Today's discussion:

Parliament’s attempted cancellation of Russell Brand is an outrageous overreach

While the allegations against Brand are serious and credible, they must be tested by the adversarial process and under the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The same government that has the power to put Brand in shackles cannot pre-emptively pressure private platforms to deprive him of his livelihood.

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Stuart Thomson

Anyone quickly glancing at today’s column by Joanna Baron may get the mistaken impression she’s defending the comedian Russell Brand against sexual assault allegations. In fact, she’s making a very specific point about parliamentary overreach that verges on authoritarian.

Remember, these are just allegations right now. People can draw their own conclusions (and Joanna does in the piece) but Parliament should stay out of it:

“It’s not acceptable for a parliamentary committee to try to intimidate social media companies into censoring people they dislike.”

29th September 2023 at 6:22 am
Sean Speer

I love this article by Joanna because it demonstrates that two things – even competing ones – can be right at the same time. It’s quite possible – even likely – that Brand did bad things and it’s absurd that some on the Right are inclined to defend him or his past behaviour. It’s also true though that it’s highly problematic for governments to put pressure on businesses or individuals to treat others as criminals when they haven’t been convicted of any crimes. We’re either a rule-of-law society or not. It cannot depend on if someone is a good person or not.

29th September 2023 at 2:26 pm

Let’s just bypass the rule-of-law and go for the easy dunk. Signalling virtue to the base is par for the course these days and about as much as we can expect from our current political class.

What of the person with a hundred followers who falls out of line, and into the sights of a government official…his account suddenly closed, a knock at the door. It’s a slippery slope.

…yet here we are…

30th September 2023 at 9:44 pm

Is it really so egregious for a UK (or Canadian) Parliamentary Committee to demand explanations of citizens and organizations, even challenging the legality of their actions? Isn’t that what they do all the time when they call witnesses? Is it offside in this case because the request for information was in writing? They are not acting on behalf the executive or judicial branches of government. Gosh compare this to the investigative powers of U.S. House and Senate committees where impeachment proceedings can be initiated against a President with zero evidence. Or compare to the Canadian government calling in grocery executives to intimidate and threaten them on food prices without any legal authority.

29th September 2023 at 1:44 pm

Questioning why he hasn’t been cut off from his livelihood, his ability to pay for shelter and food, is not the same thing at all as calling in witnesses in an investigation

30th September 2023 at 2:49 am
Linda Feesey

20 years is long enough for even a man to change. As a woman, I believe that even certain men can mend their ways and become perfectly acceptable human beings.

29th September 2023 at 9:36 am
Joanna Baron

Perhaps! Even so, it’s a well established fact of our criminal justice system that even ‘historical’ sexual assault allegations are serious enough to be investigated and prosecuted (though there are obvious evidentiary problems).

29th September 2023 at 10:25 am
Matthew David Landberg

If the allegations are true then everything that Russell has said so far is all for show. But if the allegations are false then his platforms should be reinstated and he should get a full pardon and sincere apology.

29th September 2023 at 9:03 am
Michael F

The documentary makers and journalists spent four years investigating and corroborating the stories of the victims. The UK has very stringent laws for libel and defamation and Brand has not threatened a lawsuit. Instead he has gone into full on conspiracy theory mode to deflect.

29th September 2023 at 10:23 am
Rob Tyrrell

Regarding this specific case, the article eloquently states the obvious about the state’s role in leading the public charge for social consequences for alleged (likely) behavior “it” finds distasteful on any given day, regardless of the veracity or nature of the accusations. That is, there is no role.

The state’s role is using the state supported but independent legal institutions for investigating and possibly prosecuting and punishing illegal activities. Hopefully the law is brought to bear on the serious accusations against Brand.

These elected officials are likely free to participate on their own time, without the power bestowed by their current role, in any and all social initiatives to reward or punish those deemed to deserve one or the other.

29th September 2023 at 8:26 am
Joanna Baron

Well said, Rob– Dame Dineage should know better!

29th September 2023 at 10:24 am
Michael F

The man is a narcissist grifter that has been peddling misinformation and conspiracy theories for the past few years when he realized it was very lucrative.

29th September 2023 at 10:25 am