Graham Norton appears to have removed his Twitter account after his recent comments about so-called “cancel culture” went viral.
Last week, the talk show host took part in a discussion at the Cheltenham Literature Festival where he was asked about the rife debate around “cancel culture”.
“The word is the wrong word,” Graham explained. “I think the word should be ‘accountability’.
“John Cleese has been very public recently, complaining about what you can’t say. And it must be very hard to be a man of a certain age who’s been able to say whatever he likes for years, and now suddenly there’s some accountability.”
He added: “It’s free speech, but not consequence-free. I’m aware of the things I say.”
The interviewer then brought up JK Rowling, who has repeatedly come under fire in recent years due to her views on gender identity and the trans community.
Graham offered: “What I feel weird about this is when I’m asked about it, I become part of this discussion. And also I’m painfully aware of is that my voice adds nothing to that discussion. And I’m sort of embarrassed that I’m somehow drawn into it.
“If people want to shine a light on those issues, and I hope people do, then talk to trans people. Talk to the parents of trans kids. Talk to doctors, talk to psychiatrists, talk to someone who can illuminate this in some way.
“I’m very aware that as ‘bloke off the telly’, your voice can be artificially amplified… once in a blue moon that can be good, but most of the time it’s just a distraction. And it’s for clicks, it’s for whatever.”
“If you want to talk about something, talk about the thing, you don’t need to attach a Kardashian to a serious subject, the subject should be enough in itself,” he added.
“Please can we have some experts? Can we rustle up some [expletive] experts and talk to them, rather than some man in a shiny pink suit?”
Graham’s comments received a wave of support online, with many praising the way he summed up the debate around “cancel culture”, particularly with relation to sensitive issues.
However, it didn’t take long for Rowling to slam his remarks, despite him having not mentioned her by name in his answer.
Retweeting a post from singer Billy Bragg in support of Graham, the Harry Potter writer tweeted to her 14 million followers on Thursday: “Very much enjoying the recent spate of bearded men stepping confidently onto their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throw their support behind rape and death threats to those who dare disagree.
“You may mock, but [it] takes real bravery to come out as an Old Testament prophet.”
On Monday afternoon, fans noticed that Graham appeared to have deleted his Twitter account completely in the wake of the debate.
HuffPost UK has contacted Graham’s representative for comment.
While the RuPaul’s Drag Race UK judge did not reference Rowling in his “cancel culture” comments, he did recently defend having interviewed her on his Virgin Radio show.
“Am I suddenly the fucking moral arbiter of the world who says who can be on TV or can’t? No,” he said.
“People will be on my show and I’ll laugh with them and that will annoy some people, but not having them on seems just as bad.”