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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 28, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

    Oliver Stone Apologises for Holocaust Remarks

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    I am glad to see that movie director Oliver Stone has apologised for comments he made about the Holocaust. Stand-up comedians please note and click here

    • Aidan says:

      Deaglan,

      If Hot Press provided certain material they thought was important you would have a point. They don’t, and therefore you don’t.

      Again, you can’t help ruminating on my character, having a go etc. I’m not interested what you think; save your fingers. Also, the Hitchens clip I posted deals nicely with the “shouting fire in a crowded theatre” argument. Watch it.

      And again, and finally, none of the other clips I posted, or the “throw the jew down the well” lyrics came with context, and you’ve yet to explain how you let them pass put would not let this pass. If you can’t see the obvious comedy in the 1’28 second sketch, then I can’t help. I’ve done my best to patiently explain this to you, and all I get in return is derogatory remarks about my person.

    • Aidan says:

      Joanna,

      Most young people are not anti-semitic. Some of them disagree with Israel, to put it simplistically, but that is not the same thing as being anti-semitic.

      Most of them, however, do have a problem with people who are self-righteous, especially my generation who have seen the self-righteous exposed as frauds more than any other generation previously. I have no problem with people who make the self-righteous the butt of a joke.

      I don’t think that the Mexicans joke is that offensive, and one would have to wonder if a couple found a joke like that offensive what they were doing at a Tommy Tiernan show in the first place.

      That aside, the reason I think the joke works is that the audience cheer. Now, if it was a bigoted rant thinly disguised as a poor joke, as you say, then you would have to accept that the audience were bigots cheering at bigoted statements. Now, generally the only place where bigots cheer at biggoted statements is at BNP rallies, and Ugandan anti-gay rallies etc. where they know they are among bigots. There may have been some racists in the room when Michael Richards went on his rant, but nobody cheered, because the racism was meant, and racism isn’t to be cheered and isn’t funny, obviously.

      Now, logically, this would also have to lead you to the conclusion that people who were there or read the script, or saw the clip and defended Tiernan were bigots defending another bigot.

      That is, of course, not the case. The editor of Hot Press is not a bigot, and he edits a paper which reports on irish comedy, art, music and culture, so I think he’s a pretty good judge of what works and what doesn’t work in an artistic sense. I think he’s a far better judge than Deaglán who knows so much about Irish culture that he thinks arresting a few celebrities might lessen drug use in this country (because every time Pete Doherty gets arrested people go “jesus maybe I shouldn’t be smoking this spliff”) Deaglán finds the Gervais sketch so offensive that he won’t post a link to it here, and yet not one Jewish or Gay organisation has complained about it, so far as I know. Is he really a good judge of what is offensive and what isn’t?

      How do you account for the fact that the editor of Hot Press, the person who interviewed him on the day, people who aren’t anti-semitic but still go to Tiernan shows in their droves disagree with your summation of the joke? Perhaps this is just not your sort of humour.

      We could go for comment after comment about whose opinion is right or wrong, but at least we can accept that it is a matter of opinion about a joke. I think that politicians have better things to be doing than demanding apologies from comedians whose jokes they think don’t quite work.

      I have no problem with people using accents on stage, just as I have no problem with actors using accents in a movie or TV show, and Frankie Boyle is a fine one to go on about offending people (if Deaglán decides not to post this you can find it by searching for Frankie Boyle offensive jokes).

      Finally, you say this trend in comedy is worrying. I don’t. Consider this: comedy by Ricky Gervais would not have been possible 40-50 years ago, because some people at the time would have had no problem cheering at homophobia, racism, sexism, which would have destroyed the joke of the social awkwardness of the situation….and indeed many comedians of that era made successful careers touring around making quips about minorities. Those comedians have disappeared in mainstream comedy (they may still scratch around working men’s clubs and BNP meetings). Don’t you think that that is actually a good development?

    • dave says:

      Joanna Tuffy,

      I agree with your insighful comments.

