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  • Writer's pictureLeRoy Cossette

Canceling Cancel Culture: Taking a Stand for Speech

Cancel culture is a plague. It's almost everywhere these days, if not outright everywhere. Cancel culture--publicly decrying someone or something--is a very powerful force, thanks in part to the internet and the broader digital age.

While holding people to account is important, cancel culture has become a very notorious and obnoxious tide. Its relentless pursuit of ostracization is an affront to free speech and open discourse. And this is not even to say of its potential to incite and foment mob justice.

Cancel Culture and Its Consequences

Cancel culture is quite concerning because its potential has a very chilling effect on free speech, one of our most fundamental rights as citizens.

Fears of being "canceled" by hate mobs force us to self-censor, indirectly stifling the exchange of ideas and snuffing out any chance for intellectual growth. It is the free marketplace of ideas, the ability to express diverse viewpoints, even those considered offensive or unpopular, that built this country from the ground up.

What makes cancel culture so dangerous is that it almost always bypasses the crucial step of debating the merits of an idea in favor of immediately silencing the individual expressing those ideas. This eliminates the opportunity for necessary and nuanced conversations that can help us reach common ground to challenge harmful ideologies.

With its echo chambers and emphasis on performative outrage, social media fuels the flames of cancel culture. Nuance is often lost in character limitations in posts, leading to oversimplification and a rush to judgment.

The pressure to appear "woke" can lead to knee-jerk reactions without thoroughly examining the facts. This can be particularly damaging when dealing with historical figures or past actions. Evaluating past behavior through a modern perspective can be misleading and ignores the context of the time.

Cancel culture also often demands immediate consequences, bypassing the due process that allows for a fair and measured response. This rush to judgment can have devastating personal and professional repercussions, even for minor transgressions.

Canceling Cancel Culture

A fundamental flaw in cancel culture is its rigid all-or-nothing approach. It's either you're with them, or you're not. People are complex and capable of growth and change, but cancel culture often fails to acknowledge the possibility of redemption.

Individuals who have made mistakes or expressed offensive views can learn from their experiences and evolve. Denying them the opportunity for growth and forgiveness stops personal development from happening and reinforces a culture of division rather than understanding.

Canceling Cancel Culture: Open Dialogue

Fighting back against cancel culture doesn't mean ignoring genuine concerns or shielding harmful behavior from consequences. Instead, it demands that there be a shift towards open dialogue and a framework for accountability that allows for growth.

Open and respectful communication is critical in addressing offensive views. Even if we disagree, engaging with someone's opinions can help you and them understand each other better, which might even lead to a shift in perspective.

Furthermore, an accountability system focused on actual justice, where individuals are encouraged to make amends and learn from their mistakes, offers a more constructive approach than mere ostracization.

Canceling culture often results in loss.

While severe consequences are sometimes warranted, a more nuanced approach that facilitates learning and discourages repeat offenses can be more beneficial.

Canceling Cancel Culture: Resilience

Combating cancel culture requires fostering resilience in individuals and institutions. Developing the ability to weather criticism and learn from mistakes is essential for personal and societal growth.

Social media platforms should be more responsible for creating spaces that encourage responsible communication and fact-checking. Implementing measures to limit the spread of misinformation and promote respectful discourse can counteract the negative aspects of online culture.

Taking a Stand on Free Speech

Cancel culture, though initially intended to hold individuals accountable, can have a chilling effect on free speech, hinder intellectual growth, and create an atmosphere of fear and performative outrage. Fighting back against cancel culture doesn't mean ignoring harmful behavior but advocating for open dialogue, restorative justice, and the possibility of redemption and growth.

We should be steadfast and begin to foster critical thinking and open communication with others so we can create a more robust society where diverse opinions can be expressed, debated, and challenged.

This is the way to a more informed and better world.

Cancel culture is contributing to this American Insanity. Learn more about LeRoy Cossette's book here.

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