Hated By The Daily Mail

I suppose the proudest thing I own is this badge, one of a very limited collection, given to me by the warm and wonderful Phill Jupitus. Anyone who can wear it can think of themselves of flying a flag of freedom, of having been awarded a medal struck for decency, fairness, honesty and what is right and morally good.

Proudly wearing this badge

Proudly wearing this badge today

Sometimes, I must confess, I can get a little hurt when that shrieky weaselly little bourgeois tabloid is mean to me, which I believe is very often. I don’t read it of course: like anyone of education or sense or moral decency I wouldn’t have such a purulent creepy production in the house. Nonetheless, by the osmosis of twitter and well-intentioned cabbies I sometimes get to hear of some spiteful snide remark or other and naturally I can be upset.

Daily Mail Hate Campaign

Daily Mail Hate Campaign

Today’s headline and the leader inside however actually made me genuinely guffaw and wriggle with delight. It is the final proof, if proof were needed, that the Daily Mail is not just actually wicked (intentionally, knowingly lying) but actually now quite, quite mad. In the name (it must suppose) of morality, spirituality, goodness, kindness, sweetness and honesty it intentionally, knowingly twists, distorts, misrepresents, smears and calumniates. Will their editor and subeditors go to heaven? Is god pleased with them? Have they done a good deed? Is this their advertisement for the religious way? To lie?

I can always be certain that I have done a good thing when out of all the descriptions they can choose, their leader writers select “quizmaster”. “What has this country come to,” they want to know, “when an egregious, self-satisfied quizmaster presumes to make moral pronouncements on a two thousand year old institution etc etc.”

As it happens I have spent many many more hours of my life as a writer and a journalist than as a “quizmaster”, yet, oddly enough, we don’t read the Mail coming up with: “What has this country come to when a journalist presumes to make moral pronouncements on a two thousand year old etc.?” Perhaps the Mail leader writer would be kind enough to explain to the world what qualifications are needed to allow one to express an opinion, or write a letter to a newspaper? What profession should one belong to and can we have a list of those which in fact disbar us from expressing one’s views?

I was one of 50 signatories to a letter that called into question the official state nature of the papal visit. I didn’t write the letter, but am proud to stand behind it and with my fellow signatories. Otherwise my “hate campaign”, as they well know, begins with the words, “I’ve no objection to the Pope coming to visit Britain, he is welcome to do so…” it is, as I go on to say, none of my business. I go out of my way to make it clear that I fully respect the desire of the pious, the faithful and the devout to welcome their spiritual father, their supreme Pontiff.

My only objection is that this be a State Visit. It hasn’t happened before and the Vatican is in no real sense a nation state. Visit the place: it takes fifty minutes to walk round. You don’t need a passport or visa to enter. It is a curlicue of history that makes this “absolute monarchy” (to quote the Holy See’s own website) a “country”. Under no reasonable or worthwhile definition does the Vatican match up to the old-established and widely accepted Montevideo protocols on statehood. So by all means come, but please don’t ask the British taxpayer (a figure whom the Daily Mail is usually so zealous to protect) to help foot the bill.

Believe me, there is no hate there. None whatever. The Mail knows this perfectly well.

On an entirely separate matter, one can of course seriously, maturely and with dignity and respect debate one’s belief in God, one’s trust or respect for the institution of the catholic church and any number of issues. In a civilised, open and free country one hopes that there will be more and more debates of such a nature. I took part in one myself for Intelligence Squared with Christopher Hitchins, opposing a motion proposed by Anne Widdecombe that “the Roman Catholic church is a force for good in the world”. It was a debate conducted according to the parliamentary rules that govern these proceedings. I was proud to have taken part in such an evident proof of the open and democratic nature of Britain. I would have been even if we hadn’t “won” the debate that evening.

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70 comments on “Hated By The Daily Mail”

  1. Stefferweps says:

    What happened to freedom of speech? I think it is absolutely ridiculous that a newspaper can go about accusing Stephen of “fuelling a campaign of hate” simply because he objects to the Pope visiting as a head of state. Stephen is just as entitled to his opinion as the next person, and I’ve got to say, that I admire him even more for his comments and standing up for what he believes in. Personally, I think it’s the Daily Mail, rather than Stephen who are “fuelling a campaign of hate”, except theirs appears to be against anyone him, and anyone else who stands up for what they believe in.

  2. Trev says:

    Well said!

