Cancel culture is ruining society


Bella Lane, Staff Writer

Cancel culture has become an interesting topic of discourse recently. Cancel culture is defined as, the “practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups…”  Some people see canceling other people as a form of accountability, whereas others may see canceling someone as a form of punishment or censorship. I feel that cancel culture is fueling unnecessary hate in society. Everywhere, we see people who are being brought down by their own words and actions that are deemed offensive, or narratives being labeled as misinformation or disinformation by others who disagree socially or politically.

Social media has fueled such a culture. As the access to more views and opinions continues to grow, so do the aggressive debates. Social media companies then feel pressured to create community guidelines in order to create safe spaces for all of their users.

While everyone should be able to stay safe online, as the primary purpose of social media is to connect with others, everyone should also be able to say what they please. For example, the popular platform, Twitter, permanently banned former President Donald Trump in early 2021 due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.” 

Let’s examine President Trump’s exact words from January 8, 2021… President Trump tweeted, “The 75,000, great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Twitter claimed this tweet needed to be removed due to its ability to be, “read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence…” How does Twitter know President Trump’s motives behind the tweet? How does this tweet possibly ‘incite violence’ when there are far worse tweets allowed on Twitter that do not attempt to hide a provocation of violence?

For example, Twitter user “SoCal Antifa” retweeted a tweet in November of 2021 that said, “Happened across a banner drop yesterday over the 163 yesterday. It reads: ‘GUILTY, Rittenhouse Is Not Safe.’” This could be perceived as a threat to Kyle Rittenhouse’s own life, yet President Trump is canceled for a Tweet in which he is merely thanking his voters. The double standard for what is canceled and what is allowed clearly aligns with the political views of media companies, which claim to be unbiased.   

Current Twitter CEO, Parag Agrawal, has made it very clear that he does not support, nor does he care about freedom of speech. During a November 2020 interview with MIT Technology Review, Agrawal said, “Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation … [and to] focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed.”  The First Amendment does not bind. The First Amendment grants the opposite–freedom to speak your mind without being censored. Agrawal has made it known that he does not care about his users’ right to freedom of speech which doesn’t fit his own narrative and agenda. 

 Agrawal’s controversy does not end here. In 2010 he tweeted, “If they are not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.” How is a man like this even in charge of one of the most popular social media platforms in the world? His own agenda is placed above the rights of his users, and there is no accountability for Agrawal’s past affairs. 

Cancel culture doesn’t end with social media. Filmmakers, such as Cassie Jaye, are being canceled for their views as well. In 2010, Jaye released Daddy I Do, a documentary that, “examines the effects of Abstinence-Only Programs versus Comprehensive Sex Education in schools and what society can do to help lower teen pregnancies, abortions, and STDS, as well as poverty and sexual abuse,” according to the film’s website. The film received high ratings by the media and went on to win many awards. Magazines such as Bust (a feminist magazine that usually favors the left) praised the film for, “exposing the truth about abstinence-only programs, the stories of teenagers who buy into it, and its consequences…”

Jaye then released another film in 2012 in retaliation to California’s Proposition 8 (which was intended to ban same-sex marriage but was overturned) titled The Right to Love: An American Family. The film follows a married gay couple with adopted children who faced discrimination in California. This film also received many awards.

After all of her success, Jaye later released a third film titled The Red Pill in 2016. The Red Pill follows Jaye as she “investigates and becomes sympathetic to the men’s rights movement, beginning to believe that society is biased against males,” according to the documentary’s website. The film became highly controversial, and Jaye was ultimately ‘canceled’ for her seemingly converted opinion. 

Jaye’s original goal for the film was to expose the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) in a negative light, however, as she began learning more about the MRM’s true motives and beliefs, she began to change her opinion. Jaye begins to question her original beliefs and begins to discover “the various ways men are disadvantaged and discriminated against.” 

The film opens up a new perspective on the MRM, and many people did not agree with her. Jaye was attacked for her film, and many of her critics had not even seen the film. They simply attacked her for her opposing views. 

Jaye was invited to an interview for an Australian news company, Weekend Sunrise, in which she was treated poorly by the two interviewers. The interviewers claimed she did not “question” the views of feminists, and that the film was not balanced. Jaye then asks if the interviewers had even seen the film. They had not. This is an example regarding how people are willing to attack and cancel others who have opposing views (especially those on the right), even without doing the proper research. After the creation of her film, Jaye says she no longer identifies as a feminist but now is a gender equality activist. 

Another more recent example is the canceling of actress Gina Carano. Carano played Cara Dune in the popular Disney series, The Mandalorian. Carano was outspoken in her political views which she shared via social media. She mocked the wearing of face masks, as well as gender pronouns. In addition, she also believed voter fraud had occurred during the 2020 election. Due to her posts being deemed controversial, many called for her removal from the franchise, especially after one shocking tweet.

What exactly did Carano say? Carano compared being conservative in America to being a Jew during the Nazi regime. Carano tweeted, “Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews.”

Why do one’s political views influence their job status? Why should film companies care about their actors’ politics when the most important thing should be the actor’s ability to perform? People (especially conservatives) should not have to fear being canceled, or even losing their jobs, for expressing their opinion.

The French philosopher Voltaire once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire’s ideas around free speech and liberty heavily influenced how our U.S Constitution was framed. His firm opinions on freedom of expression were used in our founding documents. Our nation was founded upon liberty by people who were not allowed the freedom to speak their minds in their former countries.

While I firmly believe that hate speech is not kind speech, and it is never the type of speech that I would engage in or promote, it is still, however, free speech. Unpopular speech is free speech. We cannot overlook the double standard that is being played out by companies and leaders who wish to censor anyone who disagrees with them or has opposing political/social views. Corporate media is dominated by left-leaning individuals, and they are out to discredit and devalue anyone who opposes them–and they have the power to do so. As Winston Churchill once said, “Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”

I highly value diverse opinions and do not create my personal set of friends based on views being aligned with my own. We should not determine a person’s value based upon their socio-political views. There is great value in having a well-rounded point of view. There is great value around allowing all opinions to be heard. By canceling individuals, we are limiting ourselves to a sole point of view and contributing to the hate of others.