Cancel Culture Harms the Liberals’ Cause
Cancel culture is the practice of withdrawing support from people or companies when they do or say something objectionable. The approach has been employed by both conservatives and liberals historically. But in 2020, liberals are more likely to take part in this phenomenon.
Perhaps without knowing it, liberals involved in cancel culture are hurting their cause with their actions and words. Their intent is usually noble. But the outcome of cancel culture is fewer moderate allies and less momentum around the causes and policy changes liberals care about.
Cancel culture as a tool for progress
Liberals involved in cancel culture see “cancelling” public figures whose statements or values don’t align with progressive values as a form of positive pressure. By withdrawing support from these figures and publicly shaming them, they send a message to the world that those ostensibly negative beliefs or behaviors won’t be tolerated.
Where issues around morality are at play, this public pressure can be positive and can affect change. But sometimes it’s employed against actors who may be misunderstood, or who may hold an unpopular but valid position. In those cases, it becomes harmful to public discourse and can ruin careers and lives.
Moderates find cancel culture off-putting
Many moderate liberals and conservatives find cancel culture off-putting. The heavy-handed public reaction to reasonable comments, discourse, and decisions can come across as bullying. And the potential for a slippery slope situation, in which Constitutional liberties are increasingly limited by the public-at-large rather than the government, are a concern.
Cancel culture can get out of hand quickly, before facts are known and explanations are presented. It doesn’t allow for nuance or self-defense, so it’s often unfair to the person or business being cancelled. To many moderates (as well as some progressives and most on the far-right), this injustice is unacceptable.
Whether it’s fear of association or distaste for the approach cancel culture takes to affecting change, moderates can be repelled from progressive causes by this phenomenon. Because of this, more worthy progressive causes may be ignored and meaningful policy changes are harder to design, sell, and implement.
Cancelling cancel culture to strengthen unity
For the liberal party to unite, cancel culture will need to be suppressed. It’s a potentially harmful approach to solving problems and it sews discord among progressive thinkers. Participants in cancel culture would do well to be not only conscious consumers of products and media, but also defenders of diversity in public discourse.