Olympic Spirit

by Andrew Stuttaford

From the London Spectator’s Fraser Nelson:

At 7am this morning, The Spectator’s managing director emailed me to say the new magazine is on sales at WH Smiths at Victoria station – a good sign, he said. But why shouldn’t it be? Because this week, we’re running a cover story by Nick Cohen lambasting the thuggish Olympic censors, the people who are stopping chip shops selling chips [french fries] because the Olympics is sponsored by McDonald’s. And it’s still not quite clear, this morning, if that means we’ll be taken off the shelves.

FWIW, it’s by no means clear that McDonald’s fries, once a fine thing, but close to inedible since the tragic day that the beef tallow was removed, can be regarded as chips, or indeed, any recognizable food group outside NASA’s more inventive laboratories, but I digress…

So why should Mr Nelson be worried? Well, the Spectator’s cover incorporates the Olympic rings in a fashion that is not entirely flattering, and LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) has all sorts of legal powers to stop that sort of thing, and similar such menaces. Amongst the sad stories mentioned by Nelson is the tale of a butcher in Weymouth who was told to remove his display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings.

Nelson’s conclusion:

We value freedom of speech far too little in this country. The British taxpayer has forked out a fortune to host the Olympics – but they should come here on our terms, respect our freedoms and respect the right of British people to do and say what they please. We badly need the equivalent of America’s 1st amendment protection: a clear right guaranteeing freedom of speech as paramount. Our failure to do this has created what Nick Cohen rightly calls a ‘corporatist dystopia’ during the Olympic games. As he says, Britain has not won the Olympics. The Olympics has won Britain. And we should have never allowed this to happen.

Indeed not. Those who negotiated the basis on which this scourge was allowed to come to London should be ashamed of themselves.

And any American politicians who support a bid by their cities for the ‘honor’ of hosting this sporting equivalent of the U.N. (corrupt, unaccountable, greedy, you know how it goes) should ask themselves what on earth they think they are doing.

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