CONSERVATIVE academic and theologian Adrian Hilton was recruited to write a “hate piece” in the Daily Mail lambasting Fry’s call for the relocating of the Winter Olympics away from Sochi in Russia because of the country’s recently enacted anti-gay legislation.
Fry immediately hit back, accusing Mail editor Paul Dacre of being a “frothing autocrat” … and much, MUCH more besides.
Fry had written an “Open Letter” to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling for the Games to be held elsewhere after Russia passed laws cracking down on “gay propaganda”.
He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of:
Making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews.
Cameron later rejected the call, saying he favoured British athletes attending the Games.
I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics.
I don’t want to dwell on Fry’s association of the 2014 Sochi winter games with the 1936 Olympiad in Berlin: the systematic incineration of six million Jews in industrial ovens bears no comparison with the marginalisation and repression of minorities in Putin’s Russia.
Hilton accused the comedian of “grandstanding”, branding his call for a boycott:
A haughty and detached gesture which harms the innocent and penalises Russia’s outstanding sportsmen and women who will be deprived of their chance to inspire the very generation which might sweep Putin and his thugs from power.
And he accused Fry of hypocrisy for making no effort to condemn British association with Russian artistic projects in the ballet and theatre.
Fry embarked on a demolition job of his own. He likened Dacre’s politics to the pre-war appeasement of Hitler, comparing him to Mussolini.
He then rounded on the paper’s right-wing values, accusing the Mail of holding historically reactionary principles, or none at all.
The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything – from Picasso to equal pay for women. It has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality).
Deep down they have always had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.
Fry then reminded readers of the Mail‘s infamous backing for Hilter in the 1930s.
He then delivered a personal swingeing attack on Dacre:
Dacre is … an absolutely foul-mouthed boss, who constantly screams the c word at just about anyone. He would have read my Open Letter to David Cameron and yelled that ‘that c**t Fry needs another f**king dressing f**king down’ – just the kind of language that his paper would prissily decry of course, there’s the glory in the vile bastard’s hypocrisy.
He [Dacre] sends his son to Eton, but mocks me for being posh. He bullies, swears and shrieks, but presents his paper as having the values and standards of a misty Midsomer Britain.
He decries indecency on one page and pushes his male readers into a semi over a semi-nude actress on another. His cancer scare, miracle cure stories are sickeningly anti-science and the only good thing to be said about his Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it.
Dacre is, all those who have had the misfortune to work for him assure me, just about as loathsome, self-regarding, morally putrid, vengeful and disgusting a man as it possible to be.
His power is absolute. Cross him either in private or public and you will be assassinated by his sycophantic squad of columnist minions, all of them infected with his brand of repulsive hypocritical and gleeful spite, ready to vomit out a screed against the BBC or any other institution they hate.
He absolutely despises me and thinks I stand for everything that is wrong about Britain and I think exactly the same of him.
Here is the full text of Fry’s riposte.
NOTE: The photo we had on this page, taken from the Conservative Home website, has been removed at Hilton’s request. He says that, as “it has never been in the public domain”, we were in breach of copyright by publishing it without his permission.