Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made waves Sunday after celebrating a game-clinching touchdown against the Chicago Bears, the archnemesis of Green Bay.
"All my f---ing life, I own you," Rodgers shouted to Bears fans. "I still own you. I still own you."
Some didn’t care for Rodgers' celebration, but the three-time MVP quarterback—whose record against Chicago improved to 22-5—explained after the game he was responding to Bears fans in the stands who were giving him “the bird.”
On Tuesday, during his regular appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, the 37-year-old quarterback elaborated on why he didn’t feel the need to apologize.
“Back when I first got into the league and I grew up watching it, I feel like trash talk was a little more normalized. You didn’t have to apologize if you said something to offend a few people,” Rodgers said. “If you don’t like it, that’s fine. That’s your prerogative.”
Rodgers then made it clear he isn’t a fan of the larger societal trend of silencing or canceling people who speak their mind on issues.
“There is this culture that exists that gets off, I think, on shrinking people, keeping them small, keeping them in a box, quieting them through cancelation or demeaning comments,” Rodgers said. “I stand behind what I do. I like to speak the truth. I’m not a part of this woke cancel culture that gets off on trying to silence people all the time.”
Aaron Rodgers throws shade on "woke cancel culture":— Jon Miltimore (@miltimore79) October 21, 2021
“There is this culture that exists that gets off on shrinking people...quieting them,” Rodgers says. "I like to speak the truth. I’m not a part of this woke cancel culture that gets off on trying to silence people." pic.twitter.com/hkWxU2AqXM
‘Sometimes There Will Be Things on Netflix You Dislike’
Rodgers' comments come a week after Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden was fired by the Las Vegas Raiders following the publication of private emails between Gruden and Bruce Allen, the former General Manager of the Washington Redskins, that contained offensive content.
Raiders owner Mark Davis reportedly has said privately he believes Gruden’s ouster was “a hit job” by the NFL. Publicly, however, Davis has mostly stuck to the preferred narrative.
“Listen, the Raiders stand for diversity, inclusion and social justice. We always have and we always will,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The emails that came out are not what we stand for. So Jon Gruden is no longer head coach of the Raiders. There’s not much more I can say.”
Whether Rodgers’ comments had anything to do with Gruden’s firing is unclear. What’s clear is that cancel culture is a growing issue and is increasingly being used to silence and target those who violate or disparage “diversity, inclusion, and social justice” values.
The latest example is the saga at Netflix, where trans employees recently issued a lengthy list of corporate demands following the release of Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The Closer, which activists characterized as transphobic.
On Wednesday, workers staged a walkout and protest outside of the company’s Los Angeles offices.
"What comedians say in a comedy show does matter and it does have real world consequences," one protester with a trans daughter told CNN. "I didn't have a problem with most of his humor but to say gender is real and to align with TERFs, (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) who want to deny the reality and existence of transgender people being the gender that they truly are in their mind and heart is very, very harmful."
I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace #NetflixWalkout https://t.co/LU8FPSBdwE— Elliot Page (@TheElliotPage) October 20, 2021
Though Netflix has said it has no plans to remove Chappelle’s show, co-CEO Ted Sarandos recently told Variety that he “screwed up” how the matter was communicated internally.
“First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity,” Sarandos said. “Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made.”
Sarandos then explained that Netflix is in the entertainment business, which means giving artists freedom to entertain.
“We are trying to support creative freedom and artistic expression among the artists that work at Netflix,” Sarandos explained. “Sometimes, and we do make sure our employees understand this, because of that — because we’re trying to entertain the world, and the world is made up of folks with a lot of different sensibilities and beliefs and senses of humor and all those things — sometimes, there will be things on Netflix that you dislike.”
Free Expression or a Culture of Silence?
Sarandos’s simple comment—”sometimes, there will be things on Netflix that you dislike”—is important.
When Netflix came out with a Christmas comedy special in 2019 that portrayed Jesus as gay, I didn’t like it. As a Christian, I found the suggestion ahistorical and blasphemous. Other people, no doubt, found it quite funny—and that is the purpose of comedy. From an artistic point of view, we want comedians to press the envelope; we want them to poke at society’s sacred cows. Because, so often, that is what makes things funny.
There is a long and celebrated tradition of free expression in America. This is a good thing.
“Freedom ultimately means the right of other people to do things you do not approve of,” the economist Thomas Sowell has observed.
If Dave Chappelle hurts your feelings, don't watch.— Jon Miltimore (@miltimore79) October 18, 2021
It's that easy.
Now, as Sean Malone pointed out in an Out of Frame video (see below) on cancel culture, ‘free speech” doesn’t mean one is free from consequences for saying things other people disapprove of. But at the same time, we should recognize the value in maintaining a culture that’s tolerant of different points of view.
“We should also recognize the danger of building a culture that tries to silence every difference of opinion,” Malone explains. “None of us is omniscient. None of us is the sole arbiter of truth or morality. We’re all a mix of ignorance and knowledge. We need to allow for diversity of opinion without shouting people down or campaigning to exclude them from society because that’s the only way we actually learn and grow together over time.”
This is why it’s so important to resist the human instinct to suppress ideas—even those which we find wrong, offensive, or even dangerous—and punish those who share them.
None of this is to say one can’t be offended by something Dave Chappelle (or Aaron Rodgers) said. That, to paraphrase Rodgers, is your prerogative.
But if you don’t like what Chappelle is saying, here’s a better, healthier solution: don’t watch his comedy act.