Free Thinker Brigade, Meet Accountability

 I wouldn't have a problem with Ricky Gervais' atheism if he wasn't constantly shoving it in my face. 

I wouldn't have a problem with Ricky Gervais' atheism if he wasn't constantly shoving it in my face. 

Self-styled “free thinkers” and iconoclasts like Ricky Gervais, Bill Maher, Kanye West and Donald Trump like to behave as if they are victims of widespread conspiracies to silence, censor and shut them down for saying and doing things that are, if anything too true and run afoul of the far-left Thought Police running society.  It's also a society somewhat confusingly overseen by a right wing asshole who constantly says and does all of the things you’re theoretically not supposed to do, and somehow never suffers any ramifications 

Here’s the thing, free thinkers: you’re not being silenced. You’re not being censored. You’re not being oppressed. What’s happening now is that people are being held accountable for their actions. 

This is particularly true when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault. We’re inhabiting a cultural moment when the ramifications for being accused of sexual misconduct are swift and severe. Are they sometimes too swift and too severe? Possibly, but I would rather live in a world where some men are punished disproportionately for sexual transgressions than one where powerful men like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and James Toback can flagrantly terrorize women for decades and completely escape consequences for their actions due to a combination of fear, shame and intimidation. 

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Awful, awful men are being held responsible for their actions with the maddening exception of Donald Trump, who famously thumbed his nose at the idea that his actions could ever possibly have lasting consequences when he bragged that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” 

For everyone other than Trump, actions have consequences and people are held accountable for their actions, even if that’s a matter of people on social media telling Bill Maher he’s being an insufferable bigot because, you know, he’s an insufferable bigot. As forms of accountability go, it’s not much, but that’s apparently enough to make these self-styled free speech martyrs feel like the victims they so desperately yearn to be. 

A social media post from May 7th reveals the idiocy of the “Witch Hunt/Censorship/Political Correctness” narrative that assholes on the right and the left are aggressively putting forward when it suits their interests and their sense of themselves as bold truth-tellers being oppressed for their inconvenient habit of dropping truth bombs. 

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Above a still image of himself looking dapper and svelte as he looks down from the ledge of a tall building, Ricky Gervais tweeted: “I start pre-production on my new Netflix show tomorrow. It's a 6 part, dark comedy, in which I play a man who, after the death of his wife, becomes suicidal but decides to live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever the fuck he likes from now on.”

As is his custom, Gervais works himself into a contortionist tangle vigorously patting himself on the back for his willingness to shock the squares and the church folks with his raw, unvarnished truth about how religion is dumb and people of faith should be mocked. 

Just look at the naughty, naughty language the world-famous fifty-six year old millionaire many times over is using! This badass that Gervais plays in this sure to be riveting, not at all self-indulgent or self-aggrandizing non-vanity project isn’t just saying and doing whatever he likes now that he no longer has anything to live for; he’s saying and doing whatever the fuck he likes. 

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That’s pretty fucking badass. It takes the death of a beloved spouse and suicidal depression/hopelessness to get this truth-teller to not give a fuck and get politically incorrect. In Gervais’ case, he was able to reach that same place by virtue of having enough fuck-you money for several lifetimes, a conscience as wobbly, mean-spirited and lacking as his stand-up comedy and of course the enormous, enormous power that comes with being a rich, famous, heterosexual white man saying things a lot of bigots wholeheartedly agree with. 

Gervais once infamously did a photo shoot depicting his obnoxiously public atheism as a form of  crucifixion. Gervais was comparing having nails driven into your hands because you choose to die a painful death to redeem humanity with an anonymous 16 year old telling you you’re being an insufferable asshole on Twitter. They’re not quite the same thing. 

Despite his self-perception, Gervais has the power to get a six part Netflix series reflecting his “taboo” and “transgressive” and “politically incorrect” worldview made and distributed by a massive commercial force like Netflix. And he has the power to profanely suck himself off for playing a character who punishes humanity by saying and doing whatever the fuck he wants in an obnoxious tweet disseminated instantly to his 13.2 million Twitter followers. 

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If that’s being censored, silenced or witch-hunted, then I beg the thought police to come and shut my shit down, because from this particular vantage point, that looks an awful lot like powerful institutions amplifying your voice, not silencing it. 

You know the deal: because I speak powerful truths and also am semi-illiterate I’ve become unemployable in the “politically correct” media but you can support my rebel stand and egregious typos over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace