Mind president Stephen Fry apologises for sexual abuse comments

The broadcaster and actor says he 'utterly failed to get across' what he was trying to say

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry

The actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry has apologised for comments he made on a US television show about child sexual abuse victims.

The mental health charity Mind, of which Fry is president, said earlier this week that it was concerned about the comments he made in a discussion about freedom of speech.

During the discussion, a viewer called in to ask Fry about "trigger warnings", or messages warning audiences about content that could be distressing for victims of trauma.

He argued that plays could not be censored because of potentially distressing content, and went on to criticise victims of sexual abuse who wallow in self pity.

"It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy; but your self pity gets none of my sympathy because self pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity," Fry said.

"Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up."

The remarks prompted widespread criticism, and Mind released a statement on its website saying it would speak to Fry "to discuss the concerns our supporters have raised".

In another statement posted on Mind’s website, Fry, who has been president of the charity since 2011, apologised unreservedly for his comments.

"It distresses me greatly to think that I have upset anyone in the course of the TV interview I had with David Rubin the other week," he said.

"I of course apologise unreservedly for hurting feelings the way I did. That was never my purpose.

"There are few experiences more terrible, traumatic and horrifying than rape and abuse, and if I gave the impression that I belittled those crimes and the effects they have on their victims then I am so, so sorry.

"It seems I must have utterly failed to get across what I was actually trying to say and instead offended and upset people who didn’t deserve to be offended or upset."

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