Friday 22 January 2010

Liddle defends jokes about Auschwitz

"All of these things are twisted out of context to make me look like a cunt. I may be a cunt but I'm not a racist cunt", potential Independent editor Rod Liddle tells The Guardian, as he argues that his defence of a series of holocaust jokes made by fans on the Millwall talkboard need to be understood "in context".

Rod Liddle writes for the Jewish Chronicle to, as the newspaper reports, "defend comments he made about Auschwitz in an online forum which contains virulently antisemitic jokes". Yet Liddle writes that "Context is everything. I do not know of a single fellow fan who could remotely be described as antisemitic".

Liddle continues to describe his argument as having been about his feeling that the concentration camp "had been stripped of its awfulness and bleakness ... it had become something much less than it should be. It is perhaps not possible for Auschwitz today to deliver the package of awfulness the visitor might expect; I understand that".


Try reading the thread.

A Millwall fan who has visited Auschwitz and says "I haven't stopped thinking about it since to be honest. Very moving and has left me having a long hard look at myself" sees that discussion derailed, first by Liddle complaining that it is "Fcking outrageous that you can't smoke in Auschwitz. I had to sneak round the back of the gas chambers for a crafty snout".

(Is that about it having been stripped of its awfulness then?)

Other supporters then make a series of gas chamber jokes about the holocaust, while Liddle says that "the poor Jews were allowed to smoke".

When several supporters say the jokes are "sick", Liddle attacks them.

OKR: There's plenty of things to have a good piss take out off, this wasn't one of them.

Liddle: "OKR maybe you could write down the things you think it's ok for everybody else to take the piss out of and admin cd make it a sticky at the top of the board".

Gaz: Expected a bit more of a thoughtful response from you though Monkey. You visited Aushwitz personally and apart from a comment about the Poles not being honest about their role in the whole scenario you can only talk about smoking and burger bars?
I did expect the juvenile schoolboy stuff from others but to be honest its moved me so much I'm still glad I posted it.

kinelloz: To make (unfunny) jokes about lighting up fags and whatever Noose said is in my opinion bang out of order. Respect is an over used word these days, but there are some issues that just aren't funny and this is one of them for me. Not entering into a debate on it and won't post again on this thread, just my view.

Liddle (Monkey): Sorry you took it like that and sorry if I offended, mate. **That was to Gaz, not the sanctimonious toss from Kinnel.

To be clear, I don't think Liddle's own comments can or should fairly be described as anti-semitic, as I explained in commenting on a Left Foot Forward post.

But the Auschwitz comments show very poor judgement (even if Liddle perhaps doesn't think the football website should really 'count' as a public forum).

Defending the "context" is a poor call. Why not admit the comments were a mistake and apologise?

UPDATE: To be absolutely fair to Liddle, his "defence" of the Auschwitz thread is a pretty accurate account of his November 2007 Spectator feature on Auschwitz. That's an absolutely legitimate piece of mainstream journalism. But to claim that the argument that modern Auschwitz ""had been stripped of its awfulness and bleakness" is also the central thrust of his contribution to the Millwall thread is misleading nonsense, presumably in the hope that few people will look at what he actually wrote.


Alex said...

"Context is everything. I do not know of a single fellow fan who could remotely be described as antisemitic".

Doesn't he repeatedly accuse a pro-Palestinian poster of anti-Semitism? Lying about what you've said when everyone has just finished reading it is possibly one of the lowest forms of fuckwitted arse-covering.

Robert said...

The fact is these camps are now empty the feeling has gone, but if the feeling was still their I be surprised and shocked because we still be killing people.

The death of millions in camps, is no different to walking across the battle fields you walk I suspect with reverence but little knowledge of the suffering and death. You cannot imagine what it was like and if you did it's not real.

These camps are now for tourist too many people go for reasons only they know, some go because they had relatives in the camps, or some go because of other reasons, but the camps now show little of the hate, the death and the suffering. As for Liddle he will do anything to stay within the media at the top and if this means being an ass hole then he will be an ass hole.

Frugal Dougal said...

Liddle's a loose cannon in the worst sense: I don't want him to leave the Spectator, but they certainly need to hold him against a wall for a while.

Newmania said...

Carol Thatcher , that Dancer and Liddle there are so many people that have been banned from Public life now.
There is something exceedingly worrying about an orgnisation with the Stalinist History of the Fabian society seeking to exclude areas of connversation.

I woud be intyeresting if you gavce us some generakl rules about what in your opinion we are or are not alowed to say by way of humour or otherwise .

I see no reason not to laugh at Auschwitz its pretty dark but we are going to die.I cannot see wyy we should not laugh at anyhting , the nature of comedy is taboo and tragedy

You will notice how un funny left wing people are ? Do you really want us all like that ?

Sunder Katwala said...


The central point of this post is that Liddle's description of the discussion in The Guardian is inaccurate. He doesn't offer the argument you suggest - "I think it is important to laugh at tragedy" -

I don't know if you have seen the jokes in question, which RL was defending. (He was not their author, with one exception). There is no law against 'how many Jews fit in an ashtray' jokes. But I do thibk vigorous criticism of those who make them very legitimate.

And the civic taboo (from civility, humanity or just being taken seriously) against such jokes is certainly not one exclusively held by the political left: almost anybody in the centre or right of politics will tell you that, as will aa great many people of no particularly fixed political view.

While some people voice concerns about the freedom to offend being diminished, and I think there is a decent case which can be made about that (though very different contexts can get lumped together under that rubric), few would stake that claim in this territory.

Newmania said...

"I think it is important to laugh at tragedy" -

Is it ? Not sure I care , comedy and tragedy can have the same subject matter , it does not have to be “important” just funny diverting , entertaining , whatever …‘Mind your own bees wax ‘is a concept to get a grip on here . The politicising of every utterance which you are attempting is called Totalitarianism , nothing outside the State , nothing private .The same strategy was tried with Boris Johnson together with an attack on any mode of communication not couched in terms ‘you decide’ , are sufficiently serious .
The ‘Jews in a ashtray’ type of thing is an anarchic rebellion against control not an attack on the Jews .Its odd I have read Liddle over the years and been bored , but I am now on his side , they came for Liddle and you did nothing …. That sort of thing.

I suppose its up to the rest of us to stick two fingres up at your 'vigorous criticism' , if thats all you want , but its not as if thought control does not have a history is it ?..No it is not

Alex said...


You do know there's a difference between the right to free speech and the right to edit a national newspaper without people disagreeing with you, don't you?

In fact, my right to edit a national newspaper is being violated RIGHT NOW.