However hard I have tried this week, only not looking at news sites or listening to the radio or buying newspapers could I avoid the two names which are the title of this posting. The initial letter of their names apart, they have only one thing in common: they have expressed views which run contrary to the moral sensibilities of the commentariat which has led to cries that they be ‘banned’. Once, it might have served a purpose to point out the irony of people in favour of free speech wanting to ban others for freely expressing their views, but I have a sense we’ve moved past that now. Those who want to ban Trump and Tyson do not believe in free speech, and many of them make no pretence; they are full-blown censors who want to ban ideas. That, at this stage of our history, we have to point to the futility of trying to ban ideas, is a topic for another day, perhaps; here I want to concentrate on the two men.
Donald J Trump, as he likes to call himself (when I were a lad talking about yourself in the third person was thought be a clear sign that something wasn’t right) was born into privilege in the richest, freest and most dynamic country in the world; he enjoyed the best education money could buy, and remains, as he tells us, a billionaire. There is nothing new in rich men giving money to politicians, nor in their thinking they could do a better job. Aristotle warned of the dangers of demagoguery, and to see a rich, well-educated man pandering to the prejudices of the masses has about itself something distasteful. He has one point, and it is a point democratic leaders across the globe would do well to ponder, and it is this: our leaders are badly out of touch with the views of many of those they govern, and as a result, faith in democracy is slipping away. I doubt it has gone far enough to let Trump be President – but it is a sign, an omen, of what could be to come if our leaders do not take heed. Banning him from the UK is not going to happen, and if it does, then our leaders will be playing to another set of prejudices, which are not so called because they are fashionable among the commentariat.
Tyson Fury, by contrast, was born to poverty and exclusion as a member of a persecuted minority which it is now fashionable to call Travellers, but which when I were a lad were called ‘Gypsies’. He received the sort of education those born where he was born received – which is to say none to speak of. Born to poverty and struggle, he took a route common among men in such circumstances – he took to boxing. His fists have brought him fortune and fame. They also brought him to the attention of a commentariat which would have been happy to have patronised him and feted him, had it not been for one simple fact. Tyson Fury is a born-again Christian, whose views on things the commentariat approve of – homosexuality and women’s place is society – are those to be expected of one from his background. When he spoke of homosexuality, paedophilia and abortion having to be ‘accomplished’, tone-deaf critics accused him of comparing the three and sought to demonise him. They called for him to be prosecuted and withdrawn from some BBC programme designed, so it claims, to celebrate sporting achievement. Was Mr Fury from an underprivileged and deprived background with no education? None of this was any excuse for him having views so unfashionable.
What he was talking about, of course, was the sort of apocalyptic events our own Bosco loves to mention – the end times. What he was trying to say was that all these bad thing would have to be accomplished before the Lord came again. People whose ignorance of apocalyptic thinking had no excuse other than their own inattention to education, rushed to judge one with every excuse for a poor eduction. That is unedifying, and as much a display of bigotry as the one they accuse Mr Fury of.
What an unpleasant, censorious and self-righteous lot the commentariat are. Now if only Mr Fury had claimed he self-identified as a woman, he’d have been a shoo-in for Sports Personality of the Year.
Trump and Tyson are in so many ways Alpha and Omega, but they provide a health-check on the commitment of our society to free speech which is turning to flashing red. No doubt some will suppose that in not condemning Mr Fury, I am condoning his views. To those I invite a more careful reading, and a short course in apocalyptic thinking – it might even stop them tweeting for a few moments.