The Two Faces of Linehan


Has there ever been a better time to be a progressive? From Labour’s stunning election victory to Theresa May’s nervous breakdown, it seems the good news never stopsUnfortunately, nothing lasts forever so it was with great sadness I recently learnt wounded Republican congressman Steve Scalise – shot three weeks ago by brave Bernie Sanders obsessive James Hodgkinson – had been discharged from hospital, his condition described as ‘fair’. Typical. No sooner had we embraced the exciting idea that people we disagree with deserve to be killed than we found out Scalise – the evil bastard we’d never heard of ’til someone tried to murder him – had escaped with a bruised arse.

Still, it’s good to know there are courageous leftists willing to shoot people with dodgy views. And you don’t get dodgier than Scalise, with his history of supporting gun ownership, voting against gay rights and consorting with groups founded by David Duke. All of which is infinitely dodgier than shooting people at a baseball game. Because it’s no longer enough to merely defend ourselves with chants and flares. As the first Republican to come face to face with an anti-Trump lunatic who can shoot straight will find out.

Of course, left-wing victim-blaming is nothing new; we all remember Gabi Hinsliff’s seminal Guardian column in which she excused the men who assaulted women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve on the grounds that they owned iPhones and expensive jewellery. And the likes of Nathan Lean have built careers on putting the blame for Islamic terrorism on everyone but Islamic terrorists. But moderates usually favour the ‘obviously murder is bad but…’ brand of apologetics; while fringe relativists like Andrew Murray and John McDonnell happily laud everyone from the IRA to the Iraqi resistance, mainstream liberals have traditionally been more cautious, dressing up their victim-blaming by saying that terrorism is bad but it’s basically our fault.

Indeed, only last month popular trans-chef Jack Monroe electrified Twitter with an exhaustively researched four-point plan to defeat terrorism:

‘1. Stop arming the middle-east 2. Stop bombing their kids 3. Stop cutting police 4. Stop cutting mental health services.’

Insightful stuff. Because if Western leaders only listened to professional victims like Jack and kept their beaks out of the Muslim world, all the shootings, kidnappings and suicide bombings that regularly happen in these countries would stop immediately. It’s not rocket science.

But even peaceful progressives like Jack may soon be left behind as violent progressives take control of the narrative. And about time. Because punching Nazis is one thing but shooting politicians is even better. Which is why so many used Alexandria to flex their illiberal muscles. And few do that better than the leading lights of British comedy.

Indeed, this past year a veritable army of funny folk have embraced the new illiberalism unleashed by the horror of Brexit and the joy of Jeremy Corbyn winning an election by coming second. Last month alone saw Jonathan Pie’s transformation from a sharp, satirical creation fond of skewering both left and right into a fully paid-up Corbynite happy to re-tweet people who think the Zionists killed Kennedy and a Daily Mail cover so blatantly photo-shopped the only other people duped by it were Owen Jones and George Galloway.

Hot on his tail was leftist stand-up Josie Long and her mirth-free video explaining why she’s less frightened of the ideology that has killed 35 people in Britain since March than she is of the one that made a thick Welsh racist crash a van into a bus-stop.

And let’s not forget kind, principled, filthy rich stars like Coogan, Schneider and Izzard, who between them have spent the last year either campaigning to overturn democracy or banging the drum for a man who supports regimes that censor comedians.

But none come close to the straight-talkin’ High Sparrow of the comedy elite, Father Ted co-creator and unashamed Chavez apologist Graham Linehan, a man whose dedication to re-shaping liberalism as the preserve of joyless, petulant Irishmen is matched only by his penchant for Dorothy Parker-esque bons mots, like that time he skewered Donald Trump Jr by imploring him to ‘die in a f***ing fire’. Bazinga!

Such brutal put-downs are enough to make you wonder if all the funny bits in The IT Crowd were improvised. Because Twitter Graham is a ferociously different beast to the Graham who writes all those funny sitcoms. Whether he’s charming people he disagrees with by calling them ‘c**ts’ or winning an argument by creepily re-posting a Facebook picture of his opponent and his mam, Twitter Graham pulls no punches, takes no prisoners and tells no jokes.

Indeed, Twitter Graham has as much time for people who disagree with him as he does for anyone who asks him how Venezuela’s getting on these days. And it’s this brave, principled and utterly intolerant schtick that has earned him 600,000 followers – or 687,203 as Graham would no doubt correct – who can’t get enough of a deluded 49-year-old teenager who resolves debates by calling people racist. Whether they’d go quite as crazy for a deluded 49-year-old teenager who isn’t also a hugely successful scriptwriter isn’t clear.

But Graham’s trademark left-wing miserablism was all over his curt response when news of the Scalise shooting first broke: ‘Chickens, roost, etc’. A concise mega-burn that saw the G-man add victim-blaming to his growing list of attributes, which currently includes supporting political censorship and accusing people of being Nazis while making excuses for people who pretty much are Nazis.

Understandably, Graham afforded no such leeway to the DUP, who he recently compared to the fundamentalist bad guys from The Handmaid’s Tale. Indeed, with their extreme censorship, authoritarian ideals and penchant for female genital mutilation, it’s clear the rulers depicted in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian thriller have far more in common with Theresa May’s new best friends than those other religious fascists who Graham can’t bring himself to condemn because it’s complex.

Graham’s fellow Twitter apologists also looked to Hollywood for inspiration, one comparing Hodgkinson to ‘…the Inglourious Basterds. The real ones. They shot up shit to make a point’. That point may have been somewhat different to ‘Republicans Must Die!’ but it’s refreshing to know voting against gay marriage is deemed as worthy of violent retribution as exterminating Jews. And I’m sure Graham is delighted to know he shares his worldview with people who can’t tell the difference between a coward who shoots unarmed congressmen and Nazi hunters from a Chris Tarantino film.

All this shows how thoroughly far-left morality has infiltrated the mainstream that we now expect it from award-winning writers of family comedies too.

And if it gives a long-term admirer of economy-destroying South American socialism the chance to celebrate an ‘innocent’ man being shot, then win-win. Because for Graham it’s all about keeping his followers sweet (did you know he has 687,203 of them?). Which is a must when you’re idolised by people who think assaulting someone you disagree with is, like, totally woke. And it’s a measure of Graham’s kind, gentle and utterly lopsided worldview that the man who gave us some of the warmest comedy of the last twenty-five years is simultaneously one of the coldest people on Twitter.

Keep firing those bullets, Graham!

Ben Pensant is a Country Squire Guest Writer. His writing is housed here.