially when I hadn’t even imagined that I would ever do something so utterly crass and stupid! But in a way, this kind of cock-up teaches us that we are all capable of making hideous errors and so should not judge others too harshly when they too make similar ill-judged mistakes :-)
    Well done for having the courage to admit your mistake, I respect and admire you very much for that *hugs*
    Please don’t stop tweeting your thoughts and feelings on events or happenings, whether it’s the start of WWIII or the release of Apple’s new MacTeleporter device! It’s wonderful to hear your views and opinion on things…I’ve learnt so much since I started following you!
    Although I have to admit that your rave reviews about the iPhone made me desperately want one (and in fact I now have one and it’s the best purchase I’ve ever made!)… if I’d got one and for some reason it was faulty or perhaps I just didn’t like it, I think that I, (and as you pointed out, 95% of your followers) would have more sense than to blame you because it wasn’t what I thought it would be!
    Oh my lord I have waffled on far too much now, but anyway, thankyou for all your fabulous blogs and also for such a great time both on Friday & Sunday, and for being so patient with everyone when we asked you for photos!

    Much love,
    Ellie :-) xx

  31. luigiluib says:

    Hello Stephen,
    that is my first comment here… Nevertheless let me come straight to the point. I have to say that I was really angry at y…, well it is not a good word, disappointed with you after what you’d said about Poland and Auschwitz. Why? I really considered you as a wise man, one who chooses words carefully and doesn’t let his speech precede your mind. I rally liked your radio programmes and TV productions. Thanks to such documentaries like Stephen Fry in America I got to know not only that continent but also you. The more I was watching the more I liked you. And I took your every word quiet seriously. I thought: well educated man- he knows what is he talking about. Witty and interesting. I was, as I said, disappointed because you said that to you “seemed to imply that the Polish people had been responsible for the most infamous of all the death factories of the Third Reich.” and for many it simply meant that you believe that the Polish in fact were devils. And at first you didn’t seem you want say “I am sorry”.
    Eventually you came to the conclusion and declared that you were not right and you did say “I’m sorry”. No one is flawless and it happens that we say some stupid things we often regret, but not many are brave enough to say sorry. Please, don’t let your father and teachers be right and make us believe that you “think”.
    Cheers from Poland.

  32. Lucas says:

    Mr Fry, as a ‘Pole’ I must say I felt deeply offended when I read about your comment in the press. I couldn’t understand how you could link two issues that are so apart. I felt hopeless and thought it was another case in which celebrities promote ignorance in history (like Clarkson). I didn’t expect apologies and I was at least surprised to read such an explicit piece of writing. I know British are famous for turning everything, literally everything into a laugh so it almost brought tears to my eyes to see that there are still people with certain values, that won’t be sold for fame. Especially that it wouldn’t be difficult to contribute to the myth of a block- headed builder/plumber from the East. It makes me feel better now, contributing to this vibrant society, knowing that there are people in here, who respect my country’s history.

  33. Me_actually says:

    you sound like you are seriously beating yourself up over both the reaction to the jan moir article and the comment you made about the poles . i hope i am wrong . yes your polish comment was at best unfortunate but let he or she who has never said anything wrong throw the first verbal stone at you , i don;t think the line would be very long so to do , i would be right at the back myself .it was said in the heat of the moment . at least you gave a real and proper apology not the mealy mouthed version so many other famous people have given when they have been caught out .

    as to the jan moir article i don’t think that you did anything worng . as far as i am concerned she used her right to free speach to write an misinformed article . you used yours to make some twitter comments . end of . you are only being mentioned as starting the twitter sotrm because you are the most famous person to respond there . the mail just needed someone to blame and sadly you and derren brown were it . they must have seen your posts . you can;t hold yourself responsible for the way people take your tweets .

    the fact jon moir reposded as she did (the orchestrated campaign comment ) shows that she does’nt rate peoples inteligence very highly . personally i checked out twitter after i read the article . my mom had mentioned it when i got back in form work that day .

    i am from dublin and i was told that jan moirs article was left out of the irish daily mail . i doubt she was unaware of the fact that people would be offended .

    one last thing for everyone who has read this far . the media personality dave gorman has written an article about this topic i think is very good .http://gormano.blogspot.com/

    please keep giving your opinion about things close to your heart . i may not agree with everything you say but i love to read your comments . .

    thank you for reading .
    Linda (me_actually)

  34. Liela says:

    Hi Stephen, I agree with what you said in your blog. Sadly an Irish journalist did not agree and published the article linked below in one of our national papers. How it was permitted to be published is something I wouldn’t like to think about too long. Free speech is there for people to use, but as a journalist, her work was created for public consumption, backlash or nay. I’m loving the blog, keep it up and don’t let eejits like the example above and below shut your mouth one fraction!

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/having-the-right-to–offer-a-different-opinion-on-a-matter-of-concern–is-a-pillar-of-freedom-1918255.html

  35. quixote says:

    Whatever you do, Stephen, don’t ever shut up. Just don’t.

