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Ricky Gervais: People like the idea of freedom of speech until they hear something they don't like

The comedian was accused of posting a transphobic joke on Twitter

2020-01-03

Words: Steve Brown

Ricky Gervais has said that people like the idea of freedom of speech 'until they hear something they don't like'. 

The comedian - who is set to host the Golden Globes this year - faced calls to step down from hosting duties after siding with J K Rowling, who defended a woman who pursued legal action to have “gender-critical views” protected under the UK Equalities Act.

Gervais - who recently received critical acclaim for his Netflix series After Life - then tweeted a joke to a parody trans account Jarvis Dupont saying: “Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life.

"They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.”

Now, while speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Gervais defended his comments saying: "Jarvis Dupont is a spoof Twitter account, and the joke is that he's so woke that he's actually gone full circle and does terrible things.

"And his latest [bit] is, 'I'm trans now.' And he gets all that wrong. And I responded by playing along with him, saying, 'Oh, you're so much better than biological women because they've had a lifetime to get used to it.'

"Now, people saw my tweet and they thought he's a real trans person, but I'm taking the piss out of Jarvis Dupont, who is actually a woman in real life.

"And this is the problem. You can say, 'Listen, I was joking. It's a joke.' But that's not always enough for people. They go, 'Well, why were you joking?'

"Also, add to that the nature of Twitter — it's so curt, there's no nuance, it's there forever out of context."

The animal rights activist then went on to say how people like freedom of speech until they hear something they don't like.

He continued: "People like the idea of freedom of speech until they hear something they don't like.

"So there's still a pressure, but that doesn't mean I'm going to water it down or back down and not say what I want.

2It's just another form of what we've been through many, many times — it used to be called P.C.

2I think those things start off with very good intention and then they're mugged. It's a good thing to not be racist and sexist and homophobic.

"But it's not a good thing to not be allowed to make jokes about those things, because you can tell a joke about race without being racist.

"I'm happy to play by the rules. It's just that the 200 million people watching have different rules. That's the plight.

"When people say, 'He crossed the line,' I say, 'I didn't draw a line, you did.' It's relative. It's subjective."