March 3, 2021

Cancel Culture: The Difference between Censorship & Holding People Accountable.

What is cancel culture, and who is actually doing it?

Last weekend I was watching Donald Trump’s speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

I was preparing to write about it, but Trump said nothing we haven’t heard before, and it’s kind of boring by now to point out his flaws—but I noticed something else: the slogan of this year’s CPAC was “America Uncanceled.”

Let that sink in: the party trying to cancel everyone who speaks up against Trump complains about cancel culture. It is time to take a look at the difference between holding folks accountable for their actions and performing a witch hunt.

Many conservatives are upset that their social media accounts had been banned or at least flagged throughout the last months—they feel censored and cancelled.

At the same time, Trump used his first speech as a private citizen to call for the cancellation of every Republican who voted for his impeachment or calls for a GOP without Trump as a leader.

Ted Cruz, just back from his trip to Mexico, felt the urge to slam Liberals for cancel culture, and Mitch McConnell already signalled that he would support Trump if he decided to run for office again in 2024. I understand that folks like McConnell and Cruz are not in support of holding people accountable for what they did or said, given their actions and statements.

I partly agree with them. People should not get cancelled for saying something out of line—we all make mistakes.

I don’t want to hold someone accountable for dressing up as a Native American for Halloween at the age of 10. Did someone make a joke decades ago that hurt someone’s feelings? I don’t feel the urge to cancel their career.

But, and that is the key point here, if someone repeatedly bullies their way through life and gets away with it because he knows how to keep victims silent, then I am going to hold them accountable.

Marjorie Taylor Greene started her political career by supporting conspiracy theories and bullying victims of a school massacre. Brett Kavanaugh was a respected member of his fraternity, while women accused him of sexual violence. And Donald Trump had a history of being a reckless businessman before entering politics.

These people are not the target of the so-called cancel culture because they said or did something stupid once that was taken out of context. Their careers are based on that type of behavior.

And then, just the same week, Dr. Seuss gets canceled. A few weeks ago, folks wanted to cancel Bernie Sanders for wearing mittens and a jacket from a company that is located in his state at the inauguration. Candace Owens tried to cancel AOC for her statements after the Capitol riots by spreading misinformation on what actually happened to Ocasio-Cortez on that day.

So, what are we actually talking about here?

I understand the concerns of fellow conservatives. They say that cancel culture is putting freedom of speech at risk. If everyone has to be afraid of getting canceled for a single statement, that would indeed be a threat to the 1st amendment.

I understand that conservative voters get annoyed by offended liberals at times. I do not deny that folks like Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, and Chris Cuomo have a tendency to attack Republicans wherever they can, but I can’t remember anyone getting cancelled because of a rant on CNN.

But I do not understand how Dr. Seuss, AOC, or Bernie Sanders become the target of conservative cancel culture. Bernie asks for free healthcare, and Fox News calls him “Bolshevik Bernie.” How is that fair?

Have you ever been told to hold back your opinions because it might endanger your career?

As a yoga teacher, I was asked several times to tone it down when it comes to politics. I received emails from conservative folks who warned that they would stop sending clients my way unless I stop writing articles criticizing Trump and the GOP.

And then, the elite of the Republican Party meets up in Orlando, Florida, to hold a conference with the title “America Uncancelled?”

Give me a break—bullies are crying about cancel culture while trying to cancel anyone in their party who stands up for democracy?

I would suggest to differentiate one thing from the other and establish a new definition of cancel culture:

If someone has a pattern of discriminatory behavior or committed crimes (sexual offenses, tax evasion, spreading fake news) that they got away with for decades, and then someone finally finds proof for that—let’s cancel them. 

If someone has a record of being a good human being and gets caught doing something stupid or offensive—maybe we shouldn’t cancel them. 

Conservative bullies got away for far too long with questionable behavior behind closed doors, but we are entering dangerous terrain when these folks start switching the narrative into being the victim of cancel culture.

When elected officials feel discriminated because they are not allowed to spread fake news and anti-semitic conspiracy theories, and then try to compare that to a Supreme Court judge crying in court because someone wants to hold him accountable for alleged sexual offenses in college—then we have a problem.

If Trump feels like a victim of cancel culture, then we really have to ask ourselves what kind of world we are living in.

In my perspective, the so-called cancel culture is a tool to hold the ones in power accountable. It is about giving a voice to the folks who feel belittled and threatened by old, white men who got away with that for far too long.

And yes, I said it, “old, white men”—probably someone who listened to the speeches at this year’s CPAC would like to cancel me for that—and that’s the problem, my friends.


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