When does free speech go too far?

American actor and former MMA fighter Gina Carano was recently fired from her role in Disney’s “The Mandalorian.” The reason? Various tweets made by her as far back as November 2020 expressing numerous controversial beliefs.

Carano portrayed the character Cara Dune on “The Mandalorian,” which concluded its second season in December 2020. Carano, who is proudly conservative, had already begun drawing ire from fans and executives alike when she made several tweets expressing contention for topics related to pronoun usage, mask-wearing, and the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Around this time, the hashtag #FireCarano began trending. The situation came to a head earlier in February this year when she made a tweet comparing political ostracization to the treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust. She was ultimately fired by Lucasfilm thereafter.

Carano’s tweets and subsequent fir- ing have appeared to serve as an example for many on how social media can blow up in the face of those working in the entertainment industry, especially someone as outspoken and with as much public influence as Carano. However, with as much support as the decision to fire her drew, several others have spoken out in defense of Carano by putting down what has been referred to as “cancel culture,” or the ostracization of individuals based on controversial words or actions. With these two conflicting extremes, it has become important to highlight what exactly free speech entails and the point at which it can devolve into hate speech.

Freedom of speech has been enjoyed as a basic liberty in our nation for centuries. It is also one that has been taken for granted by many people across different cultures. The reason for that is arguably that while the privilege of free speech may be cherished, the consequences of what we say and do are little more than after-thoughts for many others. With social media becoming more and more of a central platform for modern communication, the reputation of many is almost contingent on what beliefs or opinions they choose to make known to the world. While this is not meant to imply that Carano was ignorant or unaware as to what reaction would result from her statements, the nature of those statements was arguably enough to warrant strong reactions, indeed.

“Her freedom was that she had the ability to put the tweets out there in the first place,” said Laszlo Almonte, a theatre major. “But that does not stop her from getting repercussions for saying stupid things.”

At the end of the day, Carano chose to publicly vocalize her perspective on multiple issues. Therefore, it is not unwise to assume she would be prepared to bear the fruits of that labor. With the political landscape being what it is today, especially within the entertainment industry, controversy can arise from anywhere on anyone’s part. As such, when people with as much influence as celebrities speak passionately about subjects that affect us as a collective, an image is cast onto them for better or worse. Unfortunately for Gina Carano, it was for worse.

By Nicholas Sherbine