    I would love one of those badges. As I’m on Benefits, I’m sure I meet the criteria required! The Mail and The Express are both as bad as each other…

  3. firkhamhall says:

    The Pope is currently travelling in a cloned car. The registration number SCV 1 belongs to a black Jeep Cherokee that is still taxed and insured on the roads in the UK….

    Wouldn’t we be arrested for that? lol

  4. rickbeardo says:

    What a mindless, oafish publication of snot The Daily Mail is.
    I object to the pope’s visit on many levels; the lowest of which being the cost to the British tax payer. Give me a religious leader, of whichever religion, who promises to preach love and values; as opposed to hate, discrimination and lies; and I will quite happily foot the bill as a British tax payer. The only campaign of hate in evidence, so far as I can tell, is one the Catholic church enjoy against homosexuals, children, safe sex and women’s rights.

  5. lee_garland says:

    I love @stephenfry by the same degree that I hate the Daily Mail. Which is to say, limitlessly.

  6. ToniBryan says:

    Well as another proud atheist of many years standing, I’m with Stephen on this one. As for the Mail & Express I’ve wiped my ass on far more luxurious toilet paper, a better read as well!

  7. hasyourmothersoldhermangle says:

    I’d also add supremely intelligent, just and downright splendid to that list. You’re a wonderful man and I am so pleased that you stand up for what you believe in and have the courage to say everything that so many of us wish we were brave enough to. I saw your Intelligence Squared speech and thought it was fantastic.

    Keep fighting and wear that badge with pride! :)

  8. BarryNorton says:

    “What happened to freedom of speech?”


    Stephen can say what he likes, and the Daily Mail can opine as they see fit.

    What’s more Stephen can point out the lack of logic and coherence in their opinion.

    Where’s the problem?

  9. profmbrake says:

    Particularly galling when one recall’s that the DM were editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.

  10. highpriestess says:

    Oh how a Daily Mail journalist would love to have the intelligence to participate in any debate, let alone one titled ‘Intelligence Squared with Christopher Hitchins’. Filth!

  11. LudditeWebDeveloper says:

    Anytime I’ve achieved something or held an opinion about an idea, I’m always slightly pleased when The Daily Mail normally takes the opposite view. I now view it as a fairly accurate litmus test of morality; whatever The Daily Fail says, bet the other way.

  12. sophietonks says:

    I want one of those badges too. I’m currently unemployed (not through choice, but what would that matter to the Mail) and one of those nasty atheist liberal types.

    With each article like this which appears in the Mail, I feel more and more ashamed that it is the paper of choice for my parents. Your response to their latest efforts is excellent, Mr Fry.

  13. Mogwai says:

    The thing we must not forget is that while these editors, sub-editors, reporters, researchers and journalists are at work fabricating their utopian ideal in print… so long as they are working, they aren’t actually out and about interacting with society… Allowing them to print their nonsense keeps society safer.

  14. bq67ie says:

    Stephen, you’re a legend. Stand up for what you believe in. From a fellow atheist who is unfortunately nowhere near as as articulate as Mr Fry.

    This has done the rounds a few times but it seems particularly appropriate right now for some reason!


  15. Goff says:

    I’m with Barry on this. As The Friar himself pointed out, he has the freedom to say what he likes. And good for him (and the rest of us) too.

  16. RoxieDiva says:

    I loathe the Daily Hate Mail with a passion bordering on obsession so this was always going to appeal to me – and it would have been so easy to go down the route of declaring them all twatty racist tossers – but you have answered fairly, honestly and objectively and I admire your dignity in doing so.

  17. SeanP82 says:

    As a Liberal Catholic, I am not necessarily sure that I am currently welcome on these message boards (I come in peace!) However, I too wish to defend the rights of all to say as they wish on all sides; I think that a sensible and constructive discussion between all parties can help understanding and mutual respect. What is disappointing is when organisations such as the Daily Mail peddle untruths. With regards to their aggressive campaign, I would like to quote the following:

    ‘Not in my name!’

  18. shinerweb says:

    Daily Mail? Nuff said. I wouldn’t even allow that waste of space in my outside loo in lieu (no pun intended) of a national Andrex shortage.

    I’m with @Mogwai and yourself Mr Fry.

  19. TishyP says:

    Echoing Trevs comment…I definitely need one of those badges! Single parent, lives on a council estate. But despite having a job and being totally without any sort of state handouts, I am still the scourge of society. For the record, I do read the Daily Fail’s website, but only because it makes me laugh way more than any comic strip I’ve seen!

