“If ISIS gets upset, then fuck them.”
A British comedian said Thursday that the BBC forced him to rewrite a joke in case it offended the Islamic State.
Russell Howard made the revelation during a segment about free speech on his Sky One TV show, “The Russell Howard Hour.” By his account, executives at the public broadcaster, where he previously hosted a comedy news show, “lost their mind” when he joked that the terrorist group “weren’t Muslims,” and forced him redo the performance.
“A while back I worked for the BBC and I did a piece about the Paris attacks when I said ISIS weren’t Muslims, they were terrorists – and the crowd cheered,” Howard recalled, referring to the Nov. 2015 bombings and shootings carried out by ISIS militants in the French capital. “And then, at the end of the show, the BBC lost their mind, [saying] ‘You need to re-record it! You need to say ISIS aren’t ‘devout’ Muslims.'”
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“I was like, ‘Are you worried we are going to offend ISIS?” Howard joked. “What are they going to write in?'”
He then mocked the BBC by imitating a terrorist writing in to the corporation’s viewer comments department.
“Dear Points Of View, imagine my horror when I was misrepresented on a late-night satire show. Farouk and I will be cancelling our TV license. Please excuse my handwriting, I have a hook for a hand.”
“Fuck those traitors to their faith!” Howard segued. “If they are killing people, the least I can do as a comedian is call them names. And if Isis gets upset, then fuck them.”
A BBC spokesman told The Daily Mail that the broadcaster was investigating Howard’s claim. But in the broadcast version of “Russell Howard’s Good News,” the wording “devout Muslims” was indeed used.
Although extreme political correctness about Islam has by most accounts relaxed in recent years, the same cannot be said of subjects closer to the heart of the culture wars, like race and gender. Even old jokes made in public can now comeback to haunt comedians, as Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Kevin Hart have recently learned.
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- Russell Howard performing on Sky One’s “The Russell Howard Hour” on Jan. 29, 2019.: Screen grab from YouTube