Godfrey Elfwick writes for the Spectator again!

I presume that the Spectator knows that Godfrey Elfwick, like Titania McGrath, is a fake name for a spoofer of the Authoritarian Left. Indeed, I think it likely that Godfrey and Titania are the same person. Now the Spectator has published yet another funny piece by Elfwick, a piece that masquerades as a serious attack on comedy. Click on the screenshot below to read it.

Elfwick, starting with the odious “don’t-offend-anyone” contract (rather, a “Behavioural Agreement” that the University of London offered the comedian Konstantin Kisin, doesn’t defend Kisin. Rather, as a good satirist would, he calls for the death of comedy itself.  An excerpt:

I am literally shaking with rage at the thought of a room filled with people mocking the need for safe spaces. It’s like encountering hundreds of micro-aggressions all at once, like tiny paper cuts embedding themselves into my crevices. The first time I saw that clip [JAC: it’s below], I zipped myself into my portable isolation chamber and ate nothing but tinned pineapple until the fear subsided.

It’s time for us to admit that comedy is a problem. For too long comedians have got away with making light of issues using the flimsy excuse of it being their job to make people laugh. Like ‘free speech’, comedy is now a far right dogwhistle. The Internet is filled with unregulated and dangerous comedy. Laughter has become a weapon, with sharpened japes and poisoned memes its ammunition.

For a while now, the wokest and most progressive of us have forgone humor. Hannah Gadsby being the first to perform a brave anti-humor show on Netflix, setting the bar as low as possible when it comes to not making people laugh. In the US, they made the decision to remove Roseanne Barr from the Roseanne show which stripped it of all traces of toxic wit, thus saving people who may have otherwise been mentally scarred by a stray wisecrack. It’s been cancelled now of course, but that only proves that the far right is scared! They fear our refusal to take a joke. They quake at our ability to find the most innocuous one-liner offensive.

Elfwick then presents his “anti-comedy” schtick, which distorts some old comedy chestnuts to push social justice. Have a look at the article, and let’s hope that Godfrey and Titania will be with us for a long time.

Here’s Kisin doing a real comedy routine about the UoL “agreement”; this is the clip that made Elfwick shake with rage. Be sure you watch the whole thing, and notice that the UoL agreement itself is a source of great mirth to the audience.



  1. Mark Joseph
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Much as I’m loath to admit it, there is one good thing about the otherwise risible “Behavioural Agreement”. By separating “anti-religion” from “anti-atheism” they show, in a manner clear enough to assure that god-botherers will be completely unable to understand, that atheism is not a religion.

    Please take note Mr. Andrew Sullivan. As the old(?) meme goes, “atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

    Furthermore, is it not interesting that when people try to say that atheism is a religion, they are effectively admitting that religion is not a good thing?

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      “atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

      Good one! Thank you for that gem. Not only does it squarely make its point, it also contains a subtle dig at religion by placing it parallel to stamp collecting.

      • Posted December 17, 2018 at 1:49 am | Permalink

        I am not a stamp collector myself but I feel your comment is a little unfair on stamp collectors. You may not consider stamps to be of any great interest but they unquestionably exist and collectors do not insist that the rest of society should avoid offending stamps by following a set of arbitrary rules about how to live their lives!

        • Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          Sounds somewhat authoritarian. I didn’t attempt to dissuade others from stamp collection. I will admit to appreciating some of the interesting stories about mistakes in stamp printing.

        • KiwiInOz
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          Philately will get you nowhere.

    • Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      This difference is, I suppose, that people who don’t collect stamps don’t feel the need to talk about it, or proclaim it to the world.

      Personally, I don’t consider atheism to be a religion, but what I don’t get is, why does it matter so much if somebody says it is?

      Not believing in a god or gods is, of course, not a religion, but affirmatively believing that there are no gods is an inductive inference and, like all inductive inferences, a matter of belief–like believing there are no black swans. (Google “black swan fallacy” if you want more info on this well-known logical fallacy).

      • Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        They would feel such a need if they were constantly hearing how bad non-collectors are, and how everyone should collect, maybe collect particular sets of stamps.

