Ricky Gervais called out the lack of online discourse and what he sees as the new “fascists” on social media.
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.”
Later in the interview, Gervais said that it’s often hard to please anyone on both the left and the right online because there's no discourse to be had with people entrenched in their respective points of view.
“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.”
The former Golden Globes host explained that there are indeed caveats to free speech that he agrees with, such as libel laws. However, he notes that he fears a world where people are told not to say certain things because someone might be offended.
“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.’”
He added: “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.”
He ended his rant by saying it’s up to everyone to decide what they feel is morally good.
“So you’ve just got to do your thing,” he concluded.” Sleep at night and know you’re doing a decent job at work and stuff.”