Cancel culture is a bit like chocolate cake: It looks good and tastes better, but it has almost no nutritional benefit. Nevertheless, cancel culture exists today, and it’s too often the go-to solution in an effort to punish someone who dares disagree with us. And that means cancel culture too often is applied incorrectly.
We read almost every single day about politicians, entertainers, athletes and more who lose a job, a social media platform or something else because their written or stated words offended a large number of people. (And in some cases, merely the fear that the public will rise up in anger is enough to cancel someone.) If the standard for cancelling is merely “oh, I’m offended,” then all of us will be cancelled in our lifetime.
We’ll end up talking only to ourselves with no audience at all. But, hey, no one will dare disagree with us!
Cancel culture feels good, but it solves nothing. In much the same way that closing a door provides a sense of safety from a fire, the fire still burns.
If we’re going to actually do something about cancel culture, then we need to differentiate between words or actions that are controversial and those that are harmful or endorse hate.
Sorry to say, no actually I’m not sorry, no person should be cancelled for expressing controversial opinions.
Pro-life voices deserve a place in the national conversation. So do advocates for gay rights. Ditto men and women who believe strongly in gun ownership. And, yes, those who advocate for equality. Responsible differences of opinion should never be punished or silenced.
However, any voice that endorses violence, abuse or any kind of harm to another person or to a group deserves sanction.
A public statement suggesting “I believe marriage is defined as one man and one woman” is controversial. But the person saying it ought not be cancelled. A public statement suggesting all people involved in same-sex marriages ought to be “taught a lesson” and sent to prison should be grounds for penalty.
Proudly standing up for the Second Amendment is one thing, but showing off a gun while suggesting it “will” be used against anyone who seeks stronger gun laws is quite another.
Allow me to make one last distinction: Choosing to no longer follow our friend someone on social media is not cancel culture. Yes, there are people who believe that it is. The person no longer being followed/friended might be upset, but he or she has lost nothing of material value in the process.
Let’s stop this nonsense of cancelling someone because he or she says something that is deemed offensive to the mainstream. And, yes, the left and right are guilty of playing the cancel culture card. Let’s instead agree, no matter how left or right we might be on the political spectrum, that hateful speech ought to be the criterion used in deciding cancellation.