        Or if they were forced to deal with harm done by some people’s obsessive stamp-collecting.

        • Posted December 16, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I understand. This is why I hesitate to let strangers know what I really do and don’t believe, except when I want the feedback. And I try not to depend on the approval of others for my happiness.

      • Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        You make some good points. To answer your question, besides not believing in a god, most atheists also believe that religion is bad for individuals and society as a whole and, therefore, do not want to be lumped in with religionists. Even if we don’t care what others think about us, we do feel a need to protect the atheist brand.

      • Steven in Tokyo
        Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that the stamp collectors leave marks on almost everything with their damned sticky fingers.

      • Draken
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 2:52 am | Permalink

        If stamp collectors were able to claim tax exemption on their hobby, including their club houses, while you can’t;
        and if stamp collectors could withhold medical care from their children for reasons of their hobby;
        or if they could infest public education to have the children taught all about First Days, Cachets, Gum and Perforations rather than math and science…
        …I’m sure you’d understand why some people started to feel the need to protest the whole enterprise of philately.

  2. Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    For a word to have meaning there has to be things to which that word does not apply.

    If every belief is religious then we can do away with the word ‘religion’ entirely.

    And religious institutions can start paying tax.

  3. CAS
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    “You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.”
    Motto at Jessica Mitford Memorial Site

    • Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Which, sometimes, is effective in such change eventually.

  4. KD33
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Whoever the real author is, they are a gifted writer, far better than most of those pushing their woke agenda.

  5. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    A man who at first light seemed to be an interesting satirist is revealed to be as partisan and propagandising as his opponents.

    Roseanne?…”a stray wisecrack”? You mean the one about the black woman looking like an ape? Lol. Good one Godfrey.

    Why this is considered enlightening or witty by WEIT I do not know. It’s a cosy little reinforcement of existing anti-left grievances, devoid of lightness of touch and politically tendentious.

    Political satire, when it’s got a detectable seam of fervent partisanship running through it, is never funny. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or left. Go watch Jeremy Harding be snarky about critics of Corbyn – it’s just as devoid of humour.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I believe Godfrey E. to be a troll & nothing more. Jeremy Hardy is indeed a right royal pain – in just the way you describe.

      • Posted December 17, 2018 at 4:48 am | Permalink

        I saw Jeremy Hardy just before the Brexit vote. He was very funny. IIRC though he didn’t do any anti anti Corbyn jokes.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink

          He’s actually pretty good when he lays off the Thatcher-is-evil stuff.

          The idea of sitting through an hour of him moaning about the tories is why I didn’t go to one of his shows recently, but my mum did and she said he was very good.

          Mark Steel’s another one whose constant Cobynite* leanings grind my gears a bit, but he’s also very, very funny; probably funnier than Hardy in my opinion. He wrote a column in the ‘i’ newspaper that was very good.

          *’Corbynite’ is a kind of reverse Kryptonite, that makes everyone but the most powerful people much weaker.

          • Posted December 17, 2018 at 6:51 am | Permalink

            I can understand why JH moans about Corbyn quite a lot. I think he (Corbyn) is sometimes quite unfairly treated by the British press.

            Having said that, I do think Corbyn is utterly useless.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted December 17, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

              I don’t know. He doesn’t exactly help himself with the press. He’s almost as hostile to them as Trump, although he’s not as good at weaponising his relationship with them. Thankfully.

              Maybe they are hard on him, I find it difficult to tell because he’s so utterly useless on every single imaginable level. I’m in despair about how badly he’s leading Labour – I know a lot of previously enthusiastic supporters of his who have really soured on him over Brexit. I know someone who works at a _social justice charity_. He’s a literal Social Justice Warrior(although nothing like the online versions – he’s a marvel of human decency), and Corbyn’s brand of far-left politics is baked into him. He grew up protesting against South Africa, accompanying his dad to marches against Thatcher, even raiding animal-vivisection clinics in the late seventies. But mention Corbyn now and he winces.

