by Bob Barr
For those concerned with becoming a victim of today’s raging “Cancel Culture,” there is a rather simple solution: be born perfect. Actually, be born perfect, live a perfect life, and never run afoul of the unwritten, constantly changing, and haphazardly enforced rules determined by an anonymous committee of self-appointed social media scolds. Or, maybe it is not so simple.
It is easy to make light of the obviously impossible standards liberals have set for acceptable thoughts, speech, and actions; to the point where liberals now are cancelling one another. Nevertheless, beyond this absurdity lies a less obvious and quiescent trait of the Cancel Culture – a depressingly pessimistic view of humanity.
It would be one thing if this gloomy construct were about nothing more than exacting control over the public square; but the movement’s insatiable bloodlust has taken victims who dared make the mistake of putting even just a toe into the spotlight in any forum.
In 2019, Carson King’s ESPN College Game Day sign asking for beer money donations went viral and turned into a million-dollar fundraiser for University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. In today’s toxic and unforgiving culture, this was a mortal sin. Aaron Calvin, at the time a reporter for the Des Moines Register, quickly “discovered” tweets from King from seven years before, when he was just 16 years-old which, when taken out of time and context were considered by some to be “racist.” That was that. King was canceled and publicly humiliated.
In the span of 10 days, King went from anonymous sign guy to million-dollar fundraiser, to “canceled” when, as he puts it, circumstances out of his control “make your life very public.” In a statement on Twitter, King responded to the vicious hero-to-zero Cancel Culture outrage by making the requisite mea culpa, that he “cannot go back and change what [he] posted when [he] was a 16-year-old,” but that he can “apologize and work to improve every day and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Of course, it was too late even for such debasement to afford him cover.
We always knew “woke” scolds were humorless, but what happened to King shows us they also loathe virtually everything that makes humans such amazing creatures – imagination, intellect, vision, even compassion.
Eighteenth Century English poet Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Today’s Cancel Culture misses wide on both. Its standard of conduct is based on a ridiculous notion that humans are born into this world as perfect progressive mouthpieces, even though the rules for what is acceptable change with the winds. Furthermore, there is nary a hint of mercy or understanding in the viciousness with which they will make anyone, from celebrity to private citizen, a public example when failing to meet this impossible standard.
No individual remains exactly as they were 10 years prior, much less as a child or young adult. Experience and knowledge gained through the years invariably shapes who we are and how we see the world. It is why as adults we do not eat ice cream for breakfast or still believe in Santa Claus. To be held to belief systems of what is essentially a lifetime ago, is as cruel as it is nonsensical.
What a depressing perspective on humanity this world view presents –seeing people as inflexible, linear beings incapable of change, no matter how awful or wrongheaded one’s behavior or mindset might once have been. If Cancel Culture’s outlook on human development is accurate, then what is the point of engaging in any intellectual exploration, debate, or even politics for that matter, since the objective of all such endeavors is to both learn and to change the minds of the other side? According to Cancel Culture cops this is not possible, so why even try.
With such a warped view of the human condition, it is no wonder that wherever Cancel Culture goes, misery follows; it is all they know. For denizens of this unhappy world, the principle in our Declaration of Independence that we must be free to engage in the “pursuit of Happiness” no longer has meaning.