Stephen Fry on Political Correctness

Dear Mr. Fry,

In case that was a serious question, I have a response. You wonder why some people find it important to prevent the spies in that BBC show from texting while driving or not using seat belts. First, let me say that I agree that “compliance” sounds ridiculous and that a reasonable society with reasonably smart people wouldn’t need rules preventing the depiction of the aforementioned “naughty” things on TV. You reject any notion of “setting a bad example” by bringing up other things that go on in the show like “shooting people in the face” or “betraying your country.”

You see, I’m afraid that most people don’t have those options. That is, even if 15-year-old Timmy wanted to betray his country or shoot someone in the face, he probably has neither state secrets nor access to a gun. He’s much more likely to be in a car at some point. If he desperately wants to emulate the ever so cool spies in his favorite show in any way he can, he might find that texting-whilst-driving (or leaving his seatbelt off) is his only way of doing so!

I remember being an impressionable child. The Land Before Time was my favorite movie. I wanted to be the brontosaurus. I didn’t have many options, though. There was no chance of me being allowed to run around in the wilderness with my little friends — and none of them had any interest in pretending to be dinosaurs, either. So I did what I could do. I cut bunch of nori (dried seaweed) into leaf-shapes and ate it using only my mouth. My mother probably thought I was crazy. If the youth of your country are anywhere near as impressionable as I was, it may be a good thing that those spies aren’t allowed to do unsafe but very commonplace things on TV.

Thanks for making me laugh,

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