Every day, we hear about attacks on free speech and free thought.
That these assaults come in the guise of liberals silencing conservatives — not allowing conservative speakers, professors or comedians at universities, shouting down those whose voices don’t match their own in the name of trigger warnings, safe spaces or cancel culture — is against the tenants of the First Amendments stating that freedoms of religion, speech and the press are among Americans’ most prominent rights.
To this end, America’s most downloaded podcaster-comedian Adam Carolla and radio talk show host- author Dennis Prager — conservatives, both — filmed their “No Safe Spaces” documentary over the course of two years with director Justin Folk, starting with conservative podcaster-writer Ben Shapiro’s September 2017 speech at UC Berkeley, the birthplace of liberal campus activism in the 60s, and now the flashpoint for cancel culture at its most violent. By October 2019, “No Safe Spaces” was ready to screen and distribute, first at several theaters in Arizona, then slowly through the rest of the U.S. due to unwilling liberal screening rooms and anti-conservative distribution chains, until December 6 when the documentary opened widely. Even this success came with its headaches, however, as, on December 11, an ANTIFA-like group intimidated “No Safe Space” moviegoers at a La Habra, California, theater.
“It’s not a film that a lot of folks in the ‘mainstream media’ can embrace, because it kind-of takes a poke at them,” said Carolla of “No Safe Spaces” during a phone call with Metro. “It’s saying that they’re not doing their job. The film is considered ‘conservative’ even though it features a bunch of liberal faces in it, all agreeing about the right to free speech. It’s curious, though that it is controversial because we’re talking about the right to free speech. That shows you the state we’re in – that free speech is controversial.”
For all of their popularity as podcasters and radio hosts, Prager and Carolla could have simply stayed in the cozy confines of their respective studios and opined, as opposed to going out and making a movie. So why do it?
“People ask me all the time why I did ‘No Safe Spaces,’ in the same way they ask me why I did ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and my answer is usually ‘yes,” said Carolla over the phone. “I used to have a regular job – carpenter, truck driver, roofer – so that when people ask me if want to be part of a worthwhile project, I say ‘yes.”
In “No Safe Spaces,” conservative minded university professors, socio-political commentators (e.g. Ann Coulter) and television personalities (e.g. Tim Allen) are shown as being removed from successful jobs due to their beliefs, or silenced – even shouted down by student groups gone un-governed by anyone but their own youthful peers. Carolla and Prager watched that happen too often to their contemporaries to let that go unchecked. “All of these situations are bad, but, to me, the scary Orwellian part is when a comment is misinterpreted. There was a tennis announcer (Doug Adler) who was talking about Venus Williams, and said she was putting on ‘guerilla tactics,’ as in ‘guerilla fighting,’ ‘guerilla warfare.’ They took it as ‘gorilla,’ the animal, and he got fired. He said he used the phrase ‘guerilla warfare,’ all the time, but they said they didn’t hear it that way, and now he doesn’t have a job. That to me is really Orwellian and scary.”
As a comedian who “faces backlash all the time,” Carolla is undisturbed and unmoved by any potential hassle he has received for the due-diligence of “No Safe Spaces” and its take down of cancel culture and anti-free speech rhetoric. “I make jokes, speak my mind, and people get angry. That’s my business. I responded to Greta Thunburg getting the Time Person of the Year thing. I Tweeted that was great, and hopefully she’d grow up to marry Mark Ruffalo, gets pregnant and gives birth to a recycling bin. Everybody Tweeted me back that I’m an assw-le, OK, that’s my business to make people angry. It’s supposed to be to make people laugh, but a percentage of them just get mad. That’s what I signed up for. “
Carolla quotes from “No Safe Spaces” when asked to state what audiences should get out of his documentary, beyond mere politics, by pointing to a conservative professor from Berkley who claimed that he disagreed with everything Ben Shapiro said during his talk (“which is stupid because Ben Shapiro says so many things that are patently obvious,” said Carolla), but that Shapiro had the right to speak his mind, “and that he wound defend his right to say it. That’s corny, but that is the whole point of the the film.”
For all of Carolla’s conservative viewpoints put forth in “No Safe Spaces,” not once does he or Prager mention the President – America’s top conservative – by name. What’s his take on Trump?
“I don’t have the Trump derangement syndrome that a lot of people have,” said Carolla. “I’m not triggered by Trump. I don’t have that anger that people have toward him. I get that he comes across as a pompous ass on occasion. But, it mostly amuses me. I know a lot of people – including my dad – who are very angry with the guy. He doesn’t bother me. If you are a narcissist, you get outraged. You can disagree with the guy all you like – but it’s the narcissists that are triggered. I’m not. I like some of his policies, and disagree with a few other policies. Either way, I don’t have the knee-jerk reactions to him that others do.”