The argument over the issue of recently introduced anti-gay laws in Russia, and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has escalated, with Stephen Fry criticising the Daily Mail for what he called a “hate-piece”, and comparing the paper’s Editor Paul Dacre to Mussolini.
Calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene, Fry last week compared the situation to the decision to hold the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany and said President Vladimir Putin “is making scapegoats of gay people”.
Dacre last week commissioned a column by the conservative academic and theologian Adrian Hilton, which attacked Fry for comparisons between Putin’s potential use of the Sochi games for propaganda, and Hitler during the 1936 Olympics.
Hilton wrote: “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.”
In a blog post made on his Tumblr, Fry heavily criticised the piece by Hilton, saying: “Apparently the hate-piece was put together by a disc jockey called Colin something or other, whose great use for Lord Dacre, the Mail’s autocratic führer, is that he is gay.”
He continued to criticise the Mail for its right wing stance, writing: “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.”
He then noted the paper’s support for Hitler in the 1930s, saying: “In January 1934 Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, younger brother of the paper’s founder Alfred Northcliffe (the 4th Viscount Rothermere is chairman of the company that still owns it) wrote an article called ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’. He was sending congratulatory telegrams to ‘My dear Führer’ as he liked to call him, right up until a few months before the outbreak of war.”
Writing of Putin, Fry said: “The fanatical junior KGB officer Vladimir Putin will become, if he is allowed to get away with it, as autocratic as any Tsar or any Soviet chairman. Vladimir the Terrible will have blood on his hands. He already does, but there will be so so much more. Little children will die in the streets.”
Continuing, Fry set his sights on Paul Dacre, the Editor of the Mail.
He said: “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 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.”
Fry concludes: “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.”
Last week, Telegraph journalist Brendan O’Neill also criticised Stephen Fry’s decision to write an open letter to the International Olympic Committee urging for the Winter Olympics not to be held in Russia because of the country’s stance on LGBT rights.
President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. Other laws banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples, and one which enables organisations receiving funding from abroad to be fined as “foreign agents”, were also passed.
The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.