Cancel culture is one of a handful of phrases that’s been weaponized and thrown out like projectiles lately like it’s some new phenomenon. It’s largely being used by Right Wing and right leaning people who argue that their voices are being silenced in the media and academia by ‘nefarious’ forces from the Left. I’m going to call bullshit on this as it’s purely mythological.
Firstly, cancel culture as an idea has always existed. Voices from the left have always been attacked in The United States. They’ve been shut down and silenced. There was a federal government commission for fuck sake that ruined peoples’ careers and got them jailed. Prior to that voices that spoke out against the oppression and enslavement of ethnic minorities and women were attacked and silenced. Right up to this present day 1st Amendment rights are being assaulted by every level of government from central to local and people are villainized and demonized for protesting for civil rights for racial minorities and the LGBT community. None of this is new. Cancel culture has always existed. Secondly, it’s an egregious example of gaslighting for the very people who started cancel culture in the first place to level it as an accusation against people protesting very bad, outdated ideas that it’s okay to treat people as less than… It’s ludicrous at this point.
This in no way means that I’m dismissive of the importance of open dialogue, but I will say that by this point in 2020, there isn’t much reason to have open dialogue against ideas that were proven not to work in everyone’s favor generations ago.
It also doesn’t mean that I endorse cancel culture on the right or the left. The problem with cancel culture is that whether it is backed from right-wing Christians, Black Lives Matter or the #MeToo movement is that it leaves no room for individual redemption. It’s the ideas we want to cancel and not the people. When we permanently cast out the people what we do is polarize the society we live in. We do need to shut down the institutions that uphold and enforce harmful ideas and protect harmful actions and behavior, and if necessary shut down the people who are unwilling to be part of a solution. Punish where actual crimes are committed. This is all a different situation though.
People cannot continue to hide behind shrill calls for equal access to media for the promotion of dangerous ideas. When Donald Trump Jr.’s twitter account was suspended, for example, it wasn’t for broadcasting ‘alternative facts.’ It was for continually publishing false and harmful information about a virus in the middle of a pandemic. It was an issue of public safety and not politics. Similarly, different social media platforms have shut down sites on the right and left for promoting violence against different individuals or groups. This isn’t cancel culture. Again, it’s public safety. It’s actually ethics in action.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that cancel culture is more of an idea than a reality. It’s not really something that’s come to pass. People have done and said some incredibly stupid, harmful things and ruined their careers.
That’s the voice of the markets speaking, and the free market is what we hold dear, right? You have the right to say nearly any damn thing. You have never had the right to access to a vehicle to bring your stupidity to a billion people. If people don’t want what you’re selling, try selling something new.
And if you want an idea of how the Right Wing has actually cancelled someone for actually speaking out for a good cause, I have two words: Colin Kaepernick. When you lot make it right by him then you can cry about having your social media accounts muted, you horrible, trivial, mewling, petty, boring crybabies.