10 August 2020

Ricky Gervais slams cancel culture and warns against ‘slippery slope of censorship’

Ricky Gervais has called out ‘cancel culture’ for being ‘against freedom of speech’ in the wake of several British comedies being taken off air amid controversy.

Several shows have had content removed from TV networks and streaming sites over the past few months including Little Britain, Come Fly With Me and Fawlty Towers.

Gervais: ‘You shouldn’t have to go to court for saying a joke that someone didn’t like' (SIPA USA/PA Images)

But Gervais feels it is a slippery slope to allow outrage to censor what comedy is deemed acceptable in the current climate.

"Everyone’s got a different definition of cancel culture," he told Metro.

"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.

"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.

"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. 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.

"I did a tweet a month ago about freedom of speech, quoting Winston Churchill. Someone came back with, ‘You know he was a white supremacist?’ And I wrote back, ‘Not in that tweet he isn’t’. It’s like if someone did something once that’s wrong, everything they did was wrong.

"You are allowed to have things in common with bad people as long it’s not the bad things. I’m a vegetarian and I love dogs, like Hitler. But the only things I have in common with Hitler are the good bits!"

Gervais, who is famous for sitcoms The Office, Extras, Derek and most recently comedy-drama Afterlife, has attracted his fair share of controversy over the years.

He is also famous for his ruthless hosting of the Golden Globe award shows and grilling of Hollywood’s A-list stars, a role he has enjoyed on five occasions.

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