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Douglas Andrews / Jun. 16, 2021

Hart and Barkley Blast Cancel Culture

Two influential black men have had about enough of the scolds and the censors.

If ever a fat dude was impervious to thin ice, it’s former NBAer and current basketball analyst Charles Barkley. Sir Charles, as he’s known, can say just about anything, even today, and somehow avoid the wrath of the American Left’s Red Guards, the cancel cops. For example:

“Those jackasses who are looting? Those are not real black people. Those are scumbags.”

“There’s a reason they racially profile us. Sometimes it’s wrong, but sometimes it’s right.”

“I don’t know if there’s a gun culture, [but there’s] a crime culture.”

“I’m a black man. I use the N-word. … In the locker room and when I’m with my friends, we use racial slurs. … What I do with my black friends is not up to white America to dictate to me.”

“[It’s] probably not a popular opinion among most people but just looking at the evidence, I agreed with the [Trayvon Martin] verdict.”

“It’s a dirty little secret in our community. … We’re telling kids if you are doing good in schools, you are acting white. If you speak intelligently, then you are acting white. That is bulls**t.”

“There’s some big ol’ women down there [in San Antonio]. That’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers. … They can’t wear no Victoria’s Secret down there.”

Quick: Name a white person who could’ve said all those things — or anything remotely resembling those things — and not been canceled tout de suite. You can’t. Because that person doesn’t exist. But Chuck, as he’s also known, does get away with it. Call it black privilege. And let’s be thankful for it — at least in this limited case.

Barkley isn’t a hypocrite, either. He understands the importance of being able to speak freely, to be able to communicate straightforwardly, without a filter, without the looming threat of being canceled. And he sees that freedom now being threatened. “We can’t even have fun anymore,” he said in a recent radio interview. “We’ve had fun all these years, and now all of a sudden in the last year and a half, everybody’s trying to get everybody fired, and it really sucks.”

Barkley went on to say that context matters, but that those calling the shots no longer care about context. “A lot of our bosses are cowards,” he said. “If you crack a joke the wrong way, they’re like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no. You crossed a line.’”

Comedian Kevin Hart is of a similar bent. Recall that he passed on hosting the 2019 Oscars, when some of his old jokes and tweets seeped out and caused the Permanently Offended to take offense.

In an interview with the UK’s Sunday Times — no doubt because not a single American newspaper wanted to hear his opinion on the subject — Hart, the highest-earning stand-up comic in the world today, spoke about the backlash: “If people want to pull up stuff, go back to the same tweets of old, go ahead. There is nothing I can do. You’re looking at a younger version of myself. A comedian trying to be funny and, at that attempt, failing. Apologies were made. I understand now how it comes off. I look back and cringe. So it’s growth. It’s about growth.”

Growth, sure. But what about not taking each other so seriously? What about honoring mankind’s most important freedom — the freedom to express oneself?

“If there’s a message to take from anything I’ve said,” said Hart, “it’s that in this world of opinion, it’s OK to just disagree. It’s OK to not like what someone did and to say that person wasn’t for me.”

Good stuff, Kevin, but, sadly, far easier said than done.

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