Rod Liddle

Oh joy! Sean Penn has tried to crack a joke

The stupidly PC actor has put his foot in it and is being called a racist by the moronsphere

28 February 2015

9:00 AM

28 February 2015

9:00 AM

What a pleasure it is to see the Hollywood actor Sean Penn neck deep in PC ordure. The rodentine thespian was handing out an award at the Oscars to his friend the Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, for his film Birdman. ‘Who gave this sonofabitch a green card?’ Penn quipped about his mate — at which point the moronsphere went into overdrive. There was splenetic fury and deep sadness and heartfelt outrage and condemnations at this racism, online and beyond.

Some demented loon called Stephen W. Thrasher, writing in the Guardian (natch), said: ‘Racism from friends assumed to be benign can be the worst kind, especially at an awards show.’ No kidding, Stevie. Far worse than slavery and the KKK and the Holocaust etc. Thrasher went on to explain that this was just fascist Hollywood treating ethnic minorities and women the way it always does, in a totally unacceptable and entirely exploitative fascist way, before a nurse came along and administered a few hundred ccs of Barbiturol and Mr Thrasher was escorted back to his ward. But by now, the deranged liberals were venting their equal opportunity spleens on Twitter and Facebook.

‘I will never watch another Sean Penn movie again,’ screamed one harridan — me neither, sugartits, but for different reasons. And some bloke posted: ‘The struggles people endure for immigration justice are not punchlines.’ No indeed, you person of unfathomable sanctimony. In your world there are no punchlines at all — even that famous story about the chicken and the motive behind its decision to cross a road is lamentably chickenist, slighting not only to all domestic fowl, but also to any other creatures who perhaps identify with domestic fowl.

Other dingbats brought up the actor’s supposedly abusive past, to show he had form — the usual fervid, screeching, cyberhell nonsense; apparently Mr Penn once tied his former wife, Madonna, to a chair and gagged her — something which, quite frankly, many of us may have wished to do these last 25 years — so all power to Sean’s elbow, and his roll of gaffer tape. Meanwhile Snr Iñárritu seemed bemused by all the fuss and pronounced Penn’s joke ‘hilarious’. Well that’s stretching it, amigo, but fair enough in the circumstances, I suppose.

If I were being consistent I would rally to Penn’s support — his joke was not racist and not remotely offensive. But this is Sean Penn we’re talking about and I’ve always found consistency to be a much overrated virtue, if I’m honest. This is the most blindingly stupid and PC of actors (in a pretty strong field, you have to say), a man who once wrote an article for the Guardian (natch) demanding that the UK renounce its claims to the Falkland Islands. His piece was so surreal, ignorant and pretentious that at first I thought it was heavy-handed satire. It made no sense, it was simultaneously verbose and meaningless: here’s an excerpt, a sort of trailer:

‘This is not a cause of leftist flamboyance nor significantly a centuries-old literary dispute. But rather a modern one, that is perhaps unveiled most legitimately through the raconteurism of Patagonian fishermen.’

Nope, me neither. The whole thing, insofar as one could discern, was a fashionable and achingly self-conscious genuflection to the thoughtless supposed ‘anti-imperialism’, which is very prevalent among those Hollywood luvvies with chipboard between the ears. Well there’s your petard, Sean. Up you go on it, my good man. That will teach you for siding with the Argies and — for that matter — Sinn Fein. This cool and hip attitudinalising demands that you stick rigidly to a party line which is forever changing, and remember — you must never, ever, make a joke. Not about anything. Even with a close friend.

There is good news to be divined from this ludicrous spat, though. A time will come when all the competing tribes within that hideous thing ‘identity politics’ tear one another to pieces, and we can all get on with our lives and snigger at the carnage taking place stage left. The truth is, they really hate each other; within that dead-headed milieu there is an endless battle for the greatest sense of acquired victimhood. The paradigm may well be that they are all similarly oppressed by straight, male whitey’s cultural imperialism and horrible hegemony, but this is not how it actually works out in practice.