  20. Eskimimi says:

    I almost groaned when I saw advertisements for the David Attenborough DVD given away with the Daily Fail today. I’d really like to pick up a copy of the DVD, but I’d never be able to get over the embarrassment of being seen to publicly buy a copy of that hateful rag, the guidebook to gutter morality.

    The ‘state visit’ position of the pontiff’s little sojourn in the UK is what has annoyed me, also. I’m one of those ‘aggressive atheists’ everyone should be scared of, but I do realise that religions have the right to send forth their leaders to try and spread news of their faith and perhaps even forge some agreements of unity. That my tax money is going towards paying for someone to come for a holiday and warn me that we’re too secular and losing touch with ties to his personal beliefs is slightly grating.

  21. Gordon_Keenan says:

    With the amount of wealth that appears to be kicking about in Rome/Vatican it amazes me that they expect everyone else to foot the bills for their “Faith Concert”.

    As I am writing this, the radio here in Glasgow is blaring how the motorway has been closed, roads closed, Police and snipers are out in force, all for some useless show that seems to attract the blinkered and the closed minded. The only thing that really made me smile was the general publich having to pay £20.00 a head to visit, and the priests £40.00 LOL! So much for club discount!!!!

  22. Jude Rawlins says:

    Having been present at our Stephen’s deeply moving and very beautiful eulogy at the funeral of our Sebastian Horsley, I must say that I’d find it impossible to believe that Mr. Fry is capable of hate for anyone, even if the accusation had come from a credible source. The Daily Mail, like Alan Sugar, exists to only exploit the working classes and further it’s own filthy, greedy ends. It panders to the cult narcissism and encourages serious mental illness. It is worse for you than smoking. Give it up and seek help.

  23. beeurd says:

    “I have spent many many more hours of my life as a writer and a journalist than as a quizmaster”

    Unfortunately the Daily Mail doesn’t understand what a journalist is, since they have none that are any good.

  24. prof_paul says:

    For some reason Tesco include a free copy of the Daily Mail whenever we do an online shop. This is handy, as we can always do with scrap paper for wrapping up food waste for recycling. And if we run out of loo roll.

  25. Painter says:

    Having just viewed your speech regarding the Catholic Church at the Intelligence Squared debate; I am pleased to say that I am now not only a fan of your acting prowess.

    That you would be lambasted for taking a stand against the pope and his brethren ought not to come as a surprise, rather as an accolade (Considering the source of the derision).

    If the pope can’t take the heated welcome to the British Isles, let’s hope it is in no small way due to his sizzling in the Frying pan.

  26. dsupple says:

    The Daily Hell is just compensating as it has lost its weather forecasters (you will all freeze to death tonight…again) to the Daily Express. As a weekly catholic I welcome the debate that you put on the table – it is mature, well-reasoned, and even if I don’t agree with elements of it, the debate itself certainly advances our society. Everything that the Daily Mail seems to stand against. I see so may people reading this paper, it is a regular on any morning train to London. What a sad, sad choice.

    Nice badge – don’t accidentally launder it.

  27. CristinaC says:

    As @Jude Rawlins says about The Daily Mail “It is worse for you than smoking. Give it up and seek help.”

    Wear your badge proudly :)

  28. keithinkrakow says:

    Can anyone recall the last article printed by the Daily Mail concerning the Catholic Church, the Vatican or the Pope?

  29. Jinnycameron says:

    I have no religious affiliation, but accept without question those that do have religious beliefs. I do however strongly object; particularly with the country being in such dire financial straights (cutting services to the old, infirm, education, etc etc) to funding a visit from a religious leader (nothing more, nothing less) that will not be relevant to a large percentage of the population of the UK. Can you imagine the outcry if it were a Muslim religious leader and the UK taxpayer was expected to foot the bill?!!????

  30. j_beaglehole says:

    I’m going to celebrate the Pope’s visit by getting hammered on Blue Nun.

  31. sumon says:

    On the DM website their quote from Stephen Fry merely questions the validity of granting the pope a state visit, and therefore the resulting cost to the british taxpayer. Yet it is directly under the headline ‘Spitting Venom, the Left Wing Chorus’ In no way is this a venomous tirade against the Pope. Fry has actually stated that the Pope is welcome to come to the UK. Therefore to highlight his name on the front page of the paper as some sort of ring leader of a pro aethist campaign against the visit seems very unfair.

  32. Elifant71 says:

    Amazing! I don’t know where they come up with this garbage, but atlease we have @stephenfry to take it out to the curb for us! I personally am sick to name calling, intolerant behavior and actions, and this over inflated sense of “societal protection” that seems to permiate all forms of public media today. If we loose the right to convey our own thoughts and beliefs we loose society itself. Thanks Stephen standing up and saying no more! I would proudly weat the badge with you and do!

