Melissa Melendez, the Republican state senator from Lake Elsinore, introduced two bills this week that would grant people’s political beliefs the same protections under California anti-discrimination laws as race, gender, and religion in what she’s framing as a battle against “cancel culture.”
The first proposal, the Diversity of Thought Act, would amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act to prevent employers, landlords, and banks from discriminating on the basis of political ideology. The second bill would similarly alter the state’s education code, forcing schools to treat students who are bullied for their politics as a protected class alongside those targeted on the basis race, religion, or sexual orientation.
“Cancel culture and the efforts to silence differing opinions and voices should be a growing concern for all of us,” Melendez said in a press release. “A climate of intolerance has been established and has stifled healthy and normal debate. Anyone who values their own freedom of speech should be concerned. This cannot and should not be allowed to continue.”
If the legislation seems a bit creative, it could be due to the fact that, as the Los Angeles Times notes, “It is unclear if anyone in the state has been evicted or denied a mortgage because of political convictions.”
Although Republicans traditionally take a laissez faire approach to how businesses and individuals conduct themselves, Melendez said, “It is unfathomable to me that corporations and members of the public would ruin a person’s career, business, and family because of their political ideology. A free society shouldn’t allow thoughts and ideas to be censored. Free speech covers all speech, not just that with which you agree.”
And while Melendez—who also came out in support of recalling Governor Gavin Newsom this week—pitched her proposals as being meant for “anyone” who’s into free speech, bemoaning the legality of “cancel culture” has recently become wildly popular with the GOP, whose members are hot to paint themselves as its helpless victims.
Last Friday, just days before Melendez introduced the bills, impeachment lawyer Michael van der Veen hatched the term “constitutional cancel culture” in furiously explaining why Trump should not be convicted for incitement of insurrection following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, as did fellow Trump lawyer Bruce Castor.
The phrase was also the No. 1 hit at the Republican National Convention in August, where delegates at a closed-door meeting voted to pass the Borat-sounding, “Resolution Upholding The First Amendment To The Constitution Of The United States Of America In The Response To The Coronavirus Pandemic And The Cancel Culture Movement.”
The resolution aimed to codify cancel culture as something that had “grown into erasing of history, encouraging lawlessness, muting citizens, and violating free exchange of ideas, thoughts, and speech,” while RNC speaker/screamer Kimberly Guilfoyle described it as a culture of “elites…who blame America.”
That evening, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley said that Trump, who had only been impeached once at that point, “knows that political correctness and cancel culture are dangerous and just plain wrong.”
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