“The Issue Is Not My Beliefs; The Issue Is Freedom Of Speech”

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Kevin Myers

Last night.

Five months after his sacking by the Sunday Times, columnist Kevin Myers appeared on RTÉ 1’s Claire Byrne Live to discuss his removal and the fall out.

Mr Myers was told he will never work for the Sunday Times again after he used a crude Jewish stereotype in an article on BBC pay.

The paper’s move was supported by Taoiseach Leo Vardkar.

Kevin Myers; “…Nobody has the right to say this man will not be employed again. No one can do that. And then what happened next was even worse. The Taoiseach came out and said that The Sunday Times action was wholly justified and so did the Táaaiste [Frances Fitzgerald].

Now Claire, I’m not like you. Nor the people out there. Nor the people at home. I chose to be Irish. I had a British passport initially. I chose. That was going to be my nationality, my identity.

And never in the history of the Free State, or the Republic and the Free State before, has a government sided instantly with a multinational against the interests of a citizen of that state. it has never happened before, since 1923. There was no consultation, no discussion, nothing. My reputation was destroyed.”

Claire Byrne: “Have you had any support of people in the media, in public life, in politics since all of this happened?”

Myers: “A very small amount of support from the media, apart from David Norris more recently, he was abroad at the time [of the sacking], none that I could speak of in public. Privately they’ve said what’s happened is a great shame but nobody in public has spoken out…”

[Later]

Byrne: “You write very challenging things about women? You write that men work harder than women, men are more charismatic, you write that men get sick less frequently than women, men seldom get pregnant.”

Myers: “That was a joke. Of course.”

Byrne: “What about the rest of the stuff? Do you believe that men work harder than women?”

Myers: “The issue is am I allowed to say that? The issue is not my beliefs. The issue of freedom of speech is the real issue here. Otherwise you’re going to have one set of beliefs, uniform and compulsory across the entire media…are we allowed to differ from the politically correct consensus norm which now dominates the media.”

Watch the full interview here

68 thoughts on ““The Issue Is Not My Beliefs; The Issue Is Freedom Of Speech”

    1. Helga.

      The great irony here is that Myers was very pro-censorship when it came to Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. Seems the old boy doesn’t mind censorship as long as it’s not directed against him.

  1. Cloud

    Bored of seeing people use “freedom of speech” to justify their shi77y opinions.

    Freedom of speech is the ability to say F the police, F the government without getting put in prison; to say there is no god without being sentenced to death; to say the moon is made of dildos and we all live in a yellow submarine without proof.

    Myers is indeed free to come out with this guff, but his right to freedom of speech doesn’t protect him from getting it in the neck when he does. That’s not how it works.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      Exactly. Nobody is denying him freedom of speech. He’s not in prison. His employer has the right though to protect its commercial interests – showed him zero loyalty or support but he knew what sort of organisation it was when he started working for them.

      There’s nothing to see here.

      1. Pete Tong

        It actually is an issue because there are people trying to control what’s up for discussion. Taking away someone’s platform simply because you disagree with their views is a freedom of speech issue. I’m sick of people saying their sick of people saying it’s ‘freedom of speech’. It’s the classic response of someone who wants to shut down debate and have their opinions forced down people’s throats.

        1. Col

          People have a right to freedom of speech, but does that mean they have a right to a platform?
          I’m sure he could find some publication that will print his opinions, just not the Sunday Times. Should they be compelled to publish whatever he comes up with?

          That’s never been how journalism has worked.

        2. Barry the Hatchet

          Myers’ platform wasn’t taken away because people disagreed with his views. it was taken away because he made a comment which was objectively anti-Semitic. There is quite a gulf between the two.

          And in any event, he’s clearly not struggling to get his views out there. He was fired from The Times, but here he is on Claire Byrne’s show, freely offering his opinions to the world. Denied his freedom of speech? Give me a break.

