Someone Has Always Been Cancelled
There’s a saying about sales calls. On every call, a sale is made. Either you sell them, or they sell you on a reason why they’re not buying. Either way, a sale is made.
It’s the same with cancel culture. With every injustice, someone is cancelled. Either the victim cancels the abuser, or the abuser cancels the victim. Either way, someone is cancelled. Someone is silenced, someone’s story disappears, someone loses.
Historically, the person cancelled has almost always been the victim. The powerless. That has been the default culture for millenia. What conservatives pejoratively call cancel culture is simply the attempt to change a default culture which is deeply toxic and wrong. To do the right thing. To cancel the abuser, to fight power, to support the powerless.
Cancel culture says that the burden of shame, the burden of loss should be on the abuser, not on the victim. This seems to afflict the powerful terribly, but too bad. They’ve been afflicting everyone else long enough. Powerful men, powerful races, have gotten away with rape, murder and abuse for years. They have cancelled millions of voices and ruined or ended millions of lives. Thank God that culture is changing. It honestly can’t happen soon enough.
Honestly, boo-hoo for the comedians and rich white men who are getting inconvenienced by being unable to masturbate at women and scuttle their careers. They’re not getting beaten or murdered, they just have to wait a while before getting a Netflix special.
And boo-hoo for the racists who run into consequences for abusing and discriminating against vulnerable people. They’re not being denied housing or work or being lynched. They can still be President. They can still be border guards. They can still be middle managers in unsexy industries. Cancel culture frankly hasn’t gone far enough.
Conservatives say that cancel culture and identity politics and political correctness is ruining society, and yes, we should.
We should ruin a society where Fox founder Roger Ailes can pressure women into sex, record the encounters, and blackmail them into not speaking out. We should ruin a society where minorities are made fun of, discriminated against, jailed and murdered. We should ruin a society where universities are places that own slaves and polish oppression. We should ruin that ‘conservative’ society and build a better one.
Cancel culture, #MeToo, it’s all the powerless taking back some tiny bit of power. And it really isn’t much. This sliver of social justice only really touches the entertainment industry and poltics, and that in only a few countries. If you’re a rapey boss at a garment factory in Bangladesh it won’t affect you. If you’re a guard at some militarized border you can still abuse migrants. If you’re powerful and shameless enough you can still get away with it.
Cancel culture is a drop of water in a desert of injustice, but conservatives are howling about it still. Because of course, it overturns a default culture that has cancelled and silenced victims for hundreds if not thousands of years. That has preserved certain peoples power at the expense of everyone else.
Historically the scarlet letter fell on women, not the men. Historically black men were branded as violent rapists, despite the violence and rape institutionalized within slavery. Historically the colonizers were the civilized and educated ones, despite being morally depraved thieves.
There was always a cancel culture, it just benefitted certain people because they were powerful, because of who they were. Modern cancel culture is simply doing this the right way, to the right people.
Remember, it’s like a sales call. Either the victim sells you on a reason they should have justice, or the powerful sells you on a reason they should get away with it. For too long we’ve been buying from the wrong person. We’ve been doing the wrong thing. We’ve been comforting the powerful and afflicting the powerless.
We should change that. This culture has to change. Call it cancel culture, call it identity politics, call it political correctness, call it social justice. The society of denial and abuse that conservatives are trying to preserve isn’t worth preserving. A society of decency and justice is something worth building.
Powerful people should lose their privileges if they abuse vulnerable people or put them down. Power and influence should be taken away if it is abused, because it is a privilege and not a right. Justice should matter more than power. Justice should be power.
This may make the powerful uncomfortable, but cancel culture isn’t for them. It’s for the powerless. More power to them. More power to us all.