Stephen Fry has sparked outrage after criticising the idea of safe spaces and trigger words, and saying that child victims of sexual abuse should "grow up" and not feel sorry for themselves.

The actor, author and television personality made the controversial comments during an interview with Dave Rubin on the US current events TV show The Rubin Report.

Rubin asked Fry about whether he considered "the regressive left, coming after language and free speech" to be an issue in Britain.

Stephen Fry:
Stephen Fry: "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." Photo / Rubin Report

Fry, 58, replied: "We fear that it's going to happen more and more because America leads and Britain follows in all kinds of ways."


He added, referring to controversy over a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College in Oxford: "I think it started to happen in Britain with the attempted removal of statues of people who are considered unlikable - who were once beloved - and have become in a very 1984 way, 'unpersons'."

Fry went on to say that he believes some people are becoming too sensitive, criticizing those who avoid 'trigger words' for fear of controversy.

He cited Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Macbeth as examples of plays that would nowadays be considered to be "triggers" as they contain rape and murder respectively.

Fry said: "There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape.

"They're terrible things and they have to be thought about, clearly, but if you say you can't watch this play, you can't watch Titus Andronicus, or you can't read it in an English class, or you can't watch Macbeth because it's got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I'm sorry.

"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."

The QI host added: "Self pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.

"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."

Fry's comments have led to a storm of outrage on social media, with one woman calling it "a sad day for victims of sexual abuse and for those with mental health problems".

Another said: "Stephen Fry's comments on child sexual abuse are appalling. You do not tell a victim of something like that to just 'grow up'".

And Twitter user @dannirachelw said that Fry - who she used to admire - would never regain her respect "after saying such horrific things".

But Cate Longworth was on the comedian's side. She said: "It's really becoming tedious how hysterical people get over any public comments. Stephen Fry is entitled to his opinion... Carry on."

And Abigail Damms thinks people have got the wrong idea about Fry's comments. She wrote: "Stephen Fry actually said issues are complex and people infantilise them.

"The 'grow up' comment was about those people, not abuse victims per se."