Wednesday 28 September 2016

Al Murray: Social media 'mob mentality' threatens free speech

Published 31/07/2015 | 00:07

Al Murray has condemned the 'mob mentality' on social media
Al Murray has condemned the 'mob mentality' on social media

Comedian Al Murray has criticised the "mob mentality" on social media for attacking free speech.

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Murray, known as his politically incorrect alter-ego the Pub Landlord, said people are "weaponising" their anger if they take offence at something in the public domain.

He cited the example of Daniel O'Reilly, whose Dapper Laughs character attracted a slew of negative headlines after his content was deemed to be sexist and offensive.

O'Reilly later said he felt bullied into killing off the character last year when footage was broadcast from a gig in which he said a female audience member was "gagging for rape", although he said he merely repeated what an audience member had commented.

Speaking at a Stand Up For Satire comedy night in support of Index on Censorship at Islington's Union Chapel in central London, Murray said of the Dapper Laughs affair: "It was a Twitter mob, there was a mob mentality.

"That was a pretty ugly episode, he should be allowed to do what he wants. People don't have to like it, that's the thing with art.

"But running the guy out of town ... people need to have a think what they're doing there."

He added: "The rights we extend to Frankie Boyle and defending him for saying what he wants we should extend to Dapper Laughs. Otherwise, they aren't rights - they're a boutique version of rights."

Dapper Laughs rose to prominence after his brand of humour went viral. But his ITV2 show, launched off the back of internet success, ended in November after one series and his UK tour was cancelled after a public backlash.

He appeared on BBC's Newsnight at the time and told host Emily Maitlis: ''I am not going to allow Dapper Laughs to represent me. I want the people out there to know that not only am I going to stop it, I am going to help it not being promoted.''

But despite his apology, just a month later he proclaimed that "Dapper's back" in a Christmas message on YouTube.

In an interview with BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat earlier this year, he denied that killing off his character was a stunt and said he has support from his fans.

Comedian Doc Brown, who was also appearing at last night's Stand Up For Satire gig, said the internet gave people increased avenues to complain.

He said: "There's plenty of things that are offensive, and there's things that people genuinely feel offended by. Then there are just jobsworths, they just want something to complain about.

"If it's funny, the chances are it's probably not (offensive). If it never makes you laugh but just shift in your seat, it's just an offensive talk. You can say anything, but you have to justify it.

"You should be able to say anything and back it up. That's what I hate about the internet - you can say anything but you don't have to back it up. You don't even have to show your face. It's pathetic."

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