California, home to Hollywood, may be where cancel culture strikes loudest and most viciously.
But one Republican lawmaker in the Golden State hopes to strike back against an ideology that is poisoning honest political debate and ruining careers and lives.
State Sen. Melissa Melendez has filed two bills that would protect people based on their political beliefs – a seemingly odd thing for a country founded on providing that guarantee to its citizens.
One bill, the “Diversity of Thought Act,” would amend California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act to include political affiliation among those “specified characteristics,” as the current law says, that protect people from random discrimination.
The bill would prevent employers from dismissing people solely because of politics, and block landlords or other owners of “housing accommodations” from not dealing with people on the grounds of their political beliefs. The latter would also apply to banks in determining who would qualify for home loans.
Melendez’s other bill would shield students from “discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying” in schools because of politics.
“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,” Melendez said in a press release. “A free society shouldn’t allow thoughts and ideas to be censored. Free speech covers all speech, not just that with which you agree.”
“Cancel culture and the efforts to silence differing opinions and voices should be a growing concern for all of us,” Melendez added. “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.”
The senator’s bill faces an uphill climb in California, which celebrates diversity in all things except political beliefs.
Democrats have controlled the governor’s office and the state legislature for 10 years. Democrats control three-quarters of the 80 seats in the Assembly, while Melendez is one of just nine Republicans in the state Senate.
The language of Melendez’s legislation would seem to appeal to all. After all, in theory at least, employers and landlords in Republican strongholds in California could refuse to accommodate liberals under existing law.
And protecting people for – or perhaps from – their politics also would seem to be a step toward that “unity” President Joe Biden talks about.
But Melendez’s effort was met with the typical response from Democrats.
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Radical Democratic state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez tweeted in reply: “I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but: Your racist, pro-domestic terrorism, xenophobic, misogynistic views do not warrant protection ‘from discrimination.’ Your choice to hate & actively pursue hate does not make you part of a protected class.”