  36. Anna Szczerbieszowska says:

    Chapebau bas, Mr Fry, for your courage to apologize to the Poles for your big mouth on the Channel 4.

    We, Poles, have had it tough historically being the God’s playground as Norman Davies calls it. During the Second World War our country was hugely destroyed and every 5th Pole died in the war. We certainly don’t deserve to be identified with the Nazis or as their helpers.

    As a nation we didn’t have much chance to learn the rules of democracy as the communist regime took away the freedom from our lives for long 50 years. So, that’s almost one generation gone. Yet, we are trying to catch up and are learning quickly how to be tolerant and just. The new, Polish post-communist establishement, was in chaos and as a result of this the Law and Justice party has been chosen. And all the thinking Poles are absolutely mortified by them and hope they will disappear soon.

    It was very upsetting to hear your nasty comments but I think a great man is recognized not by his victory but the readiness to admit his failures. Mr Fry, I am so very, very happy to have you back as my favourite writer and broadcaster. Sto Lat!!!

  37. jack333 says:

    “dont ask me what I think till I’ve had a chance to hear what I’ve got to say”, I read somewhere that this was your favourite quote. As always with you it has significance on so many levels; it’s funny, its helpful and it could probably be confirmed by a neuroscientist! I hope the channel 4 episode will have given you a more balanced view on poles. in such a case please dont shut “your big mouth”.

  38. nelladella says:

    I immensely enjoyed reading this blog entry.
    I prefer people who speak their mind, even if it does bring about a lot of fuss and if it angers people. And so I agree with you regarding the utter rubbish of an article that was written by Moir – how any editor would let something like that to be printed is beyond me.
    I think all of us have sometimes typed, said or written something that we’re later on truely ashamed of or that came out not the way we intended, and so I understand how you must feel regarding the comment that slipped out during that interview on Channel 4. Don’t fret, it’ll blow over :)

    All in all, as brilliant as ever, I thoroughly enjoy reading your pieces.

  39. Craig Ranapia says:

    Barker:

    What in heaven’s name does “The Internet data on Mr. Gately suggests that sex was at a large part of his cache, which makes him fair game legal prey for the tabs” mean? Besides, that is, the grotesque old chestnut that any gay man or lesbian who doesn’t cower the the back of the closet is “flaunting” their sexuality, and therefore asking for any trash the gutter press decides to throw in their direction?

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but I’m an ex-journalist and I saw little evidence that it was a trade full of virgins whose idea of a good night out was sipping tea while discussing an improving volume with the Vicar.

    Particularly ironic was this: Not that there’s anything wrong with using one’s sexually to attract an audience. But having placed such a thing in the public domain, it’s hardly surprising that others will try to capitalize on it.

    You just can’t have it both ways…

    Well, apparently, Jan Moir can. She’s quite happy to “use” her gender to attract an audience, most recently when the Mail announced in April that she would be leaving the Telegraph to join its “roster of star female columnists”. And isn’t it amusing how often far-right columnists who froth about how homosexuals should STFU and stop pushing their “lifestyle” down people’s throats, don’t think twice about whether we’re really interested in their tedious domestic affairs?

    And I certainly suspect that if I wrote a column insinuating she’d covered up the “sleazy” truth about the death of a member of her extended family with precisely NO evidence and a lot of innuendo, I’d be getting a strongly worded letter from the venerable firm of Sue, Grabbitt and Runne. Because another little irony about tabloid gutter-snipes is that they can seldom abide the taste of their own poison, as the petulant and unrepentant statement issued by a PR firm on her behalf so richly displayed.

  40. DirkDanglybits says:

    Steven Steven Steven,You are a very naughty boy, however, as others have pointed out, Ms Moir’s article would have gone before various editors etc.

    I think anybody who says that they haven’t spoken without thing first is a lier, there are various adages for these kind of occasions such as “put brain in gear before operating mouth”

    But my favourite is “It is better to Keep your mouth shut and have people think you are stupid, than to open it and confirm the fact” Probably something you said on that marvellous program QI.

    As Punishment I thing you should Give yourself a sound flogging with stick of limp celery.

  41. Bolder Dash says:

    Dear Mr. Fry,

    I fear I shall be forced to call upon the wondrous nature of synchronicity in explaining this reply, as it is (in many ways) as unrelated to the post I’m responding to as that given by Katyek below. Your post offers many reasons as to why my Father is an avid fan of your personality (and hence your work), and I would like to ask if you’d be so kind as to, for a reasonably extended moment (a few years perhaps), publish works involving a collection of your blogged views. In return, I promise with every inch of my body, every neuron of my mind, and every epiphenominal qualia of my soul to bite my rather large socialistic lip and purchase a copy for him every Father’s day, as the poor man takes very unkindly to suggestions of what he might be able to do with his internet facility, and I fear that suggesting he become a member of your blog may generate an uncomfortably scrambled feeling between us. I realise that this may seem entirely selfish on my part, so in a meagre further attempt to redress the balance I will place at your disposal my semi-fit 31 year old, otherwise heterosexual, body, mind, and spirit should you ever find yourself in Brisbane, Australia.