      But regarding your indicated presumption that he is not anti-SemItic: Of course you may be correct but the evidence so far is:

      1. He had according to himself already been challenged by a Jewish couple on this question, as a previous routine of his has plainly upset them. They must have had very good cause to go so far as to bring it up on their own. We are relying of course on Tiernan’s own account. Maybe this is not the full story.

      Maybe there were more than just one couple of Jews involved. Maybe there were more, or maybe he’s made it all up in order to tell his gas chamber routine.

      Regardless, I’d wager that such a quickfire routine re the gas chambers may have been worked on beforehand…as it came off his tongue so easily…. as if it had been crafted and rehearsed.

      2. The fact that this particular question was put to him by a member of the audience in Ireland – I believe by someone wearing a t-shirt supportive of Palestine – seems rather an odd one, doesn’t it…unless that questioner had knowledge perhaps of a number of other anti-Jewish or anti-Israel jokes told by him in the past. I do know he has told anti-Israeli jokes, and many people who tell such jokes may be giving vent to their anti-Semtism.

      I am sure of course that not all of those who are anti-Israel are anti-SemItic – or are at least not aware that they are – but you can be sure that all anti-Semites are definitely anti-Israel, and are drawn to that socially acceptable anti-Israel cause solely or partially because of their hatred of Jews in general.

      What is also important is your observation that he chose to select the example of the complaining Jews in his audience to be the butt of his routine in Ireland, and mocked their outrage not by shocking them directly at the time, but by ridiculing their audacity to challenge him in safe Ireland. This may be the most telling point of all, reminiscent of the racist who will only tell his racist jokes in an assured safe arena, say with his mates, his family, some of his Palestine-supporting fans in Ireland ….but will be too cowardly to repeat such jokes in all their full hatEful nature in front of his accusers who have detected something slightly racist about his jokes.

      Thus, while at home the real Tiernan is himself, abroad he has to become a poor shadow of this, as he is probably aware that foreign audiences could prove more dodgy in their response to anti-SemItic jokes. The Canada cancellation proves it. Personally I wish he had not been cancelled, and been given the just reception he deserved, as it would have ended his career outside Ireland, Iran, Turkey, and Gaza.

    • There are times when I feel like a Social Democrat in Munich circa 1923 or that I have woken up in a bierkeller in Nuremberg ca. 1936. There are elements about so-called “alternative” comedy that suggest an incipient type of reactionary politics. The repopularisation of so-called “humour” directed against Jews, for example: “It’s only a joke, you’re not cool if you don’t laugh.” And elsewhere, the permissive attitude towards hard drugs, giving a free ride to an evil, multi-billion-dollar network of crime and cruelty that is destroying society. Every time a young man is shot dead in the latest Dublin gangland shooting, a middle-class drug-user in the south city is helping to pull the trigger.
      Aidan: you are misrepresenting my position on hard drugs. I don’t oppose stricter law enforcement of course but my real target is the tolerant attitude of society in general, including people like yourself. I would argue that drug-dealers and indeed “celebrity” drug-users should be treated like paedophiles in terms of public opinion. The kind of coverage given to the convicted rapist Larry Murphy should also be given to drug-dealers on their release.
      BTW It’s a bit pathetic the way you hide behind the skirts of Hot Press. If they really are such stalwart and proud defenders of TT as you say, let them stop charging Eur 20 for access to his Electric Picnic routine and share this supposed magnificence with the hoi polloi.

    • Aidan says:

      Dave,

      Since I pointed out that you couldn’t just wave away context (“A rant is a rant is a rant”) you seem to have reached for handfuls of pablum to throw at this, and your posts now are almost nothing but conspiracy theory and personal insults. I thought you, at least, we’re going to be different on this subject.

    • Aidan says:

      Ruby is right.

      No matter how many examples of really offensive statements that work in a comic context I come up, and how I build my case, all I’m going to get is personal insults and childish remarks about Stalin and such.

      I find it disappointing that the standard of discussion on this subject has been so low, especially on a blog hosted by the purported “paper of record”.

