Shall a New Label of 'Canceler' Become the Answer to 'Racist'?

Like an immature child who has discovered a very destructive toy, the woke Left has found that it can ruin people's careers and reputations by depicting them as "racists" for merely disagreeing over issues such as "white privilege" and "systemic racism" or irresponsible actions under color of Black Lives Matter. This is simply age-old trash from a brand-new dumpster.

Similar dangerous charlatans in past centuries could ruin people's reputations and even get them burned alive or lynched (think the Salem Witch Trials) by calling them witches, sorcerers, and/or heretics. Evidence, let alone proof beyond a reasonable doubt, was not required; the accusation was sufficient. Failure to support an accusation made the one who remained silent complicit in witchcraft or heresy, a lot like "silence is violence" today. Joe McCarthy and his associates similarly ruined countless reputations and careers during the 1950s by denouncing people as communists. That monster turned on its own creators, however, when the word "McCarthyite" began to depict those who engaged in this practice.

The label "canceler" can and should similarly close doors in the faces of those who bring social media and blog disputes into workplaces, whether their own or others.

Two important principles apply, and I shall explain each beginning with a quote:

"For your own reasons turn into your bosoms/ As dogs upon their masters, worrying you."

If you have ever circulated or signed a petition to get a student expelled or forced to withdraw from college because you didn't like something he or she posted on a blog or social media, or to pressure an employer to fire somebody for the same reason, you might be upset at the prospect of your target and/or others branding you a canceler to limit your own employment and career opportunities. Please read King Henry V, Act 2, Scene 2, to understand why you have this coming.

Three English knights urged King Henry to execute or punish severely a man who had railed against the monarch while drunk. This was a crime known as lèse-majesté (disrespect for the monarch) and technically punishable by death. King Henry realized, however, that if he executed every drunk in his army, he would kill more of his own men than the French managed to kill at Agincourt. He forced the man in question to sleep off his drinks in the brig or its equivalent instead, and released him once he was both sober and respectful.

Then, however, he discovered that the same three knights had conspired with the enemy to murder him. He hinted at their fate with the words, "If little faults proceeding on distemper shall not be winked at, how shall we stretch our eye when capital crimes, chewed, swallowed, and digested, appear before us?" When their treason was exposed, they asked for clemency to which King Henry replied,

You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy,

For your own reasons turn into your bosoms,

As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.

Men who had urged the King to execute or punish harshly a drunk who had insulted him could hardly expect mercy when proven guilty of a plot to not only murder the King but also betray their country during time of war. A canceler cannot similarly complain about becoming an unemployable pariah for trying to harm another person's career or livelihood over a social media disagreement.

"You May Follow Your Custom. And Then We Will Follow Ours."

This was General Sir Charles Napier's response to certain inhabitants of British India who excused suttee (widow-burning) as their ancient custom. He replied that Britain's custom was to hang men who burned women alive, and concluded, "You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." It is similarly up to each person's judgment as to whether he or she wants to hire a canceler, work with a canceler, or attend a university that participates in cancel culture.

Christians on the political Left might be O.K. with Hardin-Simmons' decision to discipline a student for posting disrespectful but accurate material about Black Lives Matter. Conservative commentator Terrence K. Williams has made similarly accurate commentary about this movement. The unpleasant truth is that BLM does remain largely silent about any violence except white-on-Black violence, and also violence by people of any race against Black police officers, aka "pigs" and even the N word to some BLM and Antifa demonstrators. When I last heard, BLM is not saying retired police captain David Dorn's name, either.

Conservative Christians of all races might however regard Hardin-Simmons' action as an immediate disqualifier and select the less expensive (for in-state students) Texas State University instead. My own recommendation would be to not even consider a university that might interrupt your studies in this manner regardless of whether it is in its rights to do so, but that's just my opinion; you may feel otherwise.

My position on hiring cancelers is meanwhile similar to the one expressed in the Book of Exodus: “But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.” This ancient law carries over into modern laws that impose civil and even criminal liability on owners of dangerous dogs who fail to control them.

Employers should know a canceler is wont to push with his or her horn by bringing social media and similar outside disagreements into a workplace. That is not something I would personally want under my roof because it could create morale issues and even legal liabilities, e.g. if the canceler were to write somebody a poor performance appraisal not because of poor job performance but because of something the other person posted or liked on social media. If I was a hiring manager, and a search on an applicant's name and affiliation (e.g. school and year of graduation) showed that he or she was involved in trying to "cancel" a faculty member or another student, I would drop that applicant from further consideration. That is my opinion and my custom; others might be O.K. with taking a chance on a canceler.

The best course of action is to not be a canceler.

While "canceling" is associated primarily with the "woke" Left, it is not acceptable from the political Right either; the same rules must apply to all. If somebody posts on social media that it is O.K. for demonstrators to infringe on the rights of others by blocking roads, then disagree with them on social media but don't bring it into their workplace. The same goes if they wear a BLM hat or t-shirt; maybe they are just supporting BLM's non-controversial positions, with which all decent Americans agree, on equal rights and equal treatment for people of all races under the law. Even if they support some of BLM's controversial agendas, their workplace is not the right place to address this.

The custom of suttee ended quickly when Napier told the widow-burners, "You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." We must similarly make it unequivocally clear to the cancelers that, if your custom is to try to get other people fired or expelled because you don't agree with what they post on blogs or social media, don't complain when doors close in your face because their owners don't want to risk you bringing similar behavior into their organizations.

Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history, and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way. He or she is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.

Image: Ted Eytan, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0