Notorious TV personality Piers Morgan, who infamously stormed off the set of his morning TV Show last month when criticised for his bigoted views about Meghan Markle, has spoken up about the incident saying he “won’t be bullied by the woke brigade” to apologise.
Lamenting his experience as an example of free speech censorship, Morgan told Fox News that he was “carolled into a position” by ITV but that his refusal to retract his comments led to him being stood down the next day.
“I was angry because I could feel that there was this growing sense of if you didn’t believe Meghan on everything she said, then you were the problem you were the racist, couldn’t possibly be that she was lying,” he said.
He said he took a long walk around west London and contemplated the advice his late manager would have given him.
“He would be telling me ‘trust your gut’ and my gut told me ‘I was gonna be damned for speaking my mind’” he said.
These comments follow on from an op-ed penned for The Daily Mail last month by Morgan in which he claimed that, “if our rights to free speech are denied, then democracy as we know it will die. It’s time to cancel the cancel culture before it kills our culture.”
Of course, Morgan’s position is one shared by a growing number of right wing, white and predominantly male commentators, with the notion of “PC madness” gaining rapid momentum in recent times.
A fortnight ago, Australian TV icon Daryl Somers claimed that his 90’s variety show ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’ would not survive in the current climate, and that “everything is being somewhat dulled down”.
“You probably could not get away with half the stuff you could on Hey Hey now because of the political correctness and the cancel culture,” he said. “It is a shame because showbiz does not get much of a chance”.
“A lot of comics can’t work much because what would have been just tongue-in-cheek previously now can easily get them into trouble.”
Last month, controversial news broadcaster Alan Jones claimed that Australia’s democracy was in jeopardy as a result of free speech censorship. “That is why we should fight tooth and nail to protect our democracy and to defend the free speech of everyone,” he said.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the government has pandered to this opinion too, last month introducing new laws which Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said will “protect academic freedom and freedom of speech” at universities.
“Universities are places for critical thinking, debate and challenging ideas, and they must be places that also protect free speech, even when what is being said may be unpopular or challenging,” he said.
So is there any credibility to this argument? In short, no. Not at all.
Cancel culture, isn’t a threat to our way of life in Australia or anywhere else in the world. To the contrary, it’s a sign of necessary progress in which the views and feelings of minorities and marginalised groups are finally being noted, with a push for historically damaging public discourse to shift.
It’s about inclusion for all members of society and holding individuals and institutions accountable for their actions.
Piers Morgan may be entitled to speak his mind; he certainly wasn’t legally reprimanded for his behaviour and he’ll likely find a big, fat pay check elsewhere. But his freedom to spout toxicity doesn’t come without consequence. In this case, the consequence for his action was to lose his job after numerous transgressions of a similar nature.
This evolution in how we treat these matters, scorned by Daryl Somers’, isn’t a sign that we’ve lost our sense of “fun”, but rather that our fun should never be at the expense of people in our community who face limitations in their capacity or agency to speak up.
That may be a hard concept for certain dinosaurs to wrap their heads around, but as we know, they’re a dying breed.