Je suis Quinn Simmons, but who is Quinn Simmons? He is a promising American professional cyclist. Junior world champion in 2019, seven times national champion, second in the Tour of Hungary, he is one of the most talented riders in his generation. He recently hit the news not on account of a victory but because his employer, the Trek Segafredo team, suspended him summarily. On what grounds? Was he doped, did he cheat? No, he did much worse than that: he dared to stop following a Dutch journalist on Twitter who invited Donald Trump’s followers to do so. He so did with three letters (“Bye”) and the emoticon of a black hand waving.
A talented sportsman succinctly expressing its sympathy for Trump on social networks, a young men simply daring to contradict a sport journalist who felt morally superior to millions of American voters, a white person using a black hand? That was clearly enough for the ayatollahs of cancel culture to launch a blitz witch-hunt on Simmons, get his head on a silver platter a couple of hours latter (cowardly served by his employer) and break a more than promising career. On top of that, Simmons had to publicly and flatly apologize like in the good old times of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, while his team pompously stressed its commitment to inclusivity and diversity in sports, whatever that means.
This incident is not only a telling example of the climate of political hysteria that surrounds the electoral campaign and the “race issue” in America. It means, sadly, much more than that. Firstly, it rains over wet.
Remember Google sacking James Delmore, an ingenieur who dared dissenting on the gender balance in high-tech companies in an internal memo? Or Mozilla forcing Brendan Eich, one of its co-founder, to step down because he donated 1000 dollars to support the traditional marriage law in California? Or more recently, J.K Rowling getting smashed on tweeter for standing up for Maya Forstater, an English scholar dismissed from her think tank because she stated that sex is a biological and immutable fact? No matter how shocking they might be, this is only a microscopic sample, the very small peak of a gigantic iceberg that probably sent thousands of persons to the of unemployment lines or worse, to a social death.
Secondly, the Simmons case is an appalling example of the cowardice of a growing number of companies. They surrender over a hundreds of well-coordinated tweets of “justice warriors” echoed on the mainstream media because they are scared to death of a possible reputational damage…among their left-wing customers. By doing so, they forget that political neutrality is the natural state of a company and that their duty is to apply the law, and nothing but the law to its employees. Did Simmons breach it in three letters and one emoticon? I very much doubt it, and maybe he will be smart enough to file a lawsuit once the controversy fades away if the wonderful work of “inclusive sports” does not break his legs again behind the scenes.
Yet, what is most striking in this case is the harshness of the “judgment”. One word, one sign, the new threshold to perpetrate “blasphemy”. Three letters, a black hand waving and one is qualified as a inhumane racist, a pathological mind who deserves to be set aside of society because, as the Dutch journalist solemnly states, “there is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man”, also known as Donald Trump. Magnificent example of diversity and tolerance! And first and foremost an unashamed attack on freedom of expression, a cornerstone of our democracies that is worth nothing, literally nothing in the minds of the self-proclaimed justice warriors and their cohorts of followers for whom, there are no public liberties beyond their monolithic convictions. The problem is that those 2.0 little red guards are successful in imposing their point of views and in instilling a deleterious climate of intimidation that leads to self-censorship in every corner of society. We all know that universities, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom are gangrened by this toxic ideology and became a pale caricature of the temples of wisdom and critical thinking they used to be. We all noticed that mass culture shines for its lack of political diversity and binary activism (if you still have doubts, please consult the very detailed list of gender, ethnic and sexual minorities requested in a casting to compete for an Oscar). Now, we have the certainty that sports is the new frontier of left wing radical thinking, as shown by the alignment of the National Basketball Association with the Black Lives Matter movement.
When persons are compelled to silence their opinions including in private circles, when this right is turned into a one way street for some happy few, when confronting ideas becomes a social sin, when only one way of thinking is accepted once the microphone is on air, then freedom of speech is nothing but an empty shell, a mockery. Even worse, it becomes a perversion meant to muzzle dissidents… in the name of freedom.
We are already there. This is the point where this toxic, totalitarian ideology hidden behind the euphemism of “political correctness” is leading our Western societies. They are fulfilling Gramsci’s dream to conquer media, culture and education first in order to gently pick up the political power like a ripe fruit. In this unfair fight, Quinn Simmons’ telegraphic bravery is not only a wake up call to defend freedom of speech; it is a sign of courage in a world that tremendously lacks it. While the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Casher are judged in France, all differences aside, I wonder whether there is an emoticon, black, white or yellow, to simply say je suis Quinn Simmons.
Cover photo: Daily Mail.