In practice it is a seething mass of people desperately trying to whine the loudest. The radical feminists loathe the trannies — or transgendered community, if you wish — and some of them are not too keen on homosexual men, either. Interlopers! Pretend wimmin! How dare you claim to have suffered as we have suffered? You do not know the meaning of suffering, you bed-wetters and screaming mimis. Check your privilege! The trannies, meanwhile, hate everyone with a sort of psychopathic rage. And then, when Labour talks about all-wimmin shortlists, it is the party’s ethnic minorities who complain that their people are, as a consequence, being hard done by (rightly, as it happens). Nor do the radical Muslims have much time for the LGBQT communities of course — or, for that matter, the radical feminists.

Attempts to find common ground founder time after time; there is always someone, somewhere, being terribly transgressed, being affronted, their sensibilities infracted and their human right to be a genuine victim, more of a victim than anyone else, made light of or just ignored.

So credit to Sean Penn at least for inadvertently exposing this spiralling lunacy. You follow that line of identity politics, you are holier than thou when it comes to every fashionable concern — well, watch what you say. Watch everything you say, all the time. In the end there will be nothing that you can say which doesn’t in some way condemn you.

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Show comments
  • Lord Taliesin

    Why are there no comments on this, excellent, article. And why is it dated 28th Feb. Are the 2 things connected.
    My comment. One of my sons is the spitting image of Sean Penn.

    • gerontius redux

      It’s dated 28th Feb because it will be published in the hard copy of the magazine.
      Re your son:
      There is a Dave Allen sketch somewhere on youtube;

      Man on deathbed to wife:
      “Mary, Mary, Our son, the ugly little one, Is he really mine Mary? Tell me the truth Mary”
      Mary: “Of course he is yours my darling”.
      Man dies.
      Mary: “Thank god he didn’t ask about the others”

    • Grace Ironwood

      Hopefully not when he opens his mouth.

    • ‘spitting image’ is a really revolting metaphor, which the English for some reason are especially fond of.

    • gelert

      Well, he is notorious for spreading his seed everywhere 😉

    • Jody Taylor

      “One of my sons is the spitting image of Sean Penn”.

      Otherwise, everything else is OK – right?

  • Ali

    Top Trumps

    My cause takes precedence because it’s mine.
    There is no evidence but I define
    Myself as an oppressed minority,
    As such I claim superiority.

    I “wear my tribulation like a rose”,
    Whose sickly fragrance fills the air about me,
    So that when you’re in my presence
    You needs must breathe it in,
    Bow down before my suffering
    And never doubt me.

    To question any claim I make to victimhood
    Is to deny and utterly offend me,
    My existence is my terrible affliction;
    Your sympathy confirms man’s brotherhood.

    My cause takes precedence because it’s mine,
    And knowing this you must enshrine
    In law my right to more than understanding.
    Never ask if what I am demanding
    Imposes far too much. For the frustration
    Others feel at my commanding
    So much of what they are allowed to do
    Is very much a price worth paying,
    Because I am superior to you.

    • FrankS2

      Bloomin’ Cisvictims – you don’t know what oppression is!

  • AJH1968

    I think Thrasher should grab he’s right ear with he’s right arm repeat the process with he’s left arm and left ear. He should then pull really hard: and perhaps he might succeed in pulling he’s head out of he’s own arse. However perhaps he should stick to thrashing he’s ……………….

  • WFB56

    Mr. Liddle gives us all hope that there are still people willing to laugh at pompous fools like Sean Penn and, justifiably, ridicule his attempts at oral and written communications.

    Well done!

    • wycombewanderer

      In the alleged words of Anna Soubry, He’s a sanctimonious ‘naughty boy’:

      No he’s not; he’s an outright C!

      • Jody Taylor

        He’s not the Saviour – he’s just a naughty boy!

    • Howe Synnott

      Hear hear.

    • Robert the Devil

      Another brilliant assessment of the PC nonsense, Rod. Please keep it up, Continue to pour scorn on these ridiculous people who, it would seem, don’t live on the same planet as the rest of us.

    • mickey667

      Mr Liddle goes you hope?

      He makes me laugh, but his contempt for everything stems from a deep sense of betrayal he feels and bitterness at being rejected by people he used to admire on the left.

