Racist words don't mean racist thoughts

Frankie Boyle trial hears

Frankie Boyle says he can use racist words without being a racist.

The High Court jury hearing the libel trial against the Daily Mirror heard a gag Boyle told during his Tramadol Nights TV show that contained the word ‘nigger’.

His barrister David Sherborne said the comedian used the world to ridicule by expressing views of people he does not agree with – not because he was a ‘racist comedian’.

He gave the example of a joke in which Boyle pretended to pick up the phone at the Ministry of Defence, and answered: ‘Department of Nigger Bombing.’

Sherborne said ‘context is everything’ and argued that Mr Boyle had ‘clearly’ not used the word gratuitously.

He said: ‘We say the use of the word is clear. The defendants have misunderstood it. Surely we have not got to the stage where we cannot use the word at all.’

Mirror Group Newspapers is defending its article, which called Boyle was a ‘racist comedian’.

Their lawyer, Ronald Thwaites, said: ‘What he has done is to take the negative stereotype of black people and exploit that for cheap laughs gratuitously. This is not part of some intellectual cause. This is not part of some clever message’

And he told jurors he would find some ‘stark examples of where he is racist in his comedy’ so that describing him as racist would be covered by fair comment.

However Sherborne said Boyle could be described as vile but not racist, as he as ‘actively campaigned’ against racism. ‘I am completely anti-racism,’ he said. ‘I have never expressed in any serious point anything that has been anything but anti-racist.’

Published: 16 Oct 2012

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