Ricky Gervais: On social media, ‘if you’re mildly conservative, you’re Hitler’

Ricky Gervais hosts the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA on Sunday, January 5, 2020.

Much like JK Rowling, one of Ricky Gervais’s pet issues is confusing freedom of speech with freedom from consequences. JK Rowling has the right to spew transphobia as often as she wants. We have a right to call her an a–hole and say that she’s ruining her legacy as a children’s book author. Ricky Gervais also has the right to make as many racist, ableist, sexist, fatphobic, homophobic, transphobic jokes as he wants. That’s his right as a human being and a comedian. But, again, we have the right to say “You suck, Ricky Gervais.” Gervais gets mad when he’s criticized though, especially when he’s said something offensive to purposefully draw a reaction. And so the cycle continues:

Ricky Gervais called out the lack of online discourse and what he sees as the new “fascists” on social media. “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. It protects everyone. 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.’ 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.”

[From Fox News]

“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.” Wait what? All of this circular logic and bulls-t just to say “please pay attention to me when I say something naughty because I’m trying to get a reaction from you, and when you react I can then say you’re infringing on my rights!” That’s all this is. Ugh. I feel so let down by Ricky Gervais these days.

Ricky Gervais seen arriving at Global studios

Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.

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45 Responses to “Ricky Gervais: On social media, ‘if you’re mildly conservative, you’re Hitler’”

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  1. Escondista says:

    The constitution protects your right to (mostly) speak freely without government persecution. The constitution does not protect you from your neighbor disliking what you have to say or your employer firing you for saying something grotesque on Facebook.
    I don’t know why this is confusing.

    • equality says:

      Some people need to do a lot of reading and research and they seem unwilling. They also don’t seem to understand that privately owned social media sites can edit comments. Apparently, they are unable to read terms of service agreements.

    • Nanny to the Rescue says:

      They’re Birts, dunno what their constitution is like.

      The reason they’re doing this is so hate speech laws wouldn’t get stricter. Right now they can spew a lot of hate with no consequence except some social media backlash. But if some of their statements become recognized as actually harmful, in a legal sense, they will be banned. This is what they fear and lobby against.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Exactly. “It protects everyone.” So tired of this bullshit argument from misogynists, racists, TERFs, MAGATs, and their enablers.
      As if powerful people with traditional/conservative takes FINALLY starting to be on the receiving end of ‘back talk’ and under scrutiny is some kind of gateway drug to being burned at the stake, or imprisoned for sedition. Stop playing the victim just because you’re afraid to live in a world where these groups of people and their allies can actually say something unpleasant or loud when you stereotype, dehumanize, and victim-blame them. Your idea of free speech only protects people like you from being ‘yelled at’/ told to take your prejudices somewhere else. It doesn’t protect people who have to live and die with the consequences of your speech.

  2. LahdidahBaby says:

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, Ricky. Say whatever you want. Then we’ll say whatever WE want in response. Freedom of speech is a two-way street, baby.

  3. Darla says:

    I can’t remember who all these whiny white guys are, I am totally serious. They all look like Piers Morgan to me, and sometimes I forget who he is too.

  4. I pet goat 2 says:

    As someone from a country where the government (rightfully) prosecutes hate speech, he’s an idiot. He has no idea what he’s talking about. It protects democracy and prevents fascism. What an absolute idiot.

    ETA: seriously. What a dumb dumb.

    • detritus says:

      He’s not as bright as he thinks he is.

      If he was educated on the topic, even glancingly, he would know of Popper’s paradox of tolerance.

      “The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant.“

  5. Jo73c says:

    Ricky Gervais trying to prove he is still relevant.

  6. Alexandria says:

    Another white guy thinking they’re being persecuted.

    • Lucy2 says:

      And another who seems to think it’s impossible to not say offensive things. Why is it so hard? Don’t attack people for their race, gender, sexuality, etc.

  7. Chris says:

    He’s been annoying for a while now. Not every thought that passes through your mind needs to pass through your lips. You’re not as interesting as you think.

  8. Aven Sharp says:

    He is deliberately conflating offensive speech with hate speech in order to make his point. If I say he has a face like a steamed potato, that’s offensive. If I say he should be shot, that’s hate. People are welcome to be offensive (and to be insulted in return), but they are not welcome to say things that cultivate violence. I hope he and his grinning potato face live a long time.

  9. TIFFANY says:

    I have no problem with you being conservative, I do have a problem with you going out of the your way making sure those who are not have no rights at all to be who they want.

    • liz says:

      THIS!!!!! I am happy to have a civil, polite debate over capital gains tax rates or appropriate levels of infrastructure investment. DO NOT come at me with “gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married or adopt kids.”

  10. Sankay says:

    What am I missing? He’s not saying anything wrong here he’s explaining how we are put under labels on one issue. I agree. I’m a liberal and have bee. Called a socialist because if it. That’s incorrect but no amount of explaining will change those people’s mind.

