Cancel culture comes back to bite the Des Moines Register in the butt

Cancel culture is out there, in all its glory, in a rather disgusting story out of Iowa that began with a tug-on-the-heartstrings act of charity.

A 24-year-old sports fan irreverently put out a sign on social media calling for beer money to buy himself more Busch beer and unexpectedly got more cash than he expected.  Instead of spend it on beer, he decided to donate it to a local children's hospital.  Corporate Anheuser-Busch decided to get in on the act and the goodwill he was generating and offered to donate in kind as a result.  Net result: a million bucks to a beleaguered children's hospital.

After that, a Des Moines Register reporter decided to profile — "background check," as the paper put it — the young man, Carson King — and found two racist tweets he made seven years ago when he was 16.

Problem here: The reporter who decided to do all that background-checking had a few racist tweets of his own.  Someone else went digging into his old tweets, probably much to his surprise, and found some bad ones.

The whole thing showed bona fide hypocrisy — that he and his editors lived by that set of rules the New York Times set for itself, declaring their own tweets exempt from scrutiny, while promoting a special right for themselves to expose all the bad tweets of the little guys.  Glass house, no rocks.

Net result: The public outcry at the double standard was so bad that the Des Moines Register reporter got fired (or was forced to resign) as a result.  What's good for the goose...

It would be normal to take a grim satisfaction at this backatcha result of this politically correct cancel culture and how, in the internet age, anyone can be a "background checker" so long as the media decide they want to set those terms for news. 

After all, what an ugly picture — be a little guy, donate a lot to charity, and watch someone go digging into your childhood tweets, looking for a bad one to proclaim in print and all over the web in order to ruin you.  No good deed goes unpunished, see. 

It didn't matter that the young man profusely apologized for his youthful act and dissociated himself from the tweets and, more important, even showed anti-racist tweets he made in the years after (which somehow escaped the Des Moines Register background-checkers' notice), but the whole thing was enough to prompt Busch to yank all association from him and donating to the hospital.  Later on, the company said it would donate separately to the hospital, as if that were something it would have otherwise done had it not been for King.  They yanked their proffered year's beer supply to King, too.  Way to make people want to drink their product.

The story didn't end there, though.  The Register then decided to exonerate itself by explaining, as it claimed, in the name of being as transparent as possible, that it worked with the reporter, deliberated hard, decided to place the bad tweets at the bottom of the story, presumably in a nod to the bad tweets' low importance, and in any case, Busch's pullout had nothing to do with the tweets, which is questionable, given that Busch probably knew that the Register had the info and didn't want to be held up to scorn afterward if all went as planned.

All I can ask from that is this: if they worked this closely with this reporter and they all put their heads together in a group effort, trying to minimize the damage to King as they claimed, then it was a group effort.  Next question: So why the heck is Aaron Calvin, the reporter, the only one who got fired?

It's about power.  Big guys and corporate guys get away with amazing outrages.  Little guys...don't.  The reporter is almost as much a victim as King is, given that Busch is the one who triggered the worst of the story in its pullout (wonder what their employee tweets look like), and the Register seems to have excused itself, too, in making the reporter alone pay for the mess.

Maybe the real problem in cancel culture is that big guys use it to exert power over little guys.  It's now ending the allowances of childhood (no kid should ever have a Twitter account), and it's ending any concept of experimentation or youthful mistakes, which people do learn from.  This piece by the Federalist on how P.C. cancel culture has ended all comedy in Hollywood, forcing viewers to look at reruns, is a useful parallel.  Everyone now is expected to be a politically correct automaton with no social credit black marks, or no recognition for you.  But there is a hierarchy to this — D-lister Kathy Griffin gets cancelled for that disgusting Trump beheading stunt, A-lister Madonna gets excused for wanting to burn down the White House. It exists even on the left. Like I say, power.

The reporter ought to be ashamed of himself, but much more the bigger players — such as the Register and companies such as Busch (Venmo was involved here too in a parallel way but they are not as famous), should be even more ashamed. They are the ones making the decisions, they are the ones in thrall to political correctness, blinding themselves to the fact that they constantly offend the public by pretending to live by it. Either they start to make common cause with the little guy that their customers identify with, or they are going to be reviled and distrusted by the public as we are starting to see.

Things like this are building blocks of why cancel culture is breaking down every kind of trust, and every kind of freedom to fail, within society, turning it into something not all that different from Red China. And doing a sweet little good deed like donating to a hospital is all it takes.

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