      There was a chance to have a proper discussion about what is and isn’t acceptable in a comic context, how context works etc, but it seems that the host is more interested in labelling people who disagree with him as mini-hitlers and ruminating on their characters.

      I hope in the future that the Irish Times does something like The Guardian and has guest bloggers to blog on both sides of a subject, and that if they allow demands of apology on their blog that a least the demands will come from people who actually have a knowledge of the subject they are writing about.

      Just because this is the “blogs” section, it doesn’t mean that The Irish Times should accept a lower standard, and it certainly shouldn’t accept a standard as low as this. It’s laughable that someone who finds the show Extras to be horrifically offensive is the best the Irish Times has to offer on the subject of a comedian’s routine.

      Then again, The Irish Times did send a man who admitted he’d never been to a live comedy show before to investigate Tiernan. That being said, Mr. Mc Garry wrote a decent article. Dave, this is essential reading for you:

      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1013/1224256508929.html

      “The recent fuss was so much ado about nothing.”

    • Meldrake says:

      Forgot about what Stone said about mass murderers and have a read of the recent Observer interview in which he talked about his unusually close relationship with his French mother and how she used to like giving him a hand….
      It all makes sense then!!!

    • dave says:

      Aidan,

      Aidan @102 “Deaglán finds the Gervais sketch so offensive that he won’t post a link to it here, and yet not one Jewish or Gay organisation has complained about it, so far as I know. Is he really a good judge of what is offensive and what isn’t?”

      And yet, Aidan, when Jewish organizations complain that some of Tiernan’s “jokes” are anti-Semtic and offensive to them you dismiss their compalints away in terms of them not really understanding Tiernan’s real motives.

      Aidan, you’re full of contradictions. Mind you, aren’t we all. But in this instance you, unlike Deaglan, have not got a clear appreciation as to what Jews and gays find offensive. According to you they appear not have a right to judge this in Tierann’s case. ! I won’t lower myself to the level where somone might just want to call you a bit of a schmuck (although I will be honest with you: I have on occasion thought it, but then dismissed it).

      However I do admire your tenacity in the face of overwhelming logic and common sense thrown at you.

      You are very entertaining though. You would do a good job as a PR spokesperson or agent for Tiernan. However one suggestion if you ever do take it up: concentrate on Iran. He is exactly the type of comic they’d love. As they are so obsessed over there with denying the Holocaust, I am sure that they’d go into hysterics at Tommy’s Holocaust humour over there.

      Pity he’s a few years too late for Iran’s “Best Holocaust Cartoon Competition”. Had he put his routine into cartoon form he’d have won it by a mile.

    • dave says:

      Deaglan, re you leats point on Hot Press,

      I find it hard to understand why Hot Press and Tiernan have not reaslise that Tiernan’s gig is hot property, and have not released it on CD. I wonder why?

      Also, do they not both realise the enormous potential for huge sales in Ireland and Iran. Many people in Ireland would probably buy it mostly out of curiosity. But in Iran sales would be huge. I really think his agent is missing a great opporunity here for Tiernan’s Middle Eastern career to take off big.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      Aidan,

      You’re right it’s not my type of comedy. I was of the impression from previous comments by you before that you did not think this particular routine by Tommy Tiernan was a good one. The cheer means nothing. There is an element of crowd behaviour when people laugh and clap at things and sometimes in audiences some people act on automatic, but you might find that many in the audience were cringing during his routine and found it unfunny. I have found routines of Tommy Tiernan’s very funny though, when he did routines about his school years for example, but I attended a do for a friend’s work a few years ago and I was very dissapointed with his routine, it relied a lot of crude jokes that I did not find funny.

