There is a very long line of folk demanding, with good reason, that Mark Latham gets cancelled.
Once again, Latham displayed that if he is not at the very top of the loose cannon pile, he can definitely see it from where he is perched when he let fly with a homophobic tweet that was offensive in more ways than it is possible to count.
People sometimes forget, this man almost became Prime Minister.
To get a true sense of how tasteless the tweet was, even One Nation colleague Pauline Hanson, who is no stranger to being cancelled on social media, told him to pull his boof head in.
As I write this, Latham has refused to take her advice, digging his heels in while the social media storm swirls around him. It all kicked off when Sydney MP Alex Greenwich labelled Latham a “disgusting human being” for attending an event that led to a protest at St Michael’s Church in Sydney’s west.
Whether Latham was “disgusting” for attending the anti-trans event is open to debate. The meeting was organised by the local parish priest and his parishioners “as a discussion on parental rights over children in the face of the whole gender dysphoria issue”.
Fr Andrew Benton said the meeting was never intended to be a political event, and he would never have allowed it to go ahead if he knew “it would end up like that”. It could be argued that as an MP, Latham had every right to give his point of view at such a meeting.
We are at a very dangerous time in our history when it comes to issues of free speech and Latham strongly believes in the issues being discussed at that meeting. Those who gathered peacefully outside were also passionate, and had every right to make their feelings known.
Latham did the right thing by condemning the violence that erupted outside the church. But then his volatility got the better of him.
What could have been an opportunity to have a sensible community discussion about an important issue was quickly derailed by Latham’s incredibly offensive tweet. If he wants to have a mature conversation about these issues, then he is going about it completely the wrong way.
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan wrote this week about what it is like to be cancelled.
For two years, he has fought claims he was a racist after a former teammate claimed Vaughan had used racist language towards him 14 years ago.
Vaughan always denied the accusation, and this week the Cricket Discipline Commission ruled that, on the balance of probabilities, he had not made the comments.
“I’m not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me at all,” Vaughan told London’s Daily Telegraph.
“I just want people to realise that this is what you go through when you get cancelled. I can absolutely tell you that it’s real, and it comes through social media. It’s so dangerous.
“You used to be innocent until proven guilty. You’re now guilty until proven innocent. Your life gets completely put on hold. Whatever the accusation thrown at you, people on social media just will not allow you to carry on with your life while it’s over your head.
“I hope that in time, people realise that it’s not a fair process when accusations hit somebody’s doorstep and they’re not allowed a proper process to clear their name before they get cancelled.
“People’s lives are getting stopped far too soon.”
Mark Latham deserves to be condemned for his recent comments. An apology seems too little in the wake of what he said and the hurt and offence it caused. But we should not lose sight of the bigger picture. If we continue to insist on trying to cancel people or views we don’t agree with, we will never again be able to have sensible community discussions on sensitive issues.
Labelling those who want to have a discussion about transgender issues, like JK Rowling and Martina Navratilova, as “disgusting” and “bigots” is not helpful.