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You don't have a problem with cancel culture. You have a problem with trans women.
Let's just call it what it is.
I’ve been following the debate on cancel culture for years. This debate is nowhere close to being resolved. In fact, we have only gotten more divided; and, as you can see from this Pew Research survey of over 10,000 Americans on their views on cancel culture—these disparities are most apparent along political ideology.
The extreme sides of the political spectrum—staunch liberal democrats and conservative republicans—have vastly opposing views when it comes to online call-outs. The former sees call-outs as a form of accountability; the latter sees it as punishing people who don’t deserve it.
I polled my own audience about their views on whether they see online call-outs as a form of punishment or accountability. Around ~250 people responded and here’s what they said:
I’d like to interpret the 70% ‘it depends’ as a testament to how binary frameworks, especially when it comes to complex social issues, don’t exist outside of political polarization. I’m hinting at the idea that the debate on cancel culture is more political than it is a social one. As per usual, mega-governments, mega-corporations, and mega-churches have followed the 3-step playbook of the ‘divide & conquer’ strategy:
Co-opt a word or phrase from the Black community that holds a deeply complex sociopolitical history.
Inject the word/phrase into the public discourse so many times that it becomes a buzzword and loses its intended meaning.
Weaponize the buzzword to short-circuit our critical thinking and indoctrinate us into a political agenda.
In the end, no one wins except for the status quo. It turns out, taking a complex idea and compressing it into a buzzword is not the most effective means for social change.
It is, however, HIGHLY effective as a tool for political control and domination. Ya’ll, this is cult dynamics to a T and I need you to understand the havoc that it’s wreaking on our society.
Because while the mega powers-that-be fight for power and control, guess who gets hurt in the process? We do. Us. The people, the citizens. Me and you.
Of course, the more socially privileged you are, the further and more insulated you’re gonna be from the political maelstrom. The people at the epicenter are often the most socially disadvantaged. The more layers of oppression that overlap your identity, the more you’e gonna feel the clash between the two opposing currents of our hyper-polarized political landscape—sometimes at the cost of your life.
In the tug-of-war of weaponized identity politics, trans women are just collateral damage.
What I’m saying is not radical. I’m simply deconstructing a pop-culture buzzword—cancel culture—in the context of the hate economy’s ‘divide & conquer’ agenda which is just patriarchy, white supremacy, and colonialism in action.
So let’s deconstruct:
Cancel culture—then and now
I mentioned how the first step of the ‘divide and conquer’ playbook is to co-opt a word or phrase from Black culture. You may or may not be aware of the origins of the term ‘canceling’, which started out as a misogynistic joke that got picked up on Black twitter. This article does a really great job exploring the zeitgeist of cancel culture. Many Black educators have noted that cancel culture is nothing new, but just a new way of describing a form of organized action taken to protest structural inequalities, which started with the civil rights movement.
Then, at some point, the phrase got engineered in a lab to gauge peoples’ emotional reaction to this particular combination of words and sure enough, the reaction went viral.
I wish more people understood that these things don’t just happen organically by accident; there’s an entire system, a whole industry dedicated to studying, researching, and following the culture wars that have been ongoing since the 90s. Before cancel culture, ‘political correctness’ was weaponized as a tool for social upheaval. The politicizing of cancel culture is just a continuation of that. In 30 years, we will have another politically charged buzzword to organize our entire reality around.
If you don’t know how language is engineered by political think tanks to distort our reality, I highly recommend listening to this podcast episode: The politics of divisive language. I refer to this episode time and again because it completely changed the way that I relate to the culture wars. I realized that if I really wanted to see reality for what it is, I had to unplug myself from the political charade that was attempting to anchor my reality around words and phrases that had no meaning. It’s like being anchored to a cloud.
Like I said, no one wins.
And the fact that cancel culture got us nowhere in terms of accountability is a case in point: manufactured outrage is not a sustainable approach to meaningful social change. This article: 2021 proved once and for all that ‘cancel culture’ is total bullshit, brings up examples of how public figures and celebrities who supposedly got ‘canceled’ have not faced significant consequences for the public backlash they received, even after serious allegations (and convictions) of sexual abuse. In fact, ‘canceled’ people gain even more popularity, fame, money, and status. I mean, Johnny Depp just scored a $20 million cologne deal. Joe Rogan just opened a anti-cancel culture comedy club and the first show sold out in minutes.
The rich elite are capitalizing on our manufactured outrage and no one is trying to stop them.
Instead, we are misdirecting our outrage toward a community of people who are at the epicenter of political, social, and cultural violence —the trans community. Somehow, it’s always their fault. No matter what happens, when, and where, a trans woman is always to blame for it.
