Mark Dolan: Why the church of woke must be brought to its knees

Personal attacks, and putting labels on people, just to silence them is no laughing matter.

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It's strange. People who don’t like us, seem to talk about us non stop.

The talented TV presenter and columnist Victoria Coren Mitchell host of the BBC game show Only Connect among other hits, responded to this clip of GB News presenter Leo Kearse doing what he's famous for - biting political satire:

Here is her response:

Very confusing, if you don't like a clip why would you share it, and therefore amplify its audience?

This dreadful clip to which Mrs Coren Mitchell takes such offence, has now been viewed by almost half a million people. Things I don't like I ignore and avoid. I wouldn't want a single extra person to see things I don’t like, let alone half a million.

So what would motivate sharing a clip you don’t like? Why would you do that? Crumbs, I wonder if it's to virtue signal to your army of followers.

“Look at this terrible video. Isn't it awful, and aren’t I a lovely person by sharing it and saying its awful”.

It's a signal, isn’t it. Like so much on social media it’s a message about you and about your brand. But the message it sends to me, is that this satirical programme, in this case Headliners, which I host every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and which the brilliant Simon Evans was hosting at the time, shouldn't exist. She actually went on to speak on behalf of Simon Evans with this puzzling tweet:

So the message perhaps is that Leo Kearse shouldn't be doing what he does, which is to be excruciatingly and hilariously brutal about all public figures. He had bloody Lembit Opik in tears the other day. There’s one for the bucket list. The message from Victoria Coren Mitchell might even suggest GB News shouldn’t exist, if it’s publishing this disgraceful, content. I don’t know. She even questioned why it was a clip, therefore taking aim at the talented young team in our social media department. In a lengthy follow-up tweet, which I didn’t fully read because I was washing my hair, Mrs Coren Mitchell reaffirmed her commitment to comedy.

How nice of her. Except to deploy the r word of racism is a form of cancellation and censorship itself. Was this gag racist?

We can go into the rights and wrongs of the British government’s handling of this poor woman’s six-year prison term. Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson whilst Foreign Secretary wrongly claimed that she was a journalist.

He wrongly claimed he was a journalist once too. I’m personally delighted that she's home; it’s taken far too long, she’s a hero, her husband’s a hero and I believe it was right to pay the money. But during her first press conference, when she interrupted and challenged her husband for praising the British government, within minutes, ungrateful Nazaneen was trending on Twitter. Something that Leo Kearse picked up on and turned into a joke – Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is Iranian for ungrateful. He was responding to some public criticism, that she might have condemned her captors more and more fulsomely thanked the British government and therefore the British people for parting with almost half a billion pounds to secure her release. £400 million is not small sum in these straightened times. So it's fair journalistic comment to question what some perceive to have been a tone deaf response from this released woman and it's fair comedic comment too, because the last time I checked, you are allowed to joke about anything in this country.

After all, Mrs Coren Mitchell famously and rightly defended free speech in relation to Jimmy Carr’s joke about Romany gypsies being slaughtered in the Second World War.

So a joke about gypsy murder isn't racist, but a joke saying Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is Iranian for ungrateful, is. It doesn't add up. The truth is that whilst neither of these jokes are ones I’d say – I’ve got plenty of my own – neither Jimmy Carr or Leo Kearse’s jokes were racist. Just harsh, satirical and edgy. A quality boasted by the finest comedians out there. Mrs Coren Mitchell claims to be such a cheerleader for free speech and comedy, from her tax-funded ivory tower at the BBC, but she makes a potentially highly damaging accusation against a comedian, who has finally achieved a television platform, having spent a decade being cancelled for having centre right politics.

I defer to the greater wisdom of brilliant Jewish comedian Josh Howie, who has used his platform to speak out against the appalling evil of antisemitism and who tweeted this, earlier in the week:

Now of course anyone has a right to tweet any accusations they like and there is no problem with Leo Kearse facing a response to any of his jokes. It’s good for him – his ego’s big enough as it is. But it's important to understand what’s at play here. And I believe it's cancel culture. Leo’s jokes don’t fit the woke North London Metropolitan agenda. Mrs Coren Mitchell is married to the equally talented comedy actor David Mitchel, who surprise surprise, has had a pop at me in his Guardian column.

The prosecco-guzzling elite want to silence Leo, silence GB News and therefore silence you. It's the same people in America who want to silence Joe Rogan, a free speech comedian who says what's in his head, is authentic and has now amassed 11 million listeners a week to his podcast, not because all of his listeners agree with him, but because they find him authentic. They don’t feel lied to or b*********d. That's what we try to do here. Say like it is. We'll get it right, we'll get it wrong.

Us GB News presenters don't even agree with each other, and that's the magic of the place.

I'm a current affairs broadcaster and a comedian. But I use this medium and live comedy to the same ends. Which is to debate everything, ask questions, challenge the status quo and ruffle a few feathers. Any broadcaster or comedian that isn't a disruptor, that doesn't ask questions, may as well pack up and go home. Which is why safe, box ticking comedy is so tedious. Viewing figures for comedy shows like Live at the Apollo have gone through the floor as a result.

Go woke, no joke.

By all means have woke comedy, but let it compete with edgy comedy, the likes of which John Cleese, Billy Connolly and French and Saunders are on record as saying they would not be able to do now. I’m a big fan of Victoria Coren Mitchell and this isn’t personal. But she made it personal by attacking another comic for having a different view, by using the R word.

Racism is the most evil thing imaginable and a colossal problem in society which must be tackled. But for a powerful entertainer with a big platform to use the R word in this context, diminishes the horror of what racism is. But that's the punishment you get for not going along with the narrative. For not following the rules of the echo chamber. All dissenters will be crushed in the church of woke. Which is why the church of woke itself, must be not crushed necessarily, but at least brought to its knees.

Personal attacks, and putting labels on people, just to silence them is no laughing matter.