O Society

Remarks by Sacha Baron Cohen, Recipient of AntiDefamation League’s 2019 International Leadership Award

by Sacha Baron Cohen edited by O Society Nov 21, 2019

Thank you, Jonathan, for your very kind words.  Thank you, ADL, for this recognition and your work in fighting racism, hate and bigotry.  And to be clear, when I say “racism, hate and bigotry” I’m not referring to the names of Stephen Miller’s Labradoodles.

Now, I realize that some of you may be thinking, what the hell is a comedian doing speaking at a conference like this!  I certainly am.  I’ve spent most of the past two decades in character.  In fact, this is the first time that I have ever stood up and given a speech as my least popular character, Sacha Baron Cohen.  And I have to confess, it is terrifying.

I realize that my presence here may also be unexpected for another reason. …

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1 Comment

  1. The lowly individual’s dream has come true: through social media he can present his opinion, as beautifully or as crudely as he wishes, and the Net covering the world instantly, he will have an audience, if only a few hundred. His views and his manner of expressing them are uncensored, except by fellow participants expressing theirs if contradictory. This freedom of speech he cannot achieve in local community meetings in the fire hall or church congregation where traditional face-to-face norms restrict contentious ideas, especially any crudely and offensively expressed. We lustily forfeit social graces empowered through the anonymity of FACEbook. Now, consider such freedom of speech, uncensored and unrestricted, is to be censored by Mark Zuckerburg or a panel of social media founders. Imagine that. Who then will argue the fine limits of the censors’ power? Who will still be happy? Where will the ax fall next? If the all-out violence and crudeness of unrestricted social media cannot stand, its corrosive impact on stable civil society a powerful threat to a democratic way of life, and if democratic, freedom-loving society will not submit to judge of what is allowable speech over to a few Zuckelburgs, and who are they to Judge?, then let us return to pre-internet social debate, i.e., newspapers, radio, television, town meetings, social clubs. Also, this ‘regression’ would disarm the manipulation of society practised through the Net, would end the violation of personal identity, would disarm our government’s spying on each and every one of us. These are the mixed blessings of social media for which we unwittingly bargain our exercise of free expression.

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