British comedian Ricky Gervais has continued to defend freedom of speech and has again blasted ‘cancel culture’.
Gervais, who created and starred in The Office sitcom, said that it is “not cool” to try to get people fired over statements that are supposedly offensive.
Breitbart reports: The longtime defender of freedom of speech said that “everyone’s got a different definition of cancel culture”, but noted that the pernicious form of the modern-day mob tactic is when people target people’s livelihoods.
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“If it is choosing not to watch a comedian because you don’t like them, that’s everyone’s right. But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don’t like their opinion about something that’s nothing to do with their job, that’s what I call cancel culture, and that’s not cool,” Gervais told The Metro.
“You turning off your own TV isn’t censorship. You trying to get other people to turn off their TV because you don’t like something they’re watching, that’s different,” the comedian explained.
Possibly alluding to the Count Dankula scandal in which the regional government fined the Scottish comedian for jokingly recording his girlfriend’s — now wife’s — pug dog doing Nazi salutes, Gervais warned that jokes are in danger of being criminalised in the cancel culture climate.
“Everyone’s allowed to call you an a******e, everyone’s allowed to stop watching your stuff, everyone’s allowed to burn your DVDs, but you shouldn’t have to go to court for saying a joke that someone didn’t like. And that’s what we get dangerously close to,” The Office star warned.
“If you don’t agree to someone’s right to say something you don’t agree with, you don’t agree with freedom of speech,” Gervais pronounced.
In July, Mr Gervais said that today’s hostile environment against comedy would have made creating The Office impossible.
“Now [the show] would suffer because people would take things literally. There are these outrage mobs who take things out of context,” he explained.
The self-described “old fashioned liberal lefty, champagne socialist type of guy,” has long been praised by conservatives and libertarians for his staunch defence of freedom of speech and offensive jokes.
Gervais wrote in 2019 that he is “a pro-equality, opportunity-for-all, welfare state snowflake. But, if I ever defend freedom of speech on here, I’m suddenly an alt-right nazi. How did that happen?”