Actor Rowan Atkinson: Cancel culture is 'the digital equivalent of the medieval mob'

Rowan Atkinson is best known as the comedian/actor who created “Mr. Bean” in a series of movies. This week Atkinson gave an interview to Radio Times in which he offered his opinion on cancel culture, comparing it to a 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. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’,” Atkinson said.

“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”

This isn’t something new for Atkinson. He’s been a campaigner for free speech for more than a decade now. But naturally, his statement this week is getting the usual treatment from those on the progressive left in America, i.e. why don’t you just shut up.

Some pointed out that this reaction proved Atkinson’s point about a culture that is mostly interested in silencing other people:

Meanwhile over at the Daily Beast the entertainment reporter is quick to explain that cancel culture doesn’t exist:

For years now, various celebrities and public figures have railed against “cancel culture”—a nebulous term that often boils down to “getting criticized for expressing unpopular and often offensive or abusive views.” Despite cries from people like J.K. Rowling and Bari Weiss, “cancel culture” is not comparable to, say, government censorship; it is, more than anything, a boogeyman—one that allows powerful people to avoid ever having to interrogate their own positions while blaming any professional repercussions for their speech and actions on others.

There are of course people who aren’t famous who’ve been canceled, though they don’t get nearly as much attention because they aren’t well known to begin with. But people on the left tend to ignore these incidents or, more likely, join the mob in praising the cancelation of these people for what often amount to thought crimes (some of them trumped up to begin with).

Here’s Atkinson speaking out for free speech back in 2018. As he admits, he’s far too well known and successful to be canceled at this point but that’s not the case for others who aren’t in the same position.