The BBC has refused to sack comedian Jo Brand, defending her against claims she incited violence in comments made during a radio show, writes MailOnline.
Brand had made a guest appearance on Radio 4’s Heresy talk show on Tuesday and quipped about throwing battery acid at “unpleasant characters” instead of milkshakes.
Heresy’s host Victoria Coren Mitchell had asked Brand whether she believed the country was united in agreeing they were living through a “terrible” time in politics.
The 61-year-old responded by calling milkshaking was a “pathetic” thing for people to resort to against political opponents during May's EU election campaigning.
On the show, Brand said:
"Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?”
The comedian followed this up by denying that she herself was 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 the clip that was shared online.
There was an immediate response from the leader of the Brexit party Nigel Farage - one of several right-wing UK politicians that had been targeted by milkshake-tossers in recent weeks. He tweeted: “This is incitement of violence and the police need to act.”
This is incitement of violence and the police need to act. https://t.co/j3F0jsKGBZ— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 12, 2019
On social media, opinions were divided.
Victoria Coren Mitchell defended Brand, tweeting that Heresy was “supposed to be a show that stimulates debate”; she said she believed “all people should be free to make jokes about anything”.
To be honest, I’m relieved at least a couple of people are angry, even if it’s only a couple. It’s supposed to be a heretical programme; I was worried we’d gone a bit timid and benign.— Victoria Coren Mitchell (@VictoriaCoren) June 11, 2019
Remain campaigner Femi Oluwole joined Coren Mitchell in accusing Farage of double standards, and responded to his tweet about Brand’s comments with a video showing Farage saying he would be forced to ‘“pick up a rifle” if Brexit wasn’t delivered.
Calm down Mr "Pick-up-a-rifle".— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) June 12, 2019
It's just political figures of speech, isn't it?
Nobody could possibly take it literally, right?pic.twitter.com/rptRtcZfqV
TV comedian Lee Hurst tweeted: “Jo Brand is a comedian. She has made a joke. You may not find it funny or you may find it funny. Comedy is subjective.”
Jo Brand is a comedian. #JoBrand— Lee Hurst (@2010LeeHurst) June 12, 2019
She has made a joke.
You may not find it funny or you may find it funny.
Comedy is subjective.
If you criticise her because you like her target, but defend other jokes of a similar nature against targets you don't like you are a hypocrite.
There were those who agreed with Nigel Farage’s response, among them Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror, who called Brand’s joke “dangerous and unfunny”, and “a mistake in the current climate”.
Dangerous and unfunny. Love Jo Brand but this quip is a mistake in the current climate https://t.co/4ORl5IwgSM— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) June 12, 2019
Love Jo Brand too, but agree that in this instance she was out of order.— cassidy kath (@kath_cassidy1) June 12, 2019
Agree. An error on her part.— Lotto (@Lotto688Lotto) June 12, 2019
Retired Met Police detective chief inspector Mick Neville told The Sun: “The police should deal with this by giving Jo Brand a warning about the potential impact of her words.”
“She should also spend some time with acid attack victims and see the physical and psychological injuries they have suffered.”
“The BBC were quick to sack Danny Baker for making an unacceptable joke following the birth of Harry and Meghan's baby.” “But will the BBC act in the same manner with Brand?”
Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has received 19 complaints about the episode of Heresy.
In response to calls to dump the comic, a BBC spokesman said: “Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative and go against societal norms but are not intended to be taken seriously.”
“Milkshaking” has emerged as a new trend among left-wing activists, who have taken to tossing the drinks at right-wing politicians such as Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage, Carl Benjamin, and members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and Brexit Party.