Recent attempts to defend “cancel culture” claims that the discussion is not about free speech. Rather, they say, there is a panic because elites and conservatives over “threatened by changing social norms.” Do not buy the lie. No doubt, there are people who are bothered by changes. However, “cancel culture” is clearly the elite form of bullying that kills all discussion – and it is not just elites and conservatives who are in its clutches. True “free speechers” defend the speech of others with whom they disagree, then answer the disagreements with their own opportunity to speak freely. “Cancel culture” demands all bow before its power and be silent.
“I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people...People who do really good stuff have flaws.” Former President Barack Obama
Some recent examples of cancel culture
- Emmanuel Cafferty, fired from San Diego Gas & Electric Company after being goaded into making a hand gesture of which he did not understand the meaning. The recording went viral and he lost his job.
- David Shor, fired from Civis Analytics after sharing the findings of a study by Omar Wasow, a black professor at Princeton, a political-science journal article arguing that nonviolent civil-rights protests had been more politically effective than violent ones.
- Madji Wadi, lost his business after it became public that his daughter has made racist tweets—even though he fired her when he found out.
- Leslie Neal-Boylan, fired from her job as University of Massachusetts-Lowell Dean of Nursing after writing “Everyone’s Life Matters” (in a context clearly against discrimination).
- Nick Cannon, fired by ViacomCBS after comments on Cannon’s Class were deemed to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
- Stephen Hsu, Michigan State University senior vice president for research and innovation, resigned under pressure from petitions excoriating his scientific research on controversial topics.
- Savannah Chavez, the daughter of police officer Ismael Chavez who was killed in the line of duty in McAllen, Texas, uploaded a tribute to her father on Twitter. She received such vile harassment that she just deleted the tribute.
- Gordon Klein, teacher at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, suspended for declining to grade black students easier after the George Floyd incident.
- Daniel Maples, fired from Ted Todd Insurance in Fort Myers, Florida, for a context-less 15 second video of his life that went viral.
- W. Ajax Peris, political science lecturer at UCLA, was referred to UCLA’s Discrimination Prevention Office after reading out loud Martin Luther Kings’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” -- which includes the use of “the n-word.”
- James Bennet, forced to resign as New York Times opinion editor when the intolerant mob could not tolerate certain opinions—though he much of his job purpose was to bring in varied opinions to the paper.
- Stan Wischnowski, forced to resign as top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer after an uproar over the title of an opinion article that suggested that damaging buildings in Minnesota disproportionately hurt the very people taht protesters were trying to uplift.
- The Church of the Highlands, a multi-racial church of 60,000 people in Birmingham, Alabama, stripped of its lease agreement with the city, and the church’s volunteer work in the community canceled. Why? The church pastor, Chris Hodges, “liked” conservative posts on Twitter.
Not only firings, the cancel culture extends to treats to life and limb. For example, Catherine Sullivan, a retired professor and University of Georgia alumna, had her location exposed and threats made against her because she disapproved of the university’s decision about names of campus buildings.
When caught with any backlash, most of the cowardly culprits claim they fired the person for some other reason. Such nonsense should be suspect in light of mewling remarks usually made to the mobs prior to the firings.
The COVID-19 Panic Shows Us Why Science Needs Skeptics -- “The dumpster fire of COVID predictions has shown exactly why it’s important to sustain and nurture skeptics, lest we blunder into scientific monoculture and groupthink.”