The right to free speech is coming under serious threat from a wave of puritanical fervour in the wake of a reboot of what is considered to be politically correct – that’s with a small or a capital P.
Something that began from film mogul Harvey Weinstein finally getting his comeuppance has been allowed to develop into a much wider spread cancel culture where simply expressing any opinion that contradicts the new “right and proper” can get someone completely ostracised.
Take actress Gina Corano, a former female wrestler who appeared in the first Deadpool movie and has had a recurring role in the hit Disney + series The Mandalorian. She made comments on social media in which she supported Donald Trump and questioned the validity of the US election result and apparently mocked people wearing masks in the pandemic along with a few other inflammatory statements that prompted accusations of racism and anti semitism (which she vehemently denied while sticking to her guns) and a campaign #sackginacorano.
Do I agree with what she said? God no. It’s utter poo.
But did anything she said incite civil unrest or racial hatred? No.
Yet this week Lucasfilm, who make The Mandalorian, went so far as to issue a statement saying that the actress is no longer employed by them and there are no plans for her to be at any point in the future.
She has also been dropped by her agent.
All for expressing an unpopular opinion.
What’s next, flaming torches and pitchforks with shouts of “burn the witch”? This is the 2020s, not the middle ages or even the McCarthy-era early 1950s.
So she spouted a load of crap. We have the right to disagree with it and every right to form an opinion of her as a person from those comments.
But for that to work she has to have the right to express those crazy opinions within the rules of law.
Vanessa Hudgens, Ellen DeGeneres, J K Rowling, Lana del Rey, Joss Weedon and Justin Timberlake (for what he DIDN’T do rather than what he did) have all fallen foul of the cancel callers over the past year.
It doesn’t matter what they said. No one died as a result. No one stormed the US Capitol Building because of it and no one tried to start a revolution, unlike someone I could mention.
We have the choice to dismiss it and not take an interest in anything else they have to say or do.
Behaving like witchfinder generals just because someone says or does something we don’t like or because it turns out they’re a nasty piece of work is going too far.
Especially when there are people out there doing real damage.
In voting not to hold former US president Donald Trump responsible for inciting insurrection, Republican members of the Senate may have averted a second American Civil War, for now at least.
But their refusal to stand up and be counted after the most disgraceful event in modern American political history will leave the party’s credibility in tatters.
Too many of them are in swing seats where they are up for election in the next year and this was about self interest, not the country’s.
Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell in particular should have a long hard look at himself as he voted to acquit purely on a matter of the principle of impeaching a president who had already left office when he freely admits he holds Trump responsible for the events of January 6.
Shame on him and shame on them.
Stupid TV quiz answer of the week:
Q: The name of which government department is derived from Military Intelligence Section 5?