      He is funny but he is far from hopeful/ He is lashing out, permanently

      • grimer

        I think it is more that the left is so hypocritical – whining about Page 3, while not saying a word about child grooming gangs. Boycotting D&G while saying nothing about Shariah Law, etc. They need to have their ideas challenged and laughed at.

  • John Lea

    Poor Sean Penn. Condemned by cyber-twats, and forced to share Graham Norton’s sofa with c-list gob-for-hire and ‘national treasure’, Celia Imrie – all in the same week!

    • MickC


      “National treasure”, the ultimate Razzie!

    • Stephen Milroy

      C list? If you’re talking about who I think you are talking about that guy doesn’t even deserve to be in a letter category!

    • ramesesthegrumbler

      … and yet he still couldn’t keep quiet, even when La Norton was talking to the others. If the spot light isn’t on him he moves to where it is. What a sad little man.

  • Ahobz

    Roaring with laughter. Well done Rod.

  • rufus_t

    “who once wrote an article for the Guardian (natch) demanding that the UK renounce its claims to the Falkland Islands”
    Oh yes, I remember that one, he was claiming that the ten-week short posting of Prince William (flying an unarmed and high-visibility-yellow search and rescue helicopter) was somehow “militarising” the Falkland Islands, and how his posting would mean that the Falkland Islands would mean that a battleship would be in the Falklands (despite the fact that the last RN battleship was broken up for scrap in 1960, and the ship assigned to Atlantic Patrol Task (South) didn’t actually change until a week after he got back).

    It really did approach full-on fractal wrongness, and in fairness I haven’t really seen him demonstrating having much of a clue since (or before for that matter).

    • Freddythreepwood

      The truely revealing thing is that the Guardian was prepared to publish his twaddle.

      • Jody Taylor

        That newspaper has a reading age of 12, and they love movies!

  • Baron

    Fruitcakes of varying flavours devouring each other, the more the better, Rod.

  • gerontius redux

    Rod is getting more splenetic by the day.
    I understand. You get to the stage in life where you tell it as it is. You just can’t be bothered to do otherwise.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Thankfully Rod being splenetic is very funny.

      • gerontius redux

        Well quite

    • I must have been born at that stage, then!

      • gerontius redux

        You’re not old enough Freddie.
        The best is yet to come.

      • Grace Ironwood

        You seem to be smooching my boxer, Charlie.
        I thought we’d stopped the blighter getting out.

    • gelert

      Victor Meldrew syndrome 😉

  • Damaris Tighe

    ‘Sugart*ts’ – thank you for my health-giving belly laugh of the day (have to remember that one).

    PS: And ‘chickenist’.

    • gelert

      As used by that other great thespian, Mel Gibson.

      • Jankers

        usually vinegar.

  • Grace Ironwood

    Having seen the trailer I am rushing over to the Guardian mothership to enjoy the movie. Take it away Sean – “unveiled most legitimately through the raconteurism of Patagonian fishermen”

    What a stylist.

    Thank you thank you Rod.

    • Jody Taylor

      Penn is a Tool – period.

    • wince

      I only hope someone is forward-thinking enough to flatter Penn into writing a screenplay. The world needs laughter.

  • little islander

    Dead Man Talking.

    • Well look at that! We seem to have been thinking along much the same lines.

    • Jody Taylor

      Little Man Talking

  • How old is Sean Penn these days? In that picture he looks like David Niven exhumed.

    • Jody Taylor


  • ‘The struggles people endure for immigration justice are not punchlines.’
    What, like truckin’ over the border illegally with US border police in pursuit? And then getting to stay and work here anyway, and use taxpayer-funded services, schools, and hospitals? Right.
    Becoming a LEGAL immigrant to the United States is often a pain in the rear because it is time-consuming, involves long waits in waiting rooms, fingerprinting and photographing and paperwork and sometimes (coming from Britain) intrusive doctor look-overs and pointless X-rays! No one from Mexico, legal or illegal, has to put up with that. But whatever an immigrant pays, it’s WORTH it. Did any of these screaming ingrates once mention THAT?