              The country is spiraling out of control, it’s getting genuinely worrying on an existential level, and this is where an opposition party should be speaking for us who voted remain. Instead we’re living in what is basically a one-party state.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        Yes. I actually think there’s an art to trolling, although maybe only a few people, eg. Matt Parker and Trey Stone, have mastered it. It needs to be completely apathetic and dis/un-interested. Born of total nihilistic boredom. Then it can be funny.

        If it’s born of anger or prejudice or sneering hatred then it ceases to be funny, to me at least.

        • Davide Spinello
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Thanks for elucidating the intention of that fascist. If you don’t mind I will contact you when I need to decide is something is true satire or right wing born of anger or prejudice. Depending on your answer, it will or will not cease to be funny, to me at least.

    • BJ
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s always good to have you here to tell us what is and isn’t funny, and what is and isn’t appropriate. Perhaps you could write up a “Posting Agreement Form” for Jerry to sign.

    • BJ
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      And your utter disingenuousness in portraying what he was saying about Roseanne really reveals just how much your post is rooted in an agenda (one we’ve seen from you many times before) of getting Jerry to post less criticism of the Left. Though you completely snipped it from context, the quote about Roseanne was about the jokes on her show, not what she said on twitter.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        I understand that this is a place where you come to read criticism of the illiberal-left, and that it would spoil it for you if there was also a similar amount of criticism of the right too.
        That’s the only message I can glean from your post, because it doesn’t matter how many times I point out that I’ve spent years criticising the illiberal left, or that I’m a centrist liberal, or that what I’d like is more political balance at WEIT(not less criticism of the left), you’re determined to ignore it. It’s an immediately aggressive, defensive reaction born of having your safe-space invaded by someone who says something you don’t agree with. Tough. This is a freethinkers’ website, you should be able to deal with some different viewpoints without having to immediately call me a liar.

        Also, I didn’t tell you what to think or laugh at, I just said how I feel about this insipid twitter account with its derivative humour. If you think it’s genius or whatever, fine. I just don’t, and I could have read any number of better satirical jabs at SJWs and their ridiculous politics by going on The Onion, or reading Private Eye, etc. They wouldn’t engage in apologetics for a nasty woman who made a racist joke either, or whitewash the alt-right, as he did in the previous WEIT article on him.
        I think this guy’s a partisan bore, and the idea that he’s a ‘left-leaning satirist’, as someone else here described him previously, is patently absurd.

        And your point about Roseanne is specious. They removed her because she made a racist joke, about a black woman looking like an ape. What else could ‘a stray wisecrack’ possibly refer to? Nothing.

        • BJ
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          Nope. You make this same complaint every couple of weeks. That is what’s irritating. You remove things from context. That is irritating (you have again refused to recognize that you intentionally removed Godfrey’s words about Roseanne from their context so you could imply he was saying something he didn’t. He said nothing about her Twitter remarks; he only referred to the jokes on her show). You were dishonest, and now you’re deflecting rather than admitting it.

          I don’t give a shit about having a “safe space” to read about the “illiberal Left.” I read plenty about the Right. I’m of the Left. What I do care about is you whinging every two weeks about the same thing, and being dishonest in the process.

          It’s a shame, because you’re otherwise often the exact kind of person I like: the kind of person who doesn’t like ideologues on either side, and lets it be known. But you have this one hobby horse, and you feel the need to constantly chastise our host for it. It’s become very tiresome.

          • mikeyc
            Posted December 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            It may be tiresome BJ (I agree it is) but he DOES have a point. As much as like that people like Godfrey and Titania (if they are not one and the same) stick it to the regressive left – the un-funniest and most deserving of satire of all the political groups- the humor is thin and getting old now.

            Saul is right – political humor tends to get strident and hamhanded and ultimately, over time, it becomes no longer all that funny. Just sneering and snark. I have to say though, there are moments of real hilarity in Godfrey’s and Titania’s missives, just over all they rate a “meh” from me.

            YMMV though because, like beauty, comedy is in the eye of the beholder. You both have legitimate views on them – but really it comes down to taste and there’s no accounting for that.

            • Davide Spinello
              Posted December 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              At this point I think that their satire is funny because it is plausible in certain circles.

