Brendan O’Neill Brendan O’Neill

Kevin Hart is the offence archaeologists’ latest victim

Another day, another scalp. Another public figure put in the stocks for ‘speechcrimes’. Another individual forced out of a job because he has the wrong opinions and because he made ‘inappropriate’ jokes. This time it’s the American comedian Kevin Hart, who has announced that he is stepping down as the host of next year’s Oscars because people found old tweets in which he said jokey or mean things about gay people. Get rid. Cast him out. Another blasphemer to be thrown on the metaphorical fire.

Hart — a stand-up comic turned star of blockbuster Hollywood movies — went from Oscar presenter to persona non grata in a stunningly short period of time. Forty-eight hours, to be precise. That’s how long it took for the tragic trawlers to discover that Hart has indeed committed crimes against political correctness. ‘Offence archaeologists’, as the American leftist Freddie deBoer referred to them: that ‘little army of online busybodies who comb reports of behaviour, comments and written work from a person’s past to identify material perceived as transgressing contemporary norms’.

That’s exactly what they did to Hart. And they were proud of it, too. ‘I did a search for every time Kevin Hart tweeted ‘fag’, ‘homo’ or ‘gay”, said a reporter for Buzzfeed. As if that is a good, normal thing to do. As if it isn’t entirely weird and more than a little Mary Whitehouse to excavate everything someone has ever said in the hope that you might find something you can use against them in order to destroy their reputation. Buzzfeed is often at the forefront of offence archaeology. If you ever walk past a Buzzfeed office and wonder what all those millennials are doing on their expensive computers, now you know: they’re looking for evidence that a famous person once said something bad.

The bad things Hart said included: ‘Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice “stop that’s gay”.’

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