Updated: Mar 16, 2021
In a country that proudly boasts about freedom of expression and thought, it's become unclear as to what is grounds for cancellation. The volatility of our society has been sparked by political and social unrest along with the expected agitation brought on by an unprecedented virus and pandemic. Rather than a country unified by its ideals and commonality we have factions now. Not that this is anything new, but with the advent of social media and the basic expectation that you are on camera the minute you leave your house, this reality is heightened.
Those in the public eye, business owners and anyone with the slightest affiliation to pretty much anything are at risk of upsetting any given group with a comment, a post or a tweet. To proudly state your opinion is essentially welcoming a cadre of monolithic thinkers to create problems for you or your business, at times forcing you to run and hide - in other words quit. Never to be heard from again. Welcome to 'cancel culture.'
As we unpack this dynamic allow me to state on record there are certainly instances that call for immediate response from the public. There are plenty of examples that challenge basic decency and sensitivity to the human race. What I would like to suggest however is that there are also instances that are not so obvious, automatic and dare I say 'reaching' where someone is unfairly subjected the opinion of another human being. It is those things that I would like to challenge.
Lets address some obvious examples of things that have happened recently in society that I believe the vast majority of individuals can agree need to be dealt with:
*NBA player Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat was recently caught on video using a disgusting Anti-Semitic slur while playing a video game. He's been fined and suspended along with being required to attend a cultural diversity program. He has since apologized and stated he will prioritize learning from this.
*Long time Creighton University basketball coach Greg McDermott came under fire for his racially insensitive remarks to his team after a recent loss. He was quoted as saying "I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can't have anybody leave the plantation." After several days away from the team he was reinstated, led by his team advocating for him to do so. Although he's apologized he still lost a four star recruit in the wake of the controversy.
These are just two examples of sports related things to hit the news cycle that generated a reaction from society at large - rightfully so. I don't know of anyone with common decency who could question whether either of these situations warranted some reaction, and repercussion. The question becomes what should happen though? Should either of these men be disallowed from their craft ever again? What penalty is appropriate for them? How do we determine when and if to allow redemption? Are we the sum of our lowest moments? These are just a few things to consider whenever these stories take place.
The biggest question however is how far do we go with cancel culture? To what depth does this cultural phenomenon reach?
Which brings me to a very interesting component to this conversation. I was recently a victim - albeit - on a more private level of cancel culture. An individual who had been a consistent supporter of my personal Instagram page 'cancelled' me on the basis of what he called a revelation of my character.
As laughable and disturbing as this is I engaged him briefly - partially to demonstrate just how out of control the idea of one flawed human being canceling another is. The fact that I posted several times about the respect and admiration I had for Tom Brady, also known as the GOAT of NFL players past and present was the trigger. Brady, allegedly supported a politician that this person did not agree with and as a result I was guilty of the same thing.
In his mind.
Before we continue allow me to introduce the following disclaimer: I have personal experience working on a documentary with Tom Brady that has since given me profound respect for his story, his work ethic and his mentality. His political beliefs are of no concern of mine, just like i'd hope no one would judge me or anyone no matter our personal beliefs.
According the person who attacked me I put success and work ethic above morality, simply by looking beyond what could possibly separate us and focusing on what could bond us. This point is where I believe 'cancel culture' is dangerous and the cause of so much division and anger in a nation that says it's 'one nation under God.' Brady recently won his eighth Super Bowl and first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Should anyone who disagrees with him politically not accept their SB ring as act of supreme morality? How far do we go with this?
I was asked recently what I thought the cause of this is and how it has become so pervasive in society. While I can't pretend to know for a fact what created this, a superiority complex is at the root of it. Consider the fact that each of us has things we can improve and learn from in life. I find the unhealthy concern over another's opinion to be interesting at best, but mostly disturbing. In titling this piece I posed the notion that culture is being cancelled because of the blatant intolerance of any opinion that is not shared with the masses - a group that changes depending on what company you keep.
Referring back to Brady, I counted dozens of examples where 'winning culture' and 'changing the culture' was used to describe his impact on a team. In light of my recent experience, that culture is of no significance according the latest judge of morality - my former social media friend.
Each of us have our own thoughts and standards. We're entitled to hold onto that as long as it is consistent with our belief system. None of us are absent from error or room to evolve, despite our personal opinion. Let me remind you that our internal code of conduct and approach to life is something we shouldn't abuse by forcefully advocating for others to adopt the exact same ideology.