Last month, Stephen Fry voiced his concern over the anti-gay laws enacted in Russia, and called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, which are to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi early next year. He even secured an informal chat with Young Dave. This was enough for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to set his obedient attack doggies on Fry in response.
What's f***ing wrong with kicking gays, c***?!?
After all, Dacre doesn’t get informal chats with the Prime Minister, and although the Daily Mail has at least one pundit who is openly gay, those Middle England readers are routinely told in no uncertain terms that being gay is definitely not normal (Jan Moir’s hatchet job on Stephen Gately being the prime recent example). Adrian Hilton penned a particularly nasty kicking.
But Hilton, who is also the presence behind the Archbishop Cranmer blog, is a flagrantly dishonest and vapid nobody, and so nobody listened. Dacre also instructed Andrew Pierce, who is openly gay but whose campaigning extends only to opposing same-sex marriage and wearing a pink shirt, to ridicule Fry. This included the priceless quotation “As one gay man to another, I say to Stephen Fry”.
But, as with so much else in recent history, the Mail has shown itself to be on the wrong side, as the more immediate prospect of action against those who sponsor the Winter games has begun to focus minds. Later last month, this idea was floated in a New Yorker piece by Richard Socarides. And last Sunday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) began to wobble at this thought.
IOC Marketing chief Gerhard Heiberg spelt it out: “Lately there has been a lot of discussion and I am pushed by several sponsors about what will happen with this new law in Russia ... Especially the American sponsors are afraid what could happen. This could ruin a lot for all of us”. In other words, even if the Games goes ahead, sponsors could lose a lot of money.
And money is, at the end of the day, what it is all about. While the Russians are attempting to soothe tensions by assuring anyone who questions the new laws that they aren’t really homophobic, they give medals to homosexuals, and that some of their best friends, and all that, what is frightening the IOC is that their credibility will be shot through because sponsors will lose money.
That means the Russians can put on the best Winter Olympics ever, only for it to make no difference. In this way, Stephen Fry will have prevailed, although perhaps not in the way he first intended. It’s summed up in his usual inimitable style by Keith Olbermann, back with ESPN, in the video above, in which he demonstrates how frightened the hosts, the IOC, and sponsors are getting.
And what effect has the Daily Mail had? None at all. Taxi for Dacre!