    With kindest regards,

    A.D.

  42. Bolder Dash says:

    P.S.

    It appears that Katyek’s reply wasn’t the most recent after all! I’m most embarrassed for my faux-pas, and hope this little addendum might have saved you a few oddly spent minutes in search-time. Should curiosity be the better of you, look for 20 October, 2009 at 1:05 am.

    Cheers {-:

  43. alexhalik1 says:

    Terrible comment. Well done Mr Fry, you are now in the same class of intolerance and ignorance as Jon Moir or other homophobes, racists etc.

    “The words just formed themselves in a line in my head, as words will, and marched out of the mouth”
    What a pathetic explanation. Xenophobes always use similar words to explain their comments. Why would anyone have such offensive and unfair lines in their heads anyway? oh well, it’s complete ignorance and stupidity I guess.

    If there is anything to be proud of in the Polish history it is the tolerance.
    Why do you think there was so many Jews in Poland before the war? Because most of other countries were much much more anti-Semitic and intolerant. Look at the Polish history more closely(instead of using idiotic stereotypes based on Hitler’s lies) and you will not see any religious wars, inquisition or witchcraft. . Why do you think there was never a Nazi or even Nazi-supporting political party in Poland(unlike e.g. in England)? Because even before the war there was no public support and acceptance for the Nazis’ ideas. The list could go on…

    I could not be more sorry for the fact that a guy who has done so much good work in fighting against intolerance in certain fields, is ,in fact, a complete ignorant himself. Jokes are ok – but please do not attempt to write anything serious about any nation/culture/social group, you clearly are too prejudiced to do so.

  44. Robin Fisher says:

    Hello Stephen,

    I too have hit “send” without passing Think, and experienced the writhing, swearing, whole body embarrassment afterwards. Sigh. Ah, the humanity, right? But as with all things, with the jewels comes the dreck, so I generally manage to square my shoulders once again and declare that if I’m to be damned it will be for who I really am.

    The blogosphere strikes me often as a growing neural net encasing the globe. It’s as if in addition to our own individual nervous systems, we humans are now also growing a collective nervous system, and I agree with you, we’re just at the beginning and it will be vastly interesting to see what happens as more time passes.

    I like to think that I’m one of the followers you describe as intelligent and independent-minded (if also liberal, ha and ha) and I can assure anyone that nothing I read on Twitter alone is going to turn me into a lockstepped acolyte. I hope along with you that the world of the press will be stimulated to be a valuable part of the future rather than a relic.

    I appreciate you immensely, and although only one individual, I’m happy to add my support and encouragement to the general tide.

    Robin
    Washington State, US

  45. Whirlochre says:

    Brevity writ en masse
    Surest disemboweller of ass
    And yet these idle words
    May not ever tweet as birds.

    Agree, btw.
    But just say (today, btw)

  46. NiceAussieGuy says:

    Not so much a comment, as an observation…. Well done!

  47. tremerka says:

    Dear Mr Fry,

    For several years I have been a great admirer of your work – as an actor, writer, journalist, comedian and simply as a human being. Which is why the shock resulting from your unfortunate (to say the least) comment on Poles and Auschwitz was greater than, I suppose, the one experienced by many people for whom you are just “Stephen Fry, a well-known British actor”. As a Pole, I feel… well, perhaps not offended, but mainly sorry and a bit sad. Firstly, because never, in my wildest dreams, would I have thought that a person such as yourself could harbour such unjust, stereotypical views – because I am inclined to believe that if you say something, it’s usually something you really think, deep down – even if you don’t usually speak of it. Secondly, because I think that your work really deserves to be better known outside UK – for example in Poland, where you do (or perhaps did) have a small, but devoted group of fans. Now this group is not very likely to get bigger, which is, I think, equally unfortunate for you and for the Poles, albeit for different reasons. For thousands, if not millions of Polish people you will now be “the idiot who thinks that all Poles are anti-semites” or “the English guy who knows nothing about modern history or is blinded by hatred”. And to think that you could so easily be “the brilliant guy who played in Black Adder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Kingdom, Peter’s Friends…”
    And thirdly… Thirdly I’m just a bit depressed and annoyed because I know that no matter what is said or happens now, watching my beloved “QI” will never be the same again.

  48. bbmason says:

    Beautifully observed as always, Mr Fry.
    I would argue that the reason your twitter comments spark such overwhelming response, is simple. You treat us like the intelligent, reasonable human beings that most of us are. The gutter press treat us like feeble lost sheep, who need telling what to think. Please please keep tweeting, and keep opening your big mouth. You are so often a voice of reason in a shitstorm of fear-mongering dross.

  49. Robin Rowlands says:

    THE LETTER

    Those of us who are aware of –

    that greater reality that flows between our fingers, sensitive to our touch but beyond our grasp –

    Recognize that –
    What is to come, is innevitable and neccessary.

    With the loss of decency and duty –
    Democracy has no validation and is but a Myth who’s meaning has been lost.

    The call to battle reverberates through our stone walls, our very bones and will not be silenced.

    Robin Rowlands

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