  • This is the most blindingly stupid and PC of actors (in a pretty strong field, you have to say)
    Gosh that’s so right. My first thought was of Woody Harrelson, but he’d have to duke it out for the title of Most Obnoxious Lefty with Tim Robbins and Alec Baldwin. (I’m mentioning only the champs, mind, not your usual small-fry sons-of-Marxists.) And that’s only among the Americans….

    • Jody Taylor

      I agree: now we have the execrable GEorge Clooney and Alma Mudin..whatshername – with the gloves up to her armpits like a burns victim. They love themselves to death, these clowns. And she talked all the way through George’s recent acceptance speech. Yep, that was pretty funny – a Hollywood A-lister and all around ‘progressive’ whose new wife is more interested in conversations with fellow audience members than her new husband’s acting awards.


  • stoplyin7722

    If somebody had treated Eddie Redmayne that way, you Brits would have a fit. Sean Penn’s job was to read the name of the movie on the card. The punk couldn’t even do that right.

  • JoJo



    • Helen of Troy

      Will this involve sending my bank details to Nigeria?

      • Jody Taylor

        Helen of Troy – all around good contributor to the Speccie – and funny too!!

        • Helen of Troy

          Mwah! And I find myself in great company, Jody.

  • Stephen Milroy

    Whenever I look at Shaun Penn all I can think of is Team America’s ‘I’ve been to Iraq!’ Don’t suppose he could go again, I am sure we could stump up for a ticket…

    • Jody Taylor

      Oh God, where are Cartman and Butters when they’re needed??!!!

  • wudyermucuss

    First Cumberbatch’s hideous racist vileness,and now,this.
    i simply feel I cannot go on.

    • Grace Ironwood

      I know exactly how you feel.
      Obviously, many of us are still trying to process the fact that neither of them even mentioned transsexuals and their families. I will join the second wave of protests when I’m completely over the initial shock of hearing the remarks.

  • artemis in france

    My husband is at a loss to understand how this little man has managed to snare and keep Charlize Theron. Presumably, she isn’t as self-confident as she should be with her looks, or, perhaps, she’s just a bit thick. It’s such a shame that thèse talented actors feel they have to keep forcing their réal personalities on us because it for ever spoils the enjoyment of watching them do what they do best – act. How Clint Eastwood must feel now I don’t know. Good old Clint, not a PC bone in his body, some fifteen years or so ago was singing the praises of Penn after he appeared in his film, Mystic River. He’d probably like to squash him underfoot now and could probably still manage it from his gréât height, even in his eighties.

    • Have a recommend!

    • gelert

      Tough guy Clint cancelled a flight to London shortly after the Lockerbie disaster because he was afraid to fly across the Atlantic.

      • Some people don’t like flying. One bad experience in a snowstorm circling for an hour and then having to return to the point of departure was enough to sour my husband on it for life. Being stuck on a runway for 7 hours in a bad thunderstorm without food or drink didn’t help, either.

        • gelert

          My point was that Clint was afraid to fly in case there was another bombing. His macho persona is as genuine as that of John Wayne’s – who fought valiantly in Hollywood during WW2.

          Flying in weather extremes is not unusual in North America, from severe storms in the south to extreme cold and snow in Canada. Most people just accept it.

          • I know that most people do. But some people find it very troubling and I don’t blame them.

    • Jody Taylor

      I didn’t know Charlize was with Penn. She’s probably like Marilyn Monroe – wanting kudos and credibility from a dominant male so that it makes her look intelligent. Sometimes good looks leave people feeling empty inside, as if they have no innate intelligence. As if being with Sean Penn could ever be an antidote to feeling less than bright!!! LOL Remember Marilyn when she married the ugly and brawny Joe di Maggio!!! Same story for Charlize. She won’t hang around for long.

      • milford

        Good looks leave people feeling empty because they never have to work for anything, it’s just handed to them on a plate.

    • mumble

      When at school in her home town of Benoni in South Africa, she was famously thick.

      In her acclaimed role in the movie “Monster”, she was simply acting out family life as she knew it.