      To me a lot of the comedians that are sucessful now come accross as immature, not in the clownish sense but rather like 40 year old teenagers. I think there are some great comedians around now, but there were great comedians around before too like Dave Allen, Mike Yarwood, Morecombe and Wise. I can’t think of any comedian now that is as funny as they were then. Of course that’s my taste and opinion. You might say I am old fashioned. You are right in what you say, about people disagreeing with Israel not being antisemitic, but anti israeli sentiment, is a different thing to being critical of Israeli actions and there is a thin line between it and racism and anti semetism. Why in this particular joke does Tommy Tiernan bring up self righteousness about Israeli’s being a hunted people? He is interchanging being Jewish and being Israeli in that part of the routine. I am not demanding his apology by the way just saying it is something that I expect, not as a politician, just as a fellow Irish person. You said earlier there was no outcry and I was bringing to your attention that the organisation tasked with educating people in Ireland about the Holocaust had condemned him and sought an apology. He is an ambassador for Ireland when he performs abroad, and now he is a public broadcaster, and there is a latent anti semetism and racism out there that he should make sure he does not play to, in my view.

    • dave says:

      Question: does someone who tells an anti-Semitic or racist joke, or a joke that offends Jews or other minority groups mean he is necessarliy an anti-Semite or racist, or guilty of anti-Semitism?

      Perhaps there are no easy answers to this. Perhaps only the persons themselves know whether they are racist. Who can know the mind and ideas of somone else. Overt behaviours such as verbal and other acts might be the best indicators, but I believe there is no absolute certainty. Certainly, most of us are all racist to some lesser or greater degree. But mere denials by them does not necessarlily mean anything, only observable behaviours. make it so.

      To be fair therfore to Tiernan and any other comics who are accused of being anti-Semtic when they make “jokes” involving Hollocaust material only they themsleves know the answers to such questions.

    • Aidan says:

      Deaglán,

      The logic is quite simple. I’m sure Hot Press are proud of their work on lots and lots of different and far more important issues etc. ALL OF IT is archive material. All of it!

      It’s not as if they have removed it from their archives, and €20 is not exactly an insurmountable sum to pay for information you want, is it? I’m sure you could fish it out of petty cash there.

      If they gave away the work they were proudest of for free, you MIGHT have a point. And that’s still a might. This issue is hardly huge and isn’t of huge interest to most people. However, they don’t do that, and therefore you haven’t even got a whisper of a point.

      To have to explain this to someone who writes for The Irish Times is depressing.

    • Aidan, My suspicions about your motives are coming back to life! I agree with Dave that you would make a very fine PR agent for TT.

      On the article you cite by Patsy McG: he is a very fine journalist and colleague and a good personal friend but I respect him far too much to pretend that I always agree with him. Nor would I personally have gone ahead with writing the piece after TT’s refusal to grant an on-the-record interview. On this issue, I am at one with the following letter, published on October 17th, in response to Patsy’s article:

      Madam, – As a former religious affairs correspondent of your newspaper, could I urge you to send your present one, Patsy McGarry, to the Auschwitz extermination camp memorial as a follow-up to his visit to Tommy Tiernan’s recent live show in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon. (Opinion, October 13th).

      As Mr McGarry walks around the remains of the gas chambers and crematoria where millions of Jewish children, women and men died, I would like to think he would write a more reflective piece on the Tommy Tiernan who made such “jokes” at a previous event as: “F—ing six million? I would have got 10 or 12 million out of that. No f—ing problem. Two at a time they would have gone. Hold hands. Get in there. Leave us your teeth and your glasses.” I could hardly believe that Mr McGarry, an excellent Religious Affairs Correspondent, could describe “the recent fuss” about Tiernan’s “jokes” as “so much ado about nothing”. Mr McGarry gives Tiernan licence to make these appalling “jokes” because of his “creativity which takes possession of him”. My God, can this be creativity?

      On second thoughts, Madam Editor, why not send Tommy Tiernan to Auschwitz as well so that he can swap notes with your Religious Affairs Correspondent about the “karma of the road home”, whatever that is. – Yours etc,

      JOE CARROLL,

      Maretimo Gardens,

      Blackrock, Co Dublin.

    • dave says:

      That anyone – comedian, Nazi, human rights activist, anyone on this earth – could think that the following lines are funny is beyond me: “F—ing six million? I would have got 10 or 12 million out of that. No f—ing problem. Two at a time they would have gone. Hold hands. Get in there. Leave us your teeth and your glasses.”. Regardless of the purpose. Just as we know that describing the death of Christ or anyone at all in similar obscene terms -even though it was simply meant to make a point – would be to go against most sane people’s sense of common decency.

