Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an iconic celebration of arts and culture in which people from around the world gather to perform what they say are “shows for every taste.” And while they proudly proclaim that “anyone can take part in the Fringe,” they proved this year that isn’t the case by canceling an entire set because one performer, Graham Linehan, expressed concern over the transgender movement.
Linehan—creator of British shows such as the IT Crowd, Black Books, and the iconic Father Ted—was set to perform as part of the Comedy Unleashed set. However, the venue canceled the sold-out event after receiving complaints from people who view him as transphobic, saying they did not realize he was part of the lineup of performers.
Last year, Linehan said he had “lost everything” after being canceled for speaking out. His views include expressing things such as “I don’t want my daughter to go into college and have a male-bodied person whose story she doesn’t know in the toilet with her” as well as concerns about sexism, rape, and pedophilia.
When Comedy Unleashed had their Fringe show canceled, they found another venue, which then canceled as well. They refused to give up, performing instead to a supportive crowd outside the Scottish Parliament. One audience member said it was “obscene” that Linehan had been canceled for views the majority of the population has.”
Other performers have made comments that many would deem far more offensive, one making jokes about a British reality star’s disabled child and about killing and raping women. However, our culture has judged it far more taboo to pose serious questions about the transgender movement. Edinburgh Fringe Festival has said “difficult and challenging” shows must be allowed—and they must. Linehan has the clout and audience to move his performance elsewhere, but not everyone does. Instead, these cancellations cannot be allowed to happen in the first place.