Some more thoughts on “cancel culture”

When people found an old “racist” tweet from Megan Rapinoe, some compared her to Ollie Robinson, who was forced to apologize and faced significant professional consequences for stupid jokes he made nine years earlier. Should Rapinoe lose endorsements or be banned from international competition?

No.

I understand the desire to hold Leftists to their own standards. I understand the satisfaction when someone who has been part of “cancel culture” are themselves targeted by the mob. But here is a better solution for conservatives: Hold a universal standard that someone should not be “canceled” for a dumb comment made on social media a decade earlier.

The problem with “cancel culture” is not necessarily that there are consequences for bad behavior. There have always been beliefs and behaviors that are outside the Overton Window. Someone who is an unapologetic Nazi would have faced personal and professional consequences well before the “political correctness” boom of the 1990’s. The problem is that the wrong things are often punished, or that the “cancel culture” mob holds up an impossible and/or ridiculous standard.

Consider the case of Ruby Rose, a lesbian actor who was attacked for not being “gay enough” to play an openly homosexual comic book character. If “Boys Don’t Cry” was made today, Hillary Swank would not have been permitted to take the Oscar-winning role. This shows a real lack of gratitude for a woman who did a lot to advance the transgender cause. The demand that actors must be part of the same demographic group as the character they play was always stupid. Actors act. That is what they do.

Another problem is that there is never any forgiveness or grace. Once you “sin” you are damned forever. Did you post an insensitive or offensive “joke” on social media ten or fifteen years ago? You are damned, no matter what you have done in the years since. You must make a groveling apology, and you must keep apologizing. That will not be enough, as your career will still be in tatters and your future professional opportunities will be taken away.

Contrast this hyper-legalist cult with Christianity. We sinned against God and we deserve eternal damnation in Hell Fire for our sins against Him. But in His infinite grace and mercy, Jesus Christ sacrifices Himself on the cross, taking the punishment for His own creation’s sins against Him. The contrast could not be more glaring than that.

The answer is to stop groveling to the mob. Stop issuing groveling public apologies that look like hostage videos for decade-old jokes. Conservatives need to stop jumping on the “cancel culture” bandwagon, pretending to be “offended” by politically incorrect behavior. You are not offended, so stop pretending you are. You may well be holding Leftists to their own standard, but you are also strengthening that very standard. Pointing out hypocrisy is not the same as embracing the standard that you seek to tear down.