Adweek reported yesterday that Gavin McInnes was forced to take an indefinite leave of absence from his CCO role at New York shop, Rooster, following an essay written on Thought Catalog called "Transphobia is Perfectly Normal." Lovely bit of linkbait wouldn't you say? I wonder how many people actually read it.
The essay (which is still available to read) was flagged by the "community," for violating standards. In other words, rather than discussing the article's points, asking if there was any relevance to it, or even asking whether it was satirical comment on society in general, the pitchfork wielders and knuckle draggers put on their Fahrenheit 451 hats and screamed HATE SPEECH, before anyone had a chance to discuss it,
SPOILER ALERT: Dear pitchfork-wielders and knuckle draggers: This article has nothing to do with the content of Gavin McInnes' essay. It has to do with your response to it.
If you were living in Czechoslovakia in 1972, an expressed a dissenting opinion, or refused to comply, you were interrogated, intimidated and imprisoned. If you were a member of the intelligentsia they punished you by making you work in manual labor, where your job would not be to think, but to do. The totalitarian communists who ran that Soviet country did everything in their power to ensure you were silenced.
Today's America is looking at lot like Soviet Czechoslovakia. We no longer espouse Voltaire's philosophy of "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Now, it's "Shut the fuck up."
Today's America doesn't see any value in contrarian thinkers like Christopher Hitchens or Ralph Nader or satirists like Jonathan Swift for that matter. We drown them out and make them go and hide as quickly as possible. Because we can't deal with opinions and mistake them for something they are not. These days satire is followed by demands to Cancel Colbert as the twitter activist generation sincerely believes that satire should "punch up" not down, confusing satire with comedy and thereby missing the point.
We have lost the ability to discuss, and debate respectfully, too. Whether it's the topic of man-made global warming, fracking, space travel, or the Middle East crisis, we no longer want to debate. Now, we want to end the debate. How many times have you recently heard the phrase "The debate has been settled?" At the first sign that someone disagrees with our perfectly constructed bubble, we do everything in our power to dismiss, discredit, have the fired, or boycott their company. So by implication, we ask the business to maintain thought control, or else.
Or else what? Doesn't anyone remember that the boycott of Chick-fil-A had the inverse effect of what was intended?
More importantly, is any of this going to change Gavin McInnes' mind in any way? The man who trailblazed offensive as cool with Vice, and his outrageous books. Does any of that behavior encourage healthy discussions, debates or communication? Of course not. Then again, no one wants to change Gavin McInnes' mind. They want him to go away. There is no reasoning with America any more.
This is indicative of the hive mind's true intent on suppressing the one thing we share, regardless of race, creed, orientation or socio-economic status. And no, I'm not going to say "free speech." That's a given. What I'm talking about is much worse. The hive mind is intent on destroying the ability for us to communicate with one another, and attempt to reach some kind of middle ground.
I've got some big news for you: it's a fallacy to think we are always going to get along or share the same way of thinking. We have never gotten along without effort. Since we first invented the wheel it's been a complete struggle. Wars have not helped. Communism didn't help. The only thing that attempts to bring us closer together as a community or a world is communication.
Before the 1970's in America, Gays and Lesbians were told to shut the fuck up, keep quiet, stay in the closest, hide who they are, what they think, and what they believe. Exactly the same thing that is happening to Gavin McInnes. Ironic, no? To see an example of this in the most extreme, one doesn't need to go back in history. It's happening right now in present day Iraq, where, Christians are being forced to convert to Islam, or face death. Here in good old America, we just put you "on leave of absence" for having an opinion. We're not quite at threat-of-death extremism. Not yet, anyway. That's not hyperbole. Again-- look at Iraq, and now look at America. If an untold group of people here, who don't even know you, can have you fired for saying something they don't agree with, why should any of us assume they'll stop there?
I don't know whether McInnes' article was meant to be sincere, satirical or both. I don't care, either. What I know is, Gavin McInnes is a master at getting lots of eyeballs on his content. From his days co-founding Vice to this Converse ad from 2005, to his latest project at Rooster for Meowington Headphones, the guy's one of the few people in advertising who are still good at it. Rooster sure benefitted from them, and I'm sure they'll take all the publicity they can get, too. But the idea that Rooster (and by extension all of advertising) is kowtowing to those who don't believe in having a contrarian opinion rather than saying "It's his opinion and one that isn't connected with us" is unsettling.
David Ogilvy once said "There are very few men of genius in advertising agencies. But we need all we can find. Almost without exception they are disagreeable. Don't destroy them. They lay golden eggs.”
I'm not saying Gavin McInnes is a genius, mind you. I just find it interesting that Ogilvy's quote reflected a different kind of America. Back then, despite our intolerances, we were also tolerant. Now, we've gone from Ogilvy, to the people who run Rooster who say "Go take an indefinite leave of absence." I.E., shut the fuck up.