I WAS reading Laurence Fox’s 1600-word opinion piece about how he is no longer able to express his opinion and I thought: you know what Laurence, you’re right, privileged white men don’t get to express their views anymore and so, as a privileged white man, I’m going to use my twice-weekly column to complain about the lack of twice-weekly columns for people like me and maybe things will change. Maybe, at last, men like me will be able to tell people what they think.

The point, I would’ve thought, is clear. For some weeks now, on TV, and in The Spectator, and on social media, and this week on radio, Laurence Fox has been complaining that voices like his aren’t being tolerated and the problem is he can’t seem to see the contradictions in his argument. 

Mr Fox claims he is being silenced, and for days on end we have constantly heard about how he is being silenced.

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The argument Mr Fox is making pretty much boils down to this: some of his opinions are not politically correct – such as: Meghan Markle was not a victim of racism in the UK – and therefore his opinions are being suppressed by a left-wing media. Society needs to talk and debate, he says, but instead Britain is developing into a progressive monoculture that does not tolerate dissenting views. Dissenting views like Mr Fox’s.

I’m not going to judge the actor’s actual opinions here – you can do that yourself – but what we can do is break down what he’s saying into two questions. First, is there in fact a lack of toleration of certain views in Britain? And second, if there is, is it leading to what Mr Fox calls a monoculture in which people aren’t allowed to express those views?

On the first question, no one can deny, I think, that there have been cases in which people have lost their jobs because of their (usually socially conservative or right-wing) views: the writer Gareth Roberts dropped from a book because of his views on transgenderism; the rugby player Israel Folau sacked because of his views on homosexuality; and the philosopher Roger Scruton dropped from a government advisory role because of his views on Islamophobia.

We also know people in public life who have what some consider offensive views can run into trouble. JK Rowling for example: just the other day, some of the staff at her publishers refused to work on her book because of her views on transgenderism. Or the psychologist Jordan Peterson: he has been uninvited, or no-platformed, also because of his views on transgenderism as well as other things.

However, this is where Mr Fox’s argument breaks down. To the extent that Rowling and Peterson have faced protests because of what they’ve said, their views are not being tolerated. 

Someone losing work because of their opinions is also troubling, although the idea that someone should stay in a job regardless of their views is equally troubling. I appreciate it’s a tricky call to make, but we don’t want people in public jobs if they might discriminate against certain groups as part of that job.

What all of this means is that, yes, there is a lack of toleration by some of certain views and, yes, in some cases, it has led to people losing their jobs, but that does not mean, as Mr Fox suggests, that we’re living in a progressive monoculture in which right-wing voices are not tolerated. In fact, some people might feel that the public discourse in Britain has more than its fair-share of right-wing voices and that, far from being suppressed, they are given spots on radio and TV and 1600-word columns in The Spectator. Ms Rowling and Mr Peterson are also still out there happily expressing their views.

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Where I might agree with Mr Fox is that some of the attempts to address a lack of equality in the media have been clunky (could we, for example, have one day on Radio 4, just one, without a programme or article about gender inequality?) But other than that, I think Mr Fox may have mistaken being criticised for being suppressed. As for his point that society needs to “talk and debate”, it seems to me that we do little else.
I suppose, in the end, what I’d like to say to Mr Fox is that he should think again about the whole idea that we’re living in a left-wing monoculture because we’re not. 

I’d also say this to him, white privileged man to white privileged man: I respect and support your right to express your opinions, including on race. But as for the idea that you’re being silenced and suppressed Mr Fox? Oh, do please shut up.