  33. DTemp says:

    Well said.

  34. Chris Francis says:

    You’re certainly right. The Mail’s distaste can only be a shining commendation. Not sure the Attenborough point was too relevant though, and a skim of his Wikipedia page suggests that a “proud atheist” he isn’t. Otherwise, well put!

  35. mummyidoneawhoopsy says:

    yes yes, but the TV guide used to be quite good.

  36. Langtons_Aunt says:

    There can be no greater accolade than to be despised by the Daily Mail. It and the Express are the two buttocks of the same arse. As an overpaid bone-idle public-sector shirker I want a badge as well.

  37. Benedikte says:

    Did the Daily Mail notice the irony of juxtaposing their nonsensical headline with the banner offering a David Attenborough DVD?

    That would be Sir David Attenborough, the well-known agnostic?

    (Incidentally, the similarity between my name and that of the Holy Father is purely coincidental.)

  38. karenbirch says:

    It is a constant source of puzzlement and embarrassment to me that my parents, whose own parents were instrumental in establishing the trade union movement in the north west of England and who fought for tolerance and equality of opportunity, now read the Daily Mail. Their excuse, that they like the puzzle page, is not acceptable!!
    However they love you Mr Fry and I can only hope that the frontpage may cause them to question the voracity of all else that this rag publishes and discard their daily subscription.

  39. Tony Fisk says:

    It’s not a faith concert, but a pope concert.

  40. abbyg says:

    I always read the Daily Mail. One should always have something fatuously sensational to read on the train

  41. nrepka says:

    Very gracious response, sir! Maybe even too luxurious for the addressee of such low standing as Daily Mail. But I am glad we leave in the world where lies are accountable for and can be publicly addressed. You have given a shining example of how it is done. Thank you! x

  42. grainnemurphy says:

    It sometimes occurs to me that the Daily Mail finds the most reasonable standpoint….and then comes up with an impassioned argument against it. So being insulted by them is often a sign of having found the sweet spot of sanity in society.

  43. AnCBeck23 says:

    Well said as always, Stephen. The term “atheist hate campaign” is completely absurd; none of you have threatened the Pope or said anything dishonest about him. In fact, I’d be inclined to say that more hatred is probably coming from the Ian Paisley types, who are certainly not atheists. (Don’t you find it ironic that Paisley is protesting the Pope’s cover-up of child abuse when he himself did the same thing 30 years ago?)

    I don’t know if this is true, but I read somewhere that a papal Mass in either Northern Ireland or Scotland was originally anticipated to have 300,000 worshippers in attendance, but will in reality only have 80,000. You can take that either as over-estimation on the planners’ part or as a testament to what many Catholics really think about their “spiritual father.”

  44. EllieK says:

    I am so so glad that you are amused, rather than upset, by this rubbish. Saw the headline when I was in Tesco earlier and was totally outraged to think that they could even consider spouting such nonsense – it beggars belief. I hope that in future there will be much less people who are taken in by their peculiar brand of warped thinking. Well done for not letting yourself be bullied by them! :)

  45. Laurie Dudley says:

    Thank you for sticking it to the man, Stephen. I’m an agnostic and dispute many Catholic teachings, but I am extremely happy for the Pope to come here. As ever, you’re reasonable and charming. Keep it up x

  46. grc1961 says:

    I want one of those. A badge, that is, not a pope.

  47. Tileman says:

    I too have met the occasional Daily Mail ‘journalist’. It makes it so much worse that so many of then don’t believe the political subtext they slant things through ….

  48. canis rufus says:

    “In any case, we reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican.”

    I think that is really the bottom line, as Stephen says. It is about separation of church and state, not “hating” the pope. Here in America, I see that line blurred all the time, and it is infuriating.

  49. blogshank says:

    The Daily Mail makes me ashamed to be English.

  50. bravenewmalden says:

    I have one of those badges too! It’s proudly displayed on my backpack, alongside one for The Londonist.

    I’m not a badge kind of guy but for those two I make exceptions. Especially for the first one.

    It’s sad to think I live in a world in which the Daily Mail, with its lies and distortions, its hate and prejudice, can be one of the UK’s most successful newspapers.

    Every time I see an otherwise sane-looking person reading it, I want to approach them and say ‘Don’t you understand? Don’t you get it? Hello?’

    I never do, obviously.

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