Russell Brand, Cancel Victim?

I had never heard of Russell Brand until recently. I take it that he is a British comedian and actor who has generally, for quite a few years, had a terrible reputation. Within the last week or two, several women have “come forward” and alleged that Brand raped them, or otherwise assaulted them, between 2006 and 2013. I subscribe to the London Times and the Telegraph, and they have followed the Brand case to an astonishing degree. Until now, I have skipped over all of those articles.

But John Nolte puts the controversy in a different light:

The Brett Kavanaugh/Russia Collusion Media say five women have accused Russell Brand of rape and sexual assault between 2006 and 2013. Four of those women have chosen to remain anonymous. One woman claims she was 16 during their relationship, although 16 is the age of consent in England.

Since the media onslaught against Brand began over the weekend, other anonymous women have come forward saying Brand was controlling during consensual relationships — which is not a crime.

Nolte asks a good question:

The first question is, why now…?

The #MeToo movement is more than six years old. Why now?

These allegations of wrongdoing are said to have occurred between 2006 and 2013. Why now?

As a general rule, I am deeply skeptical of claims of sexual abuse (or any other serious crime) that emerge a decade or more after the alleged crime. Rape is one of the most serious crimes, a felony that justifies a long prison term. If it actually happens, it should be reported to the police immediately, and it should be prosecuted vigorously. Perpetrators, if convicted, should be sentenced to very long prison terms. But if the alleged rape wasn’t worth mentioning 10 or 15 years ago, why is it worth mentioning–by mostly-anonymous women!–now?

Nolte suggests an answer. For most of his career, Russell Brand was an openly disgusting character. But in recent years, he claims to have reformed. And, apparently, he has turned into something of a conservative:

I have no emotional investment in Russell Brand. I don’t know the guy personally. I know that he was a loathsome lout for most of his public life. I also know that in recent years, he’s sought to repent for his past. He appears to have wised up and matured. He says he’s now a dedicated husband and father. Politically, while he’s no Donald Trump, he does see the Matrix. Using his wildly popular YouTube channel, he questions narratives cherished by the corporate media. He lashes out at the establishment’s obscene lies and desire to divide us and subjugate normal people as racist Nazis.

That is enough to get you canceled. Which is what happened to Brand. The British press has stirred up a wave of hate against him, and YouTube, where he had a vast number of followers, has demonetized him. So Brand has moved to Rumble. The London Times takes this as more evidence of Brand’s guilt: not of being a rapist, which may be secondary at this point, but of not being fully on board with woke ideology. The Times article begins:

A major shareholder in one of the world’s biggest “alt-right” video sites has embraced Russell Brand after the BBC, Channel 4 and YouTube distanced themselves from him.

So Rumble is “alt-right.” No one knows what that recently-invented word means, but it is surely bad. The “major shareholder” is Dan Bongino.

Dan Bongino, a former Fox News presenter, is among the largest financial backers of Rumble, a Florida-based video-sharing platform that has styled itself as being “immune from cancel culture”.

A former Fox News presenter! A Florida-based platform! “Immune from cancel culture!” These are all cues to the Times’s liberal audience. They know what direction this is going.

The American conservative commentator and host of a daily Rumble programme with 2.9 million subscribers urged his Twitter/X followers to visit the site in the wake of The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s investigation into Brand’s treatment of women.

God forbid that anyone watch Brand on video while the British media’s investigation is going on. Verdict first, investigation later?

The Times turns to a “fact checking” organization to elaborate:

Joe Ondrak, head of the investigations for misinformation service Logically, said: “Rumble is predicated on free speech in an absolute sense, so unless Brand explicitly breaks hate speech laws, I don’t expect them to take action.”

Sorry to break it to Mr. Ondrak, but here in the U.S. of A. we do not have “hate speech laws.” Platforms can impose various standards if they want to, but “hate speech,” as conventionally defined by liberals, is protected from government suppression under our First Amendment. Which has been true at least since 1929, and which a 9-0 decision of our Supreme Court recently re-affirmed.

The London Times obviously disapproves of the content of Brand’s videos, now that he has become a sort-of conservative:

After he passed one million subscribers in March, Brand hinted at its value and the way in which Rumble provided him with a platform to share his conspiracy theory-laced rants about Covid lockdowns, vaccines, central bank’s digital currencies and the West’s role in the Ukraine war.

Conspiracy theory-laced “rants” about Covid lockdowns and vaccines! Note, first, that liberals never “rant,” and second, that “conspiracy theories” about covid responses and vaccines have often proved to be true. (I have no idea what Brand’s specific take might be.) Nor do I know what Brand has to say about central banks’ digital currencies or the Ukraine war, but apparently these are verboten topics.

So, like John Nolte, I have absolutely no idea whether Russell Brand is a serial rapist. If he is, he should be prosecuted and sent to prison, not just pilloried in the polite press and de-platformed. But as a first impression, I am not impressed by stories told by anonymous women about something that supposedly happened ten or fifteen years ago. Brand may or may not have anything useful to say, but in any event, he has the right to say it.

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