    • Jon Low

      His first wife was the traffic-stoppingly lovely and savvy Robin Wright, so those rodentine features must work like catnip. The guy is a babe-magnet, and it’s not for his looks.

  • laurence

    Mr Penn clearly lacks a sense of irony. How else to explain an American enjoining the UK to ‘return’ the Falklands. To whom? The descendants of Spanish colonialists?

  • balance_and_reason

    I have to say that, in a strong overall showing, this is one of RL’s finest epistles….spot on my son….send Seanie a printout and copy in the guardian letters page.

  • Ed  

    Who’s Sean Pen?

    • gelert

      Sean Pen is a tw@t of the first order.

    • Jody Taylor

      A close cousin of Shawn Sheep.

      • cambridgeelephant

        Ha Ha !!

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Sean Penn = American Russell Brand

    though less funny.

  • gelert

    Please don’t be rude about Sean Penn. He’s still in grief over the death of his friend, Hugo Chavez, and in a vulnerable state 😉

    • Jody Taylor

      Perhaps he needs a dose of steroids; how about a re-run of his father’s ultra violent “Bonny and Clyde”. Now there’s a movie for sensitive souls, if ever there was one. Just think, Sean grew up the son of the man who created that film. What does it tell you about his free-wheeling childhood innocence? Not a whole lot of humour in that household.

    • ramesesthegrumbler

      and in a vulnerable state
      As are most Venezuelans …

      • gelert

        In spades since oil plunged in price.

  • ilPugliese

    Is Rod having a laugh at Sean for getting his PC comeuppance or is he angry with him about the Falklands stuff? Was Sean having a go at the British because he thinks he’s Irish (he is only a quarter so)? As Sean is half Jewish, if Rod had teased him about the irony of occupying Arab territory, would that be have been highly PC or highly unPC? It’s all so complex.

    • gelert

      Not really a Jew. His mother was an Irish RC and it’s the mother’s ancestry that matters.

      There are Jews, especially in the UK, who don’t support Israel; presumably to show their solidarity with the rabid left.

      • ilPugliese

        Perhaps they just can’t be bothered with perpetual conflict and long for a quite life, free of the burden of religion and heritage. I know some like that. And most people seem to pick and mix in their politics nowadays.

      • Helen of Troy

        That would still make his father Jewish. And where I come from, Dad is half of the equation, in all senses. And thank goodness. It’s bad enough having half from Mum, in my case.

      • milford

        methinks to show their humanity considering Israel’s genocide against Palestinians.

        • gelert

          The Israelis aren’t making a very good job of this “genocide”, are they ? The population of Gaza and the WB is increasing more rapidly than just about anywhere else on earth.

          • milford

            When genocide is committed on a race they tend to produce more rapidly to try to make up for the losses. Look at the Israeli’s with their families of 10plus commonplace and encouraged in the kibbutz. It’s also true with the Irish.

          • gelert

            The specious reasoning so typical of anti-Semites.

          • milford

            A platitudinous sentences offering no explanation whatsoever. As if because you say it, it has to be real. If you’re saying I’m wrong what is your reasoning. I’m against Zionism not anti-semite.

          • gelert

            That’s what most anti-Semites say. You forgot to add that some of your best friends are Jews.

  • pedestrianblogger

    I thought the joke quite funny, to be honest. I wonder who wrote it for him. Las Maldives sont Argentinos, btw (h/t Potus).

  • Bloody

    Rod, I love your brain, mate.

  • cambridgeelephant

    Team America World Police, I thought Penn was pretty funny in that.

  • James Conan

    “A man who once wrote an article demanding that Britain renounce its claim to the Falkland islands.”
    Wow – that’s your case, Liddle? How ridiculous – no, you, not the American actor who had the gall to suggest that Britain shouldn’t have rights, by virtue simply of imperial history and the whims of Thatcher’s muscle-flexing, to an island off the shore of South America.
    Ridiculous. And you act if the suggestion is inherently ludicrous, as if no argument is required.

    • cambridgeelephant

      Ha Ha ! That’s really funny. We – Britain – are a series of islands off the coast of Europe. But that doesn’t mean we feel obliged to hand ourselves over to Philip II of Spain, or Napoleon, or the dear old Kaiser, or little Adolf.

