Graham Linehan, the once-beloved writer of Father Ted and that other one that wasn’t as good as Father Ted but still had its moments, has recently been going about the place complaining about being “silenced” while also using legal threats to silence a piece of writing critical of him. Of course, there’s nothing really new here – it’s been years now since Sara Ahmed first observed that
“These views then get expressed again as if they are being stifled. They get repeated by being presented as prohibited.
Whenever people keep being given a platform to say they have no platform, or whenever people speak endlessly about being silenced, you not only have a performative contradiction; you are witnessing a mechanism of power… The narrative of “being silenced” has become a mechanism for enabling and distributing some forms of expression.“
Similarly, if I had a penny for every time someone proclaiming themselves to be in favour of free speech and against silencing debate used threats of legal action to shut their critics up, then maybe I’d have enough money to start hiring lawyers and trying to shut up everyone I disliked too.
I’m still very sympathetic to the principle that, when someone starts throwing legal threats around to silence criticisms, you should spread and reproduce that criticism as widely as possible, so people can read it and make up their own mind. In that spirit, the offending article is reproduced below, not as a full endorsement of the contents but just to give people the chance to decide what they think of it. If you want to know Linehan’s side of the story, that’s easy enough to find out; similarly, if Linehan can point out exactly which precise claims in the article are provably untrue, I’ll be happy to alter them.
If you’re concerned about the problem of people being “silenced” and prevented from exercising free speech, I would suggest that one good place to start might be by donating to support this blacklisted brewery worker here. And if, like me, you’re a massive fan of Father Ted and quite enjoyed that other one sometimes, and are feeling let down that such a gifted comedic great has descended into acting like a bit of a dick, then at least we can all take comfort in the fact that the guy who wrote the Office has always behaved in an admirably dignified and respectable manner, right?