          1. LW

            +1 He’s freely airing his thoughts on primetime national television, his freedom of speech is unaffected. He was also speaking at some event recently, I can’t remember what

          2. Pete Tong

            It wasn’t anti-semitic. It was a stereotype that holds true for the most part, like most stereotypes. He’s saying what most people, including Jews think and people are working themselves into a frenzy. Most people aren’t outraged by his comments so it’s the vocal minority calling him to be fired who are curtailing his freedom of speech. What they are essentially saying is you cannot make a living by expressing your (legitimately held) opinion – that is an infringement on his freedom of speech. The Sunday Times wouldn’t have fired him if there was such a ridiculous furore over what he said.

          3. Barry the Hatchet

            Pete, saying ‘Jews are great at getting more money for themselves’ is not a charming stereotype that “holds true for the most part”. It is an offensive comment. If you can’t see that, you need a history lesson.

            And once again, NOBODY is curtailing Myers’ freedom of speech. The Times won’t be publishing him again, but he is perfectly free to go elsewhere and (I can’t believe I have to point this out again) to air his views on national television. He has more of a platform than I will ever have. Am I being oppressed?

            Also, there is no right to make a living by airing your opinion. What rubbish. Your opinion will earn you living only as long as it remains interesting enough to be published. It is entirely the prerogative of the publisher to decide that Myers no longer has anything worthwhile to say. It’s not like he’s an academic trying to publish his research and being refused because it’s controversial. THAT would be a freedom of speech issue. This is just some old windbag who’s annoyed because everyone got sick of listening to his gas.

          4. Nigel

            If you make a living expressing your opinion then the quality of that opinion counts for something or no opinion writer could ever get fired for being rubbish without curtailing their freedom of speech.

        3. Junkface

          I agree Pete Tong, I’ve been watching a lot of debate about this lately, mainly from the US. And it seems that the left are doing more to ban speakers from Universities, where debate and ideas are supposed to be discussed. The left in the media now seem a bit hysterical and out of control. I don’t like what Myers said at all, it was a tired old racist stereotype, but shutting down journalists without a due process doesn’t sit right with me. And don’t get me wrong, the right are a bunch of whackjobs in both the UK and USA. Everyone needs to calm the F*** down and consider the way opposing ideas were discussed and debated in the past without screaming at each other, or silencing each other. Modern technology and social media has only made this shutting down of free speech more dangerous than ever.

          1. Donal

            In general I agree with your point about the undesirability of stifling speech (in general and on college campuses in US in particular) but the notion that this is a left-wing issue is balderdash
            Undermining of free speech happens by advocates from both side of the right/left divide, stating it is coming from the left and the “the left in the media now seem a bit hysterical and out of control” betrays which side of the divide you reside in

            https://theintercept.com/2015/12/29/those-demanding-free-speech-limits-to-fight-isis-pose-a-greater-threat-to-u-s-than-isis/

          2. Nigel

            This only works by silencing critics, dismissing value judgements of the speech in question and ignoring content in favour of abstractions about freedom of speech. Critics are employing their freedom of speech, too. If you think opposing ideas weren’t debated in the past without a lot of shouting and roaring and screeching, you have a selective view of the past. Oswald Mosley and his fascists were driven off the streets of London in 1936.

          3. Junkface

            Donal, I’ve been on the left for most of my life. The politics of the right has always frustrated and angered me. I want the left to be better but they are falling into authoritarianism, because their PC culture has taken offence with absolutely anything and everything! This is pretty well known fact now by a lot of free speech advocates in USA and UK. Even stand up comedians in the US who have been traditionally on the left have to now ask their audiences to go easy on them if they use a term incorrectly, particularly with LGBT terms. Its a minefield!
            Let me be clear, I hate Trump and the right, I hate Irish right wing conservative politicans. I am now firmly in the centre of the political world, where there is some sanity and open discussion and debate.

          4. Donal

            Then call out the attempted silencing of free speech whenever it occurs, by no matter who it is. Look at the cases the ACLU takes in USA, defending the right of neo-nazis to gather lawfully under constitutionally guaranteed rights etc.

