Last night I watched the comedian Frankie Boyle’s latest stand up show on Netflix. A lot of people know that Frankie is a hugely controversial comedian who has been in hot water for making jokes about off limits subjects such as disability etc.
A few years ago Boyle caused a media storm of uproar when on his short lived Channel 4 show Tramadol Nights he made an unfunny and tasteless jokes about the disabled son of former model Katie Price.
The Daily Mail gave Price an interview to rightly admonish Boyle for his offensive joke Ssaagainst her son and the media whipped up a national outcry against him and the content of his show.
It’s true during his stand up shows Boyle says stuff which is more than near the knuckle. There were times when I was watching him on Netflix last night where I winced at some of the stuff he was saying and just did not find funny.
And then there were times when he made jokes which I roared with laughter at, such as when he raged against the government cutting the benefits of disabled people or satirised racism and Western imperialism.
When Boyle has made jokes about disabled people I have not found them funny and can fully understand with those (especially disabled people themselves) who get upset by them. But what I cannot abide by is the media outrage which I find massively hypocritical.
The Daily Mail that lead the outcry over Boyle making fun of Katie Price’s disabled son is a nasty right wing rag of a “newspaper” which attacks the disabled labelling them benefit scroungers, workshy malingerers and a drain on the “hard working taxpayer”.
The right wing media whilst screaming outrage over Boyle’s offensive “jokes” about disability supporters and propagate the government’s attacks on the disabled via cuts to disability benefits and measures designed to force the disabled into work through threat of welfare sanctions.
Whilst admonishing comedians like Frankie Boyle for making fun of those with a disability the right wing tabloid press slander and malign the disabled as workshy fraudsters who are”swinging the lead” in order to claim benefits.
The media therefore have no right to take the moral high ground over Frankie Boyle or any other comedian making jokes about disability. Because they do this whilst smearing the disabled as scroungers and advocating cuts to the benefits many disabled people rely on in order to survive.
If anything the rhetoric of the right wing media is far more harmful to disabled people than any unfunny and offensive “joke” a comedian might tell. For it fuels hostile attitudes towards people claiming disability benefits and leads to public support for cuts to welfare which hurt those who need to claim benefits.
Frankie Boyle’s jokes may sometimes be offensive but the propaganda of the media is far more offensive and dangerous as it is reflective of the policies of this government towards those with disabilities.
Jokes may cause offence but the attacks on disabled people by this government and the right wing media have very real consequences.