              • Mikeyc
                Posted December 17, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

                Absolutely. That’s why it’s so biting and occasionally hilarious. Still, it is based on the most puerile of human endeavors- politics and as such the stink of sewage is ever present. Sometimes it gets overpowering and thus it tends to be no longer funny. Just politics.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      You are so nuanced.

  6. pablo
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Godfrey used to be a Slymepitter. Fortunately he left before it became about MAGA, libtards, ethnostates, and white genocide.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 17, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      What exactly is the Slymepit?

      AFAICT it was/is some kind of forum for those atheists who turned rightwards in the Great Godless Nerd War of the early tenties…the big one where almost every atheist hived off into either pro- or anti-SJW tribes…and the rest came to WEIT.

      • BJ
        Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Originally, I’m pretty sure Slymepit was created as a refuge from Atheism + when the latter was trying to take over all the atheist spaces and impose their codes of conduct on them. I haven’t visited Slymepit in years (since Atheism + keeled over and died), so I don’t know what it is now, and I don’t know if it actually started in those days or was an already existing site that just became a gathering space for a particular group. I also have no idea what it is now.

        • pablo
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          Mostly correct. It was started by Abbie Smith of the ERV blog in response to PC mobs-mostly coming from Free Thought Blogs- trying to tear down her science blog through guilt by association with some of her less than PC commenters. I’ve been going there since 2012 and met a lot of fun, smart people who were way ahead of the curve when it comes to science denialism on the left. I stopped going there earlier this year as most of those people have gone and it is increasingly alt-lite.

          • KiwiInOz
            Posted December 17, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

            We miss you (whoever you are).

            The Pit is only as good as the people who bother contributing or arguing at any point in time.

            Some of the old guard have gone (probably because they have a life) while others of us hang on because we like the decor.

      • Posted December 17, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        The Slymepit is a discussion board that grew out of an ongoing thread at Abby Smith’s ERV ScienceBlogs site in reaction to certain bullying tactics undertaken by certain individuals (who would soon become the Atheism Plus clique). The name was a tongue-in-cheek embracing of PZ Myers’ epithet for Smith’s page: a “pit of slime”.

        For many years, The Slymepit was largely dedicated to exposing the lies, hypocrisy, & underhanded tactics of Myers, his stable of bloggers at FreeThoughBlogs, and other Atheism Plussers. With the failure of that entryist movement and Myers’ precipitous fall into pariah status, the ‘Pit has expanded its focus to lampooning the broader Regressive Left. But no one is free from ridicule or criticism, including the Right and so-called ‘atheist heroes’. Throughout, the ‘Pit has also been a place to shoot the breeze and discuss diverse topics.

        Above all, satire and deadpan humor reign at the ‘Pit. There are many inside running jokes. “Pitizens” will go out of their way to transgress PC /SJ norms, so much content is intentionally rude, crude, & lewd. One should usually read an implied /s or 😉 at the end of comments. Most importantly, the ‘Pit does not take itself seriously, and its activism is half-assed at best.

        The only ‘roolz’ are: 1) no doxxing; 2) no physical threats or criminal statements; 3) no hard pornography; 4) no minors. This means the ‘Pit tolerates expression of almost any point of view, though odious or outrageous ones will be met with a flurry of critique. (For example, holocaust denial was put forth earlier this year and resoundingly refuted with copious documentation.)

        The laissez faire atmosphere also means certain cranks & curmudgeons can bang on about their pet topic (see Pablo’s complaint above), which can always be ameliorated by use of the ‘ignore’ feature.

        The slandering of The Slymepit as an alt-right, misogynist, anti-semite, racist, etc. site always comes from those who’ve either never visited, or whose cursory perusal took arch satire at face value. In truth, the political views of Pitizens generally range on the political compass from lower left to lower center right.

        But that’s just my personal take. The SlymePit is terribly disorganized and anarchistic, and “nobody speaks for the ‘Pit”

        • Rich Sanderson
          Posted December 17, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          The best thing I know about the Slime Pit is Ape+Lust’s photoshops of PZ and various #NewRacists and regressives.

  7. Posted December 16, 2018 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    This is what we have been needing for this issue. Comedy is the cure.

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