“A woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back.” Tyson Fury
“Three things need to happen before the devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia.” Tyson Fury
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” S. G. Tallentyre
So runs the earnest, most-repeated saying thrown out whenever free speech is perceived to be under threat. It stands as one of the great unanswerables, but of course the real world is never that simple.
It has long been the case that free speech is not an absolute right, even in laissez faire Britain. It has been qualified by, among other things, libel laws and a prohibition against in incitement of racial hatred.
At time of writing, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition to have Fury removed from the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and a criminal investigation has been launched into the allegation of a hate crime.
Do I agree with Fury on women, homosexuality or, for that matter, abortion? Absolutely not.
But do I think he is guilty of a “hate crime”? Absolutely not.
Do I think he’s an idiot? Absolutely – but if we criminalise stupidity, we may need to start exporting our criminals overseas again as there’s certainly no room in our already-creaking penal system!
Do I think that his views should disqualify him from being put up for the public vote in a poll? No.
Will I vote for him? Absolutely not. I hope he comes a humiliating and distant last in the voting (although I say this without knowing the views of the other nominees – they may all be secret Nazis for all I know).
I can completely understand why Fury’s remarks are offensive to some gay people and women, though I am neither, but I strongly believe that the best way of dealing with such morons is to expose them and ridicule them, not to silence them.
Especially (and this is key) as Fury is merely a boxer (not a political figure or “thinker” in any guise at all) and one who has made quite a tit of himself in so many ways already.
Does anyone seriously think that his bigotry and stupidity are likely to influence anyone to change their views on homosexuality or women?
In my view, the unqualified criticism he has received from all quarters of “mainstream” society is more than sufficient to prove that that society is more than robust enough to cope with his foolishness.
Or, as the amazingly talented wordsmith Oscar Wilde put it:
“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”