The post-Trump era in these dis-United States of America has created common ground in the fight for free-speech between Preachers and Comedians. Two vocational callings usually perceived as cultural adversaries are now soldiers in the same camp, fighting against the hoard of cancerous cancel culture crusaders marauding through the nation. For the moment, there is a humorous holy alliance between the preacher and the comedian, unlikely friends in the free-speech fight, as the adage goes: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
If you’re unfamiliar with ‘cancel culture’, it’s a modern form of ostracism where people are fired from social or professional circles because of views which are perceived as offensive by a segment of people. Usually via social-media, the enraged mob irritably types away calling for blood at whomever for whatever with the goal of damaging the lives of those perpetrating the perceived ‘offense’. Conservatives flirted with it in the past, it’s the doll of liberals in the present.
The problem with cancel culture is that it’s a threat to free-speech. Constitutionally, the legislative branch of our government protects free-speech but we now live in a time where social-media outrage can apply enough pressure to get anyone fired by a company due their expressed personal views— without dereliction of duty or failing to do their jobs, they’re fired or ‘canceled’ for their views— not their performance. For a recent example of this, just google “Gina Carano” and learn how this all goes down. Apparently, the morality of Hollywood is that you can perpetrate physical abuse against another human and keep your job, but if you’re conservative you get fired.
Furthermore, a number of comics have been cancelled for saying things that, where I wouldn’t say what they say or celebrate what they say (i’m on team preacher after all), I don’t believe anything is corrected by firing or pre-firing them from their jobs. It’s not illegal to make jokes that challenge people, particularly in the comedy world, and slapping ‘inappropriate’ on them doesn’t work because we can’t get consensus on defining inappropriate. I say porn is bad for you, scientifically proven to be bad for you, but you want to protect it as ‘free-speech’. You say Dr. Seuss hurts peoples feelings and is racist, and I want to protect it as free-speech because I disagree with you. Much of the fight for free-speech isn’t about legislating morality, it’s about whose morality will be legislated?
"Much of the fight for free-speech isn’t about legislating morality, it’s about WHOSE morality will be legislated?"
Comedians like Dennis Miller, Shane Gillis, Kevin Hart, and many more are on the way to be cancelled over past remarks, satirical statements, or ‘conservative’ sounding sentiments. Side note, look out Bill Burr, the cancel coats are coming! In Gillis’ case, comedian Rob Schneider and SNL alum had this to say on twitter :
“Dear @ShaneMGillis as a former SNL cast member I am sorry that you had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of culture unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves”
—Rob Schneider, via Twitter.
Fascinating. If a Christian were to able to shelf their inner-pharisee for a while and listen to comedians like Dave Chappell, Joe Rogan, Tim Dillon, Tony Hinchcliffe, Rob Schneider, Tim Dillon, and more, you’d hear plenty of foul things but you’d also here them speaking strongly about the need to protect free-speech, as if it were something sacred to be protected. As a preacher, I agree that free-speech is something to get religious about. I’ve also recently heard a tidal wave of preachers waxing about how protecting free speech is critical to religious freedoms. Unafraid clergy swimming in political waters where consequences abound like jelly-fish tentacles everywhere. Specifically, Douglas Wilson. Quick note, if you’re not tuned into what the Moscow, ID crew is putting out at Cannon Press, you need to be. It’s amazing, clergy and comedians preaching the same sermons on free-speech.
"Free-speech is something to get religious about"
It’s not complicated as to why this is the case, both the preacher and the comedian require a free-speech culture to do what they do. We’re sermons or satire to be illegal, they could still engage in jokes and sermons, but like Dietrich in the graphic novel V for Vendetta, they would be bagged and tagged for a laugh at the wrong persons expense. It seems like we’ve never been closer to a time where a sermon challenging the wrong authority might leave a minister with a sentence and a cell. Mentally perplexing as it is, we now live in a time where pornography is protected by free-speech but comedians are cancelled for jokes and preachers are on the precipice of having sermons labeled as hate speech. Which IS the end game for progressives, isn’t it? If you can cancel raunchy comedians and you can cancel a wee-little Dr. Seuss book, is the Bible far off?
Right now, in California (which fell apart mostly because I moved away in 2004), there is the CLEAR ACT that, while under the guise of preventing members of hate-groups from working in law-enforcement, something Christians can get on-board with, it flops when it goes on to define members of hate-groups as people who attend bible-believing churches. In an American state, preachers and Christians who believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage are under consideration to be labeled as hate-groups engaging in hate speech. This won’t stop authentic preachers from preaching the biblical values of life and biblical sexuality but know this, the way cancel culture is advancing, and the way parts of the country are moving, the idea of having underground American churches in liberal regions isn’t far off. Clergy and comedians will be neighbors; underground cathedrals wall to wall with clandestine comedy clubs.
"Clergy and comedians will be neighbors; underground cathedrals wall to wall with clandestine comedy clubs."
The comedian’s goal is to bring joy and laughter to people, the preacher’s goal is to bring Jesus to people. Speaking to groups of people is a large part of what we both do. Speaking to groups of people are for what we’re both known. We’re both speaking not just to inform but provoke a response. The comedian laughter and the preacher Lordship. Maybe this is what makes us both dangerous? As it turns out, free-speech is as sacred to the comedian as it is to the preacher. Without free-speech we can’t preach and they can’t make jokes, at least in a safe-from-harm and above-ground kind of way. So, we find ourselves for the moment as strange allies, like Elves and Dwarfs coming together trying to free Middle-Earth from Sauron. Here we are.
BY: Matthew Baker
About: I love God and my family and enjoy processing how our faith in Jesus is lived out in our present culture. Currently, I serve as associate pastor at the Island Church in Orange Beach, AL. When I'm not riding my Trek or chasing the pump, I'm playing dinosaurs with my son Sam or drinking coffee with my wife Paige.
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