    • Aidan, Since you have such a penchant for posting links to YouTube, here’s a couple more for you to ponder. And keep TT’s lines quoted in Dave’s comment above in mind as you do so. Then come back with your latest justification/defence of the Holocaust monologue.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eurwKiE7JVg&feature=related

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8twJgcggMc&feature=related

    • houmouriste says:

      The ABSURD subtext of the Breadun Bunch hysterics (not pun intended) taken to its logical conclusion is that: only Jews can make jokes about Jews, only ‘Niggaz’ can make jokes about ‘Niggaz’, only GAYS can make jokes about GAYS only Women can make jokes about Women and only ‘Paddies’ can make jokes about ‘Paddies’…
      Ergo Sacha Baron Cohen aka Ali G is racist when he makes jokes about ‘Gangsta Rappers’ or sexist when he refers to womens ‘punani’ (I know a great anecdote about that but I’ll save it for my memoirs…
      Satire is a way of lampooning stereotypes…
      ‘Alternative comedy’ is a bit more hardcore, in your face and it makes people confront their prejudices/stereotypes…
      What’s HILARIOUS about the crawthumping B/S on this blog is that the usual right wing reactionaries who normally accuse anyone slightly to the left of Attila the Hun of being a ‘liberal fundamentalist’ (a contradiction in terms I know!) have come over all PC about a comedy routine….I feel your PAIN…!
      Deaglan you really neEd to get some therapy and resolve that anal fixation you have about pseudonyms…inadequate potty training perhaps…? You’re obviously very tight if you can’t afford 20 euro for an internet link….

    • minXie says:

      Quelle surprise! Mlle Ruby presents a dichotomy! On the one hand, under the current pseudonym Houmouriste (sic), this person congratulates Aidan for arguing his points coherently with clarity and restraint; while at the same time her own interjections (#93 ff) are incoherent, unclear and levelled with unbridled insolence. Although I did take issue with regard to what I considered to be an insolent remark of his to Deaglán, Aidan was doing an ok job arguing the case for a pathetic Irish comedian’s “right to be offensive in context” – (I’d like him to have a go at arguing the opposite just for the hell of it) but he certainly does not benefit from the support or rather interjections of a scatterbrain who comes across as not knowing her ass from her elbow – or humerus, if you like. Btw, in my opinion, Dave did a better job arguing for “the prosecution” and let us not forget in a court scenario there is always a Judge to arbitrate and which often involves character assessment.

      PS – I have just read comments from 105 ff and now reading Joe Carrolls letter @ 113 (courtesy of Deaglán) I feel absolutely sick to my stomach that Tiernan is allowed, first of all, to use such offensive material in any context – but especially in “the context of” my country; and secondly, that he has not ever apologised to all those people directly offended. If he does not do so of his own accord at this late stage, it is up to the powers that be in this country to exact an apology from this man and not least on behalf of all Irish people who may be utterly appalled and disgusted by such a transgression of the “free speech” prerogative.

    • houmouriste says:

      ((MODERATOR’S NOTE: THIS IS ‘RUBY’ UNDER ANOTHER PSEUDONYM)) @91 Joanna…If your going to lecture someone on Anti Semitism For God’s Sake get the spelling RIGHT…you’ve spelt it anti semetic TWICE…

      @99 dave if that’s waht passes for ‘Wit’ in your Casa then God bless you…and illustrates better than any of your posts that you are not really in a postition to criticise anyone’s comedy…
      Are you Jewish btw?

      Aiden You should consider suing the Irish Times for the appallingly defamatory insults you have been subjected to on this blog.