      The Falklands are actually rather more in the South Atlantic than ‘off the coast of South America. But don’t let that get in your way. Not to mention the wishes of the people who actually live there – another inconvenience for you.

      Are you SP’s publicist by any chance ?

      • Jon Low

        Falklands are only 500km from the coast of Argentina. That’s closer than the gap between London and Dublin.

    • mumble

      By all means, let the descendants of British settlers arbitrarily hand over American islands to the descendants of Spanish settlers: it all makes perfect sense.

      There’s no point in over-thinking these things, eh?

    • Bachus

      Read the comment about the irony of a descendant of Anglo Saxon colonists, making a joke about entry into his “stolen” country by a descendant of Spanish colonialists, being critisized by leftist descendants of colonizers. If the Falklands is absurd because it is a settled colony then the USA, Mexico, Australia or any other colonized country is absurd and equally ludicrous. About the only peoples on Earth who didnt move and conquer someone else’s land are the San of the Khalahari.

  • mumble

    When Twitter turned on its darling, Suzanne Moore, for [not] dissing Brazilian transsexuals, one of them, in the prolonged ensuing bloodbath, kindly explained to me that the word “transsexual” constitutes hate-speech whereas the phrase “transsexual person” does not.

    I repeat this here in case it is not intuitively obvious to all.

    And each of these factions has serried rank on rank of self-appointed gatekeepers, so many an exceeding fine hair is split into “feminists do, but radfems don’t”, and vice versa, but I confess the details blurred after a while.

    • JessicaT

      Is there a website where we can go to find all the currently acceptable terms and, in these days of world wide communication, be certain that those terms are equally acceptable across the globe?

      • mumble

        There is not, and not only because no-one could type fast enough to keep up.

        In-groups form themselves, and derive self-esteem, by constantly defining and redefining their terms so as to keep out-groups out. It’s like teenagers needing to invent new slang when the grown-ups figure out the old slang.

        Also, your question assumes that there is somewhere an impulse to be helpful. There isn’t.

  • ficknfecker

    The real question is if it was a joke amongst friends!?! I didn’t read about an outcry from the recipient? C’mon now is this being blown out of proportions???

  • JessicaT

    This made me laugh. so thank you for that. Just to add to this, the live Guardian Oscar’s blog also referred to the ‘horrific incident’ that happened involving Jennifer Lopez at the Golden Globes. A (probably) slightly tipsy male presenter, inches from barely covered, impressively presented breasts, let slip the age old globes comment. Horrific indeed! A man mustn’t notice, mustn’t look and certainly mustn’t complement – what a creep!!! Of course any comment about a man’s arse or potential in the sack warrants a good laugh and a pat on the back.

    • Bachus

      Or a mans bank balance or career “my daughters dating a doctor, we are so proud”!

    • Ashpool

      Who was it who said, “Cleavage is like the sun: you should only look through dark glasses, or just for the briefest moment.”?

  • godot

    Rod, you deserve a medal just for sitting through this performance.

  • Fraziel

    Totally agree, although i am with Penn on the Falklands.

  • Patricia

    I was a bit late reading the Speccie this week – but well worth the wait for this brilliant article. Rod – you are a glass of the finest champagne. Is it possible that these well-meaning ninnies are at last beginning to stew in their own juices ?

  • Cobbett

    Liddle is alright as far as MSM commentators go although I wonder what he thinks about his ex-missus and her claim that he should support her as she can’t be arsed to get a job(Telegraph) A touch cheeky I thought.

  • Shoe On Head


    sean penn is probably on his 100th martini right now and about to fcuk charlize in his malibu mansion.

    liddle, who?

  • milford

    wurzel gummidge

  • milford

    Tried being the operative word.

  • rbeccah

    Well said, sir!

  • Seerightthere!

    LOL ROFLMAO LOL Fire him! Hang Him with his own petard! LOLOLOLOLOLO

  • Spock Puppet

    You have to admit that his attempts to wear a tie are pretty funny.