08/12 OT: Cancel Culture isn't a thing, it's propaganda
What is cancel culture? It is a propaganda term and hence likely propaganda, but to what end? "Oh look, somebody lost a spoon, oh, but it's bent. No use for a bent spoon, but there's a blue frisbee over there and some oblong pieces of driftwood." Nobody ever stumbled across a cancel culture- that is NOT a natural locution, it was created and, imo, carefully crafted. Nicely alliterative, paired 2 syllable words, each beginning with a hard c. Lots of connotation but no real denotation, vague, and even some tension and contradiction. Culture, if not art or petri dish contents, is shared and collaborative, cancel, if not stamps or orders is somewhat along the lines of negation. Negation of culture or a culture of negation? Which, if either? This didn't just happen, somebody created it to achieve something.
Something of a vignette here: Statues of Confederate Heroes are cancel culture if there ever were such a thing. They cancel every bit of progress on the civil rights front since 1861. They cancel black culture, ancestral, in the US past and present, and in the future. They cancel the idea that black people are even human, let alone equal. They cancel the very idea of a nation based on equal opportunity, equality before the law, equal rights and individual freedom. Yet nobody noticed that. Nobody discovered the existence of some "cancel culture", or, more to the point, nobody felt obligated to create and weaponize a phrase, cancel culture. Not, that is, until there was a widespread call to destroy these emblems of evil, then, That was cancel culture.
OMG, they're trying to destroy our glorious, proud Confederate history and legacy, our illustrious past, what ever shall we do.
Some laborites are clamoring for the repeal of laws and regulations prohibiting secondary boycotts, potentially giving them more clout in their lopsided struggle against the oligarchs. This too, it turns out, will be decried as cancel culture.
Somebody is pushing something here, and it isn't a broom.
Behold: Americans tune in to ‘cancel culture’ — and don't like what they see -- As Donald Trump seizes on it and elite journalists obsess over it, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows significant concern about the practice. --
I'm pretty sure that this isn't necessarily too bad of a thing, depending upon exactly what it is or means. Politico says:
In a Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore, Trump said, “We want free and open debate, not speech codes and cancel culture. We embrace tolerance, not prejudice.” Speaking of the left, he added that “one of their political weapons is ‘cancel culture’ — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.” (One commentator quickly pointed out that Trump has long been one of the most enthusiastic practitioners of cancel culture.)
That alone is several different things, and not at all a definition, but they tell us further on that:
The POLITICO survey used a neutral definition of cancel culture adapted from its entry on dictionary.com: “the practice of withdrawing support for (or canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive."
. (my emphasis)
That is a vast multitude of different things, and pretty much largely not in line with what they say trump said or with the following:
Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.
There's nothing about group or other shaming or about getting people fired in the definition. Beyond that, if you read the article, it is mostly about going after people for what they said.
stuff seemingly considered to be "cancel culture"
"punishing people or institutions over offensive views," "shared their dislike of a public figure on social media after they did something objectionable," "public shaming and ostracism" Those are all very different things.
We claim to believe in freedom of speech, and kind of do to varying degrees, but don't fully practice what we preach, especially the corporate-government symbiote. All the same, as even the article notes, we also believe that those who say things that much of the populace finds offensive should expect push-back and criticism, we have free speech, but it is nonetheless to be expected that some speech will have consequences and it is even proper and desirable that speech have consequences.
So what line is being drawn here and where? Also by whom and why? I mean making negative comments about somebody on social media, or criticising them for something they said or did? This is a bad thing? Bwahahaha. Not in this country. In reality, one should arguably criticise the comment or act and not the person making or doing it, but that's also not remotely "The American Way" (which is or was a rip-off, fwiw). There is, however, a hidden assumption that one is trying to deal with persons of good will, persons capable of learning and willing to do so. We are not always doing so any more. The purpose of free and open discussion, no holds barred and nothing off of the table, has always been to facilitate and implement the exchange of ideas.
So let's visit that definition.
“the practice of withdrawing support for (or canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.".
