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The Cancel Culture Crowd is Missing the Point
And please stop making the same comedy routine.
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Despite my best efforts, “Cancel Culture” has not followed other cultural fads into obscurity. While “issues” such as the Stanic Panic and fear of violent video games burned fast and bright, Cancel Culture discourse remains alive and well. Bill Burr released another Netflix special ranting about “woke political correctness,” right-wing talking heads still act like purple-haired lesbians are the new Gestapo, and the nation’s most prestigious publications run op-ed after op-ed about the threat college sophomores pose to civilization.
No matter the speaker, the speech is the same. Bill Burr, Bari Weiss, and Ben Shapiro paint the same picture. According to them, the millennial and GenZ generations are obnoxiously politically correct, self-aggrandizing, and over-eager to jump down a well-meaning person’s throat for the slightest microaggression.
Putting aside this depiction is a wild over-exaggeration (in my experience, leftist spaces are the most friendly, understanding, and polite groups I’ve ever been in) what the Cancel Culture Crowd gets wrong is their fixation on the culture. In their eyes, what needs correcting is a generation of young Americans that enjoy inflicting maximal social punishment for minimal social justice infractions.
But this frustration is misplaced. The real problem at hand isn’t the issue of the culture, but of the cancel.
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Only the Powerful Get Cancelled
Try as you may, you can’t dethrone a peasant. Only a king.
Similarly, only public figures get “Canceled.” Whenever someone with a platform elects themselves Defense Attorney for The Accused in The Court of Public Opinion, the “Canceled” in question is always a person of power: a nominated Supreme Court Justice, a comedian with a wealth of a small country, or, in the most absurd cases, a world champion
athlete horse. Never do they champion forgiveness for the poor and powerless, who are actually Canceled for offenses that those with means walk away from Scott-Free.
Are the Kentucky Derby’s drug testers “too woke?” The New York Times investigates!
At worst, these self-appointed Defenders chide young people as “just too sensitive.” At best, they pay lip service to issues of mercy, redemption, and forgiveness, making themselves seem grand and wise above us low-minded folk clutching pitchforks in the Woke Mob. But make no mistake, lip service is all they offer.
Forgiveness is a relationship between a perpetrator and a victim. Mercy is the compassion and space afforded by third parties as the involved navigate that relationship. Redemption is a personal journey to recognize the harm one has caused, accept it, and work to better the world, even if one cannot undo the blow passed from their hand.
How our society enacts these values is a very important conversation, especially regarding criminal justice. But despite their rhetoric, the loudest mouthpieces on this issue haven’t shown commitment to these values. Seldom do we hear the likes of Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson advocating for lenient parole boards, “ban-the-box laws” to help offenders obtain jobs, or abolition of the death penalty (the epitome of cancel culture). Instead, they choose to bitch and moan whenever their favorite podcasters or politicians face the mildest criticism for their actions.
Humans are inherently flawed. It’s what makes great novels. And our country needs a more realistic, compassionate response to people who make mistakes, whether they’re as trivial as an off-color joke or as serious as a violent criminal offense.
But do not mistake this much-needed societal discussion for what we’re hearing from the Cancel Culture Crowd. Time and time again, they’ve shown they have no interest in creating a more forgiving society. Their only goal is to shield themselves, their political allies, and their rich friends from valid criticism (while collecting those sweet sweet clicks and views, of course).
After all, the rich get “cancelled.” The poor get imprisoned.
P.S. This really sucks because I usually like Bill Burr’s material. Hopefully, he can move past the “woke is wack!” schtick to better content.
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JoeWrote Grab Bag
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As the Russia-Ukraine War continues, I revisited this explainer of the 2014 EuroMaidan protests. I highly suggest it if you’re looking for a thorough explanation of events leading to the civil war in the Donbas.
This The Nordic Model Podcast episode makes the case for Why Socialists Should Invest.
If you’re looking for a new show, I suggest The Bear on Hulu. Walking a tightrope between drama and comedy, it’s highly entertaining with some phenomenal acting. Check it out!