Nigel Farage is upset. He’s upset because a comedian on a radio show joked about how, when it came to ‘unpleasant characters,’ throwing battery acid might perhaps be better than throwing milkshakes.
According to The Guardian:
On the show, [Jo] Brand said: “Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?”
The comedian went on to say she was joking and not a fan of the milkshake stunts. “That’s just me. I’m not going to do it,” she said. “It’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry.”
However, this part was edited out of a clip that was widely shared online.
Like a predictable and particularly tenacious turd, the term ‘free speech’ has already begun to float to the top of online discourse as a result.
Brand’s milkshake line is, of course, a reference to the Summer of Lactose that a number of Britain’s far-right public figures have been experiencing this year, with inflammatory figures like former English Defense League head and full-time Islamophobe Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (pen name: ‘Tommy Robinson’), anti-feminist YouTuber Carl Benjamin (pen name:
‘Jargon of Old Arse’ ‘Sargon of Akkad’), and Nigel Farage (pen name: ‘That bloke down the pub who’s totally just a normal bloke rather than a millionaire, privately educated former commodities broker’) himself all getting doused (often multiple times) in hails of pink sugar and froth in displays of viciousness and savagery comparable only to scenes last witnessed at the Somme and Stalingrad. This was one of the Yaxley-Lennon incidents:
How was my man so casual ðŸ˜‚— Az (@AzTheBaz) May 2, 2019
ðŸŽ¶ Tommy Robinson's milkshake brings all the boys to the yard ðŸŽ¶ pic.twitter.com/M1sYUyp02w
Wasting no time after the BBC radio programme broadcast the comments from comedian Jo Brand, Farage tweeted: ‘This is incitement of violence and the police need to act.’ The BBC, so often complicit in facilitating the right-wing—and Farage himself—have surprisingly (sort of) defended Brand and the radio show, saying that the show, called Heresy, was ‘deliberately provocative as the title implies’, and that the comments made on the show were ‘not intended to be taken seriously’.
Nigel Farage is a product of a broken economic model pursued by both ends of the established political party spectrum. In much the same way as the dogmatic adherence to a neoliberal evisceration of society by both Republicans and Democrats paved the way for Donald Trump, so too did decades of a destructive post-Thatcherite consensus allow a despot like Farage to rise. Playing on entirely justified anti-establishment sentiment, he did what so many like him before have done: He pointed the finger at the weakest. Rather than diagnose the country’s economic woes accurately and say that it was his former city chums who crashed the global economy in 2008 and allowed the Tories to force the nation into a spiral of punishing austerity, he used that age-old scapegoat instead: Immigrants.
Faced with this challenge from Farage’s xenophobic hard-right UKIP, the establishment did what it always does too: It kowtowed to their rhetoric rather than challenge it, or—god forbid—alter its economic policies to alleviate the suffering of the people turning to it. Aside from making the Tories swerve further to the right in general, the Brexit referendum of 2016 was called by David Cameron as a hubristic exercise in appearing tough on immigrants, and as an attempt to finally quiet the harder right factions of the Tory party. We all know how that turned out. Its message absorbed into mainstream politics, and with Farage gallivanting off elsewhere, UKIP was basically a spent force, and it mostly withered away. It wasn’t until the recent mess with the Tory-led Brexit negotiations that—like some ale-drenched jowly shit-phoenix—Farage arose from the ashes, with his newly created Brexit Party gaining dramatically in last month’s European elections by promising to deliver Brexit no matter the costs. That message is now also being internalised by the Tory party, who are very likely to appoint a No Deal Brexiteer as their new leader in an effort to prevent their party from imploding rather than doing the decent thing and calling an election. (Don’t be fooled either by ghouls like Rory Stewart playing for the centrist, ‘moderate’ Tory votes. Look at his voting record. He’s just like the rest of them. In favour of austerity, military intervention, and contracting social safety nets, to list just a few. When Labour brought a motion to Parliament to help prevent a No Deal Brexit yesterday, he voted against it, despite basing his campaign on being heart and soul against No Deal. There are no ‘moderate Tories’. Just charlatans and snakes.)
Could have just voted with Labour yesterday, you tedious idiot https://t.co/e44AAgRVg3— Dawn Foster (@DawnHFoster) June 13, 2019
Now, the thing about Farage is: The British press fucking love him. They just cannot help themselves. It’s pathological. As mentioned above, the supposedly impartial BBC is incredibly biased towards establishment and right-wing thinking, and while it is now receiving heat from certain sectors for Brand’s acid comment, the usual state of affairs is very much in the opposite direction: As Farage-friendly as can be. They have him on talk shows, they cut to him in current affairs bits, they uncritically quote him all the time. Even when there is seemingly no contextual need to have him on, the BBC (and the media in general) trip over themselves to bring this blustering, racist free-market capitalist on. Motherfucker has his own talk-show on a London radio station for god’s sake. There’s not much surprise there, I suppose, as the press is mostly owned by wealthy business interests who often have a history—as capitalists tend to—of being very racist themselves, and the fact that he is an ideological capitalist and a quite charismatic speaker with a gift of disguising Evil behind chummy banter certainly doesn’t hurt. The point is: Farage, like Trump, is a figure who benefits enormously from media coverage. He is normalised, his views promoted, his agenda mainstreamed.
And Farage, like various figures of the alt-right, loves to complain about ‘free speech’. I won’t make a value judgment on the state of Brand’s comments. You can make up your own mind there. What I will say is that the kind of discussion that is now unfolding is exactly what the far-right love, and it is a mug’s game. Despite the occasional sanctions imposed on them by social media being relatively minor, usually massively delayed, and often so much weaker than they deserve, the alt-right are the first to moan when they get censured in any way for saying something racist or something that might incite violence. In the past few years, figures from all across the far-right end of the political and cultural spectrum have positioned themselves as ‘defenders of free speech.’ YouTube and social media stars like Stefan Molyneux and Paul Joseph Watson all espouse varying degrees of white nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-feminism, transphobia, and various other hard-right talking points, but instead of owning up to their hatred and bigotry they—along with their academic outriders like Jordan Peterson—disguise it behind the nebulous term ‘free speech.’ It’s an emotive and charged phrase that—legal realities on different sides of the Atlantic aside—successfully galvanises a hell of people. With irony so thick that it makes you choke, they cast themselves as plucky and punky rebels fighting back against a smothering establishment, and their fans eat it the fuck up. Already there are masses of right-wing commentators decrying the supposed hypocrisy of a liberal comedian making a joke about violence against the right. Already they are preparing their ‘so much for the tolerant left’ hot takes and memes. Already they are drawing an equivalence between a comedian joking about throwing acid on fascists—while walking it back almost immediately—with politicians seeking to enter office to enact far-right racist policies and further a poor-destroying austerity agenda. That’s the level of discourse we’re at. Happy Thursday.
Nigel Farage once declared that he'd "don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines" if his type of Brexit wasn't implemented.— Owen JonesðŸŒ¹ (@OwenJones84) May 20, 2019
He said Brexit had been won "without a single bullet being fired" days after Jo Cox was murdered.
Spare me the tears over a banana milkshake.