    • anniefannie says:

      IKR!?! This is a common theme among comedians, that any discourse that offends is so polarized and the punishment of being provocative doesn’t fit the crime. I’m an unapologetic Gervais fan
      ( his vigilance on animal protection alone should by him some favor)

      • Jj says:

        Same! I can’t help it, what he does for animals makes me like him…

      • Lanie says:

        Gee, white people placing more value on the lives of animals than non-white people?

        Such a new concept!

        Animal rights advocacy doesn’t wipe away racism, sexism, transphobia, etc.

      • Kkat says:

        Exactly Lanie. I look at these people praising him because he likes animals but is a racist, transphobic, homophobic sexist pos, deserving of a side eye. They most likely suck too, just like him

  11. scollins says:

    I really love this. Like the rest of you I’m sick of theses whiney white men and their delicate sensibilities. When it comes to themselves of course. The rest of us get empty words, if that.

  12. Sunday says:

    Ricky Gervais is an attention-seeking edgelord, and unfunny at that. White men seem to be incapable of grasping the concept: debating “conservative” viewpoints on taxation or foreign policy or whatever is absolutely something that can be debated (I mean, they’re still wrong, but we can talk about why they’re wrong). But when the “debate” is about whether certain people deserve to live their lives in peace, to not be shot in the street for having a bag of skittles, or marry who they want, then there’s no debate. Our humanity is not up for debate. That goes for conservatives as well as ‘centrists’ – you cannot ‘both sides’ overt racism and *checks notes* wanting to survive a police encounter, and when you try to both sides it you just reveal how ill-informed or straight up dumb you are. Get it, Ricky? (No, of course you don’t.)

  13. Doodle says:

    He made his career out of saying somewhat controversial things. Now the tide has shifted and people don’t want to hear it. He’s nervous that he’s not relevant anymore because, well, he isn’t. He’s not intelligent or hyper aware, he’s just a douche.

  14. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Ricky Gervais is an a$$hole and always has been in.

  15. Merricat says:

    He thinks he’s edgy because he considers himself the king of cringe humor, which, honestly, humor that depends on humiliation is not the most sophisticated. So big eyeroll for Ricky Gervais, mad because he can’t make fun of people without getting blowback.

  16. Jess says:

    Everything stated above about Ricky is true. So sick of him.

  17. Cassie says:

    Jesus, these older white male comedians just CANNOT handle not being critical darlings anymore. It’s like, they were once subversive and witty and because they can’t keep up with the times they backslide into conservative garbage. It baffles me that this is the hill they want to die on – instead of growing as a artist/comedian they say unfunny and offensive shit —> get a reaction —> whine —> repeat. Just get the lobotomy, Ricky.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      This attitude from a lot of them is just the natural result of growing up in a world where marginalized women/people are constantly tone-policed. We all need to think about how we contribute to this problem, especially when there’s any kind of power imbalance in our favor.

  18. Isa says:

    “There’s no consensus on what hate speech is” — wtaf?! Everyone should know not to use ethnic slurs (for example)! There is consensus!

    European countries tend to have strict hate speech laws (possibly remembering the Nazi regime) but the US has the concept of freedom of speech.

    It’s not edgy to mock people for being Black or female or Jewish, pal. It’s old and terrible. It’s not comedy to throw the N word around. These deluded old white men who think they should never encounter the slightest critique.

  19. shanaynay says:

    Wasn’t he cancelled a while ago?

    • Lanie says:

      Oddly enough, no one is ever really cancelled, except for black women. Chrisette Michelle lost her whole career for performing at Trump’s inauguration. Meanwhile, Kanye, Ice Cube and 50 Cent’s lips are firmly affixed to Trumps ass with little or no consequences.

  20. Rosalind says:

    Otaku Fairy: just wanted to say I loved your first comment. So true!

  21. Caty Page says:

    Maybe his white tears can extinguish the cross that’s going to end up burning in my yard soon?

  22. Wiglet Watcher says:

    You hear this all the time from comedians. They will (Mostly) all say they find humor in everything. Comedians in cars had Eddie Murphy saying the same, and all the others say it too. That they can say whatever and YOU have to take it as a joke or grow a sense of humor.

    Those aren’t the times we live in. I was Republican and cannot reconcile those conservative views or votes anymore knowing who those votes put in power. I voted straight blue for the 2nd presidential election in my life and there’s no way I can every return to red at this point. My eyes are open. His seem to be shut still.
    And at this point… the way the BRF gets away with blatant misogyny and racism… his opinion doesn’t shock me. Ugh

  23. Smoothie says:

    He does use his platform to call out trophy hunting and animal cruelty so he gets points for that.

  24. Tholly Thoxan says:

    I like him and have always enjoyed him ripping on other celebs at award shows.

  25. Lanie says:

    There is no snowflake more sensitive and aggrieved than male comedians. Especially white male comedians.

    They all think they’re Lenny Bruce when they’re really giving off Rush Limbaugh vibes.

  26. jferber says:

    That is a dangerous overstatement and highly offensive.