Former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has called upon Big Tech social media giants to censor and deplatform conservative celebrities such as James Woods and Jon Voight.
In a lengthy op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Abdul-Jabbar argued that such conservative celebrities do great harm to the fabric of society and should be silenced.
“Few are more beloved than J.K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter books make up the best-selling series in history. Yet her anti-trans tweets may not only damage the Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, they could end up tainting her entire literary legacy,” argued Abdul-Jabbar. “Even the stars of the movies — Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Eddie Redmayne — have spoken out against her position. John Cleese’s tone-deaf defense of Rowling left many fans bitterly disappointed, tarnishing his reputation.”
“It would be tempting to dismiss this self-mutilation as merely the triggering of overly sensitive ‘cancel culture.’ But some of this public braying does immediate harm to the foundation of society,” he continued. “Giuliani’s attacks on the integrity of the 2020 elections, without any substantive evidence, has undermined the democratic process. A post-election poll indicated that 77 percent of Republicans think Joe Biden won because of fraud. Since no credible proof has ever been shown, this opinion can only be held because they practice flat-earther, anti-vaxxer cult-think: Someone in authority told me what I want to hear, so it must be true.”
To those who would charge Abdul-Jabbar with the same crime, given his own celebrity status, he countered that by saying he has “been writing books and articles about history, culture, and politics for 30 years to establish” his credibility.
Though the former basketball star appreciates the warnings that social media giants place on a certain celebrity’s statement, he believes it does not go far enough.
“Social media companies have begun slapping warnings on some messages that are false, incite violence or cause harm to society,” he wrote. “But this needs to be done with more consistency and vigilance. Studies indicate that when readers see these warnings, they are less likely to read or believe things. However, as another study showed, there can be a backfire effect in which content that isn’t flagged, even when inaccurate, is perceived as true.”
“Many Americans imbue stars with political and social intelligence they just don’t have. Great success in one field can lead to the delusion that all your thoughts are great,” he continued. “It doesn’t help to be surrounded by fawning people whose job it is to agree with everything you say. The irresponsibility of tweeting irrational and harmful opinions to millions, regardless of the damaging consequences to their country or people’s lives, proves that those stars deserve the harsh backlash.”
In March 2019, when Hollywood was threatening to boycott the state of Georgia for instituting an anti-abortion law, the basketball legend encouraged the boycotts, arguing that such pro-life laws were a throwback to times where “pretty much everyone who wasn’t a straight, white Christian male was considered a second-class citizen whose rights and future depended on the patriarchs’ whims and largesse.”
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