Readers Letters: Sturgeon’s lack of humility hurts her position
At the Iain Dale/Nicola Sturgeon Fringe show I hoped for a display of statesmanship, honesty and humility. I left disappointed, having endured an hour of grandiloquent bunkum.
At any mention of those in opposition Miss Sturgeon sneered with disdain. Her only compliment was how hard it was being in opposition to such a strong Government as hers. No respect was given for their position or the policies they believed in. I know she often has a memory lapse but perhaps should recall the women who endured the trauma of the mesh fiasco and praise the two men from opposition parties who campaigned for the womens’ rights. A little humility may endear her to all the people of Scotland she professes to speak for.
When Mr Dale did question her on policy failures he was quickly put back inside his box. When and where are we going to find journalists with the probing questions that should be put to our Government, surely they cannot all be paid up members of the SNP adoration society?
Imagine a leader of a religious group being asked for one redeeming feature of an opposing religion. While not following that religion it is an honorary thing to respect another view and praise certain aspects in which there may be common ground. It may help if Ms Sturgeon read some history books as it never bodes well when members of an opposing side are denied their freedom of speech by being cast as unpatriotic.
Opposition members represent constituents with a wide range of views and in a true democracy it is wise to listen and respect all voters. I fear for this once fair country with the insidious rise of Nationalism which is slowly pervading our society.
Tessa Johnstone, Dechmont, West Lothian
Not so liberal
According to top Edinburgh venue and promoters, the Pleasance “is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians' material”. Yet they just censored Jerry Sadowitz by cancelling his entire act at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (your report, 15 August). This is the kind of hypocrisy – in this particular case, a blatant lie – currently existing across the “liberal” arts and it has to stop.
The Pleasance say they do not support such language even “in character”. Would they ban a theatre play with actors in character using the exact same language? No. This is an attack on stand-up, and why it is particularly serious is that the Pleasance are comedy gatekeepers; this isn’t a couple of provincial Tory councillors banning an act. The Pleasance have the extraordinary arrogance to then say, “There is no place for this at the Fringe”. Since when did the Pleasance assume the position of arbiters of an open festival? What is said, written or portrayed in art should only be denied a platform if the commentary is illegal.
According to the Pleasance, Sadowitz “does not align with our values”. Thank God! The last thing the comedy world needs is yet more bland, homogenised, panel show, corporate puppets. To paraphrase one of Jerry’s most famous lines: the problem with comedy is half the people are woke and the other half allow them to be.
I stand by you Jerry.
Ross Smith, London
The controversy over The Pleasance’s decision to “cancel” Jerry Sadowitz's show ought to remind us that there are boundaries to freedom of expression and speech. In this case it seems to involve a reputable venue operator responding to the anger and discomfort felt by some of its customers about the comedian's gestures, language and themes. In that sense it is making a commercial decision based on maintaining its reputation in the world of art and entertainment. It is no different to many organisations which place all sorts of direct and indirect restrictions on what their employees and associates say and do.
It is, of course, possible to deal with matters such as misogyny, homophobia, sexism and racism with humour. It can be particularly effective if it exposes cant, hypocrisy and double standards. I cannot doubt that those responsible for major decisions in the Pleasance would not wish to ban any artist from taking on these issues even if a small minority were to be offended. But it is surely entitled to consider whether boundaries of artistic taste and presentation have been breached.
I cannot accept Piers Morgan's view that it was distasteful to cancel a comedian on the same day that Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed. We do not yet know the full circumstances of the outrage