Dapper Laughs had been at the centre of a storm about misogyny. Andrew Lawrence had posted on Facebook about the UK Independence Party’s poll successes and immigration.
I told Trevor Lock: “I don’t think Andrew Lawrence is being unreasonable if you actually read what he says.”
“Yes,” said Trevor. “If you read what he says. But it’s just… People… It’s absolutely terrifying… You can understand how Nazi Germany got off the ground. You really do see the witch huntery delight in identifying ‘the enemy’. It’s horrendous. Chilling. I found it chilling. That and the Dapper Laughs thing I find chilling.”
“Dapper Laughs,” I said, “I have no opinion on, because I’ve never seen or heard his stuff.”
“I don’t find him funny,” said Trevor, “but the point is he is not the anti-Christ.”
“Can I quote you?” I asked. “You might get hate mail.”
“Yeah,” said Trevor. “I don’t care. I got hate mail for the Andrew Lawrence thing. I was ‘outed’ on Facebook for liking Andrew Lawrence’s thing. I was described as being a Right Wing, misogynistic whatever. It’s weird.”
I suggested: “It was the three-word description of some women on panel shows that did for Andrew.”
“Women impersonating comedians,” said Trevor. “He didn’t say all female comedians and it’s true. They have a lot of people who are not comedians on the shows. I didn’t agree with everything he said and the way he put it, but the shocking thing for me was how people took delight in deliberately mis-representing him or jumping to the worst possible conclusion in order to hate him. It’s frightening.
“I find the self-righteousness of it terrifying,” Trevor continued. “This certainty – this chilling certainty – that they are right. That is how most of these people think. They are certain they are the good guys. Did the Nazis walk around thinking they were the bad guys?”
“That is something it’s dangerous to even talk about,” I suggested. “Presumably Hitler, while committing unspeakable evil, thought he was doing good.”
“Well, of course he did,” said Trevor. “Stalin thought it was a good idea to kill people. On Facebook, a propos the Andrew Lawrence debate, someone wrote something to the effect of It’s funny how, if everybody who opposed liberalism were to be shot, the world would be a much better place. It was there on my Facebook Feed and I just thought: This is interesting on so many levels.”
“Well, Hitler was a National Socialist,” I said. “And that’s not a misnomer. I’ve always thought that Socialism is not a political system; it’s a religion. If you follow the true path of Socialism without deviation, it will create a perfect heaven on a perfect earth. That’s bollocks. That’s religion not reality. If you’re a Conservative and someone disagrees with you, then you think: Someone disagrees with me. If you’re a militant Socialist and someone disagrees with you, then you think: They are evil.”
“That’s what we’re talking about,” said Trevor.
“There’s that thing in some universities,” I said: “We are liberals. We are democrats. So we must not have people coming to talk to us if they disagree with what we think.”
“It’s astonishing,” said Trevor. “This time last year, someone invited me to talk at Leicester University. He said: I am chairman of the Oxfam Society. I would like you to come and give a speech on the importance of charity. So I said OK.”
“Why did they invite you?” I asked.
“He said: I love listening to you and reading about your philosophical take on life.
“They also wanted me to write something for their student magazine and it was just after Russell Brand had said Don’t vote! when he was on BBC2’s Newsnight.
There is a YouTube clip of Russell Brand’s appearance on Newsnight last year.
“So I wrote this piece explaining my views on charity and they were on the phone to me saying: We’re not sure we can publish this and we’re really worried about you coming to talk to us.
“And I was like: Whaaatt?? You can’t publish my views on charity – about how I have a completely different understanding of charity and how giving money to an organisation is not what I understand as charity. And I was sympathetic to Russell’s idea about not voting.
“And they changed the wording of my piece. They edited bits out to make it sound like I was in favour of charity. They sent it to me and said: This is what we are going to publish. Is it alright?
“How would that be alright? I told them. You have made me say Vote! when I did not say that; it was a complicated thing. And I am actually against organised charity.
“Yeah, they said, we’re really worried about what you’re gonna say.
“Well, I asked them, why have you booked me? I even said it in the article. I said I didn’t know why I had been booked to talk about charity.”
“Did they keep the booking?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Trevor.
“How did it go?”
“It went fine. There was one clever know-it-all trying to make me defend Russell Brand’s point of view, which I don’t fully share. But what was amazing was that this was a university unable to hear… I don’t think I’m known as being Right Wing; I don’t think my opinions are particularly Right Wing… I was just saying: This is what I think charity is.”
“And did they print your piece?” I asked.
“In the end,” said Trevor. “But it took me a long long time and I had to accuse… well, two of them got very angry.”
“They printed your original version?”
“Yes. Because I told them: You have to put THIS back in. Then they said: It’s too long…. I thought: Don’t tell brazen lies to me! You are telling me you have had to edit the article to make it sound the opposite of what I said because my article was too long??”
“If they disagreed with your views,” I said, “all they had to do was commission someone with opposite views to write a counterbalancing article and then it would be an interesting debate.”
“This is the thing,” said Trevor. “When I went to university, it was about hearing and talking about ideas. I am 40 years old and here are young lads in theirs 20s who should be debating interesting thoughts. But they are frightened to hear my thoughts. It’s almost like being in Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
I said: “Whenever wankers use the phrase ‘positive discrimination’ I think Have they not read about Doublethink in Nineteen Eighty-Four? Positive discrimination is discrimination.”
Trevor said: “What I have taken away from reading Facebook in this last week about Andrew Lawrence and Dapper Laughs is that Hitler could have happened here.”