The Sun newspaper has stirred up outrage after circulating a gag it openly admits is ‘sick’.
It has provoked an angry response among its millions of readers after sharing a Jimmy Carr joke about what it bluntly called ‘Down’s Syndrome children’.
The newspaper employs Frankie Boyle as a columnist, despite his record for brutally offensive gags, while its own journalistic ethics are among those currently under scrutiny by the Leveson inquiry.
On The Sun’s website this morning, 67 stories are given more prominence than Kate and Gerry McCann’s evidence to that inquiry – while Carr’s joke is one of its lead items.
On his current long-running tour, Carr mentions Down’s Syndrome, then tells the joke: ‘Why are they called Sunshine Variety coaches when all the kids on them look the fucking same?’
It is not clear who exactly have been offended by the line, at least before the newspaper circulated it to a wider audience.
The Sun quotes one alleged member of the 1,000 strong audience in Warrington as saying he ‘overstepped the mark’ but gave no details of the complainant’s gender, age or name. There also appears to be no mention of the joke on Twitter before The Sun’s story, which has also been picked up by the Daily Mail.
When The Sun told the Down Syndrome Education International about the joke, a spokesman fort he charity said: ‘Comedy is not about sneering, jeering or bullying those least able to defend themselves.’
Carr said: ‘It was the 238th gig of the tour and nobody has complained so far. I'm sorry to anyone who came and was offended.’
The vast majority of the responses on The Sun’s website accept that the line was ‘just a joke’ and that the easily offended would not have gone to the show, although there were a few comments such as, ‘I normally like Jimmy Carr but he is totally out of order here, he should apologise. There’s enough things to joke about without targeting the vulnerable, it’s wrong’ and ‘What do you expect from the little cretin?’
User piluno1 said: ‘England has lost it's [sic] sence [sic] of humour.... oh sorry it's not England anymore it's full of scrounging immigrants...’
Meanwhile, several newspapers today have laid into Jason Manford for having an opinion on X Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Tulisa Contostavlos, saying they are 'pointless'.