John Cleese Gets Cancelled

John Cleese, the most famous member of the Monty Python troupe, has chosen to spend his final years in the posture of one of his most famous characters, the Black Knight in The Holy Grail, continuing to taunt and threaten his foe in spite of having been reduced to nothing but a head and torso, all his limbs having been lopped off. In this case, the foe is the radical left’s thought-culling collective commonly dubbed “cancel culture,” and Cleese, who cannot win this fight, has decided to bleed his last drop in proud invective: “Oh, I see! Running away, eh? You yellow bastards!”

It’s a role he plays well, and for which he deserves respect and admiration, rather than the near-universal hatred and mockery that he is getting today. For he, unlike almost every other prominent entertainer today, has opted not to condemn himself and apologize for his career in order to be permitted to live in peace by the new generation of indoctrinated Brown Shirts. He has decided not to be a hypocrite, a self-loathing toady, and a traitor to his friends, such as J. K. Rowling, who has been essentially expunged from the Harry Potter universe that only exists due to her effort, simply because she has chosen to say what is obvious, rather than what is prescribed, namely that womanhood is a biological condition rather than a personal feeling.

Cleese has not “turned right-wing,” as his conveniently pigeon-holing critics would have it. He is merely continuing to do what he has done in the past, namely stand up for the artist’s right to tackle any topic, toy with any idea, challenge any accepted attitude, in the name of freedom of thought and, as he might put it, “being an individual.” When the most successful Monty Python project, Life of Brian, was being publicly excoriated by Christian groups, and banned by frightened city councils all over Britain and America, Cleese stood up publicly against the closed-minded ignorance of these self-appointed morality police. The left supported him then, but only because they saw him fighting against a shared enemy. Today, when he is carrying on that very same fight not against Christian zealots but against neo-Marxist ones — religious orthodoxy enforcers come in all forms — the left says Cleese has “turned to the dark side,” or that he has “become the very thing he used to ridicule.” 

On the contrary, it is the left that has become the dark side of thought police and morality purists that was once represented in Western society by Christian busybodies. It is the progressives who have become the very thing Cleese and his Monty Python mates used to ridicule — the right-thinking moral purists, the indignant defenders of absolute certainty, the ear-muffled haters of all speech perceived to be inconsistent with their various unquestionable truths of the moment.

This, incidentally, is a perfect model of how this so-called “cancel culture” operates. The progressive mob is fond of swarming its critics on social (or mainstream) media to scream, “There is no such thing as cancel culture! Cleese can still get a TV show, see? So where’s the cancel culture?” Since the cancelling, at this point, is still mostly happening beyond the regulatory enforcement mechanisms of government per se — that is, since Western governments have not yet managed to assume all the powers they wish to have, when it comes to silencing beliefs they regard as unacceptable — there are still private outlets where some non-compliant views may be expressed, of course. But that is precisely why this current manifestation of Marxist tribunalism in the formerly free West is dubbed cancel culture. It has not yet reached the status a fully enforceable government policy, but rather exists largely at the level of regulation by mass opinion, by means of shame and intimidation, exclusion from one’s guild or craft, public mockery and hatred from thousands or millions of anonymous enemies representing “progress” and condemning you as obsolete, as “the dark side,” as intolerant or racist or patriarchal or whatever nasty epithet they choose to throw at you today, to frighten you away from speaking, to warn you against what you are no longer supposed to think. 

And of course, it goes without saying that the left’s cries of “There is no such thing as cancel culture because people like Cleese are still allowed to spread their evil, hateful, systemically oppressive views,” are revealing and suggestive on another level, namely this: Can anyone doubt that when the current younger generation engaged in this public shaming and intimidation of beliefs they regard as insufficiently progressive has actually aquired more direct decision-making authority within the upper echelons of government and the administrative state, they will actively legislate and regulate speech and thought in the very ways they now lament being unable to do? For their objection that there is no such thing as cancel culture always sounds like exactly that: a lament. An admission that they do not have quite the amount of practical power to subdue non-compliant individuals that they wish they had — and that, if all goes well, they will eventually have. That the subduing and silencing of the non-compliant is their goal is effectively revealed by their very indignation in denying that cancel culture exists. The truth is that they do not want John Cleese to have access to a microphone, or J. K. Rowling to be allowed to have a Twitter account, or any other person with views defiant of their progressive authoritarian activism to have a voice, or above all to have such defiant thoughts in the first place. Their spiritual parents took over the public schools to ensure a generation of right-thinking, reason-hating progressive sheep. The sheep are now decrying their lack of adequate political power to simply shut down the remnants of independence outright, by force. 

John Cleese, like the rest of us, is fighting a battle he cannot win. The generation that was not raised this way, indoctrinated this way, is dwindling. We are losing this war of attrition, and must lose it, exactly as was planned by the 1960s radicals who saw childhood education as their path to ultimate victory. The question, however, is how in the world these irrational ovines will ever learn how to function and thrive, once they have succeeded in eradicating all the final wisps of “the old way of thinking,” i.e., reason, from their midst. 

To cite the very first Monty Python sketch, there will, in this progressive world of the near future, be nothing left at the top of the flock but clever Harolds, pointlessly and suicidally trying to teach their fellow sheep to fly.

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