    • Ruby/Humoriste does more harm to Aidan’s cause than any of his opponents in this discussion. Apart from that, she can’t even spell his name right. Interesting that Ruby/Humoriste is ultra-PC on every issue in every discussion until, guess what, the Jews come into the frame. First there was her gasp-inducing line at No. 86: “Anyway if the Jews didn’t kill Jesus who did?” Now she wants to know if someone she disagrees with here (No. 118) is Jewish. What difference does it make, Rube? Surely you don’t have a problem with Jewish people? Next thing you’ll be asking me if I’m Jewish. Deaglán – a grand old Hebrew name? This is hilarious :D

    • houmouriste says:

      Aidan I apologise most profusely if I have mispelt your name…long day at work …the cutting edge of Criminal Law…no offence…
      Save that my comment about who killed baby Jesus followed by my follow up remark ‘no one because he didn’t exist’ was ironic …
      I treat Dec’s rant with the contempt it deserves…
      I have no problem with Jewish people in fact some of my many Jewish friends and best boyfriends were ‘Chosen’ as they frequently reminded me…that old Jewish humour again! …
      They quite often had a problem with Gentiles particularly Catholics tho’, probably your your contemporaries probably Deaglan/barbera aka minnie/mingie etc…
      I asked the question of dave because of his in-depth knowledge and obvious passion about the Politics of the Middle East and Gaza…try again man!
      Have you got a degree in missing the bleeding point…?

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      Ruby,

      You’ve a fair few typos there yourself.

      I am not lecturing. Just giving an opinion.

    • minXie says:

      @118
      ruby says:

      “Aiden You should consider suing the Irish Times for the appallingly defamatory insults you have been subjected to on this blog.”

      Read my response in Ali G accent : And you is da one talkin’ about freedom of speech! You is a dumb ass!

    • dave says:

      Humouriste/Ruby,

      Are you Jewish btw?

    • houmouriste says:

      By your flawed and easily refuted reasoning, I use the term loosely, Johnny Speight who created everyone’s favourite bigot ‘Alf Garnett’, played coincidentally by that exceptional Jewish actor Warren Mitchell, must also be a racist Anti Semitic and Homophobic…!
      Btw I asked dave if he was Jewish because there are some Canadian dave’s in my family and I thought we might be related…In fact I might even be Jewish…
      barbera/minniie.minxie/mingie…I’d stick with the Mr Ed/Beverley Hillbillies… more your gen/era…
      Haven’t you got any fights to pick on the Scree**iter blog or are you still licking your would from Neary’s drubbing….l?
      Gotta leave it to you Aidan…not that you need any support…up to my proverbials in work…

    • minXie says:

      Btw in my comment @ 85, I was giving an example (albeit ridiculous) of how a possible comedy rant (henceforth crant) could reach the point of offending a people if the cranter were not ‘belonging’ to the people he was cranting about and was making a particular group (ethnic/religious group if you like) the butt of his cranting and especially if he were cranting about a particular period in that people’s history where so many of their countrymen died so totally unnecessarily, or worse, were murdered by sadists in a fascist regime. WE SHOULD ALL BE SICKENED AND UTTERLY OUTRAGED BY EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE HOLOCAUST. Some things are out of bounds for cranters and any cranter who doesn’t know this instinctively, or worse, knows it and is prejudiced against a particular group, should either be pelted with rotten tomatoes, or shunned, or both. I think Joanna Tuffy (whose comments are so intelligent and refined) hits the nail on the main spot when she hints at the immaturity of some of these middle-aged cranters and which leaves a window of opportunity open for the ignorant cranter to APOLOGISE in so far as ignorance may be his only saving grace.

      PS As I have said above I am not particularly a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen but for all his “outrageous” wind-ups there is something of integrity about the man and his characters often come out with absolute gems; for example:
      Ali G: Yes, Respect. ‘Owz anyone out there meant to respect each otha? If you lot in ‘ere, don’t even start respect-ing one another?

    • Okay, folks, I’m off on holidays and this discussion is now closed. We’ve heard a wide range of arguments and it’s been very interesting and informative. My thanks to all who showed a genuine interest, and may I extend a special welcome to the new contributors. I intend to be back blogging in a few weeks’ time and I hope you will all still be full of vituperation, anger and the occasional sharp insight. ‘Bye for now :-)


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