Josh Denny is a comedian. You may have heard of him. He used to work for the Food Network. He’s also pro-life, personally, and willing to say so out loud.
Earlier this month, Denny was preparing to host a comedy show in Rutherford, New Jersey. That’s about a half hour outside of New York, but just minutes after the show was announced, Antifa, a violent, radical group, decided to shut it down.
Hundreds of Antifa-affiliated Twitter accounts started bombarding the venue called the Williams Center. They also went after the chief of police of Rutherford, a man called John Russo and they threatened violence. Now, at that point, a chief of police who wanted to defend the Constitution, his solemn duty, would have pushed back and affirmed the sacred right of free expression of every American, but that’s not what Chief Russo did. Instead, he caved to the demands of the mob.
He warned the venue that the venue might face civil liability if they let free speech continue, if they allowed the show to go on. Then he said he would shut down the show on “public safety grounds.” So ultimately, the Williams Center had no choice and canceled the show. In the end, the only people who showed up at the Williams Center that night were several police officers, and they were there to make sure there was no comedy taking place, none at all.
Then, to add insult to injury, the next morning, the mayor of Rutherford, New Jersey, Frank Nunziato, bragged about what the city had done. He said it was his decision to use the power of the state to cut down comedy. “Unbeknownst to the borough,” Nunziato wrote, “an event was planned for this evening at the Williams Center, news of which quickly circulated through social media. Online intelligence led the police department to believe that the event had the potential for concentrate confrontation. Therefore,” Nunziato said, “after discussions with the owner, the event has been canceled.”
Now notice the blame shifting here, the potential for confrontation. It wasn’t the comedian who was going to confront or threaten anyone with violence. It was the radical left-wing group Antifa. But it was the comedian who was punished.
This is not the first time Josh Denny has experienced this. It’s happened four times in just the past few weeks. Shows were canceled because of threats from the left. Two shows were canceled in Chicago, another two in New York and every time the same pattern. Denny would schedule a comedy show. Then a huge amount of Antifa-affiliated Twitter accounts intimidated the venue and local officials, who collapsed under the pressure and shut it down.
Denny can no longer speak. At this point, the only way he can host a show north of the Mason-Dixon Line is to deliver cryptic instructions to his fans about where to meet secretly, like a speakeasy. Otherwise, if he doesn’t do this, all Antifa has to do to end free speech is send some tweets ,and then weak leaders capitulate immediately.
Josh Denny is not the only performer being targeted, and it’s not just comedians. This, of course, is part of a much larger campaign to end free speech in the United States, a country whose civic religion was free speech just a few years ago. This is a huge change and an ominous one. Anyone who tells you that you can’t say what you truly believe is ia totalitarian.
Make no mistake. It’s not about sensitivity. It’s about controlling you. It’s totalitarian. We’re going to start tonight with what’s happening to comedians because free society requires comedians. Comedy is the way we tell the truth. The presence of comedians in a society means that you get to mock the people in charge very quickly and it’s not an accident we’re running out of comedians. Only rote comedy is tolerated now and that’s another way of saying no comedy is tolerated now. Elon Musk pointed this out a few months ago in an interview with the satire site The Babylon Bee.
ELON MUSK: And then you realize it’s like, wait a second, is the comedy getting at an essential truth or is there a propaganda element or is it trying to push you in a particular direction or getting to an essential truth that is humorous? And when it stops trying to get to an essential truth that is humorous, then, you know, it’s just not that funny.
Well, after that interview, Twitter, as if to prove it, has no sense of humor at all, banned the Babylon Bee. Their crime? They made fun of the administration’s fake trans admiral, that guy in a dress they’re calling female. We all know what Elon Musk did next. He bought Twitter. In a moment, we’ll speak to the CEO of the Babylon Bee about what Musk must do to restore free speech to this country.
What is clear at this point is that after Elon Musk fired half of Twitter’s employees, Twitter got better. Why? Because they were the censors. And Twitter isn’t the only company many of whose employees work effectively as censors to shut down your freedom to say what you think.
Outside Netflix headquarters last year, protesters, some of them Netflix employees, gathered to demand the censorship of Dave Chappelle. Watch this.
PROTESTERS: What do we want? Accountability! When do we want it? Now. What do we want? Accountability. When do we want it? Now.
PROTESTER: It’s okay to laugh, but you’re sparking hate conversation.
PROTESTERS: Trans lives matter! Trans lives matter!
PROTESTER: Why is he breaking my sign?
PROTESTER: He’s got a weapon! He’s got a weapon!
So, what you had at Netflix is what you also had at Twitter, and it’s the same phenomenon that’s canceling comedians all over the country. A small group of politically inflamed, highly-motivated extremists who prevent the majority from saying what it thinks. Another word for that is tyranny, and it’s everywhere.
One of the few people in Hollywood willing to fight back against this and say what he really thinks is Adam Carolla, a long-time comedian who has stayed true and therefore funny and he mocked the people you just saw as exactly what they are: humorous babies.
ADAM CAROLLA: I need to explain to the people at Netflix, which is an interesting, another interesting dynamic, is your job isn’t that important and it doesn’t really change hearts and minds. I think people have this thing where it’s like Dave Chappelle is going to mobilize this group of our society, which never really seems to be mobilized, like his words, his words hurt and his words are going to cause X, Y and Z. No, they’re not. He’s a comedian. He gets to say what he wants, and then he gets paid, and you get paid and that’s called entertainment.
“He’s a comedian and he gets to say what he wants.” That’s no longer the rule in a lot of places, but Adam Carolla lives by that rule still.