Downing Street has labelled Jimmy Carry’s joke about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities “deeply disturbing” as Netflix comes under increasing pressure to remove the comments.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson joined the chorus of charities, politicians and peers to condemn Carr’s joke about the Holocaust and a petition has been launched to remove the segment of the Netflix special.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “These comments are deeply disturbing and it’s unacceptable to make light of genocide.”
When asked whether Boris Johnson wanted to see the show pulled from the streaming service, the spokesperson added that would be a matter for Netflix.
It comes after health secretary Sajid Javid described the jokes as “horrid” in an interview on Times Radio. He said: “One of the best ways anyone can react to that is show these platforms, what they think about Jimmy Carr by not watching or listening to him, and that will send him a very strong message.”
In a Netflix special episode entitled His Dark Material, first released on Christmas Day in 2021, Carr tells the audience: “When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine.
“But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives.”
The Gypsy Lore Society has called the comments “abhorrent, trivialising and dehumanising”. “It was hate-speech and anti-Roma racism masquerading as comedy,” it said.
Carr addressed the growing anger at a show at the Whitley Bay Playhouse in Tyne and Wear, saying “I am going to get cancelled, that’s the bad news. The good news is I am going down swinging”.
The Mirror reports he opened the show joking: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Look at that, I’ve already upset the non-binary community.
“That has to be a f***ing record.”
The report adds that when a heckling fan asked: “Are we going to talk about the Holocaust?”, Carr replied: “We are going to talk about cancel culture, the whole thing.”
Historians estimate 25 to 50 per cent of the entire Romani and Sinti population of Europe died in the genocide, according to The Traveller Movement.
In its petition, the charity raises fears the material “normalises further discrimination, and even violence, against already marginalised communities”.
The petition has reached the midway point of 25,000 signatures target and says: “There is no legitimate basis for this ‘joke’, and no positive to its inclusion which outweighs the profoundly negative impact it produces.”
In the skit, Carr justifys the the joke to the audience, as “fucking funny”, “edgy as hell” and claimed it had an educational value.
Labour MP Nadia Whittome has also written to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to highlight the need to bring streaming platforms under Ofcom regulation in light of what she called “vile anti-(Gypsies, Roma and Travellers) and antisemitic material”.
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries told the BBC that the “joke” was “abhorrent”, and that the government is considering new laws that would regulate the content on streaming platforms.
At present the only streaming platform that must adhere to Ofcom’s broadcasting code is the BBC iPlayer, but the government has announced a review into whether to strengthen the rules faced by streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.
Another new law the government is trying to introduce is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which threatens to criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups if they pitch up on private land, despite an already significant shortfall in official sites available to them in the UK.
“We are absolutely appalled at Jimmy Carr’s comment about persecution suffered by Roma and Sinti people under Nazi oppression, and horrified that gales of laughter followed his remarks,” said Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
A Netflix spokesperson said it would not be commenting on the matter.
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