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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Stewart Lee vs. Toby Young

I discovered Stewart Lee in 2013 when Rebecca Watson linked to his routine about Top Gear which is perfect in its sharp and funny criticism of the "it's just a joke" Jeremy Clarkson defense, now used so flagrantly by Trump and his cult.

The Top Gear bit is from Lee's 2010 show If You Prefer a Milder Comedian Please Ask for One.

Lee has never presented any of his shows in the United States, although he did work in Canada in his early days. As a result Stewart Lee is not as well known as he should be by Americans, in spite of the fact that he is the co-author of Jerry Springer: the Opera.

All opponents of the race science-mongering promoted by Quillette should know Lee because he is the liberal mongoose to Toby Young's eugenicist snake. Young is Quillette's Associate Editor London, and Quillette founder Claire Lehmann is lately promoting Young's "Free Speech Union."

In March of this year on the Guardian, in a column devoted to Toby Young, Lee had this to say:
The word “free” in the Free Speech Union™®’s name refers only to free speech. Membership actually costs between £49.95 and £250 a year, depending how freely you need to speak. If you are a student oppressed by political correctness gone mad, jonesing for freedom, Toby Youngs gives you the first hit half-price. It is not clear if the Free Speech Union™® will defend non-members on principle or members who are, as Youngs says, “ghastly, puritanical, po-faced, sanctimonious, finger-wagging, woke” people or “universally unattractive, small, vaguely deformed” working-class students. It’s a protection racket, capeesh?

It wasn't the first time Lee wrote a column about Young. In How Toby Young got where he isn't today, Lee wrote about the fallout when it was discovered that Young was a eugenicist hobnobbing with Richard Lynn:
while national media slept, or commissioned supportive thinkpieces from his wealthy and powerful celebrity friends, the London Student newspaper was about to reveal that the Maverick Toadmeister had attended a secret conference on “intelligence”, featuring notorious speakers including in previous years white supremacists and a weird far-right paedophilia apologist called Emil.
"Emil" is Emil O. Kirkegaard, promoted by Charles Murray in December 2019, who I recently discovered (although was not surprised) has a fervent following among self-confessed Nazis, which I will talk about soon.

Lee continues:
But where now for the Maverick Toadmeister? Can even vile jam-rags like the Telegraph and the Daily Mail employ him now? Who calls themselves, as an adult, the “Toadmeister” anyway? And “maverick” is what the commissioner shouts at Dirty Harry. It’s not what Dirty Harry tells the commissioner he is himself. That would be very uncool. Who does these strange and desperate things? Someone in search of an identity that has eluded them. 
Sometime around 20 years ago Toby Young started being nasty about people less fortunate and privileged than him, and, like a shit Clarkson, he found it was easy to do and paid good money...
When the Telegraph and the Daily Mail won't have you anymore, where can you go? To Quillette of course. And you can count on Quillette's cousin, the right-wing garbage Post-Millennial to defend Toby Young against Stewart Lee. Although author Kathrine Jebsen Moore apparently feels that Toby Young is such a snowflake that Stewart Lee might drive him to suicide.
It’s telling that the Guardian is just as bad at ad hominem—perhaps worse—than the British gutter press it loves to deride. Just last week, it published an article condemning the tabloids, particularly the Sun, for their “media frenzy” in the months before TV presenter Caroline Flack’s suicide. Putting themselves on a pedestal in this instance is easy when the target of relentless media attention is a young woman. A white, middle aged, “privileged” (I hate that word) man such as Toby Young is fair game, however. I can’t for one minute imagine slurs found in these two articles – and there are more like them – being used against a woman. Especially not a woman on the left. Imagine the uproar if, say, Afua Hirsch, black feminist and author, was ridiculed in the same way by the Telegraph or the Daily Mail. 
But men suffer from mental illness, too. In fact, men are at much higher risk than women from death by suicide. According to the Samaritans, middle-aged men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. Yet the Guardian doesn’t seem to bat an eyelid as its journalists devote their column inches to insulting conservative men like Young. #bekind doesn’t apply to people like him.
As Stewart Lee rightly notes, Toby Young has made a living being shitty to the less-fortunate, but the garbage Post-Millennial expects people to be nice to him anyway. Talk about privileged.

For his part, Stewart Lee is not bothered at all by Toby Young's hostility towards him, he uses a Young quote in the announcements of his latest show - which of course I can't see unless I go to England - called Snowflake/Tornado, which is getting very good reviews in publications like the Telegraph.

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