by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Recently I was reminded of an article written two years ago by the late L. Neil Smith, titled Burning the Right Books, by L. Neil Smith (ncc-1776.org). In the article Neil wrote about his own experience with the hypocrisy of so-called liberals on the issue of censorship. They all claim to believe in free expression, until they encounter something that offends their sensibilities. I echoed similar sentiments in my article The Left’s Major Folly, by Sean Gangol (ncc-1776.org). What inspired me to revisit the subject was a preview of an episode of The Daily Show that featured Levar Burton going through a library and pulling out books that had been banned by school boards. I only saw the preview, since I can’t get through a single episode of The Daily Show, since Jon Steward left the show and was replaced by the cringy Trevor Noah. Though, the preview did remind me of the many disappointments that I have with Levar Burton, a man that I once admired.
There are many who know Levar Burton as Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation or Kunta Kinte from Roots.My earliest memories of him comes from Reading Rainbow, one of my favorite shows from my childhood. When I started watching the show, I was in the second grade, though I was still attending a first grade reading class, since I been diagnosed with a learning disability. Every Friday, they would put us in front of TV to watch Reading Rainbow, an educational show that promoted reading for kids in grade school. Despite all the struggles that I had with reading and writing at the time, I still have fond memories of watching Reading Rainbow with my classmates. Levar Burton actually made reading seem fun and intriguing, which encouraged me to work through my disability. I also gained a love for books and reading that endures to this day. This is why it pains me to have to call this man out for representing the very hypocrisy that plagues the modern left.
It’s not a surprise that Levar Burton’s political beliefs are slanted to the left considering that he is a social justice advocate and someone who has been in the entertainment industry for forty-six-years. What I take issue with the most is the utter hypocrisy that Burton has shown on the issue of censorship. The left cries about censorship only when it directly affects them. It is almost unheard of to see leftists that will condemn a student activist for shouting down a conservative or libertarian guest speaker. I haven’t heard of anybody on the left who seemed at all disturbed by the radicals who rioted to keep Milos Yiannopoulos from speaking at UC Berkeley. I hear nothing but dead silence from the left when it comes to Antifa, who uses all kinds of violent means to stop anybody who they consider a Nazi from speaking, which is usually anybody who isn’t the left of Stalin.
While I am uncertain of how Levar Burton feels about the issues that I just mentioned, I can certainly say that he is a proud supporter of Cancel Culture. Unless you have been living under a rock in the past decade, Cancel Culture is where you have a small group of SJW’s get offended over something trivial and are able to throw a big enough fit to get the offender fired from his job. It has actually been proven time and time again that nobody is safe from Cancel Culture, whether it is an actor, journalist, commentator or comedian. Unfortunately, none of these things seem to faze Mr. Burton in the least. He says that Cancel Culture is a good thing and should be called Consequence Culture, since it shows people that there are consequences to saying things that are offensive. It never seizes to amaze that someone who appears as intelligent as Levar Burton can be so incredibly clueless. As it was shown recently when a young man on Tik Tok dared to point out how the Bodegas in New York were lacking in good food, he lost his job because people got angry over something that shouldn’t have generated any controversy. This shows that anybody can fall victim to Cancel Culture. I hope for Burton’s sake that he never finds himself in the path of the outrage mob.
His biggest outrage is school boards pulling books off of school libraries. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always agree with the parents and the school boards when it comes to book bans. Sometimes they have a tendency to overreact, as the school boards did in Seattle when they banned To Kill a Mockingbird (amazing how I don’t recall Burton getting upset about that one). Yet, the reality is that parents do get a say in what their kids are allowed to read. It’s hard for me to get upset about this issue when we are living in day and age where we have bookstores and several online sellers that can provide the very books that school libraries can’t or won’t keep on their shelves.
They are plenty of worse examples of censorship that Burton should be outraged over. You have big tech companies that have made themselves the arbiters of truth and are willing de-platform anybody that would dare to challenge it. Worst yet, you have groups like Antifa that are willing to use violence against those who oppose their radical beliefs. You have to wonder if he was at all upset about the reporter who had a milkshake mixed with cement thrown into his face by an Antifa thug. If he wants to be taken serious as someone who opposes censorship, then he needs to prove himself. He needs to denounce all of it. That would mean calling out Cancel Culture and Big Tech’s de-platforming. Most of all that would mean condemning all violence from Antifa or any extremist group that is willing to harm others to silence their opposition. I am not saying that he has to agree with everything that his opposition says, but he should understand that free expression must apply to everybody If he wants it to mean anything.
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