            In my opinion the right to free speech must not be equated with a right to be listened to, or a right not to be challenged, and it is this space that most confusion occurs within discussion such as this here online

          5. Nigel

            In the US in particular there are enough protections for the goddamn Nazis to stand up for their own freedom of speech whenever it’s really being infringed. I’d prefer to focus on the appalling evil stuff they’re actually saying than get suckered into siding with them every time they squeal about freedom of speech when someone points out how awful they are. Similarly Myers. I’m not going to let him emotionally blackmail or intellectually hoodwink me into standing up for him because he has the gall to go on national flippin’ television to complain about being silenced.

    2. Not feeling so Nice Anne

      Saying “You’re fired you tubby little t1twitch” is also exercising freedom of speech.

  2. Big Red

    If ever there was a ‘journalist’ who loves the smell of their own methane burps then it is Kevin Myers.

  3. Owen C

    I used to like Kevin for his “i don’t care what people think, I’ll say what I want” mentality. Sometimes you need to shake things up to get people to look at them properly. But he’s just becoming such a whingy bore now. He knew his style of writing would leave him with little or no support should be mess up, its the double edged sword that comes with being the acerbic and caustic rabble rouser. The woe is me attitude he now shows off so publicly is the sort of attitude he would have complained so vocally about in his columns.

  4. Helga.

    Freedom of speech is one thing as long as it’s intelligent. Myers isn’t intelligent. His comments that all Africa ever gave the world was AIDS, that children are ‘warped’ if their parents aren’t married, that Jewish people are money-grabbers, etc. are just hateful. And unintelligent hate. Hate with no reason behind it. He should just retire for good.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      It wasn’t “with no reason behind it”. It was very effective clickbait. And the Sunday Times – and others before them – were quite happy for this to proceed. And when he went too far, they moved quickly to disassociate themselves from him. They’re just as scummy as he is.

  5. missred

    He’ll be out on the town again with Ian O’Doherty and David Quinn whining and complaining about how the whole thing is the feminists’ fault

    1. snowey

      well it probably is to be honest – I mean in the broad sense of the permanently outraged ( twitter folk) tend to be plucked from the same rabble.

  6. Joe Small

    His sense of victimhood is particularly grating. Its all about his suffering rather than any upset inflicted by him.

  7. Barry the Hatchet

    it is totally nonsensical for someone to complain that their freedom of speech has been taken away, whilst they are being interviewed on a national television programme.

  8. realPolithicks

    Of course it’s not actually about “freedom of speech” is it? Nobody is stopping him having his views, they are just not prepared to give him a platform. He’s free to blog, set up a podcast or stand on the corner and rant if he wants. I’m guessing his real gripe is that nobody will pay him to spew his bile.

  9. Go A Way

    I don’t know about you but personally I’m getting tired of all these posts on broadsheet about washed up old farts in the arts world who can’t find work in their “chosen profession”

    Wise up old farts

    The world doesn’t owe you a living

  10. Truth in the News

    If he said it about the Shinners or Jerry they’d have kept him, however they got rid
    of him before he had a go at the Queen, yes he is entitled to express his opinions
    but remember they are only his, if breaks any laws then he may be sued even locked
    up…..no doubt he will get a job with Telegraph

  11. Lilly

    He was never AA Gill; no one ever bought a newspaper to read him. Could he not learn to play golf or something, and wang on about his swing. Or become a motoring columnist.

  12. Shayna

    I have to say, a week of self-imposed gaggledness (I know it’s not a word) – it really gave me time to think. It took this guy to awaken my silence. I know from deleted comments, (that I’ve read, before they’re deleted), Someone commented, I don’t know Shayna, other than she grew up in NI in the 70s.
    Kevin Myers was someone that I grew up with, in the papers.

    1. Not feeling so Nice Anne

      Some people also grew up with Jimmy Saville on the TV ….. what’s yer point? We should protect the sacred cows of our childhood…. cos nostalgia?

