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Rowan Atkinson is the Latest Celebrity To Take a Stand Against Cancel Culture

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If you’re an American, you probably recognize Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean, a sort of bumbling mute clown character. If you’re British or an American with taste, you recognize Rowan Atkinson from Blackadder, a sharply witty period comedy in which Atkinson plays various doomed members of the Blackadder dynasty.

Stephen Fry, one of Atkinson’s Blackadder co-stars, once famously said of a bill designed to outlaw speech deemed likely to stir up religious hatred, “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that’ as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I’m offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what?”

That was in 2005 and now 15 years later Rowan Atkinson is joining Fry in denouncing what we now call cancel culture, mainly because it’s more polite than calling it “being a whiny little bitch.”

Here’s what Atkinson said to The Radio Times, via Deadline.

“The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’,” Atkinson said.

“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”

I really don’t think he’s wrong here. There have always been certain communities that were seeking to enforce moral codes and made adherence to them a symbol of status; for example, every religion. Now many online communities show a similar adherence to orthodoxy and banish anyone who doesn’t adhere to that orthodoxy.

People of course have every right to have whatever misguided beliefs they want, that’s what makes America great. The problem is when groups become powerful enough to try and make everyone else follow their dumbass rules.

This sort of thing is cyclical, though, and we’re starting to see a lot more pushback and a lot fewer people losing jobs in public fashion because of it. It tapered off after the religious right and the Terry Rakoltas of the world gave up on trying to have The Simpsons and similar hit shows canceled in the early 90s, and it died down after the political correctness wave of the late 90s and early 2000s. The more people fight against now the faster it’ll die down this time.

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