Ricky Gervais is a terrific sort of anti-hero providing a brave voice of reason during a time when one is most needed. I can’t yet tell if our world is short on heroes or if we’ve just forgotten how to recognize them, but at least we can recognize allies in this anti-cancel culture cause when they appear [bold my emphasis]:
The often controversial comedian and creator of the U.K. version of “The Office” appeared on talkRadio for a recent interview about the show’s 19th anniversary. During the discussion, the host asked Gervais if he thinks the beloved sitcom could be made today, to which he noted that times have changed and there’s a lot more to worry about when making comedy than there was two decades ago.
“There’s this new weird sort of fascism of people thinking they know what you can say and what you can’t say and it’s a really weird thing that there’s this new trendy myth that people who want free speech want it to say awful things all the time, which just isn’t true,” he explained. “It protects everyone.”
He added: “The two catastrophic problems with the term ‘hate speech’ is, one, what constitutes hate speech? Everyone disagrees. There’s no consensus on what hate speech is. Two, who decides? And there’s the real rub because obviously the people who think they want to close down free speech because it’s bad are the fascists. It’s a really weird, mixed-up idea that these people hide behind a shield of goodness.”
“Social media amplifies everything,” he said. “If you’re mildly left-wing on Twitter you’re suddenly Trotsky. If you’re mildly conservative you’re Hitler and if you’re centrist and you look at both arguments, you’re a coward and they both hate you.”
“What’s not in place and what should never be in place is, you mustn’t say something that someone, somewhere might find offensive because someone, somewhere might find anything offensive. And I’ve always said, ‘Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right … Offense is good because it makes you think and it makes you come up with an argument. And what’s happened recently is that ‘I’m offended’ has replaced an argument.”
Hate speech is an arbitrary term situationally defined by the politics of the definer and whatever political purpose it’s invoked to serve. It’s always a political purpose, never a person, which is the problem. These fascists act as though their intent is to appeal to your good nature, your generosity of spirit, it started as “don’t state this opinion because it hurts people.” Decent people, being decent people don’t want to intentionally hurt others, but then it became “Don’t possess this opinion because it hurts people” and then “Your existence hurts people.” They took it as far as they could while maintaining some degree of sincerity but the plausibility disappeared as the demands grew crazier. The only people who still believe this fascistic garbage about dissent and challenged opinions are those for whom fact nor truth holds any sway. It’s about ideological allegiance which is irrelevant to consistency, truth, or decency. Speaking of which, decent people should be enraged that their very moral fabric is questioned simply because they support a different means to an end — and perhaps even a different end.
When does it end? When everyone pushes back. Maybe it’s already happening.
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