Rowan Atkinson, famous for portraying the characters Mr Bean and Blackadder, has once again hit headlines for slamming the rise of a destructive cancel culture.
In an interview with the UK’s Radio Times, Atkinson described online trolls trying to ban everything as “the digital equivalent of the medieval mob.”
“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,” he said.
“It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’,” the British comedian emphasised.
Atkinson also blasted social media, saying that it fills him with “fear about the future,” because it continues to lower tolerance for differing opinions, which widens divisions in society.
“What we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn,” Atkinson urged.
He noted that he has been on the end of the hate mob, not only owing to some of the skits in Mr Bean, many of which were written 30 years ago, but also because of his long history of standing up for free speech.
“It is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future,” Atkinson declared.
Atkinson opposed the introduction of so called ‘hate speech’ laws in 2005, describing the legislation as like taking “sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
Atkinson also opposed the introduction of homophobic ‘hate speech’ clauses into UK law in 2009.
At the time in 2009, Atkinson outlined where such moves to quell speech were heading, prophesising “a culture of censoriousness, a questioning, negative and leaden attitude that is encouraged by legislation of this nature.”
The comedian warned that it would only be “considerably and meaningfully alleviated by [a] free speech clause.”
In 2012, Atkinson further railed against “insulting” behaviour being classed as a criminal offence.
“The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult,” Atkinson stated at the time during an impassioned defence of free speech.