  13. :-Joe

    “The Issue Is Not My Beliefs; The Issue Is Freedom Of Speech”

    Well said…

    My issue is that you are a dogpoo contrarian… even doug stanhope can tell a rape joke and make it a journey into self reflection and at least a counter-intuitive funny scenario worth considering.

    With you, we just get the rape.

    You’re a boring twit (As yer pretencsious engerlish aspirational mates would say)

    :-J

    1. :-Joe

      Just for clarity…

      I originally said dog poo contrarian..

      & “You’re a boring twinkle pants”….

      I forgot to mention the term “pseudo-intellectual traitor” and “flag waving pseudo-intelllectual propagandist of the worst kind” and “Worlds most pretentious and unoriginal gameshow host that ever lived”

      Most embarrassing of all, I thought I was replying to a blog made by myers himself…..

      Fine wine at a fair and decent market value is my only enemy…

      BTW… Broadsheet, I respect you but let’s be clear, I will refrain from wasting the moderators’ time because the same rules apply to everyone.
      :-J

  14. The Dude

    Such a deluded narcissistic twit.

    Still, it’s reassuring to see him get rehabilitation on RTÉ 1, as was predicted.

    Where’s the public interest? Plenty of other pressing issues; yet RTÉ exist to keep people stupid – and themselves overpaid.

    Axe the RTÉ tax so at least innocents aren’t forced into subsidising such cretins and their inane rubbish.

  15. Jim Bob Julius

    Not always in agreement with Myers, not even in agreement with him a large proportion of the time, but he has a point.

    I agree freedom of speech doesn’t protect one from the backlash of those using their own right to free speech but when I hear about Leo Varadkar instantly jumping on the bandwagon of political correctness, I know something is amiss.

    Varadkar talks a good talk as does Myers. The difference is that Myers says things as he sees them, Varadkar says things as he thinks it will be perceived – not unusual for a politician of course but I genuinely think that there is nothing under the PR & spin with Varadkar. Like Trump, he has done virtually nothing since being appointed. In terms of the homeless crisis, this is completely deliberate. Leo will wax lyrical about gay rights, abortion rights and refugee rights, no issue with any of them, but when it comes to general rights for everyone he shys away a little.

    Myers is not out to make friends, he is there to give an opinion and for all I dislike his opinion, his detours from the safe lanes Varadkar travels – the safe, sanitised, pre-spun lanes where he is everything to everyone at everytime but really only represents one person – himself.

    I hope Myers gets another gig soon – I thoroughly enjoyed reading his articles, shouting at him in my head and calling him an idiot whenever he went too far. A vitriolic writer at times, offensive and brash, but always, always interesting – unlike the stale, corporate clappy horseh1t that Varadkar pumps out as he watches more and more of the untermenschen, as he sees them, being put out where they belong – to freeze.

    1. gerry

      His employer decided they no longer wished to pay him to produce articles for their privately owned newspaper.

  16. Donal

    Kevin Myers can self publish
    Kevin Myers can write a blog
    Kevin Myers can record a podcast

    If Kevin Myers writing is of such high quality and attracts a large audience Kevin Myers will be handsomely compensated for his efforts

    Kevin Myers can apply for any journalistic job advertised

    Kevin Myers cannot expect that he is entitled to be employed by a newspaper just because in the past he has been employed by a newspaper

  17. snowey

    If he wrote a similar stereotype about Africans, Irish , Americans, Romanians… whoever he would have suffered varying degrees of mild to middling rebuke.
    but the Jews …..instant censorship

    voltaire said it folks and it is true .

    1. Go A Way

      He has written similar stereotypes about some of those people as well and he should have been fired for those also. Your argument appears to be that the Jewish people are too well organized for your liking at standing up for their rights in the face of vile smears by racist morons.

  18. Paddy at the Howth Summit

    It’s freedom of speech. the same principle that lets commenters post here.

    Myers’s downfall was he had to put his real name to his commentary.

    1. Jim Bob Julius

      Exactly.

      Like him or not, he has the balls to say things openly.

      I respect him for that at the very least.

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