Instead of canceling a culture of violence that has become an actual public health crisis, we are getting mad at the people who point out the link between anti-trans bigotry and patriarchy. Every time I bring up the trans cause online, I get swaths of people unfollow me. And in fact, I’m sure many people will unfollow me the moment they see the title of this newsletter. That’s ok.
For the record, I don’t think trans people deserve human rights because they’re trans. I think trans people deserve human rights because they’re human. I think what’s happening to them is fucked up and it shouldn’t be so controversial to care about people, or to want to live in a healthy society. Idk about you but living in a society where people are being murdered simply for existing is scary af. No one’s safety is guaranteed in this kinda society.
I also get a lot of whataboutisms whenever I discuss cancel culture, primarily from people who raise concerns about vicious online mobs that have unjustly punished and deplatformed people who don’t deserve it.
This podcast episode has given me a more balanced and nuanced understanding of how cancel culture affects every day people, including people who have lost their jobs from being canceled.
Of course these things happen and they are valid concerns. However, I believe these extreme and unique cases don’t represent the conversation on cancel culture because a) when cancel culture borders on cyber-bullying and online harassment, no one is immune to its harmful effects—regardless of age, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation; b) The reasonable majority of people don’t engage in extreme behaviors.
Like my little poll conveyed, most people understand that beneath the apparent political polarization is a more complex reality where context and nuance matter.
We need to cancel conservatism
Look, I don’t take ‘sides’ when it comes to the two political extremes of our country. At the end of the day, our government is run by hypocritical war mongers who will stop at nothing to maintain their position in the hierarchy. My allegiance and faith is always with the people. Outside of the echo chambers of social media, most people can’t be bothered about things like cancel culture because they’re just trying to make a dollar in an unforgiving economy. I think it’s important to hold this perspective.
However, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the conservative agenda is historically responsible for co-opting buzzwords to stoke fear and division. It’s the same conservative agenda that bankrolls the national campaign against trans-rights. It’s the same conservative agenda that is funding the anti-abortion movement. It’s also the same conservative agenda that seems to think books are more threatening to our children than guns.
Do you see the pattern here? From where I’m standing, it seems that the conservative agenda has created a boogeyman called ‘cancel culture’ to distract our attention away from the fact that white Christian nationalism is slowly but surely turning our country into a theocracy. I’m obviously not the only one to draw this conclusion. For the record, NO ONE is going to benefit from this type of authoritarian control, not even the people who are pushing this agenda forward. This is the silent ‘collective sabotage’ that we should be talking about, but we’re not.
We’re too busy attacking the rights of trans people.
Cancel culture is canceled, but accountability culture is alive and well
While the Joe Bros are inventing new ways to capitalize on the culture wars, social justice advocates are ready to jettison ‘cancel culture’ from our collective lexicon and bring back good ol’ fashioned social responsibility and accountability. The focus of accountability is reparative, not punitive; transformative, not retributive.
The problem with this is that accountability is a two-way street. You cannot force someone to take accountability if they don’t want to. And from what I’ve experienced and observed, those in power who have misused and exaggerated ‘cancel culture’ at the expense of others have no interest in taking accountability for their wrongdoing. Therein lies the problem.
I believe we need a more effective approach. My unsolicited advice? Stop listening to the wrong people. Take personal responsibility for your education. Sharpen your critical thinking and media literacy skills. Stop adopting all types of nonsense opinions as valid. And for the love of God, the ‘all opinions matter’ narrative is not the take you think it is, I promise.
Opinions have to meet a certain criteria. They have to be backed up by evidence and supported with logic. You can still hold multiple realities at the same time while discerning between an informed opinion and an ignorant one.
The people who insist on the ‘all opinions matter’ narrative are just pretending to be reasonable so that they can manufacture a situation where it seems like they’re the ones being victimized and silenced. It’s what people with personality disorders do. Do not waste your time arguing with such people. They are simply not interested in inviting you in for a healthy debate; they just wanna parade their bigotry with their chest out and face 0 social consequences for it.
Ignorance is not a valid opinion. Bigotry is not a valid opinion. Misinformation is not a valid opinion. Fallacious reasoning is not a valid opinion!
My other suggestion is to stop supporting influencers/coaches/public figures who are piggybacking off the culture wars to build their multi-million dollar empires; these people are culture vultures. They thrive off hate and violence. It’s fun for them. Stop financing people who profit off our collective outrage and paranoia. Stop financing them economically. Stop financing them with your time. Stop financing them with your energy.
Just stop engaging altogether. Let them cancel themselves.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate you showing up, trying your best, and caring. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback, or any reflections. You’re welcome to challenge my ideas; I’m open to all kinds of perspectives. Maybe even bigoted ones, if you catch me on a good day ;).
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