Note that they straight up equate "withdrawing support" with "canceling". So cancelling doesn't mean anything vaguely resembling its normal usage and meaning when when used as part of this convoluted locution. Arguably if you decide to stop funding a candidate who withdraws, or your bra or jock breaks, these are all instances of "cancellation". I suggest that this new usage of the terms "cancel" and "cancellation" be henceforth italicized or placed in scare quotes.
Getting somebody fired or deplatformed or otherwise punishing them hardly seems to be merely withdrawing support. Also, withdrawing support is silently forked, merely withdrawing support and publicly withdrawing support. Then there is the why clause, which, again, is forked, for something they said or did. Not discussed above is currency, was this said or done recently, or 40 years ago, and, if in the past, how old was the perpetrator at the time. Also ignored is the severity of the offense, ex: boycott x because the owner said women were inferior to men in 1952 when he was 16, or because an employee criticized my girlfriend's hair and the manager refused to fire her on the spot, or because the owner openly advocates for outlawing homosexuality and killing gay people and refuses to hire or serve gays. These are also highly different things.
quietly withdrawing support because of something they said
quietly withdrawing support because of something they did
publicly withdrawing support because of something they said
publicly withdrawing support because of something they did
Why are those very disparate things being lumped together and then tarred via guilt by association with people trying to get somebody fired for something they said in high school in the fifties? Is it perhaps because they wish to denounce certain current and likely future boycotts as some sort of knee jerk, yet evil, bit of cancel culture. Is it perhaps, as hinted at above, to smear those wishing to remove symbols of institutionalized racism or religious preference from the courthouse door?
Some things seem clear.
Deplatforming people for expressing unpopular opinions or views is an extreme form of censorship and the ultimate in prior restraint. True, nobody is guaranteed a platform unless they can afford to buy one, but in a day and age when the same oligarchs that control the government also control the majority of the media sources and carriers, it reeks of government censorship. There is also an element of intellectual cowardice involved, the "no,no,no, I don't want to hear it" fear of heretics and heresies that is the hallmark of certain true believers of all types who hold a fanatical devotion to an idea, belie, or set or system thereof but who secretly know that they themselves cannot support it with any better reasoning than "the great illustrious poobah told us so" and hence fear that plausible well reasoned heresies might cause them to lose their faith. But a small step above those is those who would otherwise be willing let anybody say their piece, but who don't wish to feel that they must try to refute it and fear that they will be unable to do so. Censorship is almost never a good thing; if you fear my words, don't read them, but also don't ban them.
For all of the reasons that censorship is bad, criticism must be held to be acceptable and arguably good in its own right. Criticism most certainly should not be dectied and lambasted as "cancellation", if only on empirical grounds. Even the briefest exposure to politics will prove than even the most unerringly perfect, true and unarguable demolition of the most erroneous, fatuous, false and irrational theory, idea, proposition or meme will be ineffective in persuading something like 40 to 50% of its adherents to abandon it.
Few would disagree that I have the right to adhere to or support any person, place, or thing; any candidate, company, or brand; any idea, theory or ideology of my choosing. So why then is it some sort of problem for the proponents of this highly suspect neologism if I should chose to withdraw such support, be it for whatever cause or even out of arbitrary capriciousness. If decide, in belated recognition of his demise, to finally withdraw my support for Pat Paulsen as a presidential candidate, how in holy hell can that be deemed to somehow cancel his life and existence. Firstly, there are many senses in which that can never occur, and, secondly, the fates already did that in 1997 in Tijuana. If I were to create a web page listing all of the things I boycott and giving my reasons, that would cancel nothing. If I were then to be deplatformed for so coing, as I most certainly would, that would be a cancellation of sorts.
Is perhaps the real problem here that ordinary humans are, to the limited extent possible, taking control of their little personal chunk of the global narrative themselves, and, for better or worse, using it for their own individual purposes and goals? Did the hoi polloi grab the mike? Is that what this is really about?
I claim to have no answers or certainty, but I do know propaganda when I see it, and I know that with the phrase "cancel culture", indeterminate as to both denotation and connotation, vastly vague and vaguely vast, but ever so greatly negative in every regard, I am for shit sure being propagandazed.
Your mileage may vary and your opinions should, at least to some extent, differ.
be well and have a good one.
It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours