Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the firing of Gina Carano, a popular star of the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian. She was fired in the midst of controversy surrounding social media posts.
A statement from Lucasfilm reported that Carano, who played former Rebel shock trooper Cara Dune in The Mandalorian, announced her termination, adding that “her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Let’s set aside Carano’s socio-political views and let’s also set aside the disagreement over whether Carano’s posts actually did denigrate people “based on their cultural and religious identities.” There are plenty of articles out there and discussions taking place on those things.
Instead, I want us to consider where we’re headed as a culture and society, and whether we’re comfortable with that.
We should not denigrate people
Let me say upfront that I personally oppose the denigration of anyone. Call me a radical on that point, if you will. I’m certainly very much in the minority these days, but I do not believe we should disparage anyone.
I am against racism, hate, and bigotry in all forms.
I believe everyone (regardless of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual identity or orientation, background, views, or whatever) should be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect.
I’m one of those people who actually agrees with the biblical call to “love your neighbor as yourself.” And I take that seriously.
We should love and value everyone.
We should be kind to everyone.
And this should be voluntary on the part of each individual.
We should value and safeguard freedom
When you attempt to compel kindness and/or enforce a certain kind of “orthodox” thought into the minds of people, you create an authoritarian and fundamentalist society that stamps out freedom of thought and speech.
In such a society, genuine and authentic solidarity and affection are snuffed out in favor of an artificial, forced culture of repressive groupthink.
The government can and should protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens. And the government should safeguard equal opportunity for all its citizens. But when a government goes beyond those things, we start to slide away from democracy in any meaningful sense.
What’s more, when private companies become so big as to approach monopoly status, things get complicated and problematic very quickly.
Large companies that serve huge swaths of the population become “public accommodations,” and when such companies discriminate against customers based on matters of identity (like race), then discrimination begins to define your society and huge numbers of people become marginalized.
The same is true for information and communication.
When a monopoly or group of monopolies exercise a decisive influence on the people’s access to information and speech, then those corporations become de facto governments. They become arbiters of public information and the public square.
When this happens, you have corporations determining what the population can see and what they can’t — and when they can see it. What’s more, these companies can also decide what people can say or not say — and how they can say it.
It gets worse.
These corporations then get to decide what happens to those individuals who violate these corporations’ standards.
If Gina Cerano can be fired for her political views, so can you
Now we come to the crux of the issue with Cerano’s firing.
When large monopoly-level corporations like Disney (which owns Lucasfilm) can police the political speech of all their employees (even when those employees are not on the job), what’s to stop other companies from doing that?
And if people can lose their jobs for expressing unpopular or controversial social, political, or religious beliefs even when they aren’t “on the clock” (so to speak), then what kind of a society do we have?
I’m not sure, but it isn’t a democracy.
A democracy is only possible when the citizens of said democracy are able to freely participate in that democracy.
If large corporations that control the public square can de-platform or censor views (or people) they don’t like and if corporations can fire people for their political, social, or religious views, then we don’t have a genuine or authentic democracy.
And yet here we are.
We now live in a society where the firing of people for their political, social, and religious beliefs (even when those views are expressed outside of work) is increasingly normal.
The question is…
Are we okay with that?