Dawn French is right. Cancel culture turns us into cowards

The Vicar of Dibley star has made a welcome plea for tolerance.

Thomas Osborne

Topics Culture Free Speech

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Everyone’s fed up with cancel culture. Even the vicar of Dibley has had enough. Yesterday, it was the turn of actress and comedian Dawn French to stick up for free speech and tolerance. Speaking on the latest episode of the Happy Place podcast, she said cancel culture has ‘forced people into corners’ and turned many more of us into cowards.

French, the star of beloved TV shows like The Vicar of Dibley and French & Saunders, said that many people today talk about ‘inclusivity and favouring difference and all the rest of it’, but ‘that’s not how we’re living’. Instead, we have become ‘massively intolerant [and] quick to blame’ others, she said.

She is spot on here. Our cultural elites talk endlessly of inclusivity and respecting others. But they are all too quick to condemn and abuse anyone who voices a dissenting opinion. Today’s culture doesn’t seem to allow for genuine tolerance of opposing views, or of those who make honest mistakes. Cancel culture has ‘wiped out any margin for error’, as French puts it.

On the pod, French admitted to having become ‘circumspect about what I will support or not, in case it causes trouble’. She can often ‘smell her own cowardice’, she said. Perhaps this is why she offered only a lukewarm defence of JK Rowling, now thoroughly vindicated on the subject of gender ideology after years of being demonised as a ‘transphobe’. (French rather limply described the gender-critical, much-maligned children’s author as ‘a good person’ who had ‘made her mistakes’.)

Still, let’s not nitpick. That more and more mainstream voices are finally finding the minerals to criticise cancel culture suggests the tide may really be turning.

Thomas Osborne is an editorial